Head Coach Tony Dungy discussed the remainder of the Bucs' schedule with a national audience
With three consecutive losses, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hit a bump in what appeared to be a smooth road.
But the calendar still reads October, and the schedule still has 10 regular season games to be played. No one realizes this more than the Bucs' calm head coach, Tony Dungy, who steered the team back from slow starts in 1998 and 1999 to fast finishes.
Before the Bucs try and snap their recent losing streak against the Detroit Lions, the only winning coach in Tampa Bay's NFL history chatted with fans in the Coaches Club. The following is an edited version of the transcript.
Ted Kuehnert: Was the pass play in this week's Monday night game with Mike Alstott making the toss from the Jets playbook a week earlier?
Tony Dungy: No it wasn't. We noticed something about the Vikings' defense and decide to run it. It was just a coincidence.
Art Vandelay: Do you feel the team feels more pressure with the Super Bowl being right there in Tampa? If so, how do you and the assistant coaches help get the focus off of that and into just taking it one game at a time from here on out?
Tony Dungy: We haven't felt more pressure, even though it has been really talked about in town. Our staff has just focused on doing the job week in and week out. We know you have to focus on games one at a time to get to the Super Bowl.
Philippe: Do you think that the seamless way your team's passing offense moved the ball on Monday night is a sign of things to come, or that its efficiency was in part due to a lot of missed tackles by the Vikings' defense?
Tony Dungy: We will get better as the season goes on. I think the receivers and quarterbacks are still learning the offense and their chemistry will get better, but Monday night was a great sign.
Randall: Do you see anyone shutting down the Rams this year like you guys did last year in the playoffs? How did you do that last season?
Tony Dungy: In the playoff game we played a lot of zone, and I think most teams try and match up man-to-man, which is hard to do. I haven't seen them play this year but they seem like they are playing with a lot of confidence. But I think a team with a good pass rush and a zone defense can slow them down.
Silent Bob: I think Derrick Brooks is one of the league's most underrated players. Do you think so too, and what is he like?
Tony Dungy: Derrick is a great player. He is underrated because most people look at sacks. We don't rush Derrick that much, but he does so many other things for us - he is a great tackler and a great competitor.
Tom: After the tough loss Monday night how is the team morale at this point in the season?
Tony Dungy: We are disappointed about being 3-3 but we are still together as a unit. We know there is a lot of football left. I think the bye is going to be good to get us relaxed. We have two big games coming up with Minnesota and Detroit that can get us back in the race.
Bob: Jacquez Green had an outstanding game versus the Vikes. Do you see the team going to more of a passing game and utilizing Green and Johnson more in the offense?
Tony Dungy: We do want to be able to throw more efficiently. He has had two 100-yard games and we want to get him the ball a little bit more. As our receivers develop that chemistry with Shaun King, we think we can throw the ball a little bit more.
Dante: Who did you gain your coaching philosophy from and how you handle players? I think the way you do things is perfect compared to all the screaming and yelling coaches in the NFL.
Tony Dungy: It comes partly from my parents and how they raised me, partly from Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh and partly from Denny Green in Minnesota. I was raised to treat people how you want to be treated.
Welshmorph: If you could take any player in the NFL to add to the Bucs' roster, who would it be?
Tony Dungy: That is a tough question. I would take either Kurt Warner or Jevon Kearse. I would like to pick them both. I think they are playing the best in NFL so far.
Mike Parkerat: Who do you feel is the toughest opponent left on the schedule?
Tony Dungy: On paper the Rams are the toughest. We have Minnesota again and it just seems like all of our NFL Central games are dogfights.
Scot B: Will you continue to give more carries to Alstott than Dunn or do you foresee reversing that trend towards the end of the season?
Tony Dungy: We take that game-by-game and look at the defense we are playing and try and see who will be the most effective.
Devin: Was acquiring Keyshawn Johnson worth the draft picks you gave up? What does he bring to your team offensively?
Tony Dungy: He brings a lot. He is a big receiver who can make the tough catch. He brings a lot of energy to our offense. We gave up two top picks but seeing who we could take, we felt it was a good move.
Welshmorph: As a Dolphins fan, do you expect them to still be challenging for the AFC East division title by the time you play them, or do you think they will fade like last year?
Tony Dungy: Yes I did expect them to be playing well. We practiced against them for two days this summer and we knew they had an outstanding defense. They are playing smart on offense, and if they continue they can win the AFC East.
Mike Parker: My question is about Shaun King. He was stellar in the first two games, then his first interception of the season seemed to lower his confidence. Is he going through the so-called sophomore slump?
Tony Dungy: No I think he is in a slump, but I don't think its a season-long slump. I think he went a long way towards working his way through things against Minnesota. Hopefully we can work our way through that.
Welshmorph: Do you think NFL Europe improves players? Are you in favor of sending guys over to Europe?
Tony Dungy: It definitely improves players, especially the younger players. The drawback is that they miss developmental time in our spring camps so you have to way the pluses and the minuses. I think a lot of guys have benefited, including our Aaron Stecker. It gave him a real boost in confidence.
Welshmorph: How do you relax away from football?
Tony Dungy: I just try to forget about the game when I go home. I really enjoy fishing. I enjoy watching other sports, basketball, baseball, tennis. It takes my mind off of it, watching other people compete.
Jeff: Do you think all the controversy about Keyshawn affected his game? And do think Shaun King felt pressured to give the ball to him?
Tony Dungy: I don't think the controversy affected Keyshawn, he is used to it. I do feel that Shaun feels pressure to get the ball to him, but he has done a good job of going through his reads. We have to do a good job of getting Keyshawn the ball in the structure of our offense.
Danny Roy: Who do you think will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl?
Tony Dungy: It's a little too early to tell, but I like Miami because of their defense and I think Tennessee is really well balanced. Baltimore also has the type of defense that can get them there. I would go with one of those three.
Welshmorph: Will re-alignment end a lot of good rivalries?
Tony Dungy: It will, but it will also create more rivalries. It's going to be hard for the fans to not have some of those long-standing rivalries, but in a few years the new ones will develop. We are developing quite a rivalry with Washington. That's how quick it can happen.
Mark Eckblad: During your many years around the NFL as player and coach, what single player has impressed you most with his skills at his position?
Tony Dungy: I think the guy is Walter Payton, not only because of his skills but the way he carried himself and his determination to be great. He was friendly to everyone and he always gave 100 percent. I think the combo of his skill, his personality and his desire made him great. In just pure skill I think Randy Moss is a great player. He can do everything.
Tony Dungy: It's been great, this is always a lot of fun. We appreciate all the NFL fans.