Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden has praised the Panthers to excess, but don't let the talk fool you.
If you ever need a good publicity agent, try to hire Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden.
Anything Gruden says right before a game with another team must be taken not only with a grain of salt, but with a salt-shaker full of it. Gruden is one of the best coaches I've ever seen at publicly building up his foes just before trying to beat the stuffing out of them.
Latest case in point: Gruden has said this week that Panther WR Steve Smith reminds him of Freddy Krueger (on the field only) and that Panther LB Jon Beason is a "buzz saw."
But Gruden does this every time these two teams play. I feel like Jimmy Buffett in "Margaritaville" every time I hear him talk about the Panthers, because I'm always searching for my lost shaker of salt to pour on whatever Gruden says. He has previously also said Jake Delhomme, Julius Peppers and John Kasay give him nightmares. (Gruden's dreams must be a nasty and very strange place -- a nightmare starring John Kasay? What would he do, kick footballs at you?). Gruden has also claimed previously that Carolina CBs Ken Lucas, Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall are as good as any trio in the NFL.
I'm sure the next time the teams play Gruden will be comparing punter Jason Baker to Jason in "Friday the 13th" because he can slice a pooch punt so nicely.
This is just Gruden's way. Not that he doesn't respect the Panthers and it's all a farce; it's just waaaaay overdone. Listen to Gruden and you'd believe the Panthers lead this all-time series 16-0; in fact, it's just 9-7, Panthers.
I think Gruden mostly does it to motivate his own guys, who get tired of hearing about all the Panthers' supposed Pro Bowlers (Carolina actually had zero Pro Bowlers in 2007) and then try to go out and beat Carolina 27-3 or something.