Transcript: Arizona Cardinals Conference Calls with Tampa Bay Media (9/14/16)

(On if wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is a first-ballot Hall of Famer)
“I don’t think there’s any doubt, in my opinion. Starting first with the person and then the player. If there ever was one, it should be him.”
(On his relationship with Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston)
“’Jaboo’ is legend in Birmingham and my son lived in Birmingham - we had a little football camp back then in Birmingham and he threw one day. We had a bunch of local kids there and one of his high school coaches was a good friend of mine, so we’ve known him and watched him grow and we’re very, very proud of him.”
(On if Winston is his kind of quarterback)
“He would be fun to coach, there’s no doubt about it. He’s a winner and a great leader and obviously a heck of a young quarterback.”
(On what he has taken and learned from his year as Interim Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts)
“The biggest thing was I learned to delegate. It happened so fast, there was no time to try and get involved in too many things. So everybody do your job, I’ll decide whether or not we go for it on fourth down. The biggest thing I found out is I can still call plays, have fun in that role. So I looked forward to an opportunity, had I gotten one.”
(On the advantages of gaining different coaching experience before becoming an NFL head coach)
“I think you just hit the major word, experience. I’ve seen a number of different systems, styles, you grow from each and every one of them. Just take bits and pieces to see what makes teams successful, what organizations are successful that you’ve been a part of. And then try to take that experience and build with it. Also, you’ve got some scars on you, so it’s not as hard to go through the ups and downs as a head coach with experience.”
(On if he had confidence that he could he a successful head coach)
“Yeah, I was like [Tampa Bay Head Coach] Dirk [Koetter], as a college head coach early and went through the ranks of the NFL. Whether or not it was going to happen, it’s really not in your control. But I’ve always felt confident I could.”
(On if changed anything from the first half to the second to get running back David Johnson going Sunday against New England)
“Not necessarily. We just started playing a little bit better, a little more cohesively. But he’s a good, young player who I think could have a heck of a career.”
(On his impressions of Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans)
“He’s been a big player ever since he started playing football. He’s got the size and speed that makes him very unique and as he becomes an all-around receiver, which he’s starting to become, you knew he’d be a very dangerous guy, he’s got that big catching radius and strong hands.”
(On Tampa Bay linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David)
“These guys can run. They can run and can hit. Watching Kwon come out of LSU, that’s what he did the best. And both these guys fit perfectly in [Defensive Coordinator] Mike [Smith’s] defense. Watching them do some different things this year, coverage-wise. ‘Smitty’ has always been one of the best, most talented coaches in the league.”
(On quarterback Carson Palmer playing better in the second half on Sunday against New England)
“Yeah, we got a little bit better as the game went on. Had a couple young guys who did not get in their reception areas where they belonged. Every game you get a feel for a team and I think Carson got a good feel for what was going on.”
(On how unique of a player Mathieu is)
“It all starts with passion. The guy’s got great instincts and passion for the game. We had him probably in centerfield too much last week, but he is a unique player. Still coming off that knee [injury], but what a joy to coach.”
(On how a Philly guy like himself is doing in the desert of Arizona)
“[Laughter] Enjoying it, it’s like waking up in paradise every day, palm trees, sunshine. When it’s in two digits here, it’s beautiful [laughter]”.
(On the team’s mindset after losing their opening week game against New England)
“It’s one of those weeks, you just can’t wait to get to Sunday to play again. But you can’t let that happen, you can’t let that be your mindset. You’ve still got to go through the week and go through our process and get all your work in. Get all of your mental reps, get all of your physical reps, get all of your studying in and hold back that feeling of, ‘Man, we just...’ – as a group, we just can’t wait to get to play again after taking a loss. You can’t let that happen. You can’t look past how important each day is. We had a great day today. We need to put another great day back together again tomorrow because we know this is a very good football team coming in here and a very confident team. It’s just a very important week for us to go through our process, make sure we knock out every day and get all of the details down, then move on and take our time as we get to Sunday.”
(On if he has faced one of Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith’s defenses)
“Yeah, a number of times over his years – played against him a number of times. They’re all well-coached defenses, wherever he may have been. That’s the one thing that you realize. Everybody is in the right spot at the right time. You don’t catch somebody making a mistake. They don’t do a ton. They do what they do and they do it well. They don’t have a massive playbook where you just see tons of different fronts with tons of different coverages. They play the coverages that they play extremely well because they rep them over and over and over again in practice. You’re not going to catch somebody slipping and a big play made. They don’t give up the big ball. They don’t let guys run wide open. Everybody’s in the right spot at the right time. That’s merely a reflection of great coaching.”
(On Arizona running back David Johnson)
“You don’t notice anything with him. He goes about his business, whether – you know, he started off last year I think third on the depth chart then ended up starting. He never changed. His preparation never changed. He didn’t get louder. He didn’t walk around puffing his chest out. He’s just very consistent. I think he just kind of lets those things roll right off his shoulders and continues to work. Probably one of the harder-working running backs I’ve ever been around. I think he lifts weights every single day. He’s just one of those guys that does not get tired. As the game goes on, he gets faster and he gets stronger. That’s rare. A lot of that is because he’s so young. But it’s rare to be able to do that and it’s just very impressive to be around.”
(On wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s impact on the team)
“Just as pro’s pro as you’ll ever see. Continuously working, continuously striving to be better – never satisfied. All of 6-4, all of 235 pounds. Whether he’s blocking a safety or a linebacker or cracking down on a defensive end or running a route on a corner, it’s ‘balls-to-the-wall’ every play. It’s infectious. He’s one of those personalities, one of those type of workers that he gets the best out of everybody that’s around him.”
(On playing for Arizona Head Coach Bruce Arians versus other coaches he has played for)
“They’re all different. I think every coach has their own way of leading a team, their own way of handling a team. Everybody’s somewhat unique in that way, so I don’t think he’s that much different than everybody else, because they’re all different. He’s just one of those coaches that you have immense respect for. He’s won Super Bowls, he’s coached great offenses, he’s coached great players. He doesn’t treat anybody any differently than the next guy, whether you’re Larry [Fitzgerald] or the practice squad receiver. He gets on you no matter what. He strives for perfection. He’s always – it’s not about being big, fast and physical, it’s about being smart first, whether you’re on offense, defense or special teams. He’s always harping on being the smartest team and being the smarter player. It’s great if you’re smart and you’re really fast or really physical. He’s all over us as a group about mental errors. That’s something that’s preached every single day. He holds everybody accountable and I think that’s why he has so much respect from his guys.”
(On Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy being overlooked)
“I don’t know what you’re talking about ‘overlooked.’ He’s definitely not overlooked. I’ve played against him a handful of times and we’ve never overlooked him. He’s a great player. He’s explosive, he’s quick, he’s great with his hands. He’s rushing the quarterback on every play it seems like, then falling into runs and stopping the ball in the backfield on run plays. So there’s no overlooking him out here in Arizona, there’s no doubt about that. He shows on film consistently. I know him pretty well. We’ve trained together for a number of years in San Diego in the offseason. He’s always been an extremely hard worker and it’s paid off because he’s been a dominant player for as long as he’s been in the league really.”
(On Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston’s progression)
“I love his game. He throws with great anticipation, throws with great timing. Has really, really good touch on the ball – probably underrated in how much touch he has because his arm is so strong. Everybody thinks the strong-armed guys don’t have touch, but for having such a strong arm, he’s got a tremendous amount of touch. He’s come into the league and just taken off. Not thought, ‘Well, I’m a young guy, I can’t come in and catch fire.’ He’s come in and caught fire and acted and played like a veteran and you’d never know he’s only in his second year. He’s a tremendous, tremendous talent and our defense has our hands full with him.”
(On sitting as a rookie vs. playing right away)
“I think every situation is different and unique in its own right. I think it depends on a number of things, from the size of the program that you’ve come from, the level you’ve been used to playing against in college to what the situation is around you. Are you a playoff-type team with a quarterback that may not be the future but can get your team into the playoffs? When I came into the league, Jon Kitna was a great quarterback. He wasn’t the future of the franchise, but it was a very good team and he was the best guy for the job because he knew the offense inside and out. It gave me a chance to sit back and learn. There’s so many different factors that go into it. Of course you want to play and you want to get thrown into the fire and just have a chance to play and learn on the run. I don’t know if there is a right way or a wrong way. It just comes down to being the coach’s decision.”