Head Coach Greg Schiano:
On Buccaneers’ wide receiver Vincent Jackson taking on a leadership role in Tampa Bay:
“Vincent has been really great for our offense, especially for our receivers. He came into a situation where he is clearly the elder statesman. Other than Vincent, it is a young room. From day one he has been providing leadership, in a work-ethic on the field, work-ethic in the classroom, teaching our guys how to be a true professional. He has been a really fine ambassador for our team in the community. We feel fortunate to have him.”
On how Vincent Jackson makes life easier for a fourth-year quarterback:
“Any time you have a target like that who can go up and get the ball it sure helps. You don’t have to scheme him wide open to get the pass. He is able to compete for the ball and jump and take it out of the air. I think every quarterback likes that.”
On how Vincent Jackson has helped Buccaneers’ wide receiver Mike Williams:
“In the receiver room he has been a huge help, just teaching them how to be a professional and how to approach things. On the field I think drawing coverage. You have to make a pick defensively. Are they going to try to dedicate resources to Vincent or Mike or both? Then maybe they are a little bit sparse in the run defense. That is where he has helped them on the field.”
On the school of thought that Buccaneers’ running back Doug Martin’s long runs are the product of Vincent Jackson and other receivers forcing the defense to respect the long pass:
“You do see some of that. You see less eight-man boxes. You see more two-safety coverage to try and prevent the down the field throw. That obviously makes it a little more advantageous to run the football. Teams have ways of mixing that up and we’ve seen that as well. I do think though that everything plays off each other; the run game off the pass, the pass game off the run. Especially when you use play-action pass as a part of your pass game.”
On the physical size of Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams impacting the matchups on every play:
“I like having them on our team. I know Josh [Freeman] likes throwing to them. Vincent is a little longer guy but Mike is also a big guy. Mike has incredible hand-eye coordination. You put the ball anywhere in Mike’s vicinity and there’s a good percentage chance he will catch it.”
On some analysis claiming Mike Williams is a more talented wide receiver than Vincent Jackson:
“I don’t know. I think they’re both really good football players. I don’t try to compare them, I don’t think you need to. They are both on our football team. [Coaches] Mike Sullivan, Ron Turner and P.J. Fleck, the guys who handle the passing game do a good job of putting them in position to use their strengths. That is what we need to continue to do as we see new wrinkles that defenses throw at us. It is fortunate to have guys like Mike Sullivan and Ron Turner that are experienced NFL guys. They have some real good ideas and thoughts.”
On a common theme in how opponents have tried to defend Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams:
“You see a bunch of different things. You see bump at the line with safety over the top. You see buzzers underneath with beat guys over the top. You see some people that just play one-on-one press bump and that’s the way it is. We’ve seen a lot. I’m sure there’s something out there that we haven’t seen but that’s ok. I think again these guys are very coachable and they prepare their tails off. I think we have good assistant coaches that are working with them every day and during the game to adjust.”
On having a sense that Vincent Jackson has circled this game on his calendar to make a statement:
“I really don’t get that sense. Today was business as usual. He practices hard every day. I don’t sense anything unusual. I’m sure if you’ve been somewhere for many years and now you’re not there anymore, there is a little extra juice flowing but I don’t get the sense, no.”
On whether Doug Martin had a little extra juice flowing against his hometown Raiders:
“I don’t know. If that’s the case I think we need to schedule more games at his hometown. He ran really well. I think the offensive line did a really good job, especially with some of the losses we’ve had. Doug did a great job of trusting his path and his lineman and running the plays and letting them run out. That is what he did.”
On what is allowing him to make record-breaking plays:
“First off, I think you have to have offensive lineman that are creating daylight. Whether it is a sliver of daylight or a garage door, it doesn’t matter. A guy like Doug trusts his plays and runs them. I think he has been blessed with a talent I’m not sure you can coach. He has great vision. We may have the play designed to be run at a certain angle but he’ll feel daylight (I say feel because I’m not sure he can see it with some of the places he runs the ball) but he does. He has a great feel. The great backs that I have been around have had patience. They have the vision and they have the patience. If Doug can continue to be the way he is, he will fall into that group relatively soon. What I keep talking about with Doug is a test of time, to be able to do it over and over again consistently. That is his challenge right now.”
On how Doug Martin compares to Chargers running back Ryan Matthews:
“I haven’t studied Ryan enough. We’ve done our breakdowns and I’ve watched Ryan. When he was at Fresno State I coached against him and I thought he was a heck of a back there and I think he is a heck of a back now. To get into the why’s of things that are and aren’t happening, I don’t think I’m adequately knowledgeable to make that call.”
On how the Buccaneers have been able to overcome losing key players in the off season:
“We certainly miss all of those guys, but I think guys have worked incredibly hard since we started together. We have new systems in all three phases so cumulative repetitions are starting to pay off. Sometimes when you do something at the beginning it just doesn’t mesh and the more you do it, the more you rep it. There are certain things we’re working on that we’re not running in games yet because it’s just not ready. You have to run something. At the beginning there were a lot of things that weren’t ready but as you move on and continue to build cumulative plays offensively and run different calls on defense and different things in the kicking game, I think our players feel more comfortable with it. Although we lost some really good players, I still think we have a bunch of guys here that are very talented. They really care. When you have that they are willing to work hard and have their chance.”
On this being his first time as an NFL head coach and having veteran coaches help:
“It has been tremendous. When I made the decision to jump to the NFL, I was fortunate that I could get some guys that have been through it in Butch, Jimmy Raye and Ron Turner. Some experienced NFL guys, Steve Loney who has coached a lot of years in this league. Yet we have youthful guys. We have some college guys that came with us and some new guys. We’re really blessed in our front office with Mark Dominik our general manager. I was not well-versed in the personnel department. It has been a long time since I had even paid attention to pro football. Mark helped me get up to speed on that and stuff. It has been a team effort for sure. The most important thing is our guys. Our guys have tried to do what we ask and it hasn’t always been pretty but they keep coming back for more. That is the most important thing.”
On how close the Buccaneers are with being balanced on offense every week:
“I think the balance has to be more maybe not weekly but over the course of the season. You have to take what the defense gives you. Different weeks the defense is going to afford you different opportunities. I think that’s the hardest thing. Coaches being able to recognize it and if it’s different than what they’ve shown, being able to adjust and for your players being able to get that communicated to them and having a system that is flexible enough to change the game plan because of the way they are playing the offense. That is where I think the cumulative repetitions come in, to be able to do that in a game.”
On Buccaneers’ fullback Erik Lorig:
“I do like having a fullback for sure on certain plays. Every fullback is different. I’ve had running backs that I’ll always ask if they prefer having a fullback in front of them or not. Different running backs have different feelings. Different backs say they want a lead back on inside runs or on the outside runs. I always try and find out what our backs like the most. Not that you exclusively do that but you lean that way. Erik Lorig I think has really come on as a lead blocker and a pass receiver. I think this is guy that changed his body. He came here as a defensive end and when we arrived they made the conversion to fullback but he’s like a 260 pound guy and he really changed his body. Our strength and conditioning coach really worked with him and he morphed himself into an NFL fullback. I watch him every week and I think he is as good as I’ve seen. I know we’re facing a great one this week with the Chargers but I think this is two of the better ones in the National Football League on the field Sunday. They’re hard to find. That is a dying breed in the NFL.”
Quarterback Josh Freeman
What has wide receiver Vincent Jackson meant to your game specifically?
“Vincent is a great talent with his size and speed. He also has great hands and the ability to catch the ball in traffic and make things happen. Vincent’s been tremendous. He compliments Mike Williams and vice versa. Having those two allows you to do a lot of things with your offense. Off the field the guy is a leader and a hard worker. As far as communicating and getting on the same page, he really puts in the time and takes a lot of pride in his work.”
How is running back Doug Martin breaking so many long runs?
“It’s a combination that starts with our coaches and game plan. But it really comes down to our offensive line. It’s a mentality. Those guys go out and take pride in what they do. We have some different guys playing different positions but the guys go out and create the space. Doug knows what he’s looking for as far as hitting holes. He goes out and makes it happen. “
If you were to compare wide receivers Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson, where does one maybe have a strength over the other?
“I can’t really say. They’re both really good at executing the routes and doing the job that the coaches put in front of them. They’ve both made the same amount of extraordinary plays in clutch situations. When people ask me who I would rather throw it to, I say ‘whoever is on my right side’. I really feel extremely confident about both of them. Both of those guys are tremendous talents.”
Do you find it puzzling that the Chargers allowed Vincent Jackson to go to another team?
“I can’t really say that I have the perspective of someone in the front office, but I’m sure glad that they did.”
What has quarterbacks coach Ron Turner done to help you?
“Coach Turner is great. It started when I first met him in April, just talking about goals and visions. He challenges me and all the quarterbacks in the quarterback room. He pushes us to be great every day. It’s awesome working with him in film studies, out on the field, doing drill work. Everything that we’re not exemplary at, he makes us push and go.”
On the growth of the playbook:
“The playbook has definitely grown. Everyone is trying to get a feel for the offense, especially a quarterback trying to get the feel for a new system, it takes time. You know the playbook, but it’s going out there and feeling it, anticipating windows, making plays and getting comfortable with the guys you’re playing with. I think that the amount of pride and the amount of work that everyone has put in has really paid off, from being able to go out and add stuff to the playbook. Ultimately what we’re trying to do with the football, I think that everyone understands it, everyone knows they have a job to do on that play and they are getting in the right place to fulfill the goals.”
What was happening last year to make you have a bit of an off season?
“I was forcing the issue. I remember games where I felt like I had to make a play to come back or keep us in it. You start coming out of the confines of the offense and try and do things maybe in a two-minute drill at the end of the game that you have to make a play. Rather than just running the offense, you try and create plays and that’s where things go bad.”
You seem to be very good at the fade pass. Is that a matter of accuracy and confidence where your receiver is going to make the play?
“I just try and put it where my guy gets it and no one else can get it. I just happen to have a few guys who are really, really good at getting it. It all depends on the look and how they’re playing it. There’s a lot of ways a fade can be thrown.”
Does Coach Mike Sullivan make any references to quarterback Eli Manning when he’s coaching you?
“Yeah, at times. It’s more stories about his growth in the offense and little knick-knacks about leadership. When you talk about Eli Manning, you’re talking about a guy who’s an elite quarterback. He’s won two Super Bowls and he’s made the big plays in the big games. He’s known as “The comeback kid.” A lot of the things Eli does within the offense, we run. It’s been great to have the resource of the film library and be able to go and break it all down to see how he does things, the throws that he makes, what he’s looking at sometimes. It’s been really helpful, especially when we were first installing the offense. For the most part, it’s all focused on the Bucs, but every now and then there’s an opportunity to use Eli as an example of how he did something as far as being a leader, and how he did something as far as making a play. It’s cool to have the guy who coached Eli the past couple of years coaching us.”
When you add (running back) Doug Martin into the mix with the receivers, is it very difficult for defenses to pick their poison in terms of shutting down the run or the passing game?
“I could see that. And you’ve got to give credit to coach (Mike) Sullivan. The way he calls games, it’s a lot of stuff that looks like other stuff that can be equally as dangerous. To be honest, it’s all about the execution. If you have good receivers like Mike (Williams) and Vincent (Jackson), you have to find a way to get the ball in the playmakers’ hands. That’s what this offense is all about. And whether it’s run or pass, we kind of look inward and say that we’re about doing what we do. I can definitely see how it could be trouble for a defense. But there are a lot of good defenses in this league, so you can’t take it for granted. We have to continue to try and get better in our preparation and get ready to go out and play.”
What most impresses you about the Chargers’ defense?
“They play extremely fast. When you look at their front seven, those guys get after it. You have
Are the fans in Tampa starting to show more interest in the team?
“To be honest, I have no idea. We have such an inward focus. Offensively, we don’t worry about how many fans are there or what’s going on. We just appreciate the fans that we have and we go out try to give the best show that we can.”
Have you had any conversations with wide receiver Vincent Jackson that would indicate he’s circled this game on his calendar?
“No, actually I haven’t. But I do know that this game means a lot to Vincent because it’s a team that he started with and played with for a long time, but Vincent also treats every game like it’s special. He gets fired up. He’s out there with a lot of energy, ready to make big plays. I can’t really say that I’ve seen him get up more for one game than another. Vince is my guy. He’s been great for the team and great for me. It’s awesome to call him my teammate.”