Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Night Before...

On the eve of the Bucs’ 2000 home opener, Head Coach Tony Dungy discusses a variety of subjects


Tony Dungy had a lot to talk about Saturday night

It's Saturday night, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are collectively holed up in the team hotel. Already 1-0 and in search of an early lead in the NFC Central, the Bucs play their first division game of the season on Sunday when the Chicago Bears visit Raymond James Stadium.

Head Coach Tony Dungy is with the team, watching film and going over last minute details. Not long ago, he shared his thoughts on a variety of subjects, including the Bears' passing game, the Bucs' offensive line and the timing of the Brad Culpepper release.

Without further ado, here's Coach Dungy on a variety of subjects…

On Chicago QB Cade McNown: "They put in some designed plays for him to run, and he's always going to improvise three or four times a game. They use him as a weapon."

On the Bears' passing game: "They catch so many balls two yards deep and then run through people, just like St. Louis. We usually do a good job of stopping the run after the catch, and I think that's why they've had a hard time scoring against us. But they can still hit big plays. Hopefully, our speed will eliminate most of those plays."

On Warrick Dunn: "We've got more stuff in the offense to get him into the secondary. In a way, he's like Barry (Sanders). He needs enough carries to get him the big yards. He'll lose one yard, lose two yards, then break one for 50. If he gets 18 carries a game, he'll break a long one in there somewhere. Some games, he's only going to get 11 carries, and it's hit and miss whether he'll get a lot of yards."

On the Bucs' offensive line: "They're coming along. They had a really good preseason…they had to learn us, we had to learn them. It was a matter of getting consistency. We had very good pass protection all preseason, then (last week) one sack on the last play of the game. Veteran guys make a big difference with their work habits, film study, all that."

On the most pleasant surprise of 2000 so far: "I guess I'd have to say the pass protection of the offensive line. We knew we would get better run blocking, but I thought just adding Jeff (Christy) and Randall (McDaniel) wouldn't make that big of a difference on the pass blocking. Those veteran guys just don't panic. Plus, the way Les (Steckel) attacks, people can't tee off on us."

On the least pleasant surprise of 2000 so far: "There haven't really been any bad surprises. I guess the special teams have struggled because we have a lot of young guys in there. And Shelton Quarles isn't playing much on special teams any more. Nate Webster is going to be a heck of a player, but he is still learning on special teams. All it takes is one guy to be out of whack (on kick coverage) for something to go wrong. But it will get better. All of those guys are very conscientious and they're working hard to get better."

On Keyshawn Johnson's attitude when the team stresses the run: "He's been great. He had four catches against New England, and we were running the ball the whole fourth quarter. He was on the sidelines near me saying, 'This is great. I've never seen running like this before.' He was really into it. We talked to people that have been around him, and they all said the same thing. Yes, he's confident, yes, he's opinionated, but it's because he thinks he's the best option. He wants to win."

On Shaun King's development: "This is really harder on him than people thin. Usually, the biggest improvement in a quarterback comes between the first and second years, but he's had to use that time to learn a new offense. Where he has advanced is with defenses…it is his second year against those defenses. He's starting to recognize what he's seeing."

On staying focused through a long season: "If you're a pro, you can do it in Week 16 with the same energy, the same enthusiasm, the same focus as you had in Week One. Or in Week One, if there's none of what's on the line in Week 16, you can have the same enthusiasm then."

On personnel decisions: "The better a team gets, the more you are faced with these types of decisions. You can either stop the presses and say you're just trying to win this year, or you can keep making the tough decisions. That's the way it was with Hardy Nickerson. We wanted him back and we offered what we could pay him. We would have liked to have had him back, but if not, that's why we drafted Jamie Duncan."

On the timing of the Brad Culpepper release: "One of the reasons we're good is that we have a unit that's close. I expected the reaction we got. That's why we did it the week we did. There's a mourning period, and it affected the guys very much for three or four days."

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