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Joe Vitt Says the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Have the Best Run Defense in the NFL

Vitt gives first injury report and talks about facing the Buccaneers


New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Opening Statement: "Charles Brown did not practice today. Corey White did not practice today. Malcolm Jenkins did not practice today. Zach Strief did not practice today. Chris Ivory did not practice today and Jed Collins did not practice today. We'll further evaluate them tonight and update you on their status tomorrow. Talking about the Tampa Bay game, today was our preparation for first and second down. Tampa Bay has some unique qualities that we are going to have to be prepared for to stop number one. They have the best rush defense in the NFL to date. They're doing a good job with that. They're making plays on the ball in the secondary. They're doing a good job with that. They've done a good job of protecting the ball since the last time we played them. They've only had five turnovers since we've played them the last time. We've had three times as many as that, which we have to get corrected. Offensively in their wins they're running the ball for (over) 150 yards. They're doing an outstanding job of protecting their quarterback. I think this quarterback (Josh Freeman)is a lot like Ben Roethlisberger. You might have a free runner at him, but he's extremely difficult to get down. He can extend the down with his legs. He can make plays with people hanging on his back. We have to be prepared. We had a good practice today. We have a couple guys nicked and we'll update you on them tomorrow."

What is Jed Collins' injury?
"Jed Collins has a toe."

Yesterday former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue delivered opinions on the actions of the organization. Do you have response to that?
"I don't. No. I don't today. We're happy that our players have been vindicated, (and) their suspensions vacated. I will say that I'm very proud to work in this building and I'm very proud to work for Tom Benson and his family. There are morally high standards here that Mr. Benson upholds. Our fans should be proud of our organization. We are certainly proud of how our organization, players and employees have worked through some tough times and there's a lot of people in this building who have done an outstanding job through a tough time. That's why I'm proud to be a part of this organization, but today I'm not going to comment on anything else. We're happy that our players have been vindicated."

At some point will you say something?
"I always do."

Is it safe to say that you don't agree with some of the things said?
"I'm not a supreme court justice, so any ruling that came down I don't have an opportunity to do a writ or whatever they call it"

Do you have an opinion?
"I have an opinion (that) I'll keep to myself right now."

Is there part of you that where the players were able to fight so hard, that you would have liked to have fought, but did not have that chance?
"I'm not going to comment on that stuff today. We're happy that our players are vindicated."

Is Tampa Bay a much better team than you faced the first time?
"Give me a mulligan on that. I was not here the first time. I came back right after we played them. I watched them on film prior to that. I think they're an improved football team. They really have a banged up offensive line and their backups are doing a good job performing. This offense has a lot of the same qualities of the New York Giants. The (offensive) coordinator came from the Giants. The run game is similar. The passing game is a little bit different. There's lots of double moves. This is an offense that is eighth in the league right now in quick strikes, which is scoring in four plays or less. We know what Vincent Jackson can do. He's having a heck of a year. Right now he's third in the league of catches in 20 plus yards and he's leading the league where every time he touches the ball it's a 20-yard completion."

Can you talk a little bit more about their running game?
"This (running) back (Doug Martin) is doing a heck of a job right now. I don't know that I've seen a back in the league this year in the National Football League make more yards after contact than he does. We put some film on and you have defensive linemen and linebackers hitting him and he's dropping those guys like third period French. They're going down. (He's) very impressive. (He) plays with a low pad level. He gets to top speed. He's tough and he doesn't try to make people miss. He runs over you. It's very impressive."

Is there anything you can do to cut down on turnovers?
"Yes, (we can) work on it every day. I take responsibility for this. We talk about it all the time (and) made the point to our football team this morning (that) Tampa Bay has had only five since we've last played them and we've had three times that amount. That's been our Achilles heel right now. We did a good job today in practice with ball security. Drew (Brees) did a great job of putting the ball where it needed to be. Our backs and receivers had the ball high and tight. We're going to continue to work on it. Right now it's keeping us from winning football games and not allowing us to win. I made this comment earlier in the week (that) you have to keep from losing a football game before you ever win one. We've been shooting ourselves in the foot the last three weeks. That being said, pressing is not going to win. If you try to press you're not going to win. Preparation will and preparation allows you to have confidence. Now you can play fast and confident in a game and let it go and let it flow."

Can you talk about the progression of Joseph Morgan?
"I think he's done a good job. I think there are some hidden things that he's done in games right now that people don't see. He's really become a heck of a blocker. I think you attribute how we get better in the running game to some of the blocks he's made. I think he's contributed to some perimeter runs. For a younger guy. He really knows who to get. He understands is it cover two am I blocking a corner? If it's quarters coverage am I blocking a safety or linebacker? We all know he can run and make acrobatic catches, but his game is improving in other areas too that are fun to watch."

Did the kickoff coverage against the Giants shock you?
"Yes, it shocked everybody. Our coverage units have been outstanding this year. Our coverage units have been among the top three in the National Football League and the first return they get out to midfield, we take an early lead on a turnover and we were all shocked when the ensuing kickoff went the other way. It has been performing at a high level all year long and all of a sudden the dam broke. We worked with our kickoffs and getting the ball high. Actually they fumbled the ball, which worked. Then we missed a tackle. It's back at the 50 again. Just like I've said in past weeks, we can't let one game define who we are. Our coverage units have done a great job all year long. They had a good practice today. They have a lot of pride. They are going to work hard at it. All of a sudden, we can't go into this game pressing. Let's do what we've done. (Stress) lane integrity. We can't piggyback one another. We have to leverage the football. If we do that, we'll make plays. But the fundamentals can't break down at this time of the year."

After the losses, you have stepped to the forefront and taken blame for it. Is that the job of the head coach or eventually does some of the blame have to fall on the team and players?
"It's my responsibility. I have great respect for this football team. I haven't done a good enough job of educating. You have a lot of new guys and some young, new faces on this team to explain exactly what wins for us and exactly what wins in the National Football League and I trust our team, love this team and coaching staff. I have no qualms in taking the blame. If I have to do a better job, than our coaches and players will do a better job."

At some point do other players and coaches have to take blame?
"At some point, anybody that has anything to do with a win in this building takes accountability and responsibility. That's fair and right. That's the fun part of the business that we're in. When you win, the accolades are out there. For losers, there no accolades for anyone. We'll all be held accountable."

Is there value in trying to grab some momentum for next year?
"Absolutely. I'll be perfectly honest with you. We met with our players this morning. This is the first time since I've been here in '06 that we have not been fighting for a playoff spot right now. It is what it is. But the aspirations and goals of this organization have never changed. We come to work every day to get better and win a World Championship. We told our football team this morning that there are two types of Super Bowl winners, those that win (multiple) and those that win one. That's not the goal around here. The goal is to win Super Bowl championships. What we do from now on out goes into the process of winning the next Super Bowl that we can come out with, so we're going to practice like champions, go to meetings like champions, take notes like champions, be held accountable like champions and play like champions. That's what these guys come to work to do every day."

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