Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin has built one of the league's most aggressive and impenetrable defenses
Since the arrival of Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin in 1996, the Tampa media contingent has often found it difficult to get Kiffin to sit down for an interview.
Not that Kiffin is standoffish...quite the contrary. The architect of what many consider the National Football League's most effective defense, Kiffin is cooperative, straightforward and funny. No, the problem is simply getting him to sit down.
Easily the most demonstrative member of a coaching staff assembled by famously stoic Head Coach Tony Dungy, Kiffin is prone to leap up and act out what he is trying to explain. Such unbridled enthusiasm has not only helped mold his defensive charges into an extremely team-oriented unit, but has also made him a fan favorite in the Tampa Bay area.
On Saturday, April 8, Buccaneers.com succeeded in keeping Kiffin in one place long enough to continue its unique 'Your Turn' interview series. As the fourth guest in this popular series, Kiffin answered questions submitted directly by Buc fans and was frequently impressed with their insight. To watch the video of this interview, please click here. To read a full written transcript, please click here.
Of the more than 600 questions submitted for possible use in the interview, 20 representative inquiries were chosen, covering such topics as...
...how do Buccaneer defensive backs tackle so aggressively without giving up big plays?
"Well, Herm Edwards, our secondary coach, does a great job with that," said Kiffin. "Again, it's just the emphasis. We tackle once a week in practice with the shields. In teamwork and seven-on-seven, we go to the football, we tag off, we button up, we point out missed tackles, we point out solos, assisted tackles, how many tackles did you have. We expect our secondary to tackle just like our linebackers, and we do put a lot of pressure on them. That's a good question, and I think the credit goes to Coach Edwards."
...do the Bucs need bigger cornerbacks?
"Right, Frank, we're always concerned about that," said Kiffin. "But, you know, you can go get these big corners, but they can't run, they can't hit, they can't cover, they don't have good skills. You just can't go by that. We have to go by who's the best corner, whether he be 5-9, 5-10, 6-foot, 6-2. We do like the bigger corners, we draft a little bit bigger corners then some people do. But, in the same sense, they've got to be able to cover. No matter how big or how tall or how much you weigh or how much you bench press or what you run the 40-yard dash in, you'd better be able to tackle. Our corners tackle better than anybody in the NFL.."
...how can the Bucs' defense continue to improve in 2000?
"Well, you've always got to get better," said Kiffin. "You can't stay the same. When we came here in '96, we were ranked 11th, then we went to third and to second, but we've never been number one in defense. I think that would still be a goal we'd like to get to. But even with that, it's not just so much stats, it's that we can always get better. We played really well, we had a great 1999 season, but there were a couple times in there – on the road against Green Bay lost the game at the end of the game, against the Vikings it's 21-0 before you sit down – we can't have those types of games. And I'm not even going to talk about the Raider game."
...and much more.
In just one month, 'Your Turn' has provided Buccaneers.com users with unprecedented access to the highest ranking members of the organization. The series will continue throughout the offseason with more key representatives providing a unique look inside One Buccaneer place. The next guest on 'Your Turn' will be Director of Player Personnel Jerry Angelo, who will appear on the site in the weeks following the draft. Fans may begin submitting questions immediately using the 'Your Turn' graphic on the home page of Buccaneers.com.