HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON
(On the Buccaneers' defense)
"I think, from afar, and now watching the tape, it's a defense that runs exceptionally well. They've got good speed, and I think they tackle very well. Fundamentally, they're active upfront, not only in the front seven, but the secondary is very good at tackling and making plays on the football, and I thought last week [it] was very evident – an impressive tape to look at."
(On if he prefers playing tough division games early)
"It doesn't matter what we like, does it? When it comes to the schedule, you try to compartmentalize as best you can; each week is a new challenge. We try to do that. I know it's somewhat cliché, but it's the only way that, as a coach, you can kind of prepare for different teams and different strengths and weaknesses. In this case, we're having to do that with our second division game. Always, in the NFC South, these games are difficult, especially on the road."
(On what makes Saints quarterback Drew Brees outstanding)
"Number one, he's a tireless worker – his preparation each week and how he takes care of himself in the offseason. I think he's a good decision maker, he protects the football, and he's got the ability to move within the framework of a pocket and escape enough and find open receivers. But his anticipation, his accuracy, leadership – there's a number of things that make him special."
(On threats presented by the Bucs offense)
"Well, I had a chance to see a few of their games on television a year ago, then watch on coach's tape, and then certainly I've studied them now that we're playing them. I think the running back they've added, last year [Doug Martin], I think their threats outside at receiver are multiple, and [quarterback] Josh Freeman is a guy that can make plays, extend plays with his feet. He's always given us trouble. He's got a big arm. I think the front, upfront, is very stout, and I think that they present a number of challenges both in the run and the passing game."
(On Saints/Bucs games always being competitive)
"I just finished talking about that with our media. I think you can basically apply what you just said to the division, whether it's Tampa Bay and New Orleans, Carolina and Atlanta – pick your team – they're always tough games, they're always competitive games, regardless of who may end up on top of the division or who might not. I think that applies to the divisional games."
(On having a new defense that hasn't previously been on film)
"I think that applies, generally, from any new staff or change offensively or defensively in our league. It generally applies, maybe, in the first week, two weeks, until there's some film to study, and then, very quickly, staffs in our league are able to look at what is the base defense, what they like to play. So, I think any time you see turnover and new defenses or offenses, whether it includes an entire coaching staff or one side of the ball or the other, it would typically be that first game, that first handful of games, when there's just not as much film on a particular side of the ball."
(On the Buccaneers' defense)
"What I've seen is a defense that runs exceptionally well, that tackles well. They've got very good ball skills on the back-end. I think it's an active front, and you see, fundamentally, how well they're prepared, not only the front seven, but the back-end tackles and supports extremely well."
(On the biggest challenge of having missed last season)
"I think, more than anything, the challenge was not necessarily the football, every day, but the interaction with the guys you're used to talking with on a regular basis – not having a chance to speak with not only anyone from your own team but any other team in the league. I think that change, probably in the first month, was most difficult. And then you begin to look at ways to really take up your time. I had a chance to coach my son's sixth-grade football team and got involved in a number of different things. So, just being away from your peers, guys that you're very close with, I think [was] the biggest challenge."
(On the importance achieving offensive balance in hot weather)
"Well, each week we always look for that. It's hot here as well, we just came off the practice field. I think you go in and you have a plan that's in place, you're also mindful of any adjustment that needs to be made, and I'm sure both teams will approach it the same way."
(On linebacker Lavonte David)
"Well, he's active, number one. I think he's physical. He runs well, and generally a linebacker like that has good instincts, you see that on film. You see his speed and you see his ability to tackle; I think those are some things that, obviously, if you're a linebacker, are important, but for him, those stand out."
QUARTERBACK DREW BREES
(On the Buccaneers' defense)
"They look really good. [Safety] Mark Barron, obviously, was a rookie last year, so he's one more year a veteran. I thought he was a very good player last year, but he's only going to continue to become better and better, especially, I think, with the complement of the whole group. [Safety] Dashon Goldson is one of the best free safeties in this League; [he's] been a solid player for a long time. [I'm] familiar with him, because we played against him for the last five years when he was in San Francisco. Obviously, [cornerback Darrelle] Revis and his reputation – he's one of the best corners in the League, and you've got two young corners on the other side too that play very well. So, all in all, it's an extremely solid secondary and one that you've got to be able to prepare for. Like you said, we're only one game in, but just from looking at the scheme and the way that they all play it, I'd say that the entire Tampa defense, when you look at the front four and the linebacking core, it's as solid a defense as there is. I think, man for man, [there's] a lot of talent, some very good pass rushers, a very good run defense. [They have] some very fast, aggressive linebackers. They've got some good pressure schemes. So, all in all, it's a very well-built defense."
(On recent criticism of quarterback Josh Freeman)
"I think Josh Freeman's played very, very well, at times, and, obviously, he's had his ups and downs just like every young quarterback does. I've had a chance to meet Josh and workout with him a little bit a few years back; he came out to San Diego in the offseason, and we worked out together. I've sure got a lot of respect for him, and I can just kind of draw from the games we've played against them; there have been some games where he's made a lot of plays. Certainly last year, when we came to town, he played a great game, we barely got out of there with a win. It's part of the process as a young player. I know he's in the last year of his contract, but he's won some big games for the Bucs over the years. I know there have been some tough times too. I do wish him the best, because I feel like we've got a good relationship."
(On guard Carl Nicks)
"He's a monster. He's such a big, physical presence. I know what he brought to our offensive line; he brought such a big, physical element. You tell the running backs and anybody running the football from the backfield, 'Just find that big boy and just trail right behind him. He'll lead the way.' And, obviously, he's a great pass-protector too. All in all, [he's] a very complete guard, great player. He's a great guy; amongst that o-line [offensive line] group – we really had a solid o-line group – he was great. I know it's been tough with his toe and that kind of thing, but tell him if he just wants to miss one more week, just to make sure that it's all good, go ahead and do that."
(On having Head Coach Sean Payton back)
"Of course it's important. Sean and I have a great relationship. We're very much on the same page. [We] spend a lot of time together throughout the week, in preparation and communication, because when we get out to the field, we want to basically be [in a position] where I'm seeing what he's seeing, he's seeing what I'm seeing, and we're able to kind of anticipate each other's actions and thoughts. I feel like we're very much in sync, as we always have been. It's really as if we haven't missed any time, to be honest with you. It's just business as usual. [I'm] just excited to have the season going again, and I know he's excited to be back."
(On having a balanced attack)
"That's definitely been a point of emphasis. When I look back on years when we've been at our best, offensively, we've had a balanced attack – at least a big threat of the ability to do both [run and pass]. There's certainly that emphasis now. We've got three really good running backs. We've got a great offensive line. We've got a great scheme. And, obviously, the way that the passing game complements the run game, there's no reason why we shouldn't be a very, very good rushing team in this League and to have that complement everything else we're doing. You just understand the importance of what the run game can do for you; it helps you control the clock, it helps you finish out games. It does a lot. It keeps your defense off the field. All those things [are] reasons why we've put an emphasis on that."
(On cornerback Darrelle Revis)
"I've only played against Revis one time; it was back in 2009 when he was with the [New York] Jets. They came down to our place. That's the only time I've played against him. Somebody brought up to me that we've played against each other in some Pro Bowls, but I guess that doesn't really count. I just know what I've seen on film. I can't say I'm all that familiar with him or his technique or anything other than just his reputation. But, obviously, from studying him starting this week, there's really only limited game film to go off of, because he didn't play in the preseason, but I know he's a talented player. I know he's got great ball skills. I know that he's as talented as you get – the best corner in this League. [He's] one of those guys that you've got to know where he is, you've got to know how he's playing. You don't want to be careless around him, because you know that he can make you pay."
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy's improvement)
"Oh man, he's extremely strong and powerful. He works out where I work out in the offseason, so I see him train. [He] works very hard. He's a very good pass rusher, very good in the run game. [He's] just got all kinds of skills. He's one of those guys that just continues to get better and better. He's got a bright future."
(On if he expected the League to become this popular when he started his career)
"I don't know if we ever foresaw this, but I think, when you look at it, what people love is that every game, every week, no matter who's playing: anything can happen. The parity in the League is such that you can take a 10-1 team playing a 1-10 team, and that 1-10 team can beat them on any given Sunday. That's what makes the game so exciting. So many games come down to that last possession. And, obviously, with fantasy football, not only do people support and cheer for their hometown team, but they've got all these players on different teams that are part of their fantasy team, and they're trying to win those games, so they're cheering for those guys. It's turned into kind of this crazy thing. I think people love the game. It obviously brings a lot of entertainment, a lot of excitement. There's some personalities in this League, too, I think, that make it entertaining to watch as well. But yeah, it's pretty amazing what it's turned into."