OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR BYRON LEFTWICH
(On how the offense can improve)
"We're just not good enough, really, on first and second down. You look at last week – we're starting off on third-and-12. It's tough to execute on third-and-12 – especially when you're a banged-up football team. You're a banged-up football team and you're putting yourself in all these third-and-long situations, which means you're going to punt the ball most of the time. It's hard to score and punt at the same time. That's really been our issue, being better on first and second down and giving ourselves an opportunity to score points. What we've always done around here is [give] ourselves an opportunity to score at a high level. We're just not doing that right now. I think that's something that we will get corrected. I'm excited, but that's what's really going on right now."
(On if it's easier to call plays with a fully healthy offensive unit)
"It's different, it's different, because when you're [not] healthy and you're playing some new guys, some youthful guys – you looked in the huddle and eight of our 11 [players] were different. Eight of the 11 guys that's used to being in the huddle [were] different. That always takes time as a group. Like I was telling the group – this group has to learn how to play and win football games together. Each year is different, it's not an automatic thing. They understand that, though. They understand that we've got to be better across the board. It's work, it's work – and we're putting the work in and we're trying to get to the point and the level that we've always been at. But we're working our tail off. We'll be fine, I believe, but it is good to start getting some guys back, getting some type of camaraderie – those guys playing together. We have been in some tough situations together, so I do believe we'll be better from this – especially with our young guys getting [the] experience that they've had so far. But we do have to play better across the board."
(On if running backs Rachaad White and Ke'Shawn Vaughn haven't played as much because of the amount of trust the team has in RB Leonard Fournette)
"I think that's pretty much what it was – and the way that the games [were] going. I think the way that the games were going, we got in somewhat of a two-minute, no-huddle mode last [week] where we would prefer 'Lenny' [Fournette] in that spot more than any of them. Not that any of them [are] doing anything wrong – [it's] just that right now in those situations, with Rachaad being young, right now I've really been leaning towards 'Lenny' – but I do believe I'll start giving Rachaad more reps just throughout the game. What we were doing, we were giving him series and it just so happened that Rachaad's series didn't go well so they were quick and he was out [of] the game. I'll do a better job of getting all of those guys involved, because we need to do that to help the room out, to help 'Lenny' out and [keep] 'Lenny' from playing so many plays."
(On the two-point attempt against the Packers)
"Either way, whatever the problem was, it's all my responsibility. That's really how I view it – it's my responsibility. We've all got to do a better job in that situation – it wasn't surprising to [anyone] but we'll do a better job in that situation. That ultimately falls on me – we've got to do a better job right there. We didn't do that. We're excited to have the next opportunity to do that."
(On wide receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones practicing this week)
"I'll leave that up to Coach [Todd] Bowles. I really don't talk about that, but we are excited."
(On finding the balance between adapting and sticking with the gameplan)
"Personnel makes those decisions, really, to be honest with you. In 2020 I talked about it – we were more [of an] attacking offense, [going] down the field a lot and then in 2021 the teams played us differently. All we want to do is put our team in the best position to score points and play well. We want to do what we can offensively to help us to put our hand in the pile to help us win football games. We try to prepare for everything and all different styles and all different types, so we can be multiple and win football games. Like I always tell you guys – we're just trying to win that day. Whatever day that the game is on, we're trying to do the right thing to win that day, to put ourselves in a position to have an opportunity to win the football game. It's different this year – each year is different. It's different from 2020, it's different from 2021 – it's a whole new team that is learning how to play together. I love the things that we're doing that nobody sees, but I'm excited for the rest of the season for us to get going and just see how this thing goes."
(On how he decides what type of plays to call on first down)
"Each play – first, second, third down, even fourth – I try to call the best play for the situation at the time. That's really my philosophy. I try to put them in position to have the best success possible on any down and distance, on any play. A lot of work goes in – from a scouting standpoint, what teams like to do – so we're just trying to be in the best position to have the best play called at all times, regardless of what down and distance it is."
PASS GAME COORDINATOR/INSIDE LINEBACKERS COACH LARRY FOOTE
(On LB Devin White being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month)
"He's into it, he's fired up. He's flying around. We know what type of athlete he is – he's taking it up another notch as far as just knowing the defense's ins and outs and trying to expect and anticipate how the offense is trying to attack us. He's doing a good job. He's playing clean football – no mental errors. He's communicating and that's what it's about. He's our captain."
(On allowing first-possession scores in all three games this year)
"That's the thing – we've been saying the last couple of weeks: jump into the pool, don't put your toe in there, just jump headfirst. As coaches, we've got to do a better job of getting [those] guys ready to go, might mix up some things pregame – slap them around a little bit. They just have to get ready."
(On what's changed for the Chiefs offense)
"They've got weapons. They're still playing fast – they might be a tick little slower without Tyreek [Hill], but [those] guys are still rolling. They've got a lot of speed on that offense – a lot of guys we've got to account for. You see a few more different runs than what they had a few years ago when we faced them, but they're still being led by a great offensive line, and we know the weapon that [Patrick] Mahomes is – it's a challenge."
(On the evolution of this defense from 2019 to now)
"Our guys are a little older. Guys are a lot smarter, lot more experienced – just growing in the defense. Maturity is the main thing, I can say. A lot of guys have been playing together for a few years and they're starting to hit their peak. Relatively, [those] guys are still young, so those guys are doing a good job [of] buying in and coming together. The last couple of years, we've had a lot of taste of success, so [those] guys like it. Just even off the field, they're growing tighter, and they love being around each other. My main thing is just saying [those] guys got a little more mature."
(On if he could see the possibility of what the defense could become back in 2019)
"Not miles away, but we knew that if we just stuck with it – we knew we had the talent. As coaches, we had to be patient – keep teaching, keep teaching. And so far, they're starting to get it."
(On where OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka is in his development)
"He's coming along. He's flying around – I don't think the sack numbers are there yet – but we see him showing up on tape. Even last week just as the ball was coming out of Aaron Rodgers' hands, but he's learning the defense. The main thing with younger guys – he's not hitting the [mental errors] board all that much, so you know he's growing. I tease him a little bit like, 'When are you going to get that breakout game and let the NFL know that you're here?' But he's just got to keep showing up – we'll see him steady climbing in my opinion."
(On how hard it is for CB Sean Murphy-Bunting to be in a reserve role)
"I can relate. You know, I've been a guy in this league – been the starter, part-time starter – and he's handling it well right now. He's giving us some good special teams reps, but he's got to be ready. I'm quite sure all you guys know we'll need him – we'll have to call on him at some point during this year. You've just got to be a pro, stay confident – this league will always try to grab your confidence and you've got to keep it. He's a Detroit kid, so I expect him to handle it like a champ, but he's doing a good job. I can relate. I've been in and out of the starting lineup, but he's just got to be ready for his opportunity. I'm quite sure he will be."
(On if a lack of communication can be attributed to the slow defensive starts to games)
"That's part of it, but just attention to detail, just little technique errors. Sometimes I'm looking at just a little aggressiveness, you know? You see the play happening, we have perfect calls, and guys just didn't shoot their gun. So, those guys just have to be ready. I look at it [as] guys have to be into it, ready to go, and hopefully this week we can see results."
(On how to prevent the defense from losing their confidence after the first loss of the season)
"Just handle what you can handle. Keep coming out swinging. Bottom line – if you hold teams down, you're going to win. Every now and then, there will be a low scoring game and you come out on the losing end, but just keep handling what you can handle, stay confident. I remember last week during halftime, I said, 'Now's the time for you guys to earn [your] checks.' And they responded. They responded, and I'm proud of our guys. But this week is another challenge – big challenge – but just handle what you can handle and we're quite sure that everybody knows that this offense will get rolling in a minute."
(On how effective P Jake Camarda has been at changing the field position)
"That was big time, that was big time. That helped us out tremendously. You can hear the crowd every time that ball was kicked – you go, 'Ooh,' and see how high it was. He was just flipping the field, he really kept us in that game. He did a great job for us. Unfortunately, their punter was booting it [well] too, so it was a punt game, but he did a great job. Anytime a guy like that can flip the field for us, it just helps the defense out tremendously."
(On the challenge of facing a team with so many offensive weapons)
"Especially on the back end. You can get the band struck on you [really easily], so we've got everybody's attention. They like the home run ball, so guys on the back end, they've got to be in-synch with one another. But the front, you understand the pressure they're putting on us on the back end. So, we've got to rush, we've got to be relentless. We've got a quarterback that can buy time, so when guys are rushing, when their numbers are called, you've got to go, and they've got to work together. But definitely when you play these guys and are studying the film, these guys like home runs, so we've got to be ready for it."
(On if this defense can be as good or better as the 2020 defensive unit)
"Definitely can be better. Like I said earlier, these guys are one year older, and they're into it – just telling from the meeting rooms. Even on the sidelines when the defense is not up, guys are talking ball, they're maturing and the sky's the limit because the talent is there. So, talent will not be an excuse and we want to take that next step. We want to be one of the dominant defenses that you guys talk about, and we're capable of it, but we've got to do it from above the neck and those guys are accepting the challenge so far."
QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
(On having a lot of new faces on offense and not scoring much yet)
"Well, I certainly expect us and hope we can score more points than we've been scoring. I think we're all disappointed by the fact that we haven't scored as many points as I think we're all capable of scoring. We're three games in [and] I think we realize we haven't done so well that we've got to get corrected. Whoever's in the game, we've got to go in there and do a better job of scoring points. Like I said, it comes down to a lot of different things – penalties, turnovers – and it's making the right play, executing the play. If we do that, I believe we'll score points. It hasn't been at our highest level the first three weeks of the year and hopefully we can get there at some point, but we're working hard to get there."
(On the team's relocation and what it will mean on Sunday to be able to play for the fans)
"I always feel like sports have brought people together over a long period of time. Watching different adversities – whether it was '9/11,' whether that was [Hurricane] Katrina – sports have an amazing way of kind of healing wounds and bringing people together and bringing communities together, something to cheer for, a common interest, a common good. I think anytime you can participate in something like that it's a great feeling. I know it means a lot for us to have the opportunity to go out and play for our fans always, but after what so many people have gone through in the state, it's great to go out there and give them something to cheer about."
(On if the team has been able to prepare as well as usual this week)
"You know, we haven't even had a Thursday practice yet. There's still so much prep. We're one day in, we've still got two days of practice, we've got a lot of meetings Friday, Saturday. We'll use every minute we have up to game time to prepare. It's not like we're preparing for the easiest team, either. We're facing one of the best teams in the league. We're just going to do the best we can do with the circumstances that are presented in front of us, knowing that we're definitely in a different routine. We're going to have to focus the best way we can in order to put our best performance out there."
(On if it gives the team confidence that the game outcomes have been pretty good without the expected offensive results so far)
"I just love the way our defense has played, and their ability to play great football for us. I think they've done a great job against Dallas, they did a great job against New Orleans. They played really well last week. So, we've got to go out there and try to match what they've been doing. They've been doing an unbelievable job and they're keeping us in every game. We've got to ultimately go out there and find our rhythm and score more points and take some pressure off them, too. But I know that they feel like they have a great group and they feel like they're doing a great job, which they are. That's why I love football – it's a team sport. There's nobody that ever points fingers. You show up every day, you put the work in, you do the best you can do, and you win as a team and you lose as a team. That's what I love about this team, and it's been that way since the day I got here."
(On other quarterbacks talking to him about playing into their 40s)
"It's always important to have goals, because I think you should always have the ability to plan for things in your life and things you set out for. I remember talking with Drew [Brees] – he had an incredible career and [was] incredibly productive, too. It's just always nice talking to different guys and seeing what they're doing. Obviously Patrick [Mahomes], what he's done in his young career has been nothing short of exceptional. I've been very fortunate with an amazing support team and all the work that I do with Alex [Guerrero] to prepare my body. There's still a lot mentally and emotionally that goes into it. As you know, as you get older the challenges become a little bit…it's just more…there's more responsibilities in your life. Navigating those things, that's part of it, too. Like I said, all you can do is the best you can do based on the circumstances that are presented in front of you and try to give your best. You commit to the team and you do the best you can do. I think I've always tried to be a really dependable, consistent player for the team, and try to show up every day and do a good job."
WIDE RECEIVER MIKE EVANS
(On avoiding being dragged into confrontations)
"I've got to be smart [for] my team. This is my second time being suspended for an incident like this – I can't let it happen again. I've got to be better for my team. I felt like I could have helped us win last week. It was hard to watch that, but I just tried to be as positive as possible. I got to spend time with my family, got to rest and heal all the way up. I'm feeling fresh, that's a positive."
(On the rest of the wide receiver corps getting healthy)
"Yeah, I mean, we definitely want to be as healthy as possible because we have a really talented roster. When we're healthy, we're tough to beat. It's good to get everybody back healthy."
(On being able to provide joy for the Tampa Bay area during a difficult time)
"When I [saw] fans when I was out last week, they said they were ready for opening week and to see me play and things like that. I definitely wanted to be at the home opener, I'm happy I get to go out there and entertain. It's a blessing and I don't take it for granted. I know we're going through a tough time right now so hopefully we can be a bright spot during this time."
(On why the team is struggling in the red zone)
"I think it's just a combination of not being healthy and execution. We've got to execute better, no matter who's in there. We've got to get healthy so we can have our top guys in there."
(On if Sunday can be viewed as a reset for the offense with getting players back)
"Yeah, I guess so. We definitely want some normalcy. Guys have adjusted well during this process – we're here in Miami practicing and doing meetings and things like that. With our families at the hotel, it's been cool – everybody is handling it well. We're looking forward to going back home and hopefully playing at home and getting a [win]."
(On what makes him believe the offense can get going)
"We're not panicking at all. We don't know what people are saying, but we know [that] three touchdowns in three games is not good enough. We can do that in one half or one quarter. It's early in the season, we're 2-1. What are we, first in the division right now? Tied for first or something like that? We're in a good spot. We know we've just got to get healthy and we've got to do better – clean up the little things, be better, [clean up] the penalties and the execution. We'll be fine."
(On the challenges of going against a secondary like Kansas City's)
"We've got to be disciplined with our eyes and what we see. They like to rotate a lot [at the] last second – we've got to be prepared for that and pay attention. I feel like if we're physical up front and we run the ball well, they'll have to play us in man [coverage] and that's what we love."
(On what he's seen from the Kansas City secondary)
"It's a different secondary than it was when we played them twice in 2020. They've still got [L'Jarius] Sneed – he plays outside more. He's a good corner. Their young corners, they play hard. They have trouble finding the ball at times, but other than that they're physical, they tackle well, they play hard. Their defense – they're not a bad defense at all. They play [well] together and disguise [coverages] well. We've just got to come with it – it'll be a good challenge for us. We're looking forward to it."