Bucs Central

Wednesday Quotes: Raheem Morris & Earnest Graham


(On injuries)
“A couple of injuries. AB is day-to-day still, Antonio Bryant. It’s probably tomorrow, more than likely, when he’ll be able to go. [Angelo] Crowell, he’s a hamstring; likely the middle of next week, we’ll be ready to see him the middle of next week some time. [Kellen] Winslow, he’s still day-to-day. He may be this afternoon, but more than likely tomorrow. [Joel] Filani, he’s next week. [Michael] Clayton, at the end of practice in seven-on-seven, got a hamstring; we’re still evaluating that. I’ll let you know more on that soon. [Jason] Pociask, he got poked in the eye, you might have seen him walk off. He’s fine. He came right back, had a little eye-wash. [Matt] Bryant has a mild hamstring; he’s day-to-day. He’ll probably kick tomorrow, more than likely.”

(On his message to the team)
“Today in the team meeting we really stressed physical play. Just to let you guys know, I put on the tape of Carolina, them playing us on defense. I started from ’03. In ’02, if you guys remember, we had a real battle down there. That’s a great part of being around here for seven years before you become the head coach – you can talk about the stuff you remember. In ’02 we had a big-time battle at their place and we had a bunch of big stops. They were trying to run the ball to run the clock out and we kept stopping them and getting a field goal. We kept stopping them and then [Martin] Gramatica; we kept stopping them and then Gramatica; we kept stopping them and then Gramatica. And we walked out of the game and we all felt that kind of pushed us to the Super Bowl that year. That was the changing of the guard, so to speak. That was us coming into our own on defense. We could stop the Carolina Panthers running the ball. I believe it was Stephen Davis. I’m not sure but I think it was Stephen Davis. But since then, since ’03, we got them sometimes and they got us, but for the most part, really, to be honest with you, they’ve been more physical than us. Even the games we won we’ve come out of those games and felt like we lost. We felt like they came out and out-played us physically. And that’s what I told my team this morning, and I showed it to them, from ’03 to ’04 to ’05 to ’07 to ’08. I had a couple clips in there of them running the ball physically, more physical than us. I let it sit in for awhile, let it sit in for the defense. I told our offense, ‘You got your butts kicked, too. I just chose not to show that. I just wanted to show this part of it.’ In ’07, I let those guys know, that last game of the season, right before the playoffs with the Giants, I remember…none of you guys were worried about it. ‘Ah, the Bucs will be okay. That was their backups.’ Now those guys are starters. That was Quincy Black, that was [Adam] Hayward, that was Will Allen, that was Ryan Sims. Those same faces now have become starters, have become people that were counting on right now. So that game that didn’t count? It really did. So I made those think about that for a second. They’re the same Carolina team. One year a guy named Nick Goings ran for 100 on us. And it wasn’t about Carolina, but that’s just a credit to Carolina and what Coach [John] Fox is doing up there. It was more about physical play. And that’s where I left it. And I told those guys that’s why we do what we do.”

(On how the team reacted to that presentation)
“Complete and dead silence, just like I got from you guys. A lot of angry men. A lot of angry men. A lot of guys ready to practice. Usually when you say two periods are going to be live in a practice, you can expect somebody to say, ‘Aaaahh.’ Not even close. Not even close. You’ve got two periods today that are going to be live. I’m a leader of men. I’ve got to lead them some places they don’t want to go as well, because I have to. I got them from, I think here name is Rosalynn Carter, President Carter’s wife.”

(On how the players responded on the field)
“They did well. They went out today, they played physical. They had some tackles down there on the goal line. The defense stood up. They won the drill, seven to three. But it was a physical showing of people. I challenged Flip [Jermaine Phillips] – ‘Flip, I don’t know if you can play linebacker. I’ve got to see you hit somebody.’ And I don’t know if you guys noticed but Flip made some plays today. Then we went down and we did team red zone. We talked about scoring [touchdowns] 60 percent of the time. I’ve got to go do the math, but we wanted to move the ball down there, be effective. You’ve got to run the ball down there. Hope you guys saw Peanut [Clifton Smith] make a dynamic run in the red zone – pretty good, pretty good. Dexter Jackson came alive on a reverse – pretty good. Some of those things are positives, and that’s who we’ve got to be, that’s how we’ve got to be.”

(On scoring in the red zone)
“You can’t be certain about that, but those are the numbers I’d like to see where it’s going. We stuck to the script because it wasn’t really a move-the-ball situation, but I loved that. It might have been more touchdowns if we would have had more opportunities to keep moving it, or when Dexter Jackson got tackled at the goal line. Whatever the case may be, but you’ve got to have those types of plays, you’ve got to have that type of efficiency. You may say that offense won the team red zone, maybe the defense won the goal line. Again, it’s one of those days where I’m jumping back and forth; I can just trade when my other team is winning. That was a lot of fun to see. It was a lot of fun to see Ronde Barber fly across the field and make a tackle like he was 25 instead of 35. He’s actually 34. It was fun.”

(On the big block against Stylez White on the reverse play)
“That’s physical play. That’s what it’s about. You’ve got a reverse, you’ve got to peel back around and take that guy out. He took him out, made it clean, made it high, helped him up and kept it moving. You don’t have time to breathe man. It’s time to go, time to play football.”

(On E.J. Biggers)
“I see a young man starting to come around. At first he was kind of scared to pull the trigger. Nah, I shouldn’t say ‘scared’ – he didn’t know which place to pull the trigger. He’s starting to figure some things out and knowing when to pull his trigger, knowing what to do, knowing how to do it, wanting to make plays, becoming greedy. We like angry, greedy workers. So I’m liking that.”

(On Byron Leftwich in the red zone)
“Leftwich has some experience, it’s easy to see. He’s got some leadership skills. He’s done it before. He’s won 12 games [in a season] in this league. All that stuff comes out when Leftwich is playing, when Leftwich understands everything, when Leftwich has control of the huddle. Those are the kinds of things we’re talking about with a quarterback stepping out of his box, stepping out of his shell, and it was great to see. Now, of course, like you know about these quarterbacks they’ve got to get under those lights. You’ve got to see Leftwich do it underneath the lights again. He’s done it before but you’ve got to see him do it under the lights in our stadium, as our quarterback, with our coordinator, with this head coach, and then we’ll see.”

(On the quarterbacks)
“For all those guys it’s about timing in the pocket, obviously. Everybody’s timing in the pocket is different. You’ll see more dynamic splash plays with Luke [McCown] moving out of the pocket, obviously, because of the athletic ability, the athletic skill. With Leftwich, the ball has to come out or he’s got to throw it away, whatever it is. He’s okay as an athlete. He did score 59 in a basketball game. That’s still unproven but I’m just going to believe him and take his word for it right now. But he has some athleticism; we just tease him a lot. We pick on him a lot. It’s good, man.”

(On needing mean, nasty guys on offense at the goal line and if he saw that today)
“I did. I did. I saw it on the defensive side of the ball. I saw it on the offensive side a little bit. They got in there a couple times but the defense just happened to win that drill, and that was a great testament to the defense. To stand up on the three-yard line three straight snaps and win the drill, so to speak. That’s fun, and that made it a competitive drill. The losers had to run a gasser. That’s awesome. The offense got a penalty one time on Derrick Ward – he bumped into an official. He came too far across the line and the whole team had to run a gasser because of that. Some of those things are fun. Some of those things are challenging. I’m having a lot of fun with it, to be honest with you. Right now you could put me in a striped jersey. I’m just trying to regulate and run the team and I’m having a lot of fun doing it.”

(On the young linebackers)
“Today was a big test for those guys, a big test. This was a chance to see the young linebackers go out there in pads, move around, shuffle, slide, make a tackle, fit in the hole. So I can’t wait to go watch the tape. Today I had one eye on the sky and one eye on my team because I was a little lightning-cautious, but I can’t wait to go see it. It sounded good. But I’ve got to go look at the tape and tell you how they did. I’m excited about it. I’m excited about the response they gave me just from the room. I’m excited about the way Quincy Black approached practice today, his demeanor. You can tell it was a different deal for him.”

(On the linebackers)
“They all have it. It’s in there or they wouldn’t be here. That’s part of the reason we drafted them. We just need to come out more consistent. Give us more effort, more concentration, more hitting, more violence, more physical play.”

(On if Quincy Black will be a hybrid player)
“Like I said, it’s all situational football for me. I’m big into situational football. It’s going to depend on the situations, how often he has an ability to run versus their tackle, and how often he has the ability to stand up and run at linebacker. All those things are going to play a part into it. How often he wins early. Every once in awhile Michael Jordan got hot, or Kobe Bryant gets hot and goes for 70. We’ve just got to figure out how it’s going, how hot he is, and how it’s working.”

(On if the Bucs’ current group can supply a better pass rush)
“They’ve got to do that. When we talk about more pass rush, more pass rush, we’re comparing them to Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, Greg Spires and Booger McFarland. Those guys gave you more. Anything you asked 99 to do, he was going to get. Anything you asked Simeon to do as far as the pass rush, he was going to get. It was going to be dynamic and be special. And these guys are being compared to those guys in their second and third years. It’s been unfair for them, but they’ve got to come into their own. That’s part of the process we’re talking about. You’re not the young guy you were in ’07 when you were second-team. Hey, now you’ve got a chance to be first, step up and be the guy. You’ve got a chance to help put your face on the stadium, and earn it, really earn it. So here we go, off and running. It’s their time. They have no choice. I don’t know how many sacks Warren had in his rookie season right now, off the top of my head. I don’t know how many Simeon had. I don’t know how many these dynamic pass-rushers had in their first season. Gaines [Adams] had six, two times in a row, once six-and-a-half. But it’s time.”

(On the best way to get the most out of the team’s different personalities)
“Well, you’ve got to be a chameleon. You’ve got to be able to relate to everybody. Every day I have a different presentation, whether it’s tape, whether it’s me calling you out, whether it’s me pointing the finger at you, whether it’s calling something out, whether it’s showing a movie or whatever. I just try to use different styles. It could be music. Whatever it is, I’ve got to find a way to make these guys want to go, and that’s my job.”

(On Defensive Coordinator Jim Bates’ energy)
“I told you guys about Bates, now. He’s got that cane in his office. He’s not bringing the cane out to practice – I’m just happy. Nobody’s immune to the cane. Jim Bates, that’s why I wanted him here so bad. You’ve got a chance to get that kind of fire, that kind of energy. This town loves defense. This is a defensive town, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve been blessed with Monte [Kiffin] for years and now we’ve got Jim Bates and he brings the same type of tenacity, the same type of fire. Let’s go see him work.”


(On going full speed in practice with pads)
“You never know what you have until you get out and put the pads on, the game becomes a lot more physical. We definitely got some film today. We will be able to go in, look at tape, see what we have and work from there.”

(On the goal line defense at the end of practice)
“They did well. They got a couple of stops there. They got a win today but going forward I don’t expect them to win too much more.”

(On the differences between Head Coach Raheem Morris and former Head Coach John Gruden)
“There is always a difference between personalities between coaches. Raheem is definitely a guy to tell us how it is. We know what to expect from him, he’s kind of challenging us. He wants us to get used to what we’re going to see in the game. That’s the whole reason for us to go out and practice live in those situations. When the game comes and we are practicing at that speed, it makes it easier for us. As far as his personality, Raheem is who he is. He is who he was when he was a secondary coach. He was always challenging guys, joking like he does but being really serious with guys. There is always some truth to the things that Raheem says. That’s just who he is.”

(On the running backs)
“We have a really good group. I’ll first start with Derrick Ward, who just came off some success. He’s used to playing in a system where a number of guys got carries. They were able to pound out some guys. He definitely brings that attitude to us. Cadillac looks great, he’s coming along, he is very explosive out of his cuts. Of course, Clifton Smith, the returning Pro Bowler, is a real electric guy. He can make some splash plays. I think we have a very interesting group and I think we will be able to last the whole season. That is really what it’s about, to be strong the whole season. Guys are going to be up and down, that’s just the way the NFL is. I think we have a group here that can really finish the NFL season strong.”

(On the zone blocking)

“We’re getting our reads. Like in any other running offense, you get your reads in the first couple of lineman or the line of scrimmage. After that, we are allowed to use our instincts. It is really more so on what those linemen are doing. They are really covering guys up. That’s all a running back needs in their offense, for guys to be covered up. You want to make it easy on the offensive linemen, which it is, they are using their athletic ability and their feet to cover guys up and then you make reads off of them. It lets us be more instinctive as players.”

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