HEAD COACH GREG SCHIANO
(On tight end Luke Stocker)
"He was limited in practice. He's got a little issue that I think is going to be okay for game day, but we'll see."
(On running back Doug Martin's health)
(On guard Carl Nicks' health)
"[He's] pretty good. [He was] limited, didn't do a full workload."
(On having Nicks and guard Davin Joseph in the lineup together)
"Yeah, it'll be nice. Hopefully that'll happen Sunday [against New England]."
(On the impact of having Nicks and Joseph in the lineup together)
"I don't know, we'll see Sunday. We haven't done it yet. Let's find out. I can talk about it, but let's see."
(On if the team needs a third receiving threat to step up)
"We probably would be well-served if we could have another guy involved more. We're reading out plays – that's what we do. We read them out and we throw the ball where it's supposed to go. You can tilt the odds in the favor of a guy, but defenses have a say in where you go with the ball. I don't think it's for a lack of trying to be balanced, [it's] just kind of playing out that way right now, which is a little weird, right? Because usually they try to take away [wide receiver] Vincent [Jackson], and I'm sure, this week, there'll be a method to try to take Vincent out of it."
(On if other receivers have been covered or quarterback Josh Freeman just hasn't found them)
"[It's] a combination. We've dropped some too, we've thrown it to other guys and they haven't caught it. We need to catch the ball all the time, consistently, when they're catchable. I don't mean the uncatchable ones. I mean the catchable ones."
(On the challenges of facing New England quarterback Tom Brady)
"He's a great player, number one. [He's] well-coached – they have a very good scheme. I think a real big strength of their scheme is it's got the flexibility to exploit someone's weaknesses, whatever the defense's weaknesses may be – schematically or personnel-wise. And Tom's been in that offense for so long, that I think he understands it so well that, certainly, the coaches coach him well, and then, in game operation, I think he can really figure it out very well on his own. So, it's a huge challenge, much like when you play [Denver Broncos quarterback] Peyton Manning or [New Orleans Saints quarterback] Drew Brees, that level of guy. It's so demanding on your defense, because [if] you make one mistake, it's usually going to be very, very costly. And the offensive line does a good job protecting him. They have a veteran group that understands the scheme as well. That's what makes it a huge challenge: both talent and scheme. [They're] well coached, technically – very well-coached."
(On what defensive lineman Derek Landri was providing before his injury)
"We rotate defensive linemen. That's one of our core beliefs, with the exception, usually, of [defensive tackle] Gerald [McCoy], unless he's tired. Derek was providing some quality reps, whether it be run down or pass down, but that's part of football. So, now, the next guy has to be able to step up. Without giving away things, we'll make some moves to get people in position to help there. We don't want to change our philosophy if we can help it. Personnel can dictate that sometimes."
(On striking the right balance in playing hard)
"We continue to emphasize the legal strike zone where you can hit, and we continue to emphasize playing very, very hard, every down, [all] 11 guys. That's really just what we continue to emphasize. We'll get it."
(On being unable to simulate in-game tackling situations in practice)
"That's true, but [we do] play very, very hard, 100% [in practice]. We emphasize the heck out of it on the field. There's certain times when a receiver's in a position where he might be [in] the 'defenseless position of a receiver,' which I understand. It's on video – we [tape] every single thing we do out there, and when we come back in here, when they're done with you guys, they go to meetings and watch that video, and we try to emphasize – and will continue to do that – until we get it corrected."
(On his message to the team this week)
"[It's been] very similar to what it's been from the beginning. We have a lot of good players, a lot of good coaches. 'Do your job.' Everybody's got a role in this organization. 'Do your job the very best you can, and it'll work itself out.' And it does, it always has, and it will this time."
(On if defensive lineman William Gholston will see more playing time Sunday)
"We'll have to wait and see until Sunday. We'll see what the best combination of people is. A big part of our job is to make sure we get the right guys in the 46 [players who dress on game day]."
(On the third option in the passing game)
"Well, we'd like it to be more productive, but it's not just [wide receiver] Kevin [Ogletree]. It's whoever that third guy is. It could be a running back for that matter. But we're a work in progress. We're getting better, that's why we're out there practicing. Kevin's practicing. We just need to get better."
(On the success of the starting linebackers)
"It's at a young age and at a young part of the season too – we're two games in. They've had two good games. As I always say to them, it's about consistency. That's what we need to do. We need to perform week-in and week-out. They're talented guys that have the ability to do things. They can all run, they can all hit, they can all, athletically, do some things in coverage. But you're only as good as your last play, so it's all about New England now – will they do it against them? That's my challenge, and I know it's their challenge."
(On preparing for the possibility that New England tight end Rob Gronkowski plays Sunday)
"We need to make sure we're ready for that. You can't control that, but you can be prepared for it."
(On the success opposing tight ends have had so far)
"I don't think there were similarities in the [Jimmy] Graham/[Kellen] Winslow production. If there was a common thread there, it was an oddity. Winslow's reception yards were a little different – one came off a scramble; it was a little bit of a different situation. Jimmy Graham [is a] dominant player. [They] turned him loose one time for a big, long play. So, I don't think there's a theme there, but [they're] certainly two good players that had good days against us. Whether it's Rob [Gronkowski] or their other tight ends, we have to make sure that we always have them accounted for, which, scheme-wise, we do – sometimes more tightly than other times."
(On reducing the number of penalties)
"Well, it's hurt our team. I'm not one that says, 'We have to be number one in lowest number of penalties.' That's not my belief. I think, if you're really playing hard, you can be in the top 10. The ones that bother me are the silly and the selfish penalties. The silly ones are focus penalties: aligning wrong, illegal procedures, false starts, defensive offsides. Those are the ones that really get under your skin. And then the selfish ones are not the hard playing personal fouls but the ones that are – if it's taunting or celebrating over-the-top – those, to me, are selfish. I group them into those two categories. 'Playing hard' penalties are going to happen if you're playing really hard. It's well documented – we have to make sure that our playing hard is under control and that we hit people in the strike zone, and that's something we've worked hard on doing."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR BILL SHERIDAN
(On how the linebackers have met the high expectations coming into the season)
"Like you said we did really have high expectations for those guys coming in because they're talented and the played for us a year ago [linebacker] Mason Foster for two years now, but If you ask them they'll probably tell you about the things they need to get better at. That's really been kind of a theme for our whole defense. Regardless of how well we may have played in spurts over the first couple of weeks, there's so much stuff we can get better at, situational football and consistent performance. We did have those expectations of those guys and they're competitive guys that like to play and they really prepare themselves during the week, which is probably why they have the best chance to play well on Sunday."
(On the mistakes the defense has made the first two weeks)
"One the final drive, and then the other one was the one we turned loose. We turned [New Orleans Saints tight-end] Jimmy Graham loose and what really was a busted defense. That's self-inflicted, it had nothing to do with route, nobody got faked out, there was some miscommunication on our part, that's what happens, [what] can happen. A lot of the times that does happen, it doesn't come back to hurt you right, they just hand the ball off and somebody tackles the guy and it's an insignificant mistake. But that was very glaring and even though it happened in the first part of the game, it came back to haunt us. So those are probably the two things."
(On what to take away from the defenses performances in the first two weeks)
"I guess I would kind of say it's a two-fold. One is it's encouraging because you see a lot of competitive performances out there and guys playing with a lot of instinct and a lot of effort and being very physical, so those things are very encouraging and we definitely try and build on that but in the first two weeks there's so many things that we can correct. There are so many, I'll call them mistakes, that are happening and they aren't all critical and they all aren't actually hurting us on a particular plays, but they'll come back to get you if you don't get them corrected. So that's kind of been the focus for our guys getting ready for this game."
(On why they didn't allow cornerback Darrelle Revis to cover Saints receiver Marques Colston one-on-one on the final drive)
"No, we definitely thought about it afterwards for sure. We do try and orchestrate that during the game, as far as getting him on a receivers we want to have him covered or the coverage types that we play. He's not as dependent on having a half field safety behind him necessarily, and as we go forward every week when we game plan we look at who's perceived as the top receivers for that team and how do we best matchup all of our personnel, not just Darrelle. But you're right, has a very unique skill set in that area and as we go forward we're definitely going to try and orchestrate that into scenarios when we can, whether it's man coverages or pressures or stuff like that."
(On if they will do more one-on-one coverages with Revis)
"Like I said in hindsight we're geniuses but we talked about that after the game and as we go forward, have in the system where you can get that. Where you can get him on a particular guy, even if that isn't happen to be lining up on his side or a particular wide receiver"
(On why there seems to be a lot of mass substitutions on defense)
"I would say two-parts to that, one was some of it was substitution or personnel groups like [defensive tackle] Derek [Landri] or some of the other guys they play maybe in our dime package but they're not really starters in our what we call our base, our normal first-or second-down stuff, then we'll have what we call regular personnel on the field. The other [option] is to try and keep fresh guys in there and we have the luxury of having some depth at that position, so it was probably a combination of both. When you see those mass substitutions it's because they're going to four wide receivers now and so we're going to take our SAM [strong-side linebacker] out and bring a nickel in and that kind of stuff. And we do that with some of defensive line as well, dime defensive line personnel, as well as base. Different kind of guys that maybe better at pass rush than playing the run."
(On the effects of losing a close game)
"I would say immediately, it's sickening, it's gut wrenching, there's no doubt. I couldn't sugarcoat that in anyway. It's a very sick feeling, especially because the amount of time and preparation you put in and the players do to get ready and like you say you put yourself in a position to be there at the end of the game. But the nice thing about our sport is we have a game the next week, so, within a 24-hour window, you're so completely immersed in the next team that whatever frustration or heartache you must have had, that's so far in the past because you have something in front of you that's so challenging in and of itself that you're moving on to that."
(On how tough it is dealing with loses in close games)
"There's always a 'Should've, would've, could've.' 'Man I wish I had that one back' or 'I could've done this, maybe done this,' but I don't think that when we're calling it. We have a plan, everything is all planned out anyway, so you're basically just executing the plan, you're not grabbing something out of thin air and you work on it during the week and you plan on it working and sometimes they out execute your guys. I try not to second guess too much, but you definitely rethink it philosophically as you reflect back to what transpired in those two-minute drills."
(On if linebackers Lavonte David and Mason Foster's increased playing time together has helped them)
"Oh sure, because the communication that goes on between them especially in the passing game and how we play the coverages. I haven't thought about the way you just described it, but that sounds fantastic and really, the good defenses around the league have guys who have played together for a while, it's not a revolving door with a bunch of new faces. The nature of our league with free agency, you're going to have some of that every year but if you can get your core guys to be around for three, four, five years I think that's what you'll usually find with the good defenses."
*(On changing defensive calls late in the play clock and substituting players)
*"That's the biggest thing, you can always critique the timing of it. How late in the clock was it for us? They may be running a route into what they'd love to see you in but at least you're playing in a defense that all 11 guys are playing the same. That example-and we've had several of them in the first two weeks - we just refer to them as communication break downs. There was some disconnect either a guy, or two guys, or three guys and it's happened more than you would like. In many plays it hasn't affected us that the average guy watching the game wouldn't know it, but that was very glaring. Your point is very well taken, there is a fine line where it's getting down to snap time and yeah, maybe that's the best thing but sometimes you can just let it eat and you play it out and at least you're playing a defense coordinated where everybody is playing the same thing."
(On the play of defensive end Adrian Clayborn)
"That's the one thing about him, is you're going to get a lot of great effort and pocket push and pursuit on the ball. For all of our d-linemen [defensive line coach] Randy [Melvin] does a great job and [pass rush specialist] Bryan Cox and [assistant defensive coordinator] Bob Fraiser, they're always talking about the technique so that their pass rushes are more effective and they're not just counting on overpowering guys. Or, in the run game they're actually playing with better techniques with their hands so they can not only knock the blockers back but leverage them correctly and get off to make plays. He can still develop and grow in that area, but the one thing about is he's going to go hard and he can really push the pocket just by pure power rush. He'll run and chase you down he makes a lot of run and hit plays away from the ball."
QUARTERBACK JOSH FREEMAN
(On how frustrating it is to have all the key third downs to fail because of simple mistakes)
"On third down, we look at it as we're playing against some good defenses and the stuff that we get when we execute, we have to make those plays. The reason we get that first down can't be on us, they've got to make a great play to stop us. Cleaning those up; the illegal procedures, the drops - those things happen over the course of the season but finding a way to limit those, that's been a big point of focus."
(On if the team's offensive struggles come from physical or execution)
"Its execution, there's so much that happens as far as coverage and match- ups. The Coach calls a play, our responsibility as players is to go out and execute the play."
(On if he thinks some veteran talent such as Dallas Clark is missing from the team's offense)
"No, I can't really say that. I feel confident with all our guys. [Tight end] Luke [Stocker], he's made plays for us, [tight end] Nate Byham, he's made plays for us and we've got a young guy, [tight end] Tim Wright, we're looking for big things out of him this week. As we continue, and talk about the guys outside: [Wide receivers] Mike [Williams] and Vincent [Jackson], Kevin [offense] stepping up, so I'm very happy with the guys I have."
(On why he takes shots with Vincent Jackson over some of the other players)
"We've taken our shots, but each play there's a lot of different places a ball can go and we like to say if we get Vincent matched up one on one with, really, most of these defenders - any defender - you want to give him the opportunity. On one of the plays that got called back that was really just an opportunity a shot just saying 'Hey, it's Vincent Jackson he's going to make a play. Unfortunately, we had the illegal procedure."
(On how he took only having nine completions in a game)
"I don't really look at the numbers. Are there balls I wish I had back? Yeah, of course. Hindsight's always 20/20, but I just continue to work, continue to try to find a way to get the ball in the receiver's hands, keep the chains moving."
(On if he thinks the vertical passing game needs to get going to help the offense)
"Yeah, we've been close on a number of shots this year, but it's a matter of getting in- sync and hitting them it's really what it comes down to and I know we've been out on the practice field, guys have been working extremely hard and we have a lot of confidence that we're going to get this thing cranked up real soon."
(On if he thinks there is any difference in what he's seen from the New England defense in the last two weeks and what he might see this Sunday)
"With the Patriots, we're not really 100 percent sure what we're going to see, but this year they've showed, primarily, four-down fronts. They mix it up and they have a very talented front even across the board, D-line, linebackers, and they like to play man coverage and they're really good at it. Getting in one on one match ups is what they really thrive on and not really allowing you to – they try to keep everything under a shell, they want to keep it all in tight and they're banking on their guys being able to match up and play man. They do a great job."
(On if he feels the way they play man coverage will benefit the Bucs offense)
"Yeah, anytime Mike and Vincent get singled up – but they also do a great job of mixing in one-eye, two-eye. Like I said, it's a lot of man and the safety does a great job of kind of disguising the coverage, playing over the top. Getting to practice with them early on, getting to kind of get a feel for them as a defense definitely is going to help from a familiarity level. I'm definitely excited about the opportunity."
(On if he thinks his confidence level is the same or if he needs to warm up)
"I'm as confident as I've ever been, I'm as comfortable with the offense as I've ever been and I've got extremely talented guys around me. We're just going to keep plugging away, and go out on Sunday and make it happen."
*(On the vibe in the locker room this week)
*"It's actually been pretty high-energy. Guys are bouncing around. Coming in Monday after the game, it was a pretty somber day. Obviously the game didn't end how we wanted it to, but Coach [Schiano] said, 'You can't let the New Orleans Saints beat you twice in seven days.' After that, we went home on Monday, came back – a lot of guys – on Tuesday. When we started up Wednesday, there was a lot of energy. A lot of guys [are] looking forward to an opportunity to go out and get a win."
(On wanting to get the running backs involved in the passing game)
"Yeah, no question. One thing about our running backs is they're all extremely versatile. They can go out and make linebackers miss and they have great hands. There was a 3rd down, maybe 3rd quarter [against New Orleans] where we hit [running back] Doug [Martin] on an out route – it ended up getting called back – but finding a way to get those guys in space and get the ball on them is definitely going to be a bigger option in our offense."
(On what's frustrating about the lack of offensive success)
"Obviously, you want to go out and you want to play extremely well, put up a lot of numbers offensively, and score points. I think the frustration comes from knowing that we're [not] that far away and knowing that this offense is capable of scoring a lot more than seven points in a game. We just have to find a way to stop hurting ourselves, get better on third down and we'll be just fine. The level we've been practicing at has been really high, guys are flying around – the precision, the timing. To double back around, it's just a matter of not hurting ourselves."
(On how to improve going forward)
"It's just everybody locking in. We try to keep it up-tempo and try to get guys moving around, guys locking in and hearing the call and just getting there. This has been the sharpest, so far, we've been, this week in practice. So, I'm looking forward to that transferring into the game and looking good."
(On his NFL debut against New England in London in 2009) "It's really a distant memory. Obviously, it was [my] first time getting snaps in a real game, but it's completely different now. I think there are very few faces on their team now that were on the team then. But the Patriots are going to be a very big challenge. They're a very talented defense, [they're] experienced. Like I said, I'm very excited about the opportunity."