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Tampa Bay players discuss the loss to the Saints

Quotes from Buccaneers players on Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014


(On his feelings about the second-half game plan)
"Yeah, you know I think part of the plan for us what to see other guys play too and that was the key. For me, you play with the guys that are out there and do the best that you can. You know, I've said this before, but once you may be out of [the playoffs] you need to utilize those games to evaluate moving forward and to help continue to build your team, especially in the first year of a program. It was part of the plan to allow some other guys to play. It's hard in the nature of the game, but you just have got to let them go and go try to win the game with those guys because you may get into a situation where you don't get to see those guys play and be able to fairly evaluate them so that you can make the necessary decisions that you need to make. So that was the plan going in and we understood it."

(On the fans' perspective of the game)
"Well, it's just what I said. I mean it's unfortunate. I don't think anybody tanked it. We played the guys that we played to rotate guys in to give them a look. As far as players are concerned, the draft and that stuff is not relevant to us as far as how we're playing. You know, we play and execute the plays that are called. The guys play that are put into the game to play and that's our job. All that other stuff is for people to try to speculate about, but we competed hard and that's the main thing. Again, we had a chance to evaluate some younger guys and as we build this thing that is what it's about. We need to be able to see guys, like I said. I trust our leadership and those guys have to make decisions and being able to see guys play in certain spots helps them."

(On if it was strange playing without the starters on offense)
"No, no. Again, when you understand that we don't reveal this before we go into the work week or into the game, but when you understand what the objective is going into the game – to be able to get different guys in there and get different looks and run the ball like we've said we wanted to do all year – I think when we understand it, it makes sense to us. Again, we play hard and execute the plays that are called and do our job and that's all we're supposed to do."

(On how he feels about the first half of the game)
"Oh, it was good. I mean, we came off strong and got the ball to Mike [Evans] and got the ball to Vincent [Jackson] early and moved the ball down there and got points. That's always how you want to start a football game. I think we felt really, really good about that. When you're executing – especially when you do have everybody in – that's how you want to leave [the game] feeling. We wanted to execute at the level that we're supposed to be executing and we put ourselves in a good position putting 20 points up in the first half."

(On dealing with the speculation of drafting a new quarterback)
"I mean, you guys know my history and where I have been in this league, so whatever we decide to do, I trust those guys. I have always said this, I trusted them when they brought me here so you can't all of a sudden when they make a decision that doesn't favor you say, 'Oh, I don't trust them anymore.' I know that they're going to make a great decision to help this team moving forward and regardless of what that is I want to help that guy help our team win football games and so if that's a D-tackle, then whatever I can do to help that guy, I'll help him; if it's a D-end then whatever I can do; if that's a left tackle, whatever I can do to help him; if it's a right guard and if it's a quarterback so be it. For me, my mindset doesn't change. I said when I got here that I want to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers be successful. That's my goal and I want to see the quarterback position play efficient football and we didn't get that done this year so that's what my five months be about – how can I improve as a player for myself and then help our group do that, as well. That's really my focus moving forward."

(On problems with the offensive line and if he feels like he had a good chance to show what he can do)
"You know, that's hard. The decision-makers kind of evaluate moving forward. I said this last week too, you know, there were a lot of things that made it difficult for not just the quarterback, but everyone on offense and the coach. There were things that happened that were out of our control. I just am so grateful to work around the guys that I got to work around that kept battling every week. Regardless of the circumstances they kept fighting and kept trying to pick up the slack as best we could. So I don't really look at it that way and I trust that the people who make those decisions will evaluate it accordingly."

(On how he felt as a competitor when he was told backups would play the second half)
"That's a great question and that's hard because as a competitor, you never know. I play every game like it's the last one, but at the same time as a member of this team and understanding the vision for this team and where we're trying to go, then I understand the necessity to see different guys play and evaluate them and help us. The reality is, it was 20-to-7 at the half and if we had doubled that and it was 40-to-14, we're still not going to the playoffs. We're still not playing. We need more. That would have been a great feeling for everybody, but at the same time would we have been able to see guys and would we be able to make the best decisions moving forward for our team? I think that's what matters the most. Understanding that big picture, I think as a competitor, you kind of go, okay, I understand that and I have to maybe understand that this battle may not go the way I want it to, but hopefully in the war over all as we move forward, bigger-picture-wise, we can win. That's my goal for our team and you know that was my job for today."

(On if he is relieved that the season is over)
"No, I haven't really thought much about it. It's neither here nor there for me. What I learned a long time ago and what a lot of the rookies will learn this year is that there's a whole crop of guys coming in April and then the next year there will be a whole crop of guys coming again and again and that's just part of this game. So how you approach the game as a pro is what keeps you in this game. I don't really get caught up in where we're picking and all of those things. I know this and I've said this before, you've got to build your team through the draft and you've got to hit on your picks and I feel like especially for our first-three rounders this year we did that. Jason [Licht] has done an excellent job with that and I trust them to do that again. So as far as the draft is concerned, all I can think about is for another option for us to add guys and help us get to our goal and that's all that matters."

(On reflecting on the future)
"Every time – every time – you walk off the field you think that way. It was special for me to just be out there with my little brother. The years that we've played – we've been so blessed to be able to play as long as we have. Neither one of our teams were in positions where we wanted to be, but at the same time he and I personally felt it was cool to walk off the field and to get to hug him and to walk off the field together. You know, you never know if this is his or my last moment on the football field, so that was special for me and that means something to me. I am thankful that it worked out this way."

(On warming up with his brother Luke McCown)
"We played catch a little bit so that was cool. I kind of paused to go play catch with one of our guys and I thought, you know, I might as well go play catch with him and so that was a cool moment for us, for sure."


(On players on the field in the second half)
"There isn't anything to say. It was the coaches' call to take guys out, and we just played the cards we were dealt."

(On not winning a home game this season)
"It's disappointing. It sucks, but it's just the way the tables turn. It's just the way it is man."


(On his first year)
"I'm very proud. It's something to build on for next year. Hopefully that number [receiving yards] can keep going up."

(On breaking 1,000 receiving yards)
"It was a goal for me and V-Jax [Vincent Jackson] to both have it. So that's pretty special. He worked so hard he deserves it. He paved the way for me to get it as well."

(On Jackson returning)
"I definitely want him back and he definitely wants to be back and we can do it again hopefully. He's been very helpful throughout this whole process, my whole rookie year, and I was very fortunate to play alongside him.

(On not being on field late in the game)
"The whole second half I didn't play. They just pulled me because I was gassed. It was [the coaches'] decision."


(On his 45-yard run)
"I just did my job. My job is to break tackles, make them miss, and make them pay. I was able to run the 45 and get that."

(On how a 100-yard game made him feel heading into the offseason)
"It's a bittersweet feeling. We wanted to end on a good note and win this last home game of the season, but on the other side it is nice to have the 100-yard game."

(On how important the run game in the first half was to success)
"It's very important. We got into a good rhythm at the beginning of the game, we were finding holes, and the line was doing a good job a creating the holes. We were pretty successful running in the first half."

(On what he did in order to create the 45-yard run)
"It was a run to the left and I didn't see anything at first, but I used my patience and I was just moving around through tackles, broke a tackle, and I was off to the races after that."

(On developing young players down the stretch despite the unfortunate record)
"Exactly. A lot of young guys stepped up today and were able to take the field and get starting positions. We have a great foundation for next year and a lot of things to pull it off with and we will be very successful."


(On if he knew the play was coming to him on his first career interception)
"I felt it once – I think it was [Kenny] Stills – he gave me a double move and we've been practicing it all week. That's a tip to the coaches, getting us prepared all week. We've been seeing that play all week and then once I saw it I looked back like they coached us to do and I found the ball and tried to make a play"

(On if his interception helped validate Head Coach Lovie Smith's decision to make him the starter)
"Most definitely. From the start, you trade a first-round pick here and then you look on the depth chart: you have Major Wright who you signed, and you have an undrafted free agent guy who you know nothing about. I know he was catching heat for that and it felt good to go out there and do something good for my coach. I've been trying to make plays since I've been playing, I think I started back in Chicago with the defense – I was playing special teams – but ever since then I've been trying to do something to stand out and let him know he made the right decision."

(On matching up against New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham)
"I actually did. My first game – my undrafted free agent game in Kansas City – I made a play on Jimmy Graham, so me and Jimmy have a pretty good history. We were talking after the game – it's just much respect for him. He's one of the best tight ends out there, he's a competitor, and I love playing against him."


(On his new contract)
"They wanted me here, they wanted to work out a deal and we went and got it worked out. So knowing I'll be here takes a lot off."

(On the season)
"It was a really tough situation. I felt like the coaches came together and did the best they could, the guys rallied around it and we did the best we could."


(On how they were able to run the ball effectively)
"The [offensive] line did a great job coming off of the ball. Give credit to those guys for coming off the ball."

(On getting his first career touchdown)
"It felt great, it felt great. First NFL touchdown and it felt great."

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