"I'm just excited to be here. This is like Christmas for me."
(On what drew him to the opportunity with the Buccaneers)
"Really playing in this league and actually having a chance to play against the Tampa Bay Bucs – I'm talking about when they were at their heyday – and just seeing the excitement in this town, the fanbase, the tradition of being a great defensive team, which I sort of marveled at playing against them. Then having the opportunity to come here and reset that foundation with some great young players, some stalwarts like Gerald McCoy [and] three of the most athletic linebackers you're going to find in the NFL. Having the chance to coach the guys that protect them – I had to jump at the chance."
(On having to change as a coach moving from a 3-4 team to a 4-3 team)
"It's just really the amount of players that you're coaching on the field at a time. In a 4-3, you've got four true down linemen. In a 3-4, you've got two outside linebackers at any given time that can be one. My experience in Arizona, a lot of teams kept us in nickel personnel, which really kept us in four down linemen, so it's actually great for me. I had some great training at that, and I get to keep those four guys on the field. The techniques are the same. You want four guys that are going to get it, being physical, being rabid dogs out there. Now getting the chance to coach those guys, four guys all the time, rather than a linebacker coming in and out, is going to be great."
(On production beyond quarterback sacks)
"Sacks are the ending of being in the right place at the right time and maximizing that opportunity. You play 1,300 plays, you have 10 plays [with a sack] and they want to throw a parade. Well, what about the 1,290 [other] plays that you have? They're a great part of the game, but we want to affect the whole game. First of all, we want to make sure we stop the run. I think a lot of people get misconstrued about just getting sacks, but you stop the run and you get them into pure passing downs, none of those downs where it can be play-action or the RPO that everybody wants to run nowadays. You get to that point and now you go get the quarterback, and sometimes it's not going to be a sack, but you're moving him off the spot. You're making him move his feet, you're hitting him, you're making him be uncomfortable. That's what normally happens for the first three-and-a-half quarters of a game. Look at the Super Bowl – not a sack all game and then there's one big sack and it's the biggest play of the game. So it's about being consistent, putting yourself in the right spot and constantly trying to break that wall down. That's where I judge it. Are you always going to get sacks? No, because that offensive line gets paid, too. But it's the consistent pressure, moving him off the spot, making him make bad throws [or] throw a little too early, affect the game that way. Interceptions normally put the quarterback in a panic to hold the ball a little bit more and that buys you more time to get to the quarterback."
(On how beneficial it is that he played in the league)
"I think it gives me the opportunity, when I talk about a situation, because it hasn't been that long ago that I played, that I can pull it up. If I tell you to get your pads down because they'll drive you off the ball on the double-team and you'll get slammed, I can pull up through a 12-year career where that's happened to me. So I'm speaking from experience and not just coach-talk. I think this generation of players is more that, 'Show me what you've done.' That's not to say anything bad about guys that haven't played the game. There's some great coaches out there that never strapped on a helmet that can coach circles around me. But I think for being in a defensive line, it's such a hard job, you're asked to do some superhuman things by holding onto 350-pound guys and sacrificing yourself – I can show them where I did it right and I can more so show them where I did it wrong. That's my thing: Learn from my mistakes. I played 12 years and made some mistakes, technique-wise. Let me help you erase those things because I actually experienced that, and it makes you a better player. I think that's what really helps me. Kevin Greene, a guy played with with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he said, 'When you got into coaching you're blessed to coach the position you actually played for a long time. Use yourself as the good and the bad example, and the guys will respect that. It will make you humanize yourself to them more easily.' Thank God for that experience."
(On whether he can still coach the way he was coached with the changes in rules since he was a player)
“I think you can because when I came out, yeah, it was physical, it was a lot of hitting, but coaches put a lot of emphasis on the mental aspect of the game and that’s where I like to attack the game mentally. Physically, all these guys have some type of physical attribute. That is why they are here. What separates the great ones from the good ones and the average is the mental capacity. Can you slow it down? Do I understand this game more and more? Do I understand what this guy can do to me, so I know what he can’t do to me? With the new CBA, you sort of attack it from that point of view because you have so much time in the classroom, you want to constantly train that brain. It is the strongest muscle in your body. You want to get things to become second nature, so you just repeat whether it’s going to the board, talking technique, showing it, so when they see it physically, they just react to it. So, there is a way you can attack it, you can use it because you’re not always going to have the greatest players or the guys are not always going to be 100 percent healthy, but if you understand what your body can do and you understand what this guy can do to you, you can always adjust and be a very productive player.”
(On what pieces he believes he has on the defensive line to have success)
“Well, you start with Gerald McCoy, which is a great place to start. There are 31 other coaches who would love to have that type of piece in there. So, you have that. You have some young guys that are learning. You have some old guys who have seen a lot. So, what you try to do is get that mixture together and make them all understand that there is something you need from every level of player. As great as Gerald is, there may be something that he needs from a Clinton McDonald aspect or he might need from a Will Gholston who is a younger guy and you get them all to work together as one piece, one unit.”
(On what made him want to coach after his playing career)
“What really made me want to coach is I couldn’t get it out of my blood. As soon as I got done playing, I jumped into coaching high school football. Then I went from a [defensive] coordinator to a head coach. Then I started training guys and then I decided to do the ultimate - I am going to coach seven and nine-year-old [players]. The joy of seeing a seven-year-old who comes to practice kicking and screaming because he doesn’t want to play and he is grabbing on the tires and throwing a fit to three weeks later, he’s having fun and he doesn’t want to go home now. That’s the joy you get out of coaching. For me as a player, the cameras and all that stuff, that’s over with for me. I had enough of that, but the joy of getting a guy to do something that he know he couldn’t do and to see the look on his face. Even grown men who come into the league, you have guys who feel down on themselves or say they are not a good run stopper or a good pass rusher, but you work on it, you give them technique and you make them feel good about doing it. You see them have success, you see that seven-year-old in that grown man. That’s the joy I get out of it. Guys can change their whole history, their family timeline through this game. You have a great, big platform through this game that you played for free as a kid in the park, but now you have this platform where you can touch people and you can change your whole life and your families’ life and that’s what I get out of coaching.”
(On how he prepared to face the Buccaneers offensive line and quarterback Jameis Winston during his time at Arizona)
“Well, first of all, you see those big five guys run out of that huddle, that’s one of the biggest offensive lines that we would face and we knew that they would be a physical run game just based on playing in the NFC South and the type of mentality that it takes to play in this division. We knew that we had our hands tied behind our backs. You had to be physical, you had to be willing to stick your face in the fan, be physical with those guys and stand toe-to-toe. Also, we knew that we were going to have to move Jameis. You were going to have to affect him because that guy – I tell people all the time, I was at his pro day when he came out, I had never seen a guy spin the ball like that in person and I’ve always been impressed with him, even coming out of high school. I know he is a charismatic leader. We knew we wanted to get to him and just try to affect him, but we knew he was going to just keep on coming and throwing his fastball and that is something that we always respected about him. We knew we had to go out there and we had to try to make Tampa one-dimensional, whether it was taking the pass away and try to force it down their throat. But, we knew we could not give Jameis time because if he had time with his wide receivers, he’s going to pick you apart. I remember having great success earlier in the game and then they went no huddle and it was boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Now you are on the sideline cussing like, ‘What just happened?’ But, that was the type of weapons that Tampa had and those are the types of problems he presented as a great young quarterback.”
(On whether Jameis moves better than he is given credit for)
“He moves a lot better because you see him walk. He walks like the 36-year-old Michael Jordan, he is a little pigeon-toed. He sways in the pocket. He is a hard guy to sack. He has that instinctive ability to twist his shoulder and side-step you, which a lot of guys would come back to the line of scrimmage like, ‘I thought I had him.’ He just slightly moves out of the way and without looking at you, he feels you. He has that sixth sense. I think he doesn’t get his credit because he is in a division with the [Panthers quarterback] Cam [Newton] and these guys who look like race horses, but Jameis is a guy who is very elusive in the pocket.”
(On prior relationship with linebackers coach Mark Duffner, defensive back’s coach Brett Maxie and assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer)
“I had the pleasure of being coached by Coach Duffner when I played a year at Cincinnati. He was the linebacker coach. He was also at Maryland when I was at Clemson so we had a relationship. Then Brett Maxie was an assistant coach with the 49ers when I played there. Then, Paul Spicer, I knew him through playing in the league and seeing him. I really had a nice relationship with those guys.”
(On watching the 2002 Buccaneers defensive line)
“My first year at Carolina we went 1-15. The next year, they changed the division and we went 7-9 and Tampa won the Super Bowl, so I came right down here for the first home playoff game and sat in the stands and watched. Me, Kris Jenkins, Mike Rucker and Julius Peppers, as much as we disliked Warren Sapp, we admired what they did. We wanted to see the atmosphere that they would create when they came out, the energy with which they played with. To see those guys run out of that tunnel on Sunday, you thought it was an earthquake. I remember calling Mike Rucker from the stands and telling him that this is what we had to create in Carolina. They did that with their front four. It wasn’t the quarterback running out, wasn’t the star running back. It was the defensive line that was being introduced. We sat back marveling and saying that we wanted to model ourselves after them and get to the point where when we stood toe to toe, we wanted to be the better model. That’s what we did and it was a mutual respect that created competitive hatred between one another but it was all out of respect. We wanted what those guys had created here [in Tampa] and we tried our best to get it.”
(On the competition between Carolina and Tampa Bay and the attitude of the Buccaneers defensive line)
“I wanted it [the competiveness]. I admired Sapp because he would do those little jabs knowing that the other team would come back and then his guys would step up to the occasion. So I said, ‘alright let’s poke the line a little bit.’ I have this big 320 pound six foot four young buck and he’s the best defensive tackle and I knew Sapp would come out. That would drive [Kris] Jenkins because he was a quiet guy and that would drive him because he would get mad if Sapp said something about me. Like I said, I looked at that whole formula. I looked at the way Sapp carried himself and the way that Simeon Rice was just the cooler than the other side of the pillow. I looked at [Anthony] ‘Booger’ McFarland and how those guys would just play off of one another. Everyone had their own distinct role and we would try to mimic ourselves after them.”
(On Warren Sapp’s expectations for the current Buccaneers team)
“I saw him at the Hall of Fame game I had the chance to coach in this [past] year. I played in Pittsburgh and I came in when they hadn’t won since the ‘Steel Curtain.’ You should he heard some of the stuff that [Jack] Lambert and them said about us when we came in. I think it’s more so about the Buc pride. Him coming into this organization at the time it was with him and Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn and all of those guys who came in and what they built, I think it’s just like anything. You want to see your little brother and your house look good when you come back. We all know Sapp is very brash but I think it comes from a good place because he wants what’s right for Tampa Bay. He knows how special it can be. If you’re a true competitor, you welcome that. You welcome that because Warren Sapp left Tampa Bay in a better place than when he found it. Gerald McCoy should want to leave Tampa Bay a better place than when he found it. You build that foundation and then it becomes what people call dynasties and then everyone knows the [high] standard is the standard when you step into that defensive line room.”
(On challenges that quarterbacks Cam Newtown, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan pose)
“[My first thought is about] not getting much sleep. Each one of those quarterbacks poses a different problem. You have Cam Newton who stands up there and looks at your defensive ends eye to eye. Sometimes he’s looking down at them and he can run and throw the ball. He makes you play 11 on 11 football so that’s a problem within itself. Then you go to Drew Brees and you’re taller than him but you never get a chance to touch him because he’s so smart. He plays the game and you know you need to be on your p’s and q’s as far as taking away passing lanes and not giving him so much time. But you can’t [get so focused] on going to get him because then they have a two headed monster run game. They become even more balanced. Then you go down to Atlanta where ‘Matty Ice’ (Matt Ryan) is ‘Matty Ice.’ He can go from where he can’t connect on a pass to completing 20 in a row and throwing seven touchdowns because of Julio Jones and that run game. So, you have to be on your p’s and q’s and make sure that you’re always at your best. One thing all of those guys seem to do is that wherever you’re lacking, they find that. You can’t take a play off or not stay enough. You have to go out there and mentally beat them, meaning you know exactly what they’re going to do, what they like to do, what they don’t like to do, what can bother them. Then you have to make you’re in physical enough shape where you do it every play because they’re such great talents that one time you’re out of position, that’s when they take advantage of you.”
(On Tampa Bay fans’ expectations for high-caliber defenses)
“It goes to a certain fiber of that city, to the fans. A lot of fans have appreciation for the tough hardness of the game which usually is associated with the defense. That’s not saying offense can’t be the same way but it associated with [defense]. Pittsburgh is going to be associated with defense. They could have the leading offense in the history of the world, but that’s a defensive city. I think Tampa Bay, just the way it was built, those guys came in and built something special They were winning games 6-3, 3-0. I remember Warren Sapp saying, ‘Give us three points, that’s enough to win the game, we’re up 3-0 and that means it’s us.’ We start to build on that. I think you have to lay that initial foundation and have success with it. [We need to remember] that we have the Lombardi trophy in there and one of the top defenses of all time. People are going to like what they like and this city longs for that type of defense because they saw what Sapp and them did by putting that trophy in there. We have to try to duplicate that.”
(On his desire to evaluate and help select which defensive players get signed)
“First I’d like to find myself around this building, this being my first day. Once I get integrated into what Coach Koetter and Coach Mike Smith and what Jason Licht want from that defensive line, the first thing I’ll ask them is what their vision is for the defense line when they sit back and watch them play. I want to make that vision come true. If they want my input on the player or need my input, I’m willing to do that. But the ultimate goal is to give Tampa Bay what it needs from a defensive line point of view to be a championship contender team. You just need to go through the process, put yourself in the chance to play for championships and then let the pieces fall. If that means going to a thousand pro days and turning over every stone, I want to do it. I’m a guy that believes in if you’re a player in that defensive line room and you have that buccaneer symbol on you helmet, there’s something you bring to the table and you have to bring it every Sunday. It might not be as great as the next guy but as long as you bring 100 percent of what you’ve got, we can be successful.”
(On his role as a coach and finding ways to take some of the work load off of a secondary)
“I use the word coach lightly. I’m a teacher, a teacher of life. That means that I’m not just teaching life to my guys or my room. That’s anyone I come in contact with. I will stand up in front of the defense and tell the defensive line there in front of the secondary, ‘Don’t look crazy if they [the offense] complete a pass, you’re closer to the ball then they [the secondary] are when the quarterback has the ball in his hand. Go make [the secondary’s] job easier.’ Our motto there in the D-line room was to make everyone else’s job better. If it’s rushing the passer, let’s make those defensive backs’ lives better. They have to run all over the field, you shouldn’t want those to be tired after the game. Those guys respected that. I never pointed the finger and I never let our guys point the finger and say, ‘Oh we need better coverage.’ No, we need to get there faster. If Drew Brees is getting rid of the ball in 2.1 [seconds], we need to get there in 1.9. We need to put it on ourselves to wear that hat and I think those secondary guys respect that I was genuine. I wasn’t doing it to kiss up to them. I was doing it to say that, ‘If you’re going to be the big guys, the big dogs out there, you need to wear the red hat every down, every snap no matter what phase of the game it is.’
(On his vision for the Buccaneers defensive line)
“The vision for this defensive line is to be physically and mentally tough. When you turn on that film, you’re going to see four guys recklessly attacking the guy in front of them like their lives depend on it. When they can’t do it, the next guy behind them is going to come in and do it. We’re going to work well together. We’re going to hunt until the whistle blows. We don’t want anyone to feel comfortable. All week long, that offensive line is telling their coach and their running back and quarterback that they can run this play and block those guys. We’re going to take that personally. We’re not going to go out there looking for a fight. We’re going to go out there inviting a fight when that ball is snapped because we want to be vicious. We want our play to precede us when we walk into a stadium. We don’t want other teams to say, ‘When are the Bucs going to give us a day?’ We want to them to know that when the Bucs step on the field, it’s going to be a battle. We might not win them all, but your training room is going to look like we did.”