New Buc lineman Derrick Deese (center) got used to celebrating wins in San Fran and expects the same in Tampa
Derrick Deese is coming to Tampa because he believes he'll find something familiar there.
It's not the West Coast offense, though he is eager to be immersed in Jon Gruden's version of that oft-duplicated scheme.
It's not other San Francisco 49er free agents who could follow him to Florida, though Deese is more than willing to help in the recruiting process if that becomes a priority.
And it's not the weather, though that felt pretty good to him on Thursday, his first day as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
No, what lured him to Tampa is the same thing that had kept him in San Francisco for a dozen years: the chance to win football games. Deese, who was a part of nine playoff teams in 12 years with the Niners, thinks the Bucs are positioning themselves for another run at the league title.
"I just want to win," said the 13th-year veteran. "This team is going to have a real good shot at winning a Super Bowl and that's what it's all about."
Deese, who was released by San Francisco last Friday in a cap-clearing move, said the Buccaneers were by far the most aggressive of his suitors. The intense interest from General Manager Bruce Allen and Head Coach Jon Gruden caused Deese to take a closer look at the situation in Tampa, and the Buc helmsmen were only too happy to give him the inside scoop.
"I looked at this roster and what they were trying to do and I talked with Bruce Allen," said Deese. "He's a go-getter guy, a fired-up guy and he was telling me what's really going on, what they're trying to do around here and all I could see was that this was going to be a winning organization. It's going to be one of the well-respected organizations and it's definitely something I wanted to be a part of."
The Buccaneers missed the playoffs last year for the first time in five seasons, but were Super Bowl champions just 14 months ago. Rather than sugarcoat the needs that became apparent during their 7-9 Super Bowl follow-up, the Bucs are attacking them in a style that reflects the personalities of Allen and Gruden.
"They're looking for a few good men," said Deese. "Anything can happen, anything is possible. The Super Bowl is what it's about. Since Gruden has been here, I know they've been saying it's not about trying to make the playoffs (or) trying to win your division, it's about winning the Super Bowl. If you don't get to the Super Bowl and win it, then it is not a successful season.
"They're trying to get some guys to make this run and win it."
Deese was convinced. In fact, he was willing to sign a contract without having been pledged a specific position on the line. His versatility helped the 49ers immeasurably through the years and could do the same in Tampa. On the other hand, after a career's worth of shuttling up and down the line, Deese would probably prefer to be put in one spot and left alone
"I was blessed to be able to play all the positions and be versatile, but in some aspects it hurt me a little bit," he said. "I haven't been able to just develop technique and stay at one position and become a Pro Bowl-caliber player at that one position. I've been All-Pro, but at the same time, the last four years that I've played nothing but left tackle, if you look at it, I've done nothing but get better. So, I have a streak of 35 games without giving up a sack, and I'm looking forward to keeping that streak alive right here in Tampa Bay."
Of course, of the seven players who started at some point on the Bucs' offensive line last season, five are still under contract, and the team also added former Raider Matt Stinchcomb on Friday. The two free agents are Cosey Coleman, who started all 16 games and saw action at both right and left guard, and Cornell Green, who started five games at right tackle while Roman Oben and then Kenyatta Walker were out with injuries. The Bucs have six months to figure out how the starting five will be arranged; Deese just wants to help out any way he can.
"I'm not here to say I'm better that anybody else or anything like that, I am just trying to help this team win," he said. "Hopefully, the guys accept me for who I am. Bottom line, I am a hard worker. I want to put in the work and the hours it takes to win and do my job. I hope the rest of the guys are going to do the same. We'll become a well-respected offensive line, that's the plan."
Some might argue that achieving that goal would be the most important step in returning the Bucs to the top of the NFL heap. That – both the challenge and the reward – is what brought Deese to Tampa.
"Like I said, the Bucs are out here (in the free agent market)," he said. "We're trying to get some good players and when they called me, they showed interest, I knew that they were real serious."
Derrick Deese addresses a variety of other topics:
On his comfort zone coming to a 'West Coast' offense type team: "It's important for me to come to a team where, obviously, they're trying to win; and have the best coaches. And I think this is the best situation for that. Also, the system is going to be (one) I'm familiar with. I played in it with the 49ers and it's probably a little better here because Gruden is such an offensive genius that it's not even funny. Some of the things we talked about in our meetings already I have been impressed with. So, I'm looking forward. I'm excited. I'm ready to go."
On possibly recruiting former teammate Jeff Garcia: "(Jon Gruden) talked to me about that. He knows I have protected him real well over the last few years. So I wouldn't tell him to come somewhere that I don't think is going to win a championship and a place I don't think is good. That's why I was willing to do what I had to do."
On the prospect of going up against Simeon Rice everyday at practice: "It's actually going to make both of us better. Simeon has had a great, great career and I think he'll be able to learn some things from me and I'll learn some things from him. We'll be able to help each other. I am actually glad he's my teammate."
On playing for Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Bill Muir: "I talked with him and it is quite interesting. I've only had to play for two offensive line coaches and that's Bobb McKittrick, who was a well-respected offensive line coach and well respected throughout the league. And Pat Morris, who took over for Bobb and people respect him kind of the same way. Bill Muir, I met with him, I talked with him. He knew Bobb McKittrick, he knows Pat Morris. Some of the things he was able to enlighten me with about the game already I've been nothing but willing to accept. I am excited about playing and having him coach me."