Tampa Bay Buccaneers



(On what he is looking forward to evaluating in live game action on Sunday)

"Well, the tackling part of it. You don't get to tackle as much coming in at the time we did, but that's for everybody in the league. [It's about] taking the proper angles and making the right tackles."

(On if he still gets the butterflies for the first game)

"All the time. The first game, opening day, is always important, especially as a coach because you don't know what to expect from the other team. And partly, you have to make sure your team is taken care of, so it's always butterflies [waiting] to see what happens."

(On preparing for an offense that has a new pairing of coach and quarterback)

"I think everybody is going to see the same thing. Whether you have a new coach, new quarterback or whatever, you have to prepare for opening day, and you have not seen that team in a year. Everybody is going to have new wrinkles. You just have to trust and read the keys, trust your players and adjust on the fly. Then you just coach football and play football. I don't think you can overthink it."

(On how much better his defensive players understand the defense this year as opposed to the first matchup with New Orleans in 2019)

"As far as understanding it, they know it a little better than they knew it a year ago. Obviously, with experience comes time, so they understand it a little better. We're still getting some kinks out here and there, but I think they have a good understanding of what we're trying to do."

(On where the defense stands in terms of its disguises)

"I mean we're ahead of last year just because of the experience, but that doesn't make us experts by [any] means. We just have to continue to keep working, keep trusting each other and keep playing off each other. I think if they do that, they'll be fine."

(On his confidence in S Antoine Winfield Jr.)

"He's a good football player, regardless of this situation or any situation. He's a football player [and] he's earned that right. He's smart, he's heady, he makes plays and he makes you trust him. He just goes out and plays football. That's all he has to do on Sunday."

(On what he took away from the two games vs. the New Orleans Saints last season)

"The biggest thing is that we lost the games – that's what sticks out the most to me. All nine games stick out to me in the loss column. There are no two games that separate [from] the others. You don't like to lose as a competitor, but you learn from each experience and you grow from it. You should be pissed off just to play ball anyway. They've gotten better mentally, but you've got to put it on the field obviously. Every game is an important game and this is the first one so it's the most important one."

(On if they have to change up signals due to Saints QB Jameis Winston's familiarity with the Buccaneers defense)

"No, I don't think so because Jameis was not in the defensive meeting rooms. He's on the offensive side of the ball, so that doesn't bother me at all. In this league, players change teams all the time. It's just part of the business. We'll line up and play, we'll line up and play and then we'll go from there."

(On if ILB Devin White being voted a captain for the 2020 season is a reflection of his leadership since day one)

"It's not just his leadership skills, I mean he can flat out play. He has physical tools and athletic tools that help him play the game. The fact that his leadership skills are there just plays a big part of it. The guys believe in him [and] we believe in him as a coaching staff, and I think that's a credit to him."

(On preparing for a QB like Drew Brees)

"Every game is different. I think the first game of the year, it doesn't matter who the quarterback is because nobody has seen each other play in a year. You have to cross your 'T's, dot your 'I's and play fundamentally-sound football because they have a lot of playmakers all over the field. We just have to do what we know how to do, play ball and trust our instincts." '

(On potentially being on the field less this season with QB Tom Brady's ability to limit turnovers)

"If we're not on the field, we're not making plays. That's our job to be on the field and try to get stops and turnovers for the offense. We don't mind how long we're out there, we just have to have results while we're out there. That's our focus and that's our goal – to get the ball back and get as many stops as we can to give the offense a chance to score."

(On how many roles Winfield Jr. can play within Bowles' defense)

"That's yet to be determined. Obviously, in this short amount of time right now, he's concentrating on safety. As the season goes along, we'll see what kind of things we can pull out from a gameplan standpoint, but that will be determined at a later date. Right now, we're just concentrating on safety."

(On is anything he is concerned about due to the lack of padded practices this offseason)
"I wouldn't say concerned – obviously the tackling, the mental part of it and the excitement of the first game is all important right there. You just try not to overthink it, you just line up and let them play."


(On his collaboration with QB Tom Brady and what that will look like on Sunday)

"It's gone great so far to be honest with you. Sure, there were some things we need to learn of each other, but that was part of it and that's really what happened [with] every quarterback and play-caller in any training camp. You always [are] a little different than you were the year before. I think you'll see a mixture of both. I know that's been the hot topic, and it's amazing that you guys are still talking about this [for] this long – summer in and summer out. I just believe the quarterback determines the offense. I always believe that. You guys always hear me say that and it won't be [any] different this year. I'll try to put him in position to be successful as much as possible. Now, whatever that looks like, whatever that's going to be, we'll see. But, that's my mindset. That's always been my mindset – always put the quarterback in position to be as successful as possible."

(On if the offensive gameplan changes if WR Mike Evans is unable to play on Sunday)

"I've got all the confidence in everybody that we have that's on this team, so I have the utmost confidence in all our guys. We'll have to wait and see on Sunday to see what happens with Mike."

(On how much Brady will be able to do at the line of scrimmage in his first game with the Buccaneers)

"It will grow as we go, but he's a smart guy. We've had enough time to add a lot of that into our gameplan where he can continuously put us in the best position to make plays. We've had enough time for that. Obviously, it will get better as the year goes on, and I believe that's with every team. Every team we're playing, we're using the same time, we've all been short on time. But, there will be some of those things in our offense where he has full control over everything. He has full understanding of everything, so there will be some [changes at the line of scrimmage], but it will get more expansive as we get through the season."

(On if Brady will be able to make more adjustments throughout the game because of the way he is able to understand defenses)

"We'll have to see. That's a tough thing to predict because sometimes you need something to adjust [and] sometimes there's no need for adjustments. Those things are always good with a guy like him because you can communicate with him. He has seen it all [and] there's nothing he hasn't seen before, so you can always communicate in all aspects of the game because there's things that he's been doing – like we say, he's been doing this for 20 years now. He's seen everything [and] he's done everything. If something is an adjustment that we have to adjust to, we can easily communicate."

(On what about Brady allows him to be successful in the opening game of the season throughout his career)

"Let's be honest – he's always played at a high level. Week 1, Week 10, Week 12, Week 15, playoffs – that's kind of what he's always done. I wouldn't expect [anything] else of him. He's a proven guy, he works his tail off to play as good as he can possibly play. I know I've only been with him a short time, but I see the work that he puts in. I love the way that he sees the football game and it allows him to play at a high level. I don't think the week differs for guys like him. I think he always comes out and tries to put himself in the best position possible to have success, and obviously through the record, he's had that. But, to go 14-3 [in Week 1], it's a team aspect. You don't win football games by yourself. He understands that and we'll just try to do what we can to try and add to that."

(On how much he enjoys the challenge of leading Brady against another elite quarterback like Saints QB Drew Brees)

"I don't even think of that. Drew Brees [doesn't] come across my mind when they have the players that they have on defense. I'm more concerned about the guys that they have on defense. I think you guys – from a fan aspect – understand the quarterbacks that are in this game, but my focus is always on the defense and who we have to compete against."

(On him providing Brady words of encouragement)
"Trust me, he doesn't need too many pick-me-ups. He knows exactly who he is as a player. We're developing something more than just a player-coach [relationship]. Just having the ability to have a guy like this to coach is fun. We're just trying to have as much fun as we can, but it is a pleasure to coach him and to coach a guy that has these type of instincts [and] this type of mind for the game – my job is to really put him in a position to play well. Whatever that takes – if it's needing to give him a little help or needing me to push, I'll give him that, but I don't think I need to do that too much."

(On how he is looking forward to collaborating with Brady during the game and making adjustments as the game progresses)

"When we first met each other I asked him for one thing – I said always speak out loud. Don't think anything. I don't care what you think [or] how you feel about it. I want to know exactly how you feel about everything. I told him he will not hurt my feelings, but I wanted to have an understanding so we can truly learn each other and then we can get to the next step. That's been our whole plan – we communicate well, we don't hold [anything] back, we say what we need to say because I want to truly have an understanding. Like I tell you, the play-caller [has] to truly know the guy that's behind center. I don't think you can call plays for a guy if you don't really know the guy, know how he's wired, know what gets him moving [and] know what makes him tick. That's what we've been doing all summer – just trying to develop that. We put in as much time as possible to do it and now we're here. The game is on Sunday and we'll see."

(On using a committee approach at the running back position as opposed to one primary running back)

"I actually think we have primary backs. I trust in Ro (Ronald Jones II), I trust in Shady (LeSean McCoy). We're just learning Leonard [Fournette] – we just got Leonard in this week. He's doing things to make sure I trust him in this short time that I had him. I told you guys, I think we have gifted guys in that room. RoJo is one of the most gifted guys I've seen run the football, and we get to add another guy like Leonard who has had success in this league and we have Shady. I feel good about all those guys. Those guys are really good football players in that room and I'm high on those guys. But, I think we've got a bunch of guys that we can give the ball to 15, 20 times a game if need be."

(On how he keeps all the running backs happy)

"Well, first you just try to win, right? Winning makes everyone happy. When you're on a team, any time you're in a team game, it's not about an individual. It's not an individual thing at all. So, we'll do what we have to do to try and win football games, and hopefully that's enough to keep everyone happy."

(On former Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston being on the New Orleans Saints roster and how Tampa has had to change things to avoid Winston remembering their scheme and verbal cues)

"We're aware of that, and that's why I said each year is different. It's a little different terminology just because it's a different quarterback. Things will be different – we do everything according to the quarterback. Not that you're trying to make it easier on the quarterback, but he has a million different things out there to worry about, so you try to smooth things out as much as you can around the edges. That's all specific to the quarterback. It will be a lot different from a words standpoint. We understand that – we understand the situation and we just have to go play. You just have to go play – this thing is going to come down to who executes the best."

(On the versatility of Tampa Bay's tight ends and what that allows them to do offensively)

"We have guys in the room that have played a lot of football [and] we have guys in the room that [have] made plays in this league. It's always good to have a room like that. It doesn't really mean that we'll be in more three tight end sets than we were last year. We'll have to see. But, we'll be ready to get guys the football and put them in the position to win. That's my thought process all the time – just try to put your best guys in position to win that down. If that's three tight ends [or] if that's three wide receivers, [it doesn't] really matter to us. We're trying to do what we can to win the play and try to win football games."

(On what he remembers from QB Josh Rosen when the two were together in Arizona and how Tampa Bay is a good situation for him)

"I don't even think he was 23 at the time – we have a history. His past doesn't really matter at this point. He's come in to be on our practice squad and somebody that we'll try to develop. He's somebody that I do have a relationship with – I know him. But, he's come in doing the same thing. He's coming in [and] putting his hand in the pile. He's going to help us as much as [he] can [and] any way [he] can. Right now he's on the practice squad, so he can do more to help the defense out. Especially during scout team stuff. That's how he has to approach it. He has to approach it every day – 'I'm going out to get better.' He's in the room with a guy that everyone can learn from. Everyone can learn from just the way Tom sees the game [and] the way he plays the game. I think he'll benefit from that. From that standpoint, everything else is just come in, try to work your tail off, get better and we'll see what happens."

(On if he believes more quarterbacks will be able to play longer similar to have Brady and Brees have done)

"I think we could start seeing more just because of these two guys [and] the example that these two guys set. They put out a blueprint on how to do it. It's amazing to watch these guys. Both of these guys are older than me and, man, I couldn't imagine trying to play right now, even though Tom tries to tell me I should come back and try to make a run one day. I get to see every day the efforts that's put into it to be able to play this long. I think these two guys put the blueprint out. I think if you're a young guy right now, that's what you're thinking – 'I'm trying my best to get to 20 years [playing in the NFL.]' I know if I was 23, 24 right now and I had an example [of] the blueprint that these guys put out, I'd be trying to do everything possible to do the same thing they did. With sports science and nutrition and all that right now, it's capable and it's possible. These two guys are showing you that, especially at the level that these two are playing at. It's amazing."


(On if he believes quarterbacks playing into their 40s will become more commonplace in the future)

"I think there's probably better information about recovery and performance than there has ever been. I think people are really getting a better understanding of it than when I started playing football. It's just about making good decisions on a daily basis. I think you have to really make a commitment to doing it. So, will this become a trend? It really just depends on the commitment level of an athlete. If you're not that committed or you don't love it that much, you're not going to put as much time and energy into it. I think if you have a great level of commitment and you can actually use great protocols for how to recover, then yes, certainly. For me, I learned at a young age how to begin to take care of myself, try to repeat those things and got better at them over the years and was really be able to do what a lot of people do with their jobs – you improve over time. I'm just happy to be playing and [I am] excited for the game this Sunday. We have a great opponent. Drew [Brees] is an incredible quarterback. We know they have a great offense but they have a really talented defense. A lot of good young players, a lot of good veteran players – it's a good mix. It's a really sound scheme so it's going to be a great football game."

(On if he thinks about his own 'football mortality' as he enters the beginning of this season)

"For me, it feels like football, so it's very much like a game week that I've been accustomed to for a long time. The difference is there's a lot of things that are new in terms of this is the first game [as a Buccaneer]. The processes that we go to, how to prepare on first down, second down [and] third down, in the red zone, all the different situations that come up – we're talking about them for the first time and it's not a preseason game. I think those things are important and they're an important part of the process, but we just didn't have them this year. I think we realize there's going to be a learning curve associated with how to get up to speed and how to be our best. I think we're putting in the time every day to try and make those corrections and try not to make corrections day after day after day, but to learn from our mistakes so we can be better the next time we take the field."

(On Saints Head Coach Sean Payton utilizing some of Brady's strategies for recovery)

"We've known each other for quite a long time. We actually have the same agent – I like Coach Payton a lot. He's a great football coach [and] he's done a lot for them. I'm happy he's taken some advice from me over the years."

(On being near the end of the preseason after an offseason of learning a new organization)

"We've got one more day of practice before we play a game, so I think that kind of hit me that we've had a lot of these practices leading up to [Week 1]. You finish practice and you go and watch the tape and you get ready for the next practice. I think the reality hit me today that we're actually getting ready to play a game and it's no longer another practice tomorrow. We have live contact, live football, real results and that's something I haven't done in nine months. We're going to have to learn quickly and just get up to speed as quickly as possible. I think the first quarter of the game is probably going to be new for everybody. Just getting out feet wet and understanding the speed of the game will be a little faster than what it's been in practice. Hopefully I can recall some of the things I've done over a period of time and go out there and try to play a real solid football game against a great football team."

(On how the team has worked on its non-verbal communication since the first scrimmage of the preseason)

"I think we're constantly working at it. I don't think we're going to be done with that anytime soon. I think we're going to learn a lot over the course of the season. The only thing you [have] is today – learn from today and our practice today, what we did and we didn't do right and then try to correct it for tomorrow. Then we're going to play a game and we're going to figure out what we're good at and what we're not good at. I wish we knew those things right now, but I think the reality is we don't know what we're very good at [and] we don't know what we're not good at. But, we're going to try some things and we're going to see how it looks under real competition. This is the first time this 2020 team has had a chance to perform and compete together. There's a lot of different parts. Some guys are going to have great years [and] some guys are going to have years they wish may have [been] better. We have to figure out quickly what we can repeat consistently at a very high level to beat good football teams. You don't know it until you go do it. Everyone can hypothesize, predict and so forth, but we get a chance to actually go out there and do something about it."

(On what he is like entering Week 1 and if this season is going to be different for him)

"For me, I try to keep my typical routine, figure out how my body feels, where I'm at mentally, my opponent study and so forth. A lot of mental stuff I never had to put a lot of effort into. It was kind of just there. I think this the first time where I'll be going into a game with a lot of different information and trying to understand how we're going to relate to a lot of different things we're going to see. I'm just trying to work as hard as I can at it, talk to my coaches [and] talk to my teammates so we can all be on the same page. It's a big challenge because there's no margin of error when you play a great football team. The Saints have proven themselves to be that for a long time. They [have] a very good offense, a great defense, they're very well prepared [and] they don't beat themselves. We're going to have to go and play a great football game. There's going to be a lot of us that are getting to know each other for the first time on gameday. I've watched a lot of my teammates play, they've watched me play, but now we're actually going to be on the same field trying to accomplish the same goal. We're going to have to try and get up to speed as quickly as possible."

(On if he can prepare for the new gameday dynamics without crowds or if it is something they will have to figure out as they go along)

"I think definitely we're going to have to figure this out as we go. No one really is sure what it's going to be like on the road with an empty stadium. I think everyone will be watching tonight to see how the flow of the game goes. Ultimately, the team that's going to win is the one that executes the best. It doesn't matter if there's two million people in the stands or if there's nobody in the stands – the team that's going to win is the team that goes out there and does their job, does their assignment, makes their plays, plays with good fundamentals, plays together [and] communicates well. All the things that it takes to be a great football team on a consistent basis. Ultimately, we just have to be able to focus on what our job is and not [on] who's in the crowd or who's not in the crowd. It's going to be a football game once that ball kicks off and we'll all be locked in ready to go and understanding that all these games count and we have a tough, divisional opponent right off the bat. I think everyone's really excited and we'll have to go out there and be at our best on Sunday."

(On his thoughts about the other NFC South quarterbacks)

"I think I'm really thinking about the Saints. I'm not thinking about anyone else. We've got a great opponent [this week] and I know our defense has been preparing hard. They're preparing hard for a really great quarterback this week. That's the only one that really matters. We have a tough task [this week]. Whenever those games are played, those are played, but this one is the most important one and I think all my energy is focused on that."

(On if he has accidentally used previous language and calls on the field from earlier seasons in his career)

"I think there's naturally a way that your body just does things a certain way that it's done for a long time without you having to think. A lot of being a great athlete is not thinking, so the more you're thinking is actually slower than if you were just reacting and anticipating. We're working through that. Like I said, it's my first game – it's my first chance to play – so we'll see where we're at. But, we've got a big test and like I said, there's no room for error. It's a big challenge to start the year."

(On if the offense will be different than what he is used to or configured to what he is most capable of to have success)

"I think we're going to have to see as the year goes. I think you always have a plan or strategy for when you go into a particular game. Then we're going to decide what we think we need to do that's going to work the best. I think I try to make football relatively simple for me. If they're deep, throw it short. If they're short, throw it deep. If they're inside, throw it outside. If they're outside, throw it inside. If they're not guarding the run, you have to run it. If they're aggressive, you have to play action. I think the fundamentals of football really take shape. I think being a good quarterback is making good decisions [and] understanding risk [versus] reward. I do have the football, so the team trusts me to do it and I've really enjoyed working with B.A. (Bruce Arians) and understanding how he sees it and with Byron [Leftwich]. It's been a lot of fun. I'm working hard to get up to speed with everything and I think we're all excited to be able to compete against a real team [and] understand that nothing's going to be perfect for a long time. But, we're going to work our tails off to get it right."


(On joining the Buccaneers, playing with QB Tom Brady and being coached by Head Coach Bruce Arians)

"It's a privilege. It's a privilege to be in a room with such a great quarterback. I've never played for the Buccaneers before, obviously, but it feels a little bit like home with a couple familiar faces from Arizona. It's nice to come take a breath and get to really learn some football from some of the best to ever do it coaching, and probably one of the best to ever do it playing."

(On the Buccaneers quarterback room and what he can learn from QB Blaine Gabbert)

"You can learn a lot – that's what is awesome about the quarterback room. I've never been in another meeting room, but the quarterback room is a communal effort. You've got everyone adding their knowledge to the pot and trying to form the best plan to proceed ahead. There is a lot of down time and conversation at the beginning, middle and end of meetings, so you learn a lot about the guys. Blaine has had a pretty good experience in the NFL, and he has a lot to contribute. He's been really awesome with me and I really appreciate it. Ryan Griffin, as well, has been really awesome helping me out. I think we have a really just overall productive, good, competitive quarterback room. Coach [Clyde] Christensen, as well – he's awesome, he's very energetic."

(On the turning point in his early NFL career)

"I think, for me, the turning point was getting benched in Miami after three games. That was like a big look in the mirror sort of situation for me where I kind of was like, 'I'm literally playing behind probably one of the smartest quarterbacks to ever do it (Ryan Fitzpatrick) and you're not absorbing information like you should.' I was trying to be as self-critical as I could be and identify the problem. I was like, 'I'm just going to see what this dude does. I'm going to mirror his schedule. I'm going to try and take every note that I possibly can.' I started seeing the game very differently and going up to the line of scrimmage with a much better plan than I ever had before, and it started to show in practice. Film started to make a lot more sense to me. I thought I made some strides in practice through the end of last year and I felt like I played really well at Miami's training camp this year actually and was pretty proud of the work I put out there, which was encouraging to me. With this next step coming here to Tampa, obviously there aren't training camp-like reps to go around, but you can always get better in any capacity. I think I'm just looking to continue on that improvement. Fitz has his style of play and Tom [Brady] has his style of play, and they're very different. I, myself, plan on having a different style of play, but it's really interesting getting to understand those Mondays on explanations for why certain guys go certain places, and I'm really looking forward to getting here and getting to just experience how Tom goes about it."