Tampa Bay Buccaneers

BUCCANEERS QUOTES 1-21-21

HEAD COACH BRUCE ARIANS

(On the status of WR Antonio Brown and DL Vita Vea for Sunday's game)

"Antonio, he'll be a game-time decision. He wouldn't have to practice – he's veteran enough and he knows what he's doing. We'll see what happens. Vita moved around pretty good today when it was full speed."

(On RB Kenjon Barner's availability to contribute on special teams)

"Jaydon [Mickens has] has been doing a good job. [Barner] would help as a gunner, but we'd still have to make a roster move to get him back up, so we've got to wait and see how this all goes."

(On why the offense's conversion percentage in the red zone has decreased in recent weeks)

"A little bit of all the above – mostly execution. Some of it is protection, some of it is routes, some of it is catching the ball. We've had a couple go off our fingertips in the last few games that we need to catch."

(On how his coaching style has changed this season while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic)

"Not at all."

(On if he is more concerned about cold temperatures or high winds during Sunday's game)

"Definitely the wind. The wind is a much, much bigger factor. I don't consider it cold unless it's single digits. It's not going to affect the game at 28 degrees, but the wind really affects the game."

(On rookie WR Tyler Johnson's contributions)

"It's fantastic. He's modeled himself after Chris [Godwin] – he's doing a great job blocking, he does not drop balls and he's improved tremendously. I didn't know if we were going to be able to salvage the year after that hamstring [injury] and all that missed time, but he has worked his tail off."

(On OLB Jason Pierre-Paul's health entering Sunday's game)

"The one thing about JPP [is] he doesn't really need to be on the practice field much. He knows what he's doing – it's just getting to the game with as much juice as possible. I thought he played really, really well last week. We've got a couple guys that I don't see practicing that much, [but] it doesn't affect their ballgame."

(On the possibility of TE Rob Gronkowski returning to football next season)

"It's a long way away from talking about all that kind of stuff, but he's playing extremely well for us and I don't see any drop off."

(On Packers QB Aaron Rodgers' ability to manipulate defenses with his eyes)

"He kind of invented that stuff. Aaron is outstanding at looking one way [but] throwing the other. His ability to make plays out of nothing – I think it's one of the best in the league because he can just flick the ball and be so accurate with it whether it's deep [or] short. His movement in the pocket, I think he's one of the best there is."

(On what a win in Sunday's NFC Championship Game would mean for former Buccaneers players)

"I'll get a text [saying] congratulations from those guys. When the Bucs win, they win. [I am] really, really proud of the heritage they left, but this is about making names for ourselves now and I'm sure they're going to enjoy it."

(On if he subscribes to the theory that the true mark of a great quarterback is the number of Super Bowls they win)

"Not really. I go back to Dan Marino – he's arguably the best ever and he didn't have any [Super Bowl wins]. So much of it is your team [and] how good is your team? Your defense and all the football players around you – not just your quarterback. Quarterbacks get all the laurels and the blame and so do the coaches. This is the ultimate team sport and I just happened to be standing on the opposite sideline of the last Super Bowl that [Aaron Rodgers] won. He played really, really well."

(On what separates the quarterbacks he has worked with throughout his career)

"I think they all possess very, very similar traits. Their preparation is unbelievable, they're obviously great, talented guys. I like to say God gave them all the ability [and] you just try to get out of the way. They're all very, very similar and they can impose their will on the huddle."

(On his memories of coaching at Lambeau Field)

"Just the history of the place. I think they [have] great fans, it's always been a joy to go coach there just because of the history of the game. We won some [and] we lost some, but Lambeau is one of the true iconic venues to play in."

(On how much the team will rely on its gameplan from its Week 6 victory over Green Bay when preparing for Sunday's game)

"I think you look at what they've done in their last eight ballgames and it's different. You defend what you see now – that game is history. They're a different football team and we are too, so it's a matter of what you see in the last eight games versus the first eight and get ready to play."

(On how momentum has carried Tampa Bay through its postseason run)

"I think it's just a matter of continuing to build confidence – confidence without arrogance. Respecting your opponent, getting ready to play [and] taking care of business every single day. Then, build until Sundays. We have a very confident football team and we very, very [much] respect our opponents."

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR TODD BOWLES

(On what Green Bay does offensively that makes them challenging to face and gameplan against)

"They're playing great football now. They're running the ball and throwing it well, they've got everybody healthy, they're clicking on all cylinders and everybody is in sync. You can tell everybody is comfortable in the system and they're executing very well."

(On if there is a key to how the Tampa Bay defense has been able to force interceptions from quarterbacks who typically do not turn it over)

"No, the ball just bounced right those days. They work hard, they try to grab some [and] it's fortunate that we can get them. We just hope to keep getting them."

(On if he watches Tampa Bay's Week 6 game against Green Bay or if he will focus on Green Bay's recent games)

"You watch the last six [to] eight. At the beginning of the year, they're trying to figure themselves out. That game means nothing way back when – they're playing great football and we're a different team as well."

(On DL Vita Vea possibly being able to return for Sunday's game)

"Just to see him out there running around has been great for me personally [with] the relationship that we have. Hopefully we can keep winning and he can get back. That would be great if he can."

(On his thoughts on the lack of minority coaches hired for head coaching positions this offseason)
"I have my own personal thoughts on it. The biggest thing is there [are] only 32 jobs and they're going to hire [with] personal preference [for] who they hire right now. It's really an offensive league right now [with] the way that things are going. We've got to win [a game] to get to the Super Bowl – that's probably the least of my worries. There's a lot of qualified guys that deserve chances to be head coaches that are African American."

(On if LB Devin White is carried by his confidence or if certain players know when they are going to make big plays in big games)

"He's a confident player. He's always talking, communicating and everything. Great players usually smell blood in the water – fortunate that it worked out for him [against New Orleans] and he made the play. We like where he's at mentally right now. I think sitting at home for a week really inspired him to show what he was missing, so he wanted to come out and make a splash."

(On if shutting down Green Bay's run and forcing Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to throw the ball frequently is a good strategy)

"The run is not a good thing and the pass is not a good thing against these guys – they do both very well. We've just got to play hard for four quarters, play our ballgame and try to make some plays. We know it's a tough opponent, we know they've got a great quarterback and we know they've got a great running game as well."

(On the biggest changes the defense faces when transitioning from preparing to play Saints QB Drew Brees to preparing to face Packers QB Aaron Rodgers)

"Just honing in on the details, honestly. At this point in time, they know who we are [and] we know who they are. Whoever executes better is going to win the ballgame, so we've just got to lock in. When you play great teams and great quarterbacks – and they have great players on that team – you've got to make big plays. We've got to make big plays, but it's got to be within the scheme."

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR BYRON LEFTWICH

(On how the uncertainty around WR Antonio Brown's availability impacts his development of a gameplan and who would fill in for Brown if he could not play)

"It all depends on what role I need them to do on that specific play. Obviously, we would love to have [Brown]. He'll be a game-time decision. The good thing is I know him well enough to know that if he is healthy, I can put him in position and put him in spots to have success. We'll just have to see. It's not really difficult because I've got an idea [about his status compared to] if it would have just come upon us the day of the game. I've got all week to really think through all those different things that may happen – is he going to play [or] is he [not] going to play? He'll be a game-time decision [and] we'll be ready for whichever way it goes."

(On his memories of playing in Green Bay during his career)

"When you think of it, it's the mecca of football. You really think it's one of the meccas in football. It's like [Madison Square] Garden in basketball [and] I guess it's like Wrigley Field and all those in baseball. It's a beautiful place to play the game of football. A beautiful facility – just from being inside it – the way it looks [and] all of the names that are hanging on the walls there. It's a beautiful thing. It's a great place to play the game of football. Some of us call it the mecca from a football standpoint, but it's a beautiful place to play. It's football – it's the old school football and what football is all about."

(On the significance of QB Tom Brady and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers competing against each other in a playoff game)

"Most of the time when you get to championship games, it's these kind of guys that are playing in them. It's hard to get here. The quarterback has so much to do with getting to these type of games. Really, in NFC Championships, you really have two really good quarterbacks playing at a high level and that's probably why both teams are there playing in that game. Obviously, these are two of the greats – two of the best to ever do it. We're really just getting ready, though. We're just really getting ready [and] trying to prepare ourselves to get ready for a tough defense – a defense that has a lot of really good players on it, a defense that has been playing lights out. We're just trying to do what we can to prepare ourselves this week to get ready to play [on] Sunday."

(On how Green Bay's defense has changed since the two teams played in Week 6)

"They're playing determined, they're getting turnovers, they're getting to the quarterback, they're stingy [and] they're not giving up a lot of points. They're playing at a high level, they've got players at all three levels of their defense, they've got really good players and obviously they've got a good offense. We've got a good football team [and] we've got to get ready for [the game]. That's why we're preparing as we're preparing right now [and] getting ready to try to find a way to win the game on Sunday."

(On what his conversations are like with QB Tom Brady on Saturday and Sunday mornings)

"A lot of communication. Talking about every different scenario [and] every different situation that can come upon us. We're just trying to make sure we dot our I's and cross our T's where nothing surprises us. We're at the end of the year now. We've always done this, but it was a little different earlier in the year because it was the first time we were doing it together. Now I think we know each other pretty well, so we're just trying to make sure we've got everything taken care of – all the different situations that may come about. Whatever time is needed for that, we try to put that in and make sure we get that done."

(On where Brady has had the biggest impact on the team this season)
"I think leadership. Leadership and his ability to get his team in these types of games. He's been in a lot of these games, as we all know. He's played in a lot of these championship games and it starts, really, with his leadership from day one. Making sure that everybody understands the importance of why we do everything day in and day out to give ourselves an opportunity to be in these types of moments. I just think the leadership that he brings to our team [and] the awareness that he has from being in these moments [and] being in these situations is something that we have benefitted from greatly."

(On the best part about having TE Rob Gronkowski at this point of the season and if he is surprised Gronkowski has not worn down after 20 weeks of football)
"I never really expected him to wear down. He takes good care of his body. Who are we kidding – every time you have Gronk in the huddle, it's a plus for your team. Like I tell you guys, his personality, the energy that he brings to us, the joy that he has with this game of football is a unique thing. Very few players and very few human beings have his outlook on life and football. He's a unique guy, he's a special guy [and] he's another guy that's been in a lot of these situations [and] a lot of these different scenarios. I think it's good for us to have as many of those type of guys in the huddle as possible. Gronk is a special, unique guy. Obviously, he is who he is from a tight end standpoint and what he's done in this league, so I'm happy to have him in my huddle."

TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI

(On if this is one of the most talented offensive groups he has been a part of)

"Yeah, I would say it definitely ranks up there if it's not number one. I've been around a lot of great, talented players, but I would say overall – as a group, from position to position [with] how many guys we have at each position – I would say this definitely ranks up there, if it's not number one for talent as a whole. Yeah, definitely."

(On if this season has met or exceeded the expectations he had when he decided to come out of retirement now that the team is playing for an NFC Championship)

"It has matched a lot of hopes that I had coming here big time. It's just so hard to win football games in the NFL. Week in and week out, it's just hard to win games. The main goal, obviously, is always to make it to the Super Bowl, but it's hard. It's one of the hardest things to do out there in the sports world. You've got to put work in week in and week out. My expectations coming in were just to work hard week in and week out and just give the best I could every single week, no matter what I had. Just give it my all – if it was good [or] if it wasn't good, it was still my all. Expectations – really, that's all, is to give it your all. Obviously you want to win games and the main goal is to win it all, but to just be where we are now is just unbelievable. It's exceptional [and] I feel like it's well-deserved overall as an organization. Everyone has been working hard. Everyone has been putting their time in. Overall, it's been a great experience. I'm not surprised that we're this far, but at the same time, I know how hard it is to get this far and how much work gets put in." 

(On how effective QB Tom Brady is when you can protect him from a blocking standpoint in the postseason)

"When you protect him and you give him the time, I think it gives him the ability to make the best decision for the team. I feel like when he has time back there – he'll hold onto the ball for sure when he has time – but when he's sitting back there, he's relaxed and he knows he's not being pressured, I feel like it gives him the best opportunity to make the best decision on where the ball should go, on who should get the ball, on where the pass should be, on what coverage to read and all of that. It's huge to keep him clean [and] it's huge to give him time. Just overall, I feel like any team that gives their quarterback time, it gives them the best chance to win, so we've got to stay on that. We've got to stay on top of our game in that aspect and we've got to keep giving him time so he can get that ball out." 

CENTER RYAN JENSEN

(On the offense's success running the ball in recent weeks)

"Being able to control the line of scrimmage and being able to run the ball efficiently has been huge for us, obviously, in the last five, six, seven weeks. For us, it just helps open up everything else from the passing game, the play action. Running the ball and wearing pass rushers out is always a good thing to do."

(On G Aaron Stinnie's performance against New Orleans in his first-career start)

"Considering the situation he was put in against a really good defense in the New Orleans Saints, he played awesome. He definitely showed up to play and played very well."

(On if he and QB Tom Brady have started making similar pre-snap reads as the season has progressed)

"As the year goes on, obviously, the center-quarterback relationship is a big deal with making sure everybody is on the same page. Me and Tom had a conversation when he first signed about [how] eventually we're going to start seeing things the way he wants to see them and the way he sees things. Over the course of the year, I would definitely say we're pretty much on the same page 100 percent of the time when it comes to how he wants certain looks [identified] and things like that. Over the course of the year, that relationship – in that aspect – has grown tremendously."

-BUCCANEERS-

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