Tampa Bay Buccaneers



Opening Statement:

"Obviously, three days off helps. I like the way we came back right now. Everybody passed their COVID test so we're in good shape there. We'll take who's there and go play Atlanta."

(On the prognosis for injured CB Sean Murphy-Bunting)

"Right now, it could be anywhere from four [weeks] to the end of the season. We're still looking at some MRI and a second opinion on what has to be done, if anything. We'll probably know more in two days whether it's a season-long [injury] or three-to-six [weeks]."

(On if Murphy-Bunting's elbow injury involves ligament damage)

"I'm not a doctor. I'm just saying, it could be either one. There is nothing bone-wise."

(On playing without Murphy-Bunting)

"It's always huge when you lose your starting corner. Those guys are hard to find in the first place. A player of his caliber and his flexibility is hard to replace, but we've got plenty of capable people."

(On when he realized LS Zach Triner was snapping with an injured finger)

"When I saw the injury report."

(On if that says a lot about Triner's fortitude)

"Oh, yeah. Nobody brought it up on the sideline. He didn't bring it up. Tough as nails."

(On his reaction when he found out Triner had played through a finger injury)

"I was really proud of him. I would have not been really happy to have somebody else snapping that ball to win the game. He gutted it out. He'll get fixed up and he'll be fine."

(On who the Buccaneers emergency long-snapper would be)

"Ryan Jensen, during a game."

(On how much the comeback in Atlanta in Week 15 helped the offense hit its stride)

"Oh, it was huge, it was huge. That was the attack mode we kind of took and kept from there on out. It was a different mindset offensively."

(On how the Falcons look with Head Coach Arthur Smith and a new coaching staff)

"Very similar to Tennessee when he was there. They're going to try to establish the run and bootlegs and all the play-action stuff, and they've got a ton of weapons. We've got to put our big-boy pads on and get ready to stop the run. Defensively, Coach [Dean] Pees has been around forever, and he's got every trick in the book, so we're going to have to be ready for them."

(On what the Buccaneers need to fix after Week One)

"The biggest thing is turnovers – just protect the ball better. If we don't turn the ball over in that game, it's not that close. Correct the turnovers and play a little better in space, tackle a little better."

(On the Buccaneers committing a lot of penalties in Week One)

"Yeah, so many were…we had, I think, three pre-snap [penalties]. Yeah, it was a definite problem, more defensively, giving away first downs. And again, Jamel Dean will bounce back and he'll be fine."

(On if new practice squad CB Pierre Desir could learn enough in one week to be able to play Sunday)

"We'll see. We'll see how fast he can keep up. The terminology is a little bit similar to what he's had. He's played a ton of corner in the league. We were looking for an outside game, whether it's this week or [later]. We're really glad to have him."

(On if CB Jamel Dean bouncing back is just a matter of getting the reps in practice)

"Yeah, and he had some other things going on that affected him, I think. But we have all the confidence in the world in him. [It's] nothing that he can't fix real fast."

(On if he could share what things were affecting Dean's performance)


(On RBs Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette bouncing back from mistakes)

"Yeah, they're all different, and RoJo was ready. We started throwing the ball a bunch more. He's starting this week and he's ready to roll."

(On if S Jordan Whitehead is on track to return from his hamstring injury in Week Two)

"Yeah, Jordan looks fine. We'll see more full-speed tomorrow, but he looks ready."

(On clarifying if he meant that Ronald Jones would start on Sunday)



(On his thoughts from Thursday's game against the Cowboys)

"Obviously, we won the football game. We did a lot of good things, situationally. Obviously, it's the turnovers – the turnovers are unfortunate because of what they do. I talk to you guys all the time about how we always want to possess the ball with the type of players that we have. You want to possess it to allow them to continue to make plays and we did a poor job of that the other night. There are things we can work on and get better, but I do like how we handled those situations and did what we had to do to win the game."

(On how things changed in the second half last season against the Falcons in Week 14)

"I just remember the feeling in the locker room that we really didn't do anything. You didn't do anything. We felt good going into the game, but we weren't in any position to really make the plays happen. We wanted to make sure that every opportunity we get we just score the ball. It wasn't really any panic or anything, it was like 'Hey, this is what we have to do. This game means a lot and we have to make sure we do what we need to do in the second half to get the job done.' Again, the guys came through and found a way to get it done."

(On being in attack mode against the Falcons in Week 14)

"When we play that way that's when we're at our best. It came to, well, let's just play that way all the time. Let's just try to play that way all the time and when you get the ball do what you can to try to score with it. But, have that mindset. We were capable of doing it at that time too because by that time we all knew what we were doing. We were capable of executing versus any defense, versus any coverages. We were at that point late in the year, so we just said, 'Hey man, we're going to be in attack mode and we'll just see how it'll work out from there.'"

(On the amount of penalties the team had vs. Dallas)

"I don't feel like we went backwards because I'm not carrying over from last year. I don't see it that way. I see it as a whole new year. We went out there, unfortunately for us, we didn't do what we wanted to do from a penalty or turnover standpoint, so it's something for us to work on and get better. The good thing I do like is to be in those types of situations and to find ways to win football games. That's what good football teams do."

(On the pass protection in Thursday's game vs. Dallas)

"I trust those bigs in front. I trust those five guys. They do their jobs and come to work. They come to practice every day so they're able to play at a high level on Sunday. That's just something we tend to see from those guys a lot just by the work they put in, the preparation that they put in between them and Tom [Brady] to make sure they're all on the same page. It just showcases itself on Sunday. I think those guys have a good idea of each other now also."

(On RB Giovani Bernard's role in the offense)

"We'll continue to try and get the ball to everybody. Week in and week out, somebody is going to be the guy that didn't get it. It is what it is. We're trying to win football games and we'll get the football to our playmakers the best we can. Some days you'll probably have bigger days – he didn't the other day – but it's something that I don't really view it like that or see it like that. I just view it as get the playmakers the ball and do what you've got to do to win the game."

(On if Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski are the guys he is trying to get the ball to)

"You're naming four guys and then you throw Cam [Brate] in there, who didn't have a lot but helps us so much in the passing game. 'Juice' (O.J. Howard) is coming and getting ready. It's just to get them the ball, all of them. To get them the ball, A.B. (Antonio Brown) had the matchups last week where he ended up in more one-on-ones situations and he just won against his guy. I tell you guys I always wanted to be organic, never force the ball in any way. We'll go through our progression and do what we need to do and just give the ball to the right guy, get the ball in the right spot. Just make sure that whoever it goes to is talented to make plays. That's my mindset, just give them the ball any way you can and let those guys light up once they get it."

(On WR Mike Evans having six targets in the first game)

"I'll put it like this – I think he left this game with more catches than he did a year ago (in Week 1). So, it's improvement. I don't view it that way. Mike doesn't see single [coverage]. There is no one guy following him around. I haven't seen that really in a while versus anybody. There's really never one guy following him around. We hope we get that at some point. Mike knows more about the team. All Mike can do is get himself in position. We'll move him around and get him in position to allow him to make plays, but I wouldn't freak out after one game [for] anybody. That's just football being football."

(On his confidence that RB Ronald Jones II will bounce back)

"I'm not worried about 'Ro' at all. We'll continue getting 'Ro' the ball and letting 'Ro' be 'Ro.' 'Ro' is real special running the ball and unique. We understand that we understand the talent that he has. It's never perfect in football. The game doesn't go that way. Football doesn't allow it to be perfect. Football also helps in life lessons. It gets tough sometimes and sometimes it's better for you, but throughout a 17-game season that's just how it goes. And I think professional athletes know how to handle that. We'll move on and learn from the mistakes we made, but we have to be focused on doing everything we can to win the next ball game. We have a team that always plays us tough. Every time we played them it's a tough out, so we have to do everything possible to get ready to play this game."

(On RB Leonard Fournette's ability to put plays behind him)

"I believe we're watching Lenny become a pro. I really believe that. As professional athletes, it doesn't always go well. It's not the first time that it's not going well for an individual throughout a game. That happens week in and week out. The professional guys know how to move pass it, get themselves in positions so when the next play presents itself, this group tends to make it. I'm more excited for the guys that people may think they didn't play well just because I know what it does to them. I know how they'll react to that and I just try to think to give them more opportunities to play well and play at a high level."

(On where Fournette improved from last season)

"Every form there is. Preparation – how I practice the things I have to do to get myself in position to consistently have success. Things he does every day you see every day."

(On QB Tom Brady on the game-winning drive vs. Dallas and how the belief has spread throughout the team)

"It was 100 percent belief. Us talking, there was no panic. It was like there's a 1:20, we never have 1:20 out here. We always have to go 60 or 70 yards and we have 38-48 seconds, so a 1:20 to us at the time felt like we'll be fine from a time standpoint. Let's just make sure we execute. There were a few plays made in that drive by 'Gio' (Giovani Bernard and 'Gronk' (Rob Gronkowski) that allowed that to happen. That's what you're most excited about, the things that we talk about, the things that we're prepared for. In those moments, we were able to get the job done. Plays that nobody would really notice – big plays by 'Gronk' and 'Gio' throughout that two-minute drive that got us in position to make those plays."

(On if Brady is more equipped to take control in certain situations this season after being in the system for a year)

"It's Tom Brady. Like I always tell him – if you see it on the field, sometimes that guy's eyes are better than mine from the sideline, so we'll get to whatever."

(On Brady making adjustments on the second touchdown pass to Gronkowski and if he would have been able to make similar adjustments at this time last year)

"That part of it – yes. It was something that you knew it was possibility. We knew the opportunities that may exist that we may get to that. You don't know when it's going to happen. You don't know what play you'll face with that situation, but that's the great thing about Tom. He's been in every situation. Every situation possible he's been in. Sometimes he can see it and feel it because he's out there in the grass doing those things. That's the beauty of having Tom as your quarterback, you can just put it in his hands, and he'll be able to do great things with the football."


(On what allowed him to find success in the return game in Week 1 vs. Dallas)

"The 10 blockers in front of me. I had 10 blockers in front of me on both sides (kickoff return and punt return). People can call it how they want to see it – they can say it was the blocking, they can say it was my feet – but it was the 10 guys helping me in the way by getting in the way and allowing me to have lanes to run through full speed."

(On if he knew that LS Zach Triner was finishing the game through injury)

"Never, no, and he's amazing for that because we didn't find out actually until yesterday when we had our first meeting. They were like, yeah, we have a new long snapper coming in and we all looked, and we saw [Zach's] hand – he put his hand up swollen and everything. That's the grit of this team. That's the determination of the bottom end of this roster that people don't really care about, that people don't really see. We actually are here early, we are here late, we are here with each other, we are talking. There are no egos here, even with the superstars here. I was in on Monday night last year and Mike [Evans] was like, 'Hey, what route is it?' He literally said, 'Nah, keep throwing the ball to Mick.' Okay, this is the big-time receiver telling them to throw the ball to me because I guess my mojo is going. This team is a fighting team and we're all together. That's why you see the camaraderie. That's why you see No. 85 (Mickens) and No. 1 (Jaelon Darden) coexist in camp. Whoever is back there [and] whoever is on the field at receiver – if you haven't seen it lately—positive things are going to happen. We have to continue to keep that standard up. We're going to have some ups and downs. We are going to have some bumps and bruises. Everything is not going to be perfect – receivers drop balls, DBs blow coverages, some people get on the other side of blocks, returners might read the wrong read. But at the end of the day, to keep ourselves in a positive [mindset] of what our return game can be, what our offense could be, what our defense could be – that is what motivates me and us around here, being a whole team. I like playing in the Super Bowl. We like those games, so we have to win one week at a time."

(On how close he believes the team is to getting into the endzone on a return)

"I'm saying the next one. And if we don't, the next one. And if we don't, the next one – every one. The first thing is catching the ball first then we're going to break it, but we are very close. Seeing that and allowing those guys to feel that success with me, they want it more than me. They really want it. If you watch that film and you see those guys stepping back into those guys, coach saying … these guys are going to come down hitting and we've got a rookie talking about, 'Yeah, I'm going to go right back into him.' That right there – when you've got the bottom of your roster have the mentality of the top of your roster, you've got a scary football team you're dealing with."

(On where his confidence comes from)
"That's something I've always had. I've always been 100 miles per hour in everything I do. It [goes] a level up when someone tells me I can't do something. When [you say] I can't do something, I'm going to show you that I really can. At the end of the day, there's not anybody out there to stop me but myself. There's not anybody able to stop us but ourselves. We are the only people that can shoot ourselves in the foot. For me, it's being from where I came from – growing up, understanding, learning and being knowledgeable. Once I had the knowledge and understanding of the football game and the level it was played at, then you take it to the next level with your talent and your hunger and everything just transpires. It's been there since high school. It's been there since Pop Warner. I've been hit in the mouth, I've broken long returns, I've broken long catches – it's something that's just instilled in me and then I try to bring that here and give everybody that confidence, even the guys that are not playing out there. We came to the sideline and there were practice squad guys on the sideline and I'm going to them like, 'How did it look? If you were in there, what would you have done?' 'Oh, I would've done that.' Okay good, as long as we're all getting those mental reps. You've got to instill that dog into every soul that's out there even if they aren't strapping up the cleats. Our practice squad guys that are rooting for us have got to be better than their practice squad guys. Even if I'm on the sideline, I know I'm going to bring the intensity better than their practice squad guys. We're going to all be a whole."