DT Warren Sapp does a lot of the team's talking during weekly interview sessions
When you enter the Tampa Bay Buccaneers locker room from the outside hall, as the media does each week, the absolute first thing you see is the locker of NFL Defensive Player of the Year Warren Sapp. And, almost without fail, you see Sapp sitting in front of it.
Sapp is something of a team spokesman for two main reasons. He is an engaging and entertaining interview, even for writers who cover the team on a daily basis. And he is almost always available. For that reason, the first move of almost every reporter covering the team during the twice-weekly open locker room periods is to head straight to Sapp's locker.
Thus, many of the articles you read in the newspapers here and on this site, and the snippets of interviews you see on the networks, include Sapp's views. Today, we're going to give you more. We recorded the entire Sapp interview session on Monday, October 16, and we're going to share with you every word. Below, Sapp sounds off on topics concerning the Lions game, ranging from Detroit's loss of Germane Crowell to the Buccaneers' recent loss of complete defensive dominance.
On the development of the Lions in the last month: "I think they're the same ballclub. They're just executing better than when we caught them up there in their house. But that's a challenge for us, to catch a hot ballclub in our house and get ourselves back on track."
On the effect of losing Germane Crowell on the Lions' offense: "I don't know, you just insert Herman Moore and he's a pretty good player in his own right. But instead of having three deadly receivers they only have two, and I think that will change some of the things they do in their three-receiver sets. But they're still effective in what they're doing and we've got to go out and get it done."
On whether the Bucs' top defensive priority is stopping James Stewart: "Always. In every game that you face, the easiest thing in the NFL is to turn around and hand the ball off. That's kind of gotten away from us the last couple of weeks, the running game, and that's one thing we've got to get back to doing: pound the running game, turn them into a one-dimensional team and then go out and rushing the passer."
On the Lions' early abandonment of the run in the last game: "Yeah, but we stopped the run when they did run. That's the thing that we've got to do. Get the running game under control and we can go out and do some special things."
On whether the Lions are making more of an effort to involve Stewart: "I think they've always been committed to the run, with that big offensive line and a big back behind it. If you get behind in this league, it's always going to be difficult for you to get back into the game by running it. That's the thing we've got to do. We've got to put them behind the eight ball again. Shut down the running game again, get a lead on them and then see what they do."
On losing three close ones: "I don't think that's reason for any kind of concern. Everything that we're doing in a ballgame, we control. I think that's the best thing for us, that we can see the mistakes that we're making, the little breakdowns here and there that we can fix and get ourselves in a position to win some games."
On playing on Thursday night: "It's going to be fun. We haven't played in quite awhile and, shoot, we haven't won in a month. We've got to get that feeling back again."
On what can be taken from earlier win over Detroit: "We don't expect the same ballclub to come out. We expect them to come out and attack us on defense and do some special things on their offense that we've got to counter as a defensive unit. It's going to be a great ballgame. We expect a hard-fought game, four quarters, and we'll see what happens."
On the other teams in the NFC Central race: "We can't worry about that. We've got to get ourselves back in a winning mode and get a roll going. To get a string going we've got to start this Thursday night, get a win and then we'll go from there."
On the defensive line getting pressure on the quarterback each game: "We work well as a unit. We've got to get to this guy (Charlie Batch). We went up there the first time and we hadn't beaten him, hadn't got much pressure on him, but we got that done the first game we played them. Now we've got to do something that we haven't done since Tony's been here, come out and sweep this ballclub."
On Anthony McFarland's steadily improving play: "He's playing well. That's the one thing about this game. We didn't see it (in 1999) because he just wasn't getting the reps. Any time you get more reps, you get more opportunities to make plays. He's been doing a good job and when the opportunity's there, he's been making them."
On how hard it is to beat the same team twice in a season: "I don't know. Whenever you play a ballclub, they have a way of watching film, seeing what they did wrong and finding a way of countering it. But they're playing a good ballclub in us, and we've got to get ourselves right. That's the task at hand, to go out and sweep them. It's in our house, so we're going to go out and do the things that we should do."
On whether Bucs could be hurt by overconfidence: "Ain't no overconfidence in this locker room."
On whether the games behind the Bucs have lent a sense of urgency: "It's what's in front of us. We can't do anything about the three losses or our record right now, but we can do something about where we're going. That's our focus right now."
On whether the schedule's conducive to a winning streak: "We've got Thursday night and that's all we can concern ourselves with right now. Let the chips fall where they may."
On why the team plays well when it's in a hole: "I think it's just the way our makeup is. We're a team that goes out and practices well. We don't take the pads off, and whenever you don't take the pads off, it allows you to work on the fundamentals of the game. That's the thing that breaks down once you get late in the year. You get nicked up, you get banged up and most of the teams take the pads off. But we don't. We keep it on and that allows us to work on the fundamentals of our game. When you're fundamentally sound, it's difficult for you to be beaten. We're a fourth-quarter team. We've always finished strong. We've just get ourselves right in the first and second quarters of the season and then go for the strong finish."
On Bucs' struggles in October: "I don't know. Halloween? I don't know, but we've got to find a way to fix it. Right now, we're in a situation where we've got to get two wins right here in October. Finish this month off strong and go from there."
On whether he's motivated by desire to be a Hall-of-Famer: "I think so, but more than that, I think the window of opportunity for this ballclub is here for a championship. When you have that, your big-time players have to come to play every week. I've always considered myself one of the better players on this team and for us to go where we want to go, I have to be on top of my game. That's the one thing that I've always tried to prepare myself for, a long, hard drive. I get a whole bunch of stuff thrown at me and I can't be off my game. I just go in with the idea that it all starts with me. And if it starts to me, then we're going to get off to a good start."
On his recent blocked field goals: "I don't know. It's just opportunities, and I've always been a very opportunistic person. When the chance for a big play is there, I usually get it done. That's one of those things that Joe (Marciano) pointed out in the film room. This guy (Gary Anderson), he doesn't miss, so you've got to block him. I missed the first two, so it was just time for me to make a play. It was there and Donnie picked it up and scored and we were off from that point."
On whether Anderson's kick trajectory is lower since it was a long kick: "It always is because you've got the ball a longer distance and you don't want to get it up that high. Not many people have a five-iron like Tiger, both high and long."
On need to re-establish home dominance: "I think the one thing for us is to re-establish our dominance as a defensive unit. That's the one thing that we haven't been able to do is go out and shut people down when we've had leads. We've let the game get away from us the last couple of weeks. Once we get our defense right, then this ballclub is right where we want to be. That's always been our calling card, how we play defense and how we've been able to shut people down. No matter how good their offense was, we've been able to go out and get the job done. Once we get that back, then our calling card will be there."