DT Warren Sapp says Philadelphia will be a 'sauna' compared to the conditions in Green Bay
On Wednesday, we took a peek at the thoughts of guard Frank Middleton, the unofficial mouthpiece of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense. On Thursday, it was time for the Buc defense's spokesman to hold court.
That is, of course, Warren Sapp. On Thursday, Sapp discussed the Bucs' upcoming hunt of Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb, explaining that the Tampa Bay defense has been given plenty of practice containing elusive quarterbacks over the past couple of seasons.
"It's going to be the same as when we face (Daunte) Culpepper twice a year, McNabb, you have the other guy in Chicago (Cade McNown), Rob Johnson from Buffalo," said Sapp. "We've played some pretty mobile guys, but this guy's special, no doubt about that. We're just going to be conscious of our lanes and keep him inside the pocket. We're going to put him in a trash can and hopefully he'll throw some balls. Other than that, we're going to keep him on the ground."
Sapp touched on a variety of other topics. Read on.
Does the Buccaneers' recent playoff experience give them an edge over the relatively untested Eagles?
"I think playoff experience and cold weather are about the same advantage. It doesn't play any part. Whoever comes out and makes the least mistakes and plays the best is going to win the game. It doesn't matter if you've never played a playoff game, or if you've played 150 of them. It really doesn't matter. It's just all about that game, that day, that 60 minutes. That's what we're focused on."
Are you sure the cold weather isn't a factor?
"I'll tell you what, we've played three games since I've been here in the cold weather. Until we buck that trend, we're 0-3. That's the way I look at it. For a long time, this franchise hadn't won a game against too many people. They started out 0-26. We've got a lot of things that we broke. We never won on the West Coast until we went out there and won. We'd never beaten Seattle until we went out there and won. There's a bunch of things that had never happened in this organization that we've bucked the trend. This is another thing that we've got to take down, and we welcome the challenge.
"It's going to be the same temperature for everybody. The game last week was murderous, so in Philly it's going to feel like a sauna. Believe that. You go from minus-15 to 30-something, that's a sauna for us. It was something special last week. We were at the end of that ballgame, lined up with our best weapon on the field to win the game, so we'll be fine."
Even if you can overcome the weather and the Eagles, won't it be a tough path to the Super Bowl with possibly three straight games on the road?
"It doesn't matter, the route that you have to take. We know the history of it – there's only been one other team that's done it, and all that crazy stuff. But this ballclub here hasn't been put in that situation, and know we're in it. I like my chances with this ballclub, because the whole year the NFC has been wide open, and it's even more wide open now that the playoffs have started. It's just narrowed down to six teams that have a shot at it."
So are the Eagles a one-dimensional team without a running game?
"No. Darnell Autry and Chris Warren are two excellent running backs. And that's the first thing first. In any game that we play, we're going to go out there and eliminate the running game. If we can do that, it's going to be us against McNabb, and I like my chances."
As long as we're back on McNabb, do you see a different player than the one you and the rest of the linemen terrorized in 1999?
"Yeah, way different. He's a much better player. A much better player in the way he prepares himself for the game. I think he has more confidence in what he's doing, and confidence breeds better play from anybody. He's doing that. Whenever you've got a guy that's playing as well as he is and pretty much motoring his whole ballclub…he knows he has a load on his shoulders, and that's a daunting task sometimes unless you know exactly what you're facing. He knows exactly what's asked of him every week that he comes out. You can see it in his play on the field. He's playing much better and he's doing the things that are helping his ballclub win games."
So how, as a defense, are you going to dictate the outcome on Sunday?
"We're going to come out and cause turnovers because that's the best way to win games. It's a demoralizing thing when you throw a pick and your defense has 30 or 40 yards to defend. You're in a situation where you're already giving up three and it's just a matter of them making a play to get to seven. That's just the way we play the game."