By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published December 16, 2007


Bucs poll

Should the Bucs extend coach Jon Gruden's contract beyond this season?

Yes: 67%

No: 33%

Total votes: 2,529


Inside the numbers

16 The Bucs have won 16 of their 28 meetings against the Falcons, including 10 of the past 14.


2 The Bucs defense ranks second in the NFL in points allowed per game (16.5).


30 The Falcons offense ranks 30th (out of 32 teams in the NFL) in points per game with 14.2.


96 As of late Friday, 96 percent of voters on a sportsillustrated.com poll thought the Bucs would win today. Just 95 percent thought the Patriots would be the Jets.


What you're saying

I saw the last two minutes of the Bucs game (last week). They lost. Too bad, but it is just a game. Then I saw someone on the front page of Monday's Times with his mouth wide open having a tantrum like my children used to do when they were 2 years old when they don't get what they want. Some people never grow up. They are in one stage of childhood or another. What stage is Jon Gruden in? Let's see, I know, I lost, so I will have a tantrum. GROW UP.

Jeff Mikres, Palm Harbor

Since you chose to put his sneering, snarling, venomous face on the front page, I'm addressing this both as a sports issue and as a matter of interest to your general readership. If ever a graphic description defined an emotion, your photographer, Brendan Fitterer, nailed it. If ever a picture was worth a thousand words, this is it. Jon Gruden, the freckle-faced kid with a "Napoleon complex" who has yet to grow up, unable to display the maturity of a Tony Dungy, all too willing to make a public display of disdain for a forlorn player, shows his true colors. In my opinion, in this picture, he has defined himself for what he really is: a contemptuous, immature brat who has not, does not now and never will deserve the millions he is paid.

J.W. McElroy, Palm Harbor

What they're saying

Until this week, I wasn't prepared to call this the worst Falcons season. I kept going back to 1989, when the team went 3-13 and Marion Campbell quit with four games remaining and two players died in car crashes and attendance for the final game was 7,792. But now ...

This is the worst.

This is the worst season in the history of professional sports.

This week pushed it to the absolute bottom. On Monday, the franchise quarterback appeared in court wearing prison stripes. On Tuesday, the coach appeared on TV doing "Whoo, Pig Sooey!" with the Arkansas cheerleaders. You couldn't make this stuff up. You could barely believe it when you saw it with your own eyes.

Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The picks

I hope Arthur Blank put a little extra in your paycheck for this masochism, Emmitt Thomas (above). Bucs, 40-9.

Peter King, Sports Illustrated

The Bucs can lock up a division title with a victory here. And they will. The Falcons are playing under interim coach Emmitt Thomas after Bob "Betray-no" (Petrino) resigned Tuesday. The Falcons aren't very good, while the Bucs are. This is ugly. Bucs, 27-13.

Pete Prisco, CBSportsline.com