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28 December 2014


(Opening statement)
“It’s been a long year. A part of the plan wasn’t to have the type of football season we had. We wanted to finish up strong. Talking about this game today, I thought in the first half we did some good things. Establishing the run, that was kind of our plan. Took [care of] the football, for the most part, fairly well. Defensively, we hung in there. We didn’t get as many takeaways as we would’ve liked, but we got a few. We saw some guys make some good plays, [Bradley] McDougald, [Keith] Tandy. But in the end, just couldn’t quite pull it out. So it’s kind of been the tale of our season a little bit.”
(On playing reserves to prepare for the future)
“Well, you can say a plan for the future. I felt like we were running the football fairly well. Playing pretty good defense. We felt like we could get a look at some of our players. We did want to get a look at some of the players we haven’t seen, yes.”
(On linebacker Danny Lansanah not starting)
“Danny violated a team rule is what Danny did. So, we held him out a little bit until the end.”
(On how much evaluation took precedence over winning)
“Not at all, as we see it. With the lead, we wanted to play some of our linemen. We wanted to see some of them in the second half. That was a part of our plan going in. We had a lot more success in the first half than I thought we would, especially being able to run the football. With the lead, if you play pretty good defense you should be able to hold on to that. They made a couple of plays at the end there. Their interception that they got on a pass that if we catch the ball and not give them that quick turnaround, it’s a totally different game.”
(On ending up with the first overall pick)
“My comments last week were, ‘We’re going to get a good pick.’ Nothing’s really changed. I know were in a little bit better of a position but going into this football game, we were going to have an opportunity to get a pretty good football player. When you’re down there, that’s one consolation, I guess, from the season we’ve had. So, that’s where we are right now. We were anxious to play this last game. We wanted to get 2014 in our past to get to this next year, where I know good things will happen for us.”
(On putting any thought towards next year)
“Not really. We’ve known what our record was and, as I said, we knew we would be down there somewhere. The way to get ready for next year is to know as much as you possibly can about our current roster. We feel like we’ve done that. To get an opportunity to sign a couple of those players going forward, which we were able to do, is a good thing. Again, going forward I like the position we’re in. We need help, and we’ll be able to get the best help around.”
(On if he was surprised by the solid play in the first half)
“The running the football part, yes. We got some big things for Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson going over 1,000 yards receiving. That’s good. So, for the passing game that was good to see. In order for us to go from the bottom of our division to the top, you got to be able to run the football. There was a commitment, that was a part of the game plan. To see it work that way was refreshing. When you can run the football, it’s a lot easier to passing the football. It opens up everything. I don’t know how many plays they had in the first half but not a lot. So, that was supposed to be our formula for winning football games. At least we got a glimpse of it.”
(On whether he feels the game was lost due to substituted players)
“To me, it had nothing to do with substitution. You look at how we played and, to me, I’m going to go back, we were moving the ball fairly well, even in the second half. We played a lot of guys in the first half also. Vincent Jackson only played a few reps, so that happened in the first half also. The team we put out on the football field had a chance to win right up until. We didn’t have some of our best players there right in the end, but the guys we had in there we felt like we could move the ball and be able to win with.”
(On the advantage of declining the holding penalty on a second-and-20)
“To get the third-and-long. We had, what, a third-and-15 on that play? That was the advantage. You get off on third down, you’re off the football field. That’s an easy decision right there to give an offense two plays instead of just one. If we get into a third-and-15 situation, that’s what I think it was or so, we should be able to get off the field on that. Take that every time.”
(On evaluating the roster)
“We’re going to evaluate our entire roster. When you look at the last football game, we had one more chance to see all of our players. Right now, we’re going to evaluate it all. Our play at the quarterback position hasn’t been good enough as it hasn’t been good at any position starting with my position. It’s a total evaluation of everything. That’s where we are.”
(On thinking about controlling the draft)
“I’m sure as the days, the weeks go by we’ll get used to being in this position. I’ve never been in this position and that’s kind of low on the list of things, right now, to think about. I just know that we need to make improvements, and we’re in control now of the improvements that each team will make. We start the domino effect, so I guess that’s a good thing.”
(On wide receiver Mike Evans’ absence late in the game)
“Mike wasn’t long in there before that also. Mike played very little of the second half, that’s why he wasn’t out there. He wasn’t loose and ready to go. Our plan wasn’t to play Mike an awful lot in the second half, that’s why he wasn’t out there. There were some other players we wanted to look at and those were the guys that were out there.”
(On the point in which they decided to evaluate rather than play the best players)
“It started early. We have a game plan each week. Now, I don’t tell you all the game plan, but we have a game plan each week. Our game plan was that. Those guys you saw in the first half, the game plan was for them to be in there. In the second half, we wanted to look at more football players. I don’t think that’s out of the realm of possibility to look at some other guys. We’re not going to the playoffs, we have a comfortable lead and we’re going to run the football. Defensively, we played about all our guys except for Lavonte David a little bit. The guys we had out there fought right up until the end and they made some good plays to win there at the end.”
(On the backups elevating their status)
“That’s hard to say right now. We have video on those guys, so we’ll get a chance to get one more good evaluation of them. We saw them on a critical situation on how they were going to perform then. But we have some guys that did some good things. We can talk a little bit more about our running game. Bradley McDougald I’ve talked an awful lot about. It was good to see Keith Tandy get in there and make a couple of plays. So, there’s a lot we got out of this game. Whether we have two or three wins, or we would liked to have had a win at the end of the season, but where we are right now, we know more about our football team going into the season. The guys fought right up until the end.”
(On how difficult it is not having a win at home this season)
“Not a good feeling to be in. It’s as simple as that. One win wouldn’t have helped an awful lot, either. We’re going to feel better when we’re winning our division. Until then, we don’t feel good an awful lot except for knowing our roster a lot better and knowing the direction we need to go. It’s about all you can get right now. There’s not a great feeling. If we would’ve won today, we would’ve felt better about this game, but, the season as a whole, it’s not where we want to be. We won’t be there long.”
(On if the top pick in the draft can turn the team around)
“We need more than just the one but picks coming in from the draft. We’re going to get some good picks from the draft by our position, yes. In free agency too. Our free agent class didn’t work as well as we would’ve liked it to this year, but you don’t stop just because of that. You keep going. We see that we have some holes on our roster, and we’ll start working to fill them, which we feel like we’ll be able to do.”
(On if the players knew the game plan to substitute)
“The players knew that everybody that was dressed and ready to go should be ready to go until we tell them you’re not going anymore. We don’t every go in and saying you’re going to play this many plays. That’s not the base part of it. The 46 guys we had, active and ready to go, we wanted them to be ready to go right up until.”
(On his feelings about the second-half game plan)
“Yeah, you know I think part of the plan for us what to see other guys play too and that was the key. For me, you play with the guys that are out there and do the best that you can. You know, I’ve said this before, but once you may be out of [the playoffs] you need to utilize those games to evaluate moving forward and to help continue to build your team, especially in the first year of a program. It was part of the plan to allow some other guys to play. It’s hard in the nature of the game, but you just have got to let them go and go try to win the game with those guys because you may get into a situation where you don’t get to see those guys play and be able to fairly evaluate them so that you can make the necessary decisions that you need to make. So that was the plan going in and we understood it.”
(On the fans’ perspective of the game)
“Well, it’s just what I said. I mean it’s unfortunate. I don’t think anybody tanked it. We played the guys that we played to rotate guys in to give them a look. As far as players are concerned, the draft and that stuff is not relevant to us as far as how we’re playing. You know, we play and execute the plays that are called. The guys play that are put into the game to play and that’s our job. All that other stuff is for people to try to speculate about, but we competed hard and that’s the main thing. Again, we had a chance to evaluate some younger guys and as we build this thing that is what it’s about. We need to be able to see guys, like I said. I trust our leadership and those guys have to make decisions and being able to see guys play in certain spots helps them.”
(On if it was strange playing without the starters on offense)
“No, no. Again, when you understand that we don’t reveal this before we go into the work week or into the game, but when you understand what the objective is going into the game – to be able to get different guys in there and get different looks and run the ball like we’ve said we wanted to do all year – I think when we understand it, it makes sense to us. Again, we play hard and execute the plays that are called and do our job and that’s all we’re supposed to do.”
(On how he feels about the first half of the game)
“Oh, it was good. I mean, we came off strong and got the ball to Mike [Evans] and got the ball to Vincent [Jackson] early and moved the ball down there and got points. That’s always how you want to start a football game. I think we felt really, really good about that. When you’re executing – especially when you do have everybody in – that’s how you want to leave [the game] feeling. We wanted to execute at the level that we’re supposed to be executing and we put ourselves in a good position putting 20 points up in the first half.”
(On dealing with the speculation of drafting a new quarterback)
“I mean, you guys know my history and where I have been in this league, so whatever we decide to do, I trust those guys. I have always said this, I trusted them when they brought me here so you can’t all of a sudden when they make a decision that doesn’t favor you say, ‘Oh, I don’t trust them anymore.’ I know that they’re going to make a great decision to help this team moving forward and regardless of what that is I want to help that guy help our team win football games and so if that’s a D-tackle, then whatever I can do to help that guy, I’ll help him; if it’s a D-end then whatever I can do; if that’s a left tackle, whatever I can do to help him; if it’s a right guard and if it’s a quarterback so be it. For me, my mindset doesn’t change. I said when I got here that I want to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers be successful. That’s my goal and I want to see the quarterback position play efficient football and we didn’t get that done this year so that’s what my five months be about – how can I improve as a player for myself and then help our group do that, as well. That’s really my focus moving forward.”
(On problems with the offensive line and if he feels like he had a good chance to show what he can do)
“You know, that’s hard. The decision-makers kind of evaluate moving forward. I said this last week too, you know, there were a lot of things that made it difficult for not just the quarterback, but everyone on offense and the coach. There were things that happened that were out of our control. I just am so grateful to work around the guys that I got to work around that kept battling every week. Regardless of the circumstances they kept fighting and kept trying to pick up the slack as best we could. So I don’t really look at it that way and I trust that the people who make those decisions will evaluate it accordingly.”
(On how he felt as a competitor when he was told backups would play the second half)
“That’s a great question and that’s hard because as a competitor, you never know. I play every game like it’s the last one, but at the same time as a member of this team and understanding the vision for this team and where we’re trying to go, then I understand the necessity to see different guys play and evaluate them and help us. The reality is, it was 20-to-7 at the half and if we had doubled that and it was 40-to-14, we’re still not going to the playoffs. We’re still not playing. We need more. That would have been a great feeling for everybody, but at the same time would we have been able to see guys and would we be able to make the best decisions moving forward for our team? I think that’s what matters the most. Understanding that big picture, I think as a competitor, you kind of go, okay, I understand that and I have to maybe understand that this battle may not go the way I want it to, but hopefully in the war over all as we move forward, bigger-picture-wise, we can win. That’s my goal for our team and you know that was my job for today.”
(On if he is relieved that the season is over)
“No, I haven’t really thought much about it. It’s neither here nor there for me. What I learned a long time ago and what a lot of the rookies will learn this year is that there’s a whole crop of guys coming in April and then the next year there will be a whole crop of guys coming again and again and that’s just part of this game. So how you approach the game as a pro is what keeps you in this game. I don’t really get caught up in where we’re picking and all of those things. I know this and I’ve said this before, you’ve got to build your team through the draft and you’ve got to hit on your picks and I feel like especially for our first-three rounders this year we did that. Jason [Licht] has done an excellent job with that and I trust them to do that again. So as far as the draft is concerned, all I can think about is for another option for us to add guys and help us get to our goal and that’s all that matters.”
(On reflecting on the future)
“Every time – every time – you walk off the field you think that way. It was special for me to just be out there with my little brother. The years that we’ve played – we’ve been so blessed to be able to play as long as we have. Neither one of our teams were in positions where we wanted to be, but at the same time he and I personally felt it was cool to walk off the field and to get to hug him and to walk off the field together. You know, you never know if this is his or my last moment on the football field, so that was special for me and that means something to me. I am thankful that it worked out this way.”
(On warming up with his brother Luke McCown)
“We played catch a little bit so that was cool. I kind of paused to go play catch with one of our guys and I thought, you know, I might as well go play catch with him and so that was a cool moment for us, for sure.”
(On players on the field in the second half)
“There isn’t anything to say.  It was the coaches’ call to take guys out, and we just played the cards we were dealt.”
(On not winning a home game this season)
“It’s disappointing.  It sucks, but it’s just the way the tables turn.  It’s just the way it is man.”
(On his first year)
“I’m very proud. It’s something to build on for next year. Hopefully that number [receiving yards] can keep going up.”
(On breaking 1,000 receiving yards)
“It was a goal for me and V-Jax [Vincent Jackson] to both have it. So that’s pretty special. He worked so hard he deserves it. He paved the way for me to get it as well.”
(On Jackson returning)
“I definitely want him back and he definitely wants to be back and we can do it again hopefully. He’s been very helpful throughout this whole process, my whole rookie year, and I was very fortunate to play alongside him.
(On not being on field late in the game)
“The whole second half I didn’t play. They just pulled me because I was gassed. It was [the coaches’] decision.”
(On his 45-yard run)
“I just did my job.  My job is to break tackles, make them miss, and make them pay.  I was able to run the 45 and get that.”
(On how a 100-yard game made him feel heading into the offseason)
“It’s a bittersweet feeling.  We wanted to end on a good note and win this last home game of the season, but on the other side it is nice to have the 100-yard game.”
(On how important the run game in the first half was to success)
“It’s very important.  We got into a good rhythm at the beginning of the game, we were finding holes, and the line was doing a good job a creating the holes.  We were pretty successful running in the first half.”
(On what he did in order to create the 45-yard run)
“It was a run to the left and I didn’t see anything at first, but I used my patience and I was just moving around through tackles, broke a tackle, and I was off to the races after that.”
(On developing young players down the stretch despite the unfortunate record)
“Exactly.  A lot of young guys stepped up today and were able to take the field and get starting positions.  We have a great foundation for next year and a lot of things to pull it off with and we will be very successful.”
(On if he knew the play was coming to him on his first career interception)
“I felt it once – I think it was [Kenny] Stills – he gave me a double move and we’ve been practicing it all week. That’s a tip to the coaches, getting us prepared all week. We’ve been seeing that play all week and then once I saw it I looked back like they coached us to do and I found the ball and tried to make a play”
(On if his interception helped validate Head Coach Lovie Smith’s decision to make him the starter)
“Most definitely. From the start, you trade a first-round pick here and then you look on the depth chart: you have Major Wright who you signed, and you have an undrafted free agent guy who you know nothing about. I know he was catching heat for that and it felt good to go out there and do something good for my coach. I’ve been trying to make plays since I’ve been playing, I think I started back in Chicago with the defense – I was playing special teams – but ever since then I’ve been trying to do something to stand out and let him know he made the right decision.”
(On matching up against New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham)
“I actually did. My first game – my undrafted free agent game in Kansas City – I made a play on Jimmy Graham, so me and Jimmy have a pretty good history. We were talking after the game – it’s just much respect for him. He’s one of the best tight ends out there, he’s a competitor, and I love playing against him.”
(On his new contract)
“They wanted me here, they wanted to work out a deal and we went and got it worked out. So knowing I’ll be here takes a lot off.”
(On the season)
“It was a really tough situation. I felt like the coaches came together and did the best they could, the guys rallied around it and we did the best we could.”
(On how they were able to run the ball effectively)
“The [offensive] line did a great job coming off of the ball. Give credit to those guys for coming off the ball.”
(On getting his first career touchdown)
“It felt great, it felt great. First NFL touchdown and it felt great.”

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