*Head Coach Bruce Arians *
"Not practicing [today were] Carl Nassib and Anthony Nelson. We basically just had a walkthrough as if it was a Thursday game. The travel, the extra plays in the ball game – all those things [led to that decision]. We're a little bit tired so we made sure that this was more of a mental practice and preparation."
(On what Thursday's practice will be like)
"It'll be a full-speed, regular practice."
(On what OLB Samuel Acho brings to the team)
"Sam's one of those real high-energy, very bright guys, so he'll pick it up real quick. He can help us on special teams where we're missing not just two outside linebackers, but two starters on special teams. Kahz (Kahzin Daniels) has been here, going full-speed and really improving, so he'll help us a bunch also."
(On what he's seen from OLB Kahzin Daniels since he's been with the team)
"He had a great camp, then he got hurt, and we were really happy waiting to get him back. He's very explosive, he's a really good pass rusher, he's got speed to play on [special] teams, so he's got a good future."
(On if Daniels being blind in one eye has limited him)
"Not at all."
(On if he knows whether outside linebackers Carl Nassib or Anthony Nelson will be out this week)
"Nelson, probably. Nassib has a chance [to play]."
(On coaching against his old team this week)
"There's only about eight or nine guys left on that team from when I had them two years ago – pretty good overhaul. Those guys – it's always different [and] difficult. I don't like going against friends, but we're not friends when it's kicked off."
(On his impressions of Cardinals QB Kyler Murray)
"[I am] very impressed. He's a real fast Russell Wilson. [He is] extremely dangerous when he breaks out of there and gets the ball out of his hand real quick – [he is] very accurate and they're doing some really good things with him."
(On ILB Devin White assembling the rookies before the game at Seattle after learning that CB Carlton Davis III was unable to play)
"That's exactly what we drafted him for and expect out of him. We had a long talk last week. When he was out, Lavonte [David] kind of took over. [With] JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) coming back, [we told him] that 'Hey, you're still a vocal part of this. I want your leadership, especially with that young group.' So, I was really happy he did it."
(On White forcing two fumbles at Seattle)
"He's healthy again and he's turning the corner. He's caught back up. When a young guy comes out of there and misses two or three weeks, it's hard to catch back up. Just the speed of the game itself – wearing a brace for the first time in your life – all those little things."
(On what has allowed for the team to be fourth in the NFL in points but 31st in points allowed)
"It's basically on the back end, where we thought we'd be very strong. We've made errors mentally in technique and judgment and everything else, so [we've been] very disappointing in that way. To have a lead – I'm not used to giving up leads in the fourth quarter, and we've done it a few times now."
(On him saying that the secondary was fixed during the summer)
"Totally, because of talent, but that talent isn't showing up [and] playing that way."
(On how the secondary's performances this season have been different than what he expected)
"It's playing on Sunday, not in shorts in spring. You get fooled sometimes in shorts in the spring, because that's the guys that are out there playing. Big guys, you never know until you put pads on. Some of those guys, when the noise level goes up, it all changes too."
(On the coaching in the secondary)
"I think it's outstanding."
(On if the rest of the defense can help the secondary while blitzing)
"Yeah, getting home on those blitzes. We got tentative when he broke out of there. We're sending you, but we're not sending you to just contain him, especially when we send everybody. We sent everybody twice and didn't get home. That isn't the back end's fault – that's the guys blitzing."
(On if he had Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson shadow the opponent's best receiver and if he expects him to shadow WR Mike Evans on Sunday)
"Yeah, I would think so. We always did it. It was just what we did. He's been doing a little bit of it in the two games he's played with [Michael] Thomas and Golden Tate."
(On how long it takes to get on the same page with his coaching staff and the front office as a new head coach)
"That was like one day, because I'd already worked with Jason [Licht] and our staff has all been together, so that was the first day coming in."
(On if this team's record does not indicate what it's capable of)
"You are what you are. It's disappointing to be where we're at because we've had leads, we've come from behind, we've missed a kick, we don't get a call – that's all very disappointing because we should be in the hunt. There's a lot of football left to get into the hunt. You've got to win one to get a string of them going, and we need to win one."
(On if OLB Jason Pierre-Paul has shown him something that he didn't know prior to coaching him)
"No, I knew about the leadership and the positive energy all the time, and it's fun to be around."
(On if the defense has been holding the team back)
"I think the front seven is playing outstanding. It's the back end – when Vernon [Hargreaves] is your oldest guy, you're young. The simplest thing is play 'Dude' coverage – you've got that dude. You don't [have] to think. Seattle had a really good plan of picking us and doing some things to get guys loose, but in our zone matchups and stuff, that's been disappointing. When we played the Giants, for instance, we give up a first play missed tackle, jumping over a route. That's just dumb and inexperienced."
(On if man coverage allows players to know who they're covering)
"That makes it the simplest."
(On how much of QB Jameis Winston taking sacks is his responsibility)
"It's a lot on him to get the ball out. We've missed some guys."
(On missing two starting offensive linemen in Week 6 against the Carolina Panthers)
"That was huge. That had a big part of it."
(On how much CB Jamel Dean can build on the positive aspects of his performance in Seattle)
"For a young guy, that's what you have to take, and as a coach, that's what you have to take. You have to take what he did really well and build on it, because he's going to be a heck of a player. He's a big, long, physical guy. He had [D.K.] Metcalf – that wasn't an easy matchup, but he handled it pretty well. That long one at the end, we had zero coverage. Somebody's got to get home and hit the quarterback – that's not his fault."
(On if he wishes he would have brought in a veteran defensive back in the offseason)
"Yeah, we brought in Darian Stewart. There's only so many guys available."
(On if there was discussion during the trade deadline to acquire a veteran defensive back)
"There really wasn't one available. Who was it? There was nobody out there that can still play fast enough to play."
(On if he adjusts to different combinations of quarterbacks and wide receivers when deciding on an offensive scheme)
"Yeah – you do what they do best. You don't say, 'Here's the system – learn it.' As a coach, you figure out, 'What can my guys do best to win this game?' and you put them in those situations."
(On if there is a way to stop teams from using crossing routes against man coverage)
"If you're going to play zone, you're going to get the same thing – they're just going to sit down in zones. It's just playing smarter. That's all it is – it's playing smarter."
(On how the tight ends are playing in the offense)
"It's a shame about Antony [Auclair] because he was playing really well and we lose him for the season. We'll get O.J. [Howard] back. Cam [Brate's] been struggling with the ribs, but they're playing … we'll use the tackle some. We'll do whatever we have to take."
(On if there is an upside to having a young defensive corps)
"They're learning valuable lessons for the future, but let's win. Let's do it and win."
(On if he is stunned with the team's 2-6 record)
"No, I'm just pissed because we've had games to win and we didn't win them. As a coach, you just keep flipping at why – what can we do better, how can we finish the last five minutes of games – because the last five minutes of games tells the whole season."
(On how the Cardinals have committed only four turnovers in nine games with rookie QB Kyler Murray)
"It's a very simple system and he's a very bright kid, and they're not fumbling the ball."
(On if there is anyone in the secondary that is showing progress)
"Sean Murphy-Bunting's playing really well."
(On Murphy-Bunting improving since the preseason)
"He kind of dipped [but] he's way back up."
(On what has led to Murphy-Bunting's improvement)
"Just learning where he was [and] learning his role. Those young players, when they learn their role – he's the starting corner now [and] he can play nickel, so his role has really expanded."
Quarterback Jameis Winston
(On how much he is looking forward to being back at Raymond James Stadium)
"I'm excited to be in front of our Bucs fans [and] just have a regular week routine. I'm very excited to be back at [Raymond James Stadium].
(On the coaching staff scheduling a less intense practice today after the team returned from a long road trip)
"[It was] just a big mental day, allowing us to regroup and get our feet under us. We still had to really focus and have a good mental day, and I think we did."
(On his feelings on the long road stretch after returning home)
"Well, we've enjoyed our golden tour, but we are happy to be back at [Raymond James Stadium]. We can't focus on what's behind us. We focus on this week, taking it day-by-day. It's the midpoint of the season, so we are trying to turn this thing around."
(On if being on the road for so many weeks helped the team bond)
"We spent a lot of time together, and trust me being on the road isn't going to make us [any] closer than practicing against each other every single day. Like I said, we were on the road for a long time, but what's important now is that we get to be back in front of our home Bucs fans. I know they miss us. Think, it's football season and we haven't been on our home field in [over] a whole month. So, we are excited to be there and to get things rolling."
(On how he will be evaluated over the next eight weeks)
"I think the most important part is just making sure I'm getting better every day and making sure that I am giving the team a chance to win. If I do that, we will win and that's really it."
(On if his game has changed at all under Head Coach Bruce Arians)
"I'm not quite sure. I'll probably be able to get you a better answer when the season is over, but right now I am just focusing on week-to-week and getting better. I can't give you a correct answer."
(On how the players have responded to Arians this year)
"We love him. He is relentless, he always has our back, he is always in good spirits and he holds us accountable. I think we feed off his energy, his optimism, his tenacity and just who he is as a person."
(On his comfortability with the offense through eight weeks of the season)
"We are feeling good. We are getting into a rhythm. We've got to continue to open up that running game and be efficient in the passing game – that's the key to it. We've been better on third downs and [in the] red zone the past two weeks, so we've just got to continue to build on that."
(On if it has taken Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich some time to adjust to the strengths of his players and whether he has done a good job of that to this point)
"Yeah, I think he is. At the halfway point we all get a chance to learn each other, with this being a new coaching staff [and a] new scheme. That's how it works. We'll all continue learning. We will never stop learning [and] I'm sure the coaches will say the same thing. I know that we, as a team, are continuing to learn each other – learning which buttons to push, learning how we work best together, having a feel about plays that we love – plays that we can go out there, not second guess and execute. Coach does a good job of putting us in a good position to execute and we go out there and do it."
(On his deep-ball accuracy this season)
"I've got to give props to Coach [Clyde] Christensen and John Van Dam, who do a lot of great work out there, and even having Duke Preston (Director of Player Engagement) out there running routes. We do a good job of just drilling, making things game-like and throwing those balls. B.A. (Bruce Arians) is strong on making sure that we aren't overlooking anyone that is deep down field just to check a ball down. I guess it's just part of the scheme and the hard work that we do in that quarterback room with Coach Tom [Moore] and Coach Christensen."
(On if the amount of hits he has taken is taking a toll on him this season)
"I've got to look at myself from within and see how I can get the ball out quicker. I think we made a great step this week and continue to just help the big guys out up front [and] continue to work with those running backs on protections. I think we can all get better at that collectively as a team – me getting the ball out on time. Everyone's got to do their job, but me personally, I've got to get the ball out on time to give us a chance and just throw the ball away. The past two games I've probably done a better job [than] I have in my whole career of just throwing the ball away. That's just something I've got to do to help fix that problem."
(On what it would mean to get a win at home)
"That's what we are excited for – we're excited to come back home and get some wins at home."
(On if he is encouraged by the fact that the team is scoring a lot of points)
"We've got to continue to do our job – everyone in the entire building. As an offense, we've got to get better on third downs. We've got to continue to score touchdowns in the red zone. I've got to do a better job of getting the ball out. We're just trying to find things at the halfway point to what we can focus on individually and how we can improve and just keep things moving. We've got some positive things going, but we've got to eliminate the negatives. That's one of the big things – we've got to eliminate all the negatives – all of the bad stuff has to go for us to turn this season around."
(On the difference between winning or losing in the NFL)
"Finding a way to get it done. Our coaches say it the best, 'We don't know which play it's going to be. Every play matters.' Coach Todd Monken used to say that all of the time, but it's true. Every play matters and we don't know which play is going to be the deciding factor between a win and a loss. I've got to go back to the little things – I know with myself it's the little things – throwing the ball away [or] not taking a sack on first-and-10, putting us in a second-and-long situation. Those [are] little things that we might not see as a big problem until the end of a game when that drive probably could've been a great drive for us or something like that. We've got to eliminate all of the bad, small things and make sure that we are doing every little detailed thing precisely. That's what wins games. The teams that do the little things right, win games."
(On how he feels physically at 245 pounds)
"I feel great. I'm 240, so that's one steak dinner away from 245 [laughs], but I feel great. I feel good. We've just got to turn this around. Like I said, I'm really excited to be back at [Raymond James Stadium]. Like I said, I enjoyed the little road trip – it was good to go on the tour of the world – but I am happy to be back at [Raymond James Stadium] and get things going in Tampa."
(On the direction he would like Florida State Football to take in their head-coaching search)
"The direction I would like to see is for me to focus on Tampa Bay Buccaneers football and let that be. I've got to focus on what I'm doing here [and] how I can lead this team the best I possibly can."
(On how WR Mike Evans has taken his game to the next level the past two weeks)
"He is just an amazing talent. That goes back to the little things, just giving him more opportunities with the football. I'm not even saying force it to Mike, but just giving him a chance. When you have a great receiver like Chris Godwin next to him that teams our really starting to key in on now, it allows Mike to have those excellent games. Those two guys are really working. I'm happy to have O.J. Howard back in the mix. We're clicking right now as far as passing the football, especially with our main guy. When your big guy is having success, it makes the defense panic a little bit, so when your big guy is doing his thing and being the five-star receiver that he is, it allows every one else to focus in on not getting out of their comfort zone, just doing their job and being able to play good football."
(On if he is becoming more comfortable with his decision-making in the team's offensive scheme)
"Yeah, I think we are all starting to learn each other. As we learn each other that goes into the play calls, that goes into me understanding the concepts, that goes into me knowing when to throw the ball away if something breaks down, that goes into protection – me and Ryan Jensen being on the same page. We're starting to get it. We've got to continue to get better, we've got to continue to learn from each other and we're going to turn things around."