Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman held his weekly press conference on Wednesday at One Buccaneer Place and discussed his team’s success in the fourth quarter, his decision to run the ball, and how his team will handle the short week. The following is a transcript of Freeman’s press conference.
On the success of team in the fourth and feeling of confidence in crunch time:
“We feel like we can get it done. Obviously the Colts game was a game that we had a lot of penalties early on, and it kind of halted us on a lot if drives that we felt like we could have got in the end zone. Early on we couldn’t really establish a rhythm so to speak, but our defense played well, and kept it to a one-possession game. We were moving the ball on offense and we were just waiting for the opportunity to get a stop and get the ball back and really drive down without penalties, and without something going wrong and scoring. And we were able to do that. Tie it up, and the defense came out and held them to a field goal, then they missed it. We got the ball back and the rest is history. Once we got LeGarrette Blount rolling it was good.”
Is there a feeling that when game on line you guys are going to come through?
“Yes, I mean everybody feels like that. There is so little stress going into that last drive—especially after it is tied up. We kind of knew what we had to do. Everybody has got to go out (without) penalties. Don’t do anything to hurt us, and just go out and execute. Everybody took it upon themselves to do their job and it worked out for us.”
How do you get the sense of urgency to start earlier?
“I feel like we started earlier. We just had some penalties. We were moving. It’s not like—talk about the issue of the first week and second week—it’s not like that. It is not the feeling at all. It is just when you get drives—we had the one Arrelious [Benn 62-yard touchdown] called back. We had a couple balls that were kind of dropped on key third downs early on, but it is not something that there is a glaring issue. They are plays that we normally make.”
How do you handle the short week and the West Coast trip?
“It is about the same. The only difference is we played on Monday instead of having a come in practice and workout. Obviously the flight to San Francisco is a long one and you kind of have to get yourself into the mindset to keep things business as usual. Even though we will be on the other side of the country, still have to go about our business the same way. Things will be a little changed. We are leaving on Friday. We will have a chance to go there and get acclumated with the time, and just be ready to go on Sunday.”
Do you think “winning ugly” s the way you guys will win?
“I think that’s just the NFL. Most teams win ugly. There are very few blowouts and very few glamorous wins. The way this league goes you are going to have tight games more often than not. I feel like we are built to get into those situations and find a way to pull it out at the end.”
When you decide to run what is your decision making on that? What are you looking for?
“I would say there are a few situations that you do run the ball. Obviously there is a called play. Then there is the play where you do recognize a specific coverage where it is man to man and you got to take a peak down field, but in the back of your mind you got to know if you get a good running lane and the coverage is tight down field that you got to take off. The other way is just kind of instincts. Dropping back, going through your progression and then the rush starts flowing round you. You see a lane and it just kind of pops and you know you can go get some yardage out of it.”
Does Greg Olson encourage you to slide a few times or is that running back in you from old days?
“Yes a little bit. My mentality when I am running is that I want to get as many yards as possible. As of late, it has been about getting first downs. When it comes down to getting a first down or sliding short I am going to go for the first down every time. It has been put in my ear many times by many different people to slide and get down. It is a long season so I need to start taking heed to their words.”
You know how wide receivers are in this league. Is Mike Williams asking to get the ball?
“No, not at all. That’s not how our guys are. We are a team first mentality. All around our receivers are really happy when anybody makes a play. Preston Parker stepped up and made some plays, and when he scored Mike Williams and the rest of the guys were just as happy as if they had scored themselves.”
Do you think you and Mike Williams are close to getting things together?
“Yes, you look at a couple plays and one got called back. One was a drop and he is getting close to a hundred yard game, but it is just every game you don’t know what the defense is going to give you.”
Is Blount’s yardage mostly being after contact and what type of force is he?
“He does a great job. It is great for us on the four minute offense when we need to run the clock down and we need to end the game. Two weeks in a row he has been huge for us. I got to stay away from the trap of handing the ball off and turning around and watching him run. A couple times the end may crash down and it’s my job to fake and hold him—take another hit off the guy. It is just amazing to watch. The way he finished that last game was spectacular.”
What strikes you about the Niner’s defense?
“They are a physical defense. Their front seven is as good as we have seen. Starting up front then you look at their linebacking core—[Takeo] Spikes is gone but they found a way to replace him. They are big. They are physical. They are good on the back end too. Their secondary plays very well. It is a team that we know we are going to have to get prepared for. We are going to have to play up to our potential if we want to have a chance.”
Mark Cook contributed to this report