Bucs head coach Raheem Morris on the praise Josh Freeman gets and if he should be held to a higher standard because of what Matt Ryan did during his rookie year
"No. You talk about a guy Matt Ryan who came in as a day one starter. Matt Ryan was prepared from day one. He took every snap in the offseason. Freeman came in and we were looking to hold him back, so to get in there and win three games is pretty remarkable out of the kid. You talk about when you compare him to the great quarterbacks in this league, Peyton Manning came in from day one and had the ability to be the starter from day one. He came in as the offseason starter, came in as the inseason starter, went through, and won one [game]. I don't know the difference between that Indianapolis team that went 1-15 and our team that won three. You never talk about too much praise and you never give a rookie too much praise. It's the hardest position in professional sports to play."
Morris on if he is confident that he will be retained as the head coach since the owners haven't said anything
"I don't know where you guys get that stuff from and shockingly that our ownership is quiet because our owners are always quiet. I don't know where you've been the last seven years. I've never heard our owners say anything publically. They're quiet in the office when I'm talking to them, so that's how it is. I heard about all the stuff too and I'm glad you guys congratulated me for keeping my job, but none of that stuff matters. You're job is to coach until somebody else tells you to stop. That's the bottom line."
Morris on Josh Freeman
"For him, it's a learning experience every day. Whether he wins or loses, he doesn't ride that emotional roller coaster. The most you get out of him is the hard core hits, and the snap off of his headset. That's pretty much it, but he's one of the guys that's going to sit in there and be detailed. He's going to get better and better every time he goes out there and he's got a chance to go into the offseason this year knowing that he's our starting quarterback, knowing that he's our franchise, and knowing that he has the opportunity to go out there and be his best self next year. Josh Freeman will be judged based on next year and so wil I."
Morris on his goal of finishing the season strong and what this loss does for that
"It would have been nice to finish 3-0, but we didn't. What we did do was win out and we were competitive again and that's really all you can ask for. At the end of the game, somebody's got to step up and win it and today we weren't able to do that. They were. That [Jason] Snelling kid stepped up and was able to run the ball and win the game. You need performances like that from somebody each week in order to get out there and win those types of football games and today we were not able to get it."
Morris on the disappointing play of the offensive line this year
"Well, you don't want to say this year. You guys put this offensive line on a high pedestal this year, but I think if you look at the stats we rushed for about the same amount of yards as we did last year, and we gave up about the same amount of sacks as we did last year. I just think we have to get better overall. The last two weeks before this one we were going pretty good. We ran the football pretty well and we did everything we wanted to do. We protected pretty good and now we want to get back to that. This game we came out today and they were able to get at us upfront a little bit. It was obvious, it was clear, and there are no excuses to be made."
Morris on why Jason Snelling was able to have the success he had in the second half and if the defense was worn down
"I don't want to ever say they wore down without looking at the tape, but obviously you've got to say something like that happened. They had the ability to cap off that [long] drive by running the football. You have to give their coach some credit as well. I don't want to say that Snelling just wore down the defense and I don't want to say that our players wore down. You just have to give [the Falcons' coaching staff] some credit for getting those guys in good run fits, getting those guys in good run plays, and giving them another chance to have some success. We missed a few tackles individually, and you have to make those. [Snelling] was able to wear us down and they won the battle up front."
Morris on if he would like to get a vote of confidence from the Glazers
"No, that's not their job. I tell you everyday you guys don't get a vote of confidence either. You can get fired tomorrow too, but nobody's asked me that question. I stand here and coach until I go. My mom and my pops were both laid off when I was 13 years old and nobody told them that they weren't going to get fired. That's just the reality of the world we live in. You deal with it. You do your job. This game is not for everybody. If I'm sitting around worried about getting fired then I've got my own issues. I'm not. I'm very confident in what I do."
Morris on how close he thinks the team is from being competitive
"You talk about the two wins we had [against playoff teams]. Your talking about Green Bay and talking about beating the New Orleans Saints. To win those games you've got to win them more consistently and we're off by our consistency to be able to come out every week and play like that. We just have to figure out how to do that every week."
Bucs CB Ronde Barber on Atlanta having a few turnovers
"Their turnovers were factored in more than our turnovers. We certainly had opportunities throughout the entire game. We played great on defense. The first five or six series were three and outs. We weren't able to move, you have to give them credit. They played a physical game, a little bit more physical than we did. They won upfront on offense and defense. That showed at the end of the game so you tip your hat to them."
Barber on the Buccaneers' defense forcing turnovers
"We pretty much knew what they were going to do. This is a team that we play twice every year. We are fairly familiar with who they are. There isn't much that we do, there isn't much that they do that we don't or they don't know about. Like I said, it comes down to who is going to be the more physical team and at the end of the day you have to give it to them."
Barber on the team not giving up at the end of the season
"It has been that way the whole year. Even early in the season when things were looking very desperate, this team has always had that toughness about them no matter what. No matter what adversity we faced. We just keep grinding and finding ways to come to work and try to get better. I think that's a testament to the character of this team, the coaches obviously. That will pay dividends for us next year."
Bucs center Jeff Faine on the struggles with a young quarterback
"I can't put it all on the kid. The whole first half the offense was nonexistent. We weren't able to get it going and it just didn't come out right. Some of the things we put together these last couple of weeks, we just didn't do those things and that's the perfect equation for us to be successful. We just didn't do that today."
Faine on what can be taken away from the season
"It was a lot of growing pains and a lot of frustrations but we have to able to reflect on it and learn from our mistakes. A lot of guys need to grow up, and this whole team needs to grow up and learn from these experiences."
Bucs QB Josh Freeman on the loss
"I have to put that on myself as the quarterback and the leader of the offense. We have to score more points in the first half the way our defense is playing, holding them to 10 points in the first half. It should have been a different football game but we weren't able to get anything going. We weren't able to complete those third downs in the first half when we needed to. It was just overall a poor effort."
Freeman on the long completion to WR Maurice Stovall setting up a touchdown
"It was cover-two. I saw on film that the corner was kind of dropping off, not really respecting it when it's a receiver out there. When they are playing quarter halves he is not really respecting the hole check and no one has really hit them on one this whole year. I decided to try to keep the safety inside and give it a shot. I was grateful that Maurice was able to get off of him so cleanly and get in that hole. Then the play to AB, it was a great ball by Antonio Bryant. It could have been placed a little further behind him for a better back shoulder throw. AB worked with what he had and made a great touchdown."
Freeman on his interception late in the game
"It was a hard-sell play action and really, they brought a blitz. Usually you like to sell it, sit back there for a little bit and get a good read on it. They were able to generate some pressure and I had to get it out a little sooner than I would like. If I would have been able to see it a little better I could have probably put it a little more outside. It would have been a little bit easier of a play for AB to make. It happened; I was trying to get it out to avoid the sack in the red zone. It is what it is. It was a tough one today."
Freeman on his performance in his rookie year
"It wasn't great. I felt like I got better as a player but I still didn't play as well as this team needed me to play to win games. I am grateful that I am going to have this offseason to get better as a quarterback and get better as a player. 3-13 is unacceptable. It is an unacceptable season. I know all the guys feel that way and we are going to come in, grind this offseason and make sure that never happens again."
Freeman on what he can work on with his fundamentals
"We are going to cover everything, every aspect of my game. We are going to watch every game, every preseason game. We are going to figure out what I did well and what I didn't do well. From there, we are going to work on it. Even now, we are working on keeping two hands on the ball in the pocket, really just improving the fundamentals. I think that could add a few percentages to my completion percentage, just more touchdowns and fewer interceptions. It is just working on developing as a quarterback overall this offseason. I am going to do the best that I can."
Freeman on what he learned his rookie season
"I definitely learned a lot this season. Coming in as a rookie in the NFL, you're not sure what to expect. Coach Morris and the staff decided to sit me for the first half of the season and I am somewhat grateful for that. Sitting was a good idea because I still had a lot of things to learn. When they threw me in I had a good, solid grasp of the offense. Then it was just about adjusting to the game speed of the NFL and being able to read defenses, make protection calls and handle all of the other complexities of the quarterback position. I feel like I've grown a lot this year. I didn't play as well as I'd like to or as well as the team needed me to or deserved me to. I can't wait to get into the offseason and get to work. It's frustrating to end on a loss, but it will definitely give me motivation heading into the offseason."
Freeman on his motivation heading into the offseason
"I hate losing and a lot of the guys on the team just can't stand it. Today was frustrating because in the first half we really couldn't get anything going, whether it was passing or running. In the second half we came out and I turned the ball over and you can never win when you turn the ball over in critical situations. We feel like we were in a lot of games and we grew older as a team and as individuals. We are going to find a way to win those close games. We are going to go back this offseason and figure out everything. Figure out why things didn't work, why they did work and try to formulate a plan to come back and get a lot more wins and get to the playoffs."
Bucs LB Geno Hayes if the team could improve through adding personnel
"Of course, it's the NFL. Every year you have to have something new to finish what you're trying to build. I think that there will be some guys coming in, obviously through the draft but I don't want to say what we need. Since it's the NFL, you never know what you really need."
Hayes on the defense's second half performance
"I think we missed tackles. They called some great plays, and although we were in the right position we just missed tackles. There's no excuse for that."
Hayes on head coach Raheem Morris' job
"That's out of my hands. I just focus on what I can control. We have to do our best and make plays."
Hayes on the difficulty of putting together a winning season after a 3-13 season
"I think it's easy as long as everyone puts in the effort and the time. We need to work on the little things and continue to get better."
Hayes on what could've been if Morris was named the defensive coordinator at the beginning of the season
"We could have won a lot more games. We had a few close ones that could have swung our way. He did a great job with the personnel that he was given."
Hayes on the defensive skid in the second half
"They called some great plays, but it comes down to missed tackles. We didn't make the plays to match theirs. Even though we were in the right spots we still missed the tackles. There is no excuse for that."
Hayes on the disappointment of losing at home after the win in New Orleans
"It's very frustrating coming off a big win against the Saints. Nothing against the Falcons but to win against the Saints and then play like we did, it's tough. We were relaxed and focused and we really wanted to go out there and win this game. There was no slowing down and we wanted the win. I saw the fire in our team's eyes, nobody laid down or quit out there. We wanted to go into the offseason on a good note."
Bucs S Tanard Jackson on his interception
"It was a huge play in the game to try and get some momentum swung in our direction to open up the second half. I was just trying to make a play and help this team get its fourth victory and end the season strong. Obviously it didn't happen. I think our guys played hard. It's tough to go down this way but we can't carry this into the offseason. We have a lot to look forward to. Hopefully we use this season as motivation to come back strong."
Jackson on the new defensive scheme
"A lot of people in this defense were comfortable in Raheem's system and his play calling. You can see a difference since a lot of guys were able to play much faster."
Jackson on if he expects Ronde Barber to be back next year
"Yes I do."
Jackson on if Barber talks to him about it or if it is just a feeling
"I joke around with him, but it's more of a feeling. I think he'll be back."
Jackson on if he thinks Morris deserves to be back next year
"Yes definitely. I definitely don't think he is over his head. It was a move where the Buccaneers organization felt it was the best move and I think it was. I agree with them. Obviously the season didn't go the way we wanted it to. When things aren't going the way they are supposed to be going, the first fingers are pointed at the head coach and the quarterback. Obviously that's not true here and the players in the locker room know that. We have a great coach and a great quarterback. It's collective. We win as a team and we lose as a team, so you can't point fingers at one person. You get to work with what you have to work with and hopefully we make the necessary offseason moves to put this team in position to win."
Bucs S Corey Lynch on the blocked kick
"I was blessed to be able to block it, very fortunate, but unfortunately it didn't result in a win. It's always a good momentum change when you're able to do that."
Lynch on how he blocked the kick
"The wing just hit a little wider than usual and I found the crease. I was hoping to do a reenactment but I got tripped up a little bit and wasn't able to complete the run to the end zone."
Bucs LB Barrett Ruud on the touchdown at the end of the first half
"We were in a goal line defense and they were in a goal line offense. They called a bootleg and we were in man to man coverage. It was a good play. It was a tough play to stop especially with no huddle like that. They did a better job of executing on the fly than we did. It was one of those plays. Credit them for calling those plays like that."
Ruud on if the defense could have called a timeout
"No just because they were in as equally as tough of a bind. It would be one thing if they weren't set up for it. They just outdid us on the move. We were both on the move. We were both ready and set. They just made the play and we didn't."
Ruud on the season
"I think everybody got a little humility. I've never been 3-13 before. It makes you never take a win for granted. Wins are tough to get in the NFL. Last year we were 9-3, thinking about what teams we were going to play in the playoffs and then we lost four straight. Since then, it's been tough. Wins aren't easy to come by even when you are playing well and winning a lot of games. You can't take it for granted."
Ruud on if the Bucs needs different players in order to be a winning team
"I don't think so. I think our guys need to become better players. Everyone can improve their games with work."
Ruud on head coach Raheem Morris' defensive changes
"It definitely made us better defensively. We did a good job patching up our weak spots and working with the scheme to make it better."
Ruud on if he'd be disappointed playing on a 1-year deal next season rather a five or six year deal
"I think everybody in my situation would be. I think there are twelve guys in that situation. We're all hoping for the CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement] to get signed up. If it doesn't, I don't know. I think those other twelve guys are rooting for it to get signed just like me."
Ruud on if there is enough to build on defensively for next year
"Yes, I think we have a lot of talented players on our side of the ball. I think that we are capable of making a jump to a great defense. All of that comes with game experience. We had a lot of first year starters that I think are capable of playing well."
Bucs WR Antonio Bryant on what positives he will take from this season that can help the team next year
"There are a lot of positives. We picked it up towards the end of the season and just naturally having a young quarterback contributed to having a slow start. A lot of things came into play after the fact so the adjustments were being made slowly but surly. It's just a matter of looking at a guy like Josh [Freeman], who's progress was kind of handicapped a little bit because of some of the changes early on. He was always kind of one or two games behind and in this league you've got to understand that teams go into the playbook and study you, and they know your strengths and know what their tendencies you're capable of doing. Give [the Falcons] the credit. They pretty much had a keen look and understanding of what we were trying to accomplish.
Bryant on what aspect of the game he was the most frustrated about
"I was just frustrated period because I felt that we were capable of going out there and dominating. Not just winning, but dominating. I know our defense came to play. The [Falcons] kind of had a game plan for us. They played a double cover two and rolled the coverage to my side. They doubled Kellen [Winslow], so we knew that there was really only one guy running around open between Cadillac [Williams] in man-to-man coverage and Maurice [Stovall] in man-to-man coverage. We just had to take advantage of those things, but we didn't prepare for it. We knew it was probably coming."
Bryant on if the description of everything being a little bit off fits this game
"For the most part just, we were a little bit behind and sometimes it took us a little bit longer to get going. We definitely had what it takes to go out there and make the plays. We just have to come up with them."
Bryant on if this team is close to getting to the top or if a lot of changes have to be made
"Every team needs a couple of pieces here and a couple of pieces there. It's up to our own coaching staff and the front office to determine what those things are. You go back and get a fresh start with the group that you prepare to go into the season with from the top to the bottom from your coaches, your coordinators, and all the way down to the players."
Bryant on if he likes living in the Tampa Bay area and playing for the Bucs
"Of course. You know I am from Miami. A lot of people think I'm from Pittsburgh because I went to the University of Pittsburgh, but I am from Miami. I tell a lot of people that you can't find weather to play in like this unless you are on the West Coast, but you can't find a better situation. You may be a small market team, but there's a great fan base and great fan support and that's what you want going into these games."
Bryant on if he is looking forward to being a UFA and seeing how other teams evaluate him
"Right now it's all about my body. You want to feel a certain way going into free agency, so you never know what the situation is. As far as I'm concerned, I'm a Buccaneer right now. Hopefully that's the outcome at the end of the day, but things have to happen in order for that to be the result.
Bryant on the 2009 season and the development of Josh Freeman
"You've got to understand that it got to a point where we weren't playing for the playoffs but playing to see what fits and what works. Everything was about evaluating. Everyone was under evaluation to see what needs to be brought back and who needs to be applied where within an offense. The plays pretty much got back around to what we ran last year and it's just the way that you set them up with Josh being so young. The team coached him up and helped him out and it kind of got going a little bit late. He got to see some things, but it's a matter of doing it every day. A lot of times we had success, because like I said before a lot of those routes I ran a million times in practice so it was the timing for [Freeman] and knowing what was going to happen. By having an understanding, even [former Bucs QB Jeff Garcia] knew how much time he had that the route would come open. There's a little bit difference and now with Freeman and all his abilities it's just so raw and natural. I know he's going to get there. It's just a matter of going out there and making him understand it and trust it."
Bryant on how he feels about the loss to Atlanta and the opportunities he had in the game
"I think the defense did a great job. I think the offense for the most part did a great job. You know I put the interceptions on me. Being a playmaker, you've got to be accountable for everything that doesn't go right when the ball is in your area. I don't have a problem with that because I do want opportunities. Like I tell Josh [Freeman], that's on me. If it comes to me that's my ball."
Bucs WR Michael Clayton on the disappointing season and if the Bucs need to make any changes
"Not once did this team give up this year. We fought all 16 games and we expected to win every game even though in the reality of the situation we may not have been prepared against some teams. We have no excuses if we have the same establishment in one offseason. It makes no sense to make any changes. I think all the coaches came together in the same situation and really coached us well. They did a great job and I've got a great feeling with the coaches we have here."
Clayton on what needs to be added to bring this team to the next level
"A few more players. I feel like we really need some depth. Those are things that we will really be able to take advantage of in the draft. We've got a lot of guys playing a lot of reps out there. We have a lot of money under the salary cap and hopefully we can get that done, but every year we look to get better and better and I'm excited about it."
Bucs WR Maurice Stovall on the evaluation of the season
"Every season in my NFL career, I've wanted to win a Super Bowl. Unfortunately, that didn't happen this year. Eventually I just try to put my best out there in the game every week and not have any loafs and give it my all. I think that I've done that this year as far as playing hard. It's unfortunate that we didn't have the season that we wanted to. All you can do in that situation is play your hardest and take advantage of the opportunities given to you. Just control what you can control."
Stovall on the offense
"I think that Coach Olson and Josh Freeman have done fairly well under the circumstances. Josh came in late in the season and really didn't get as much time in the offseason as needed. At the same time, I think he stepped up to the plate a lot. Coach Olson worked with him individually after hours and extra time on the practice field. I think that he has progressed a lot since Josh's first start."
Stovall on his big second half reception
"We came out with four wide receivers and the defense went with a cover 2 man setup. Josh [Freeman] read the defense well, and he found me on the sidelines. We run that play every day and we executed that play well. I tried to get the ball in, but I couldn't. Thankfully that play helped us get a touchdown."
Stovall on starting over WR Michael Clayton
"I got the opportunity to play and I took advantage of it. I don't know why I started, but my guess is that it was a coach's decision."
Stovall on head coach Raheem Morris' job
"I really don't know. I think that Raheem is a great coach. He is a visual teacher, and he is really enthusiastic about his job. I think that really rubs off on our team and I wish him the best of luck. In this business people come and go. I'm sure wherever he goes he will do great whether it is in Tampa or somewhere else."
Bucs RB Cadillac Williams on making it through a complete season
"I have a bitter taste in my mouth. Definitely bitter about the game, but at the same time it is a blessing to have played in all 16 games for the first time in my career. I think that this is the start to something great."
Williams on how he feels about the future
"I'm going to take some time off, sit back, and enjoy what I've accomplished this season. Not to sound selfish but, it's big to me to play in all 16 games. Whatever happens with the situation happens. It's not a long lasting league and I wish everybody the best."
Williams on if the offense started to click towards the end of the season
"No doubt, I feel like things were definitely clicking. We were running the ball better. (Josh) Freeman was getting better. The receivers and tight ends were getting better. We were coming together as a unit."
Bucs DT Ryan Sims on Falcons RB Jason Snelling's performance
"He got physical. He used his size and power and we just didn't make the plays. We couldn't stop him when it counted. We didn't tackle well and it showed in the end. We didn't make plays when we needed to make them."
Sims on any positives he can take from this 3-13 season
"At the end it seemed like we got our defense back together. We felt more comfortable and we started to really click. We also had a rookie quarterback and he showed some promise. The offensive and defensive lines will continue to improve. The team will grow as time goes by."
Sims on if he has ever experienced this many losses in one season
"I've never been on a team with this many losses. This is new for me."
Sims on head coach Raheem Morris' job
"I never really had any doubt that he would be here next year. I don't think there were too many organizations that drafted a quarterback with a first-year head coach and then fire him. I'll be honest I have no idea. I just hope I'm back."
Bucs TE Kellen Winslow on his offseason plans
"I'm going to go home, to San Diego. That's where I train. If Josh [Freeman] wants me to come back to Tampa to work, I will be down here. I'm headed out to San Diego on Thursday."
Winslow on what Freeman brings to the table
"He has all the tools. It just comes through experience. I think he has grown a lot in these last few weeks. You can tell he kept his cool and didn't get frustrated. Earlier in the year, he tended to read just one side of the field. He took his checkdowns today and did a good job with his decision making for the most part. He's getting there."