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19 November 2014

Week 12 Conference Call Transcripts: at Chicago (11/23/14)


(On his time coaching current Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown)
“Well it was a great experience and privilege to coach him in Chicago, no doubt about it. He’s a man of very, very high character, a great teammate to everybody in the locker room and, as I said on Monday, we were very excited and happy for him to be able to continue his journey in Tampa.”
(On McCown’s role while with Chicago)
“Josh took on the position of being Jay’s [Cutler] backup, and that means that he was not only a friend and a confidant of Jay’s, but he was also a guy who prepared extremely hard to get ready to play if we called upon him, which he was. He stepped up and took control and he handled the offense exceptionally well.”
(On Tampa Bay Head Coach Lovie Smith)
“Playing against him and his teams over the years, how disciplined they were and how they played together, certainly, just from afar watching on tape and then playing. I’ve crossed paths with him a few times and I see him as a first-class, honorable guy. Knowing some of the guys who played for him here, [he is a] guy who did things the right way.”
(On the similiarities between the offenses of Chicago and Tampa Bay)
“A lot of those are just matchups. As you said, the Bucs have two big receivers like we have, they have a speed receiver, their third guy, they’ve got strong, quick backs – so I think there are some similarities there in terms of the types of players that we have. I think that the offenses are geared not necessarily exactly the same way, but certainly with the idea in mind to use matchups along the way to create the mismatches that they can get. We’re seeing that on tape.”
(On McCown’s emotions)
“Josh is certainly a team guy. He’s an extremely unselfish person, an unselfish player. What you see is certainly that person and that player.”
(On Chicago’s Week 11 victory and what it means for the team moving forward)
“I don’t know. What we’re going to try to do is just try to build on the win and try to move forward and get better each and every day. I think that’s where we are. We’re just in the mode of trying to play hard and play together, come back to work and continue to try to improve our football team and kind of let Sunday take care of itself as we proceed forward. Right now we’re in the mode of just trying to stay focused on getting better as a football team.”
(On his thoughts as to the difficulty faced by Tampa Bay losing its offensive coordinator, Jeff Tedford, early in the season)
“That’s a tough, tough question for me to [answer]. First of all, my heart and respect goes out to Jeff. I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a coach and I’m hopeful that he’ll continue to get better. That’s No. 1. No 2, the reason they have coordinators is to try to bring it all together, so when you’re missing that component, certainly everybody has to pick up the slack to be able to do that. It’s apparenent that the Bucs have been able to – this past week they found a way to do that. I think that’s a credit to each and every player and coach on the straff to be able to get that done, because you certainly are missing a component. Jeff is a highly regarded football coach, so it says a lot about the team that they could do that, and about the coaches as well.”
(On what Tampa Bay Head Coach Lovie Smith meant to his career)
“Lovie has meant a lot to me, he’s meant a lot to the guys that played under him, he’s meant a lot to the city and really in continuing the tradition of tradition of great defense in Chicago. He challenged me in a lot of different ways, especially when I was younger and there were a lot of things that me and Lovie related on personally off the field, there were things that I could go to him and talk about whenever I had some problems. The thing about Lovie over the years is that he always knew what he was going to get out of me and I always knew what I was going to get out of him and the same went for Brian [Urlacher], ‘Peanut’ [Charles Tillman], Olin [Kruetz] and all of the guys that played here. We really developed a good bond and he had very high expectations from his defensive units every year.”
(On why Coach Smith is respected by his players)
“He’s going to tell you from day one that he’s going to treat everyone like a man and that’s the honest-to-God truth. When coaches do stuff like that and stay consistent to exactly what they’re going to say, you get a lot out of your men. He was the man that you would run through a brick wall for and you can’t say that about everyone that you play for. It was a time that I never would forget.”
(On the standard Coach Smith sets for his teams)
“First off let me tell you: we went to Jacksonville, coming from Chicago on the third-hottest game in Jacksonville history and at halftime, the sun is beating – which is no excuse – but we go in, I think the score was 3-3 and we go in, Lovie kind of talks to the whole team, says what he has to say. Then, after the group disbands, he pulls the defense together and just rips into us, I mean just rips into us, ‘You’re better than that, Jiminy Christmas,’ a lot of Jiminy Christmases and stuff like that. When we were out there and I was next to Julius Peppers at the time and when he was done Julius leans over to me and he was like ‘Son, why is he so mad? The score is tied up, it’s 3-3, and we’re not losing.’ I really kind of looked at Pep and I was like ‘I guess that’s the standard that he has for us, that’s the way he views us.’ Obviously went into that second half and dominated defensively, we scored on defense, we had some turnovers and we ended up winning that game. That’s how he viewed us defensively and that’s the way he always was with us.”
(On the filler words Coach Smith uses instead of swear words)
“He doesn’t swear, but he uses filler words, ‘Jiminy Christmas’ or ‘You’ve got to be freaking kidding me’ and things like that. To me, I know exactly what filler words are, they’re just filling in for the words that you really want to say, but I’ve never heard swear or use a cuss word.”
(On if it was difficult for them to learn the Cover 2 system when Coach Smith brought it with him)
“We played decently well the first year he was there, but there are some things that you have to kind of get used to, there are a few different things – the ball could be going one way and your key is taking you a different way and in a lot systems you can, as a linebacker, where the ball goes, you go, but once you start getting more and more comfortable and you see how teams are attacking you, just about every team is going to attack you the same way. Maybe they’ll dress it up differently, but they’re going to attack you the same way and if you know that, you can play fast. It’s not about the individuals that are in that defense, when you understand what your role is you can play fast, you can make plays and you can take the ball away. It’s also a defense where unselfishness is very important. Forcing the play, hammering and setting the edge, forcing the play back in, even though you don’t make the tackle, it’s like you made the play. There are things that you’re not going to get an award for and you’re not going to get noticed for, no one is going to say you caused that play and that has a lot to do with single gaps and gap-integrity and being accountable for each play.”
(On what his thoughts are about Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown)
“Josh McCown, love the guy. He was one of my favorite guys to be around last year and over the last couple of years. He’s just so engaging. I could be having a bad day sitting down at lunch and he would and sit down eating his lunch and just start asking me random questions about life, maybe about football, maybe about a read that I saw and ‘What was I thinking here?’ And it would really get you out of your way and get you talking. He’s a genuine Urkel and when people say that he was a good guy or he’s a nice guy and a good teammate or I like being around him, I believe it because I really enjoyed being around him.”
(On his impressions on Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David)
“He’s a player. His name was coming up even before Lovie got there and when Lovie got the job, I knew there were some key positions that are important in that defense and having a three-technique, having a defensive end, weakside linebacker and a safety, those are the core of what you have there and plus a utility defensive end. When he took the job I thought he got put in a good situation as far as defensive personnel and once those guys really buy-in and understand what they’re doing over there, they’re going to find themselves as a top five defense.”
(On what linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson can do for David)
“Hardy’s been there. Hardy coached me one year and I think with his experience playing and coaching Hardy is going to put guys in position. The most important thing is being able to play fast. You read your keys, you play fast and you’ll be able to make plays and Lavonte can do that for them.”
(On playing with Tampa Bay safety Major Wright)
“I miss Major. Major is a playmaker, he understands that system very well. I’ve watched some film and I’ve watched him set some good edges, taking out lineman and flipping a few linemen and that was pretty cool, those are some of the things I really remember about playing under Lovie. We defensively as a team, we watch film together and while everybody might have been talking about a tackle that may have been made, we were always talking about this big hit on an offensive lineman or tripping somebody up and the guy who really made the play is a guy like Major setting that edge so that Lavonte David or Lance Briggs can get over there and make a tackle in the backfield. “
(On what Smith did for Chicago and why he may have gotten let go)
“I think that when you think of Lovie here, you’ve got to put him the category of with the great coaches of Chicago. You have George Halas, you have Mike Ditka and then you have Lovie Smith, who comes right after that. When you think of Chicago, you think of defense and Lovie did a great job of maintaining the tradition of great defense in Chicago. The thing that he was able to do with his teams is leading the NFL in a crazy amount of takeaways – we took the ball away an awful lot over his years. It was a special time, it was fun and special teams – watching Devin Hester break records, and it was a special time. As far as him getting fired, I obviously have no hand in all of that stuff. I think we all kind of knew once Minnesota had [beaten] Green Bay, but you look around the league especially after that year and of all of the coaches that got fired, there was one gleaming difference with Lovie and all of those other guys and then even some of the guys that were retained didn’t have a 10-6 season. Right now we’re fighting for a 10-6 season because everyone knows that 10-6 gets you in, we just so happened to be 10-6 that year in an NFC conference where everybody was 10-6. It was unfortunate and it was a sad day knowing that he would be gone, but at the end of the day like you said it’s a business.”
(On his initial reaction when Smith was hired by Tampa Bay)
“I was really happy, I was really happy for him. One of the things that I really think about is if I were to play for another team after this year, after playing in the cold for 12 years, lucky him. One of the things that I think about is Lovie has been in Chicago for the last nine years freezing his butt off and now he gets a chance to go down, not only is everyone familiar with him in Tampa Bay, but his blood is going to be little bit warmer in the winter.”
(On the biggest lesson Coach Smith taught him)
“There are a lot of lessons that I learned from him, but I guess the one that sticks out the most is no one will ever have higher expectations of yourself than the men in this room and to always protect this brotherhood. What we have here is a brother and don’t allow the outside to dictate what’s inside. Anything that happens inside we can take care of and he was always true to that. I bought into it, I know that a lot of us bought into it believed in that sentiment.”
(On Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers)                      
“Aaron is – and I’ve said it many of times – he’s the best in the league right now. We’ve always typically played them well with Lovie defensively and he knew that we would be in Cover Two, that we were only going to give up the short routes and we take those short routes and we would take the ball away and create turnovers and whatnot, but he’s a guy that you have to be sharp and you have to play very fast and you have to get pressure. The men upfront have to get pressure on him and the men in the back seven have to play discipline, if you do that you have yourself a chance."

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