Between the end of last Sunday's win in New Orleans and kickoff this coming Sunday in Houston's NRG Stadium, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had time to break down their Week Two game tape, devise a game plan for the Houston Texans and hone their plays on the practice field. They also found plenty of time to discuss the week's most pressing topics, from the talented Texans defense to the psychological impact of building a winning streak.
Here are the top 10 things we heard from Buccaneers players and coaches in Week Three of the 2015 season:
- "I felt like we just went out there and executed the game plan. Had a great week of practice, a great week of preparation and I feel like it showed out there on the field. Everybody was working together and it was a poetry-in-motion type thing. Individually, yeah, you feel like you're in the zone but I feel like it's a lot of stuff that works hand-in-hand to get that type of thing going. I think our coverage guys did a great job of making [New Orleans quarterback Drew] Brees want to go to his second and third [options] and that's when the rush has to be there. I feel like as a defensive unit we did a great job altogether. I mean, I know it might seem like one guy had all the stats but I feel like as a unit we all did a great job."
- DE Jacquies Smith, the NFL's sack leader after a three-sack performance in New Orleans, on why the defense played so much better in Week Two
*9. "I'm healthy, and I've just got to stay healthy. It's also just a different mindset around here. We all believe that this is going to be a good year for us, everybody believes that we're going to win and we're just out there to play the game for each other." *- RB Doug Martin, who led the team to a 135-yard rushing performance in New Orleans, on why he and the ground game have been effective this year
8 "That's just not a bad thing. I think every good quarterback should be a good game manager. We're not going to run the ball 60 times and ask him to only play-action pass. No, but what we would like to do, we want to establish the run and from there it opens up everything else. When he's played 15 years for us here and you ask him that question, I would like for him to say, 'Hey, I'm really managing that game well.' As a quarterback, that's a good thing."- Head Coach Lovie Smith on the idea that the Buccaneers just want rookie QB Jameis Winston to be a "game manager"
- "Obviously, for us a big focus is getting the team to improve on third down. Obviously, keep ourselves out of third-and-long, you don't want to see a lot of third-and-over-10s, but when you do have them, we do have some playmakers, some matchups that we like. Jameis is going to do a good job of reading the defense and taking what's there. We don't have specific things where we have to go to one guy every time, but he's doing a great job of putting the ball where it needs to go and hopefully we can pick up the first down. But yeah, just continuing the growth on that part and of course the red zone, we want to continue to get more touchdowns."- WR Vincent Jackson on how the offense can continue moving upward after improving from the first week to the second
- "He has a very strong arm. We think he is an accurate passer as well, that arm strength, his ability to be able to get the football down the field, that's a concern. He's familiar with this offense having worked with their head coach in the past. He is a guy we'll have to contend with, with that live arm that he does have."
- Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier on facing Houston QB Ryan Mallett
- "It's very tough. They're physical guys. They're shifty. Sometimes you feel like you need a little advantage by – I wouldn't say holding – but just being a little bit more physical. It's definitely tough now, especially when you have those big guys and they kind of get away with it a little more than we do. It's the way the game is evolving. We have to learn how to deal with it. That's the name of the game. It's more challenging but we can still get the job done."
- CB Alterraun Verner on facing bigger receivers like Houston's DeAndre Hopkins
- "Great size, great strength, great quickness, great athleticism. Plenty of guys have some combination, but he is elite in all those areas, ball skills and then tremendous motor. They also design all their stunts so they are running a stunt to take all the attention away – they are always trying to get him singled. They know we are going to try and double him and they're going to try and figure out ways to get him singled. They do a good job of getting him singled. He can be a power rusher, he can be a speed rusher. He's got really good hands. He has a lot of pass rush moves."
- Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter on what makes Houston DE J.J. Watt one of the most dangerous players in the NFL
- "I just trust my offensive line. Obviously those guys are great. [They've] got Jadeveon Clowney, the first pick from last year. [They've] got Vince Wilfork – he's a true veteran. Just great guys. It's going to be amazing to play against those guys, but at the end of the day it's going to be a battle between two good football teams. We are going into [the game] having the same mindset: we cannot beat ourselves. Obviously they have a great defense, but I believe if I do my job, don't turn the ball over, we'll be pretty good."
- QB Jameis Winston on dealing with Watt and the rest of Houston's talented defensive front
- "Finish, we've got to finish. That was our issue last year, not finishing games. We had an opportunity last year, but we didn't finish, whether it was at the end of the half or at the end of the game. We just know going into a hostile territory – you all watched 'Hard Knocks' just like me – you know what type of mentality they want to have. They want to physically impose their will on anybody they face, definitely being 0-2 and having somebody coming into their home. Coach [Bill] O'Brien said that they kind of pulled back on them at practice this week. I know the strategy behind that. That means Sunday they are going to come out humming. We've got to be ready for it."- DT Gerald McCoy on how the Buccaneers can turn one victory into a winning streak
- "Right now, we understand everybody looks at us as the past Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We're in a positon to do something about it, guys realize that. It's tough going on the road two weeks in a row and winning. We have an opportunity to do that. I feel like we are going to be a good ball club. So many things we need to tighten up from our last game, but we are seeing that. We have young players and just asking guys not to make the same mistake again. It would do a lot for our psyche to get to 2-1, yes."
- Head Coach Lovie Smith on how much it would mean to the team to push its record over .500