Tony Dungy: LB Derrick Brooks is 'in a zone'
Every Saturday, Buccaneers.com listens in as Tampa Bay Head Coach Tony Dungy discusses the next day's games and various team topics. On Saturday, December 18, one day before the Bucs attempt to secure a playoff spot with a win at Oakland, Dungy covered the following topics…
…The excitement of the Bucs' position:
"There really is a lot of excitement. This is the first time in a long time that Tampa Bay has been in this type of position. There are a lot of guys on this team that have been waiting for a long time for this. It's a little bit different than 1997. We got out of the gate quick that year and had a lot of confidence early on. I'm not sure this season would have happened without '97 though. We have a lot of guys left from that team, and when we got off slow this year, they were telling everybody to stick with the plan and we would get it turned around. The last three or four weeks, it seems like, whatever happens – we're down in the third quarter – everyone's calm. We have guys like Hardy Nickerson and Tony Mayberry and Paul Gruber telling everybody to stay in our game."
…Linebacker Derrick Brooks:
"Week after week, he has been doing some amazing stuff. Probably the last seven weeks we could have given him the game ball every week. He's truly in a zone. He's making plays all over the field and we're starting to expect it. He's really a unique guy. He's studying the game so well now and he knows what's going on. His reaction time is amazing; he just letting his instincts take him to the right spot."
…The Bucs' offense:
"In the last few games, we've been in the fourth quarter needing to make some plays to come back and pull ahead, and we've done it. This week, for the first time I can remember, we focused on getting our running game going because we felt fine about our passing game."
…Injured QB Trent Dilfer:
"He's been the same, still working very hard. His motivation now is that the trainers told him he was going to be out five or six weeks, so he knows that his season is over if we don't get to the playoffs. He's been very helpful with the other quarterbacks…they've all kind of helped each other."
…Tampa Bay's success in November and December:
"I think we're able to practice hard at the end of the season. We don't change our routine, but we have a lot of young guys with a lot of energy. And the weather helps. We can continue to practice outside everyd day, which is an advantage. I think it helps us to be able to stick to our routine."
…The Buccaneers' new kicking game in 1999:
"Even from day one, a consistent kicking game was a big part of our plan. With our style of play, we knew we would be in a lot of positions where field goals would make a difference. We didn't necessarily know that we would be relying on a rookie this season, but we saw (K Martin Gramatica) at workouts and kind of zeroed in on him. Once we did that, we wanted to get an experienced punter and holder, and Mark was the best guy for that. To (Gramatica), every kick is the World Cup…to him, that's his world. So no kick is different, and in a way, that's a good thing."
…The Bucs' success in close games:
"The premium comes in being able to focus in on details and get the job done under pressure. We talk about the fact that in a lot of games, the first 55 minutes are used to get yourself in position to win, and in the last five minutes you have to make the plays to win. We think our guys understand that. We lost a few games down the stretch early on, but we have been making the plays during our winning streak."
…Tampa Bay's defensive stinginess after the first quarter:
"We talk about getting off to a good start, but that hasn't really happened recently. But we have so many good players and a good coaching staff that we're very good at making adjustments. Our style is not like a lot of other teams, so some times teams attack us differently than we expect. We have done a good job of adjusting to that."
…The Bucs' injury situation for Sunday:
"Actually, we're in pretty good shape. Steve White will sit out and Marcus Jones will take that spot (right defensive end), with Tyoka Jackson becoming the swing guy. John Lynch is fine…he takes a rest usually on Thursday, but he's been doing well. Our two backs (Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn) were out early in the week but they came back on Friday and should be ready to go. (Guard) Kevin Dogins practiced and did well. He's a tough guy…he has a little bit of a sprained ankle, but he'll play through it. Don Davis has got a hamstring injury. He'll run before the game. If he can't play, Floyd Young will fill in for him on special teams. Floyd is not quite 100%, but he's close."