The Buccaneers aren't taking a game against the Rams lightly.
Greg Schiano's debut season as an NFL head coach hasn't been dramatically different that Jeff Fisher's return to the NFL after a year off. Both teams have struggled with consistency from week to week, each roster missing some crucial parts on the way to six wins so far.
That's where the similarities end. Schiano made waves for sending his players crashing into the victory formation. The veteran Fisher is cooler headed than that; no doubt a secret to his longevity in the job.
Schiano talked with the St. Louis media on Wednesday. Here's the transcript for your perusal.
(On the weather in Tampa)
"I can't brag; it's beautiful."
(On if he was the catalyst in the discussion of eliminating the kickoff)
"When I was the head coach at Rutgers, one of our players, on the kickoff, was paralyzed. Eric LeGrand. We went through that as a Rutgers family and Eric's family and my family. In that process, one of the things that I thought of was an alternative to a kickoff. The same weekend that Eric got injured, the following day, at the same field, we played in MetLife Stadium against Army that day. The next day, the Jets played I think it was Detroit. Just about in the same area of the field, one of their players got temporarily paralyzed on a kickoff. Sitting in Eric's room one night, late, I thought about, is there a way that you can still have a viable start to a game, a viable play after a score that might be a little safer? Then, later on in the summer, I guess, of 2011, I was with Commissioner Goodell and we were talking about a lot of different things. But we were talking about the danger on the kickoff and it came up and I hadn't really spoke a lot about it since, but then the commissioner said something about it a couple of weeks back. So, that's how it got, kind of, traction."
(On the key to their rush defense success)
"I think guys, when they play together, and they strain their guts out, do whatever they can to maintain their gap integrity and then being able to tackle well; it gives you a chance to play run defense. Unfortunately, this past weekend was the first time in a while we didn't play very good run defense. We didn't really play very well pass defense, either. So, we had a tough outing last week and now we're up against one of the better running teams in the National Football League. So, it's going to be quite a challenge. We talk about we want to get back to playing great run defense, but this is going to be a tough opponent to do it against."
(On RB Steven Jackson)
"The thing that I see... I haven't been in this league that long, so really, my exposure to Steven Jackson has been just being a fan whenever I could catch a game. But, in studying him now, he's such a big, explosive player and he runs with an attitude and he has such good short area quickness. When he sees something - and he's got great vision - so when he sees something, he has the ability to get there in a hurry. When he senses a little daylight on the back side of a run, there's not a lot of backs that can make some of the cuts that he makes. Usually, those are smaller guys that do that. But being as big as he is and being able to do that, I think he finds himself, often times, on linebackers and DBs that are not in position to make a tackle, and then he's got a tremendous stiff arm. So, those things allow him to be a really, really productive back and that's an understatement, of course, with what he just did last weekend with the record."
(On how they can improve their pass defense)
"The only way we know how is just to keep working. Tinker with a few things here and there. We don't have a lot of personnel choices right now. We've kind of had some things go down that has changed personnel a little bit, but that's part of competing in the National Football League. We need to improve in the pass rush area. I thought we did two weeks ago. We got after the quarterback much better. Not so much last week. It all ties hand-in-hand, pass rush and pass coverage. Certainly, this week, we have a great challenge with the Rams passing attack. It's going to be hard again in both areas offensively. The Rams offense... for us, we need to get right and this is a very tough opponent to do that against."
(On how QB Josh Freeman has dealt with the pressure of turning around the franchise)
"The one thing that I've known for a number of years is that the quarterback, really, and the head coach usually get more credit than they deserve when you win and they get a lot more blame than they deserve when you don't win. Some people say there's maybe five, six quarterbacks in the league that don't have to face that scrutiny and all the rest do, but that's not even true. Even the first ballot Hall of Famers, if they lose two in a row, there's a problem. The arm's tired or the guy doesn't have it anymore. It's just the position you play and it's part of the territory. I can tell you in breaking down and observing and studying Sam Bradford, he's a heck of a quarterback. His best days are all ahead of him and he's a really good quarterback now, so that's what's scary for the rest of the league."
(On if Freeman needs to do anything differently to turn his play around)
"Well, there's never ever one thing that if you do this it's all fixed, otherwise we'd do it and we'd be happy. And it's never just one guy either. You know, you're a little bit off...it's such a precise thing throwing and catching the football and the coordination and timing and for whatever reason if you get a little lost it could be protection, it could be route, it could be coaching , it could be scheme - there's several variables that go into each pass play and if it's just the littlest bit off, with the level of talent on the other side, the defenders are so good, they break up the pass or they intercept the pass or they cover in such a manner that you don't have an ability to throw a complete pass. We need to really clean things up and just make it more precise. For the stretch where we were really moving the ball well and throwing and running the ball well, I thought that was one of the things we did is we were more precise. We made plays when the opportunity presented itself. We've kind of left a few out there, but that's what happens when you're not quite as precise and it's not long. It's not far. You don't have a long way to go, but it's that last little bit that's the hardest to get."
(On what his take of the last game was in comparison to the previous three losses where the games were very close)
"Yes, you're right. I mean, we played 13 games where every one of them came down to the last possession. Either we won the game or we had a chance. One game we won by several points, but the rest of them they were tight ball games. That's who we are right now and then last week was certainly disappointing. We turned the ball over five times, twice in the red zone early in the game. It would've been an opportunity to match scores and really keep it a competitive ball game. When those kinds of things happen, when we turn it over five times and they turn it over zero - especially in the spots that we did - it's going to be difficult to compete."
(On what the transition has been like from coaching in college to in the NFL)
"Well, it's been fine. Fortunately, I had coached in this league in the late 90's, so that gave me a frame of reference. I think it would've been very difficult hadn't two things occurred: One, having had the experience dealing with NFL players and the way things work and then two, having been a head coach for 11 years. I think if you had the opportunity to run a program and as long as I did at Rutgers, it gives you a chance to learn what things you really strongly believe in and how you do things. So that part of it you kind of just move to this level and adjust it, tweak it for the differences that go along with pro football. Probably the biggest difference is the difference of the years in your players. You've got guys that are 21 years old that are rookies and then I have a safety who's 37 years old. They're certainly at different stages of life and there's less guys to deal with in the National Football League than there are in college. When you have less you can be more specific and kind of pattern things, but you have to because they're at such different stages in life, a lot of these guys."
(On the biggest challenges the Rams present on offense and defense)
"Offensively, I think we've talked about most of them. I think that two really good running backs - Steven Jackson is certainly a Hall of Fame running back, but then Daryl Richardson is a guy that I think is a very dangerous guy. Sam Bradford, as I've already stated, I think he is a really fine quarterback and he's got weapons. (WR) Danny Amendola is a guy that's very, very resourceful, gets open, finds ways to make plays. (WR) Chris Givens, great speed receiver. You look around (WR) Brandon Gibson's a guy who's very, very productive. So those, offensively, the challenges present themselves. Then defensively, I think you just look on the edges. The two defensive ends are just tremendous pass rushers. The corners are productive, very productive, not only stopping people, but scoring themselves. And then down the middle with (LB James) Laurinaitis, he seems to be the guy that kind of runs the show up there. We know what a challenge it is, but we're excited about it. We get to do this again and that's what we keep talking about, what a blessing that we get to go out and play an NFL football game here in December, and at home nonetheless. We're looking forward to it and it's really a strong opponent to take on here at home."