table of contents
- 5 Sleepers That Could Surprise In 2011
- Point-Counterpoint: Who Is The Best FA Signing In Bucs History?
- The Pros And Cons Of Hard Knocks
- Bucs Need To Revamp Linebacking Corps
- PR Conversation: DT Roy Miller
- 5 Needs That Must Be Addressed In 2011
- 5 Stars That Need To Continue To Shine In 2011
- 5 Veterans That Need To Step Up In 2011
- 5 Young Players That Need To Emerge In 2011
- Pewter Prospect: MLB Alex Wujciak
- Pewter Prospect: DE Cameron Heyward
- 2011 Bucs 7-Round Mock Draft 2.0
Miller led the Bucs defensive line with 60 tackles last season. He also had two tackles for a loss, one sack, three pressures, and one pass broken up. In his rookie season Miller had 54 tackles with one tackle for a loss, two sacks, seven quarterback pressures, and one pass broken up.
Tampa Bay drafted Miller out of Texas in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Sources with the team have said they love the leadership and character that Miller brings to the Bucs locker room. Miller has the reputation as one of the hardest working players on the team.
The comments and questions from Pewter Report appear in bold followed by Miller’s response.
The offseason got started for you by losing defensive line coach Todd Wash when he chose to sign with the Seahawks rather than accepting a new contract with Tampa Bay. That must have been tough on the defensive line room.
“It has been a lot of change. Coach Wash was a great coach. I’m disappointed to see him go. That’s how things work. I’m happy that he has a job.”
Keith Millard and Grady Stretz come in and because of the lockout you haven’t been able to work with them. What have you found out about them from asking around?
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about Coach Millard and Coach Stretz. A lot of people that [Millard] has coached have told me he’s a great guy. I’m looking forward to working with him. Just what I heard from Gerald [McCoy] and other guys that have talked to him, I hear he is a great technician. I’m looking forward to getting better with him.”
The team has taken a unique approach to have one coach focus on run defense and one coach focus on pass rush. In the past, like your rookie year, teams have had a defensive tackle and defensive end coach, but not really a pass rush and run defense coach. Do you like the idea of that?
“Yeah, definitely, because they are two very different things. They both take a lot of technique on their own. I like that idea. I believe it is going to work.”
Do you think it will work better than your rookie year when Robert Nunn coached the defensive tackles and Wash coached the defensive ends? We heard that a lot of the players preferred to work with Wash and the dual coaches weren’t a great fit that year.
“Yeah, I do. That’s actually the first time I heard it being said like that – technique vs. the positions – but I think we can focus on each one and we can all get better, a lot better. I think that will help us to pinpoint our problems and our issues. That’s how we’re going to get better.”
Some teams are starting to feel the lockout now because they would have started their offseason program. The Bucs hold OTAs (organized team activities) later than others, but they do have the offseason conditioning started in March. I bet that has affected you and the other guys.
“It hasn’t really affected anything. I’ve still been working out. I’ve been doing everything that I should be doing. But I think the camaraderie that the team gets from working out together and the extra push you get when you look over at your teammate that’s the effect of the lockout. You’ve been working with your teammates and they’ve been busting their butts in the offseason, when you get to see that I think that is something that is important to the team. That is important to the team in general, to know your guys are putting in the hard work. I think that is the negative about it. I’m pretty sure from the success that we had and how close we were, the guys are pushing themselves to be able to make that extra leap next year.”
Speaking of taking a leap, in reviewing the season and speaking with team sources, you went under the radar but had a breakout year in many regards with the run defense and the way you held up at the line of scrimmage. Now that some time has passed how do you access your performance?
“I felt I took a couple of steps forward. I felt I had a lot better year than my rookie year. Kind of towards the end when we figured out what we wanted to do as defensive tackles it started to click a lot more. Like I said, it is kind of disappointing because I feel like I got better but at the same time our run defense wasn’t the best. The only thing I can do is continue to work and make more plays.”
You said the run defense is obviously something the team wants to improve in 2011. While staying with the same defensive system and a lot of the same players, what can be down to have better run defense next year?
“Well, I think we can do better on our technique all the way down. When we rotate, just across the board, guys have their strengths and we should be able to fill in for each other. I think with a lot of young players and young guys we are worried about making our play instead of helping the other guy when he messes up. You know throughout a game everybody is going to have a mistake, but when a guy makes a mistake it shouldn’t be a 10-yard mistake. Somebody else should be there. That’s what a team does. There are not too many perfect plays, every snap or so you have to be able to fill in for that other guy. I think as young guys we were worried about making our plays instead of helping the next guy. I feel like we can do that. I feel we have the talent to do that. I feel it needs to be done and guys know that. We had a meeting about it towards the end of the season. Guys understood that. If we can get that to level, that’s what makes teams great. Guys work together to help make up for mistakes. You look at any defense you see plays where guys are getting pushed around. Then you see somebody comes out of nowhere and makes that play. If a guy messes up it shouldn’t be a big gain. We've got to work on that. We will. I know we got the talent to do it. I think that’s what is going to take us to the next level.”
Going from your rookie year to your second year you had to take on the change from Jim Bates’ defense to Raheem Morris’ defense. A lot is being planned on McCoy and Brian Price making a big jump in their second year. What have you heard from them and how is the lockout affecting them coming back from injury?
“I think the lockout can hurt some guys, but those guys have been working hard. They have every motivation to hit the weight room that much harder, and train that much harder. Those guys are used to being successful. To have a season taken away from them like that, I know it hurt them more than anything. That’s pushing them. They’re pushing their bodies as hard as they can to be able to come back and show everybody what they were missing.”
You mentioned how you spoken with McCoy and obviously you two have a history of being friends going back to your high school years. Have you spoken much with Price and have an idea as to how he is doing?
“Yeah, he’s doing well. Those guys are doing well. I talked to Price about what he wanted to do with his surgeries. He had it rough. I know he can’t wait to be able just work out. I know with the surgeries he had, he had to sit around. But I know he’s anxious to get back. He is going to be a special player. Him and Gerald.”
Team staff told us that Price would be ready for OTAs (organized team activities) if they happen. That would be a good way for him to get re-acclimated to the team and the way it practices.
“Yeah, I’m know he’s anxious to start playing with the team again.”
With Price out some other guys stepped up like Al Woods and Frank Okam. They both had some good games and look like guys that can compete and be good role players.
“Those guys looked good. We've got a lot of talent. Okam, Woods and Alex Magee those guys played well for us. The important thing is – and Mark Dominik told us this is going to be the hardest roster to make next year because we got so much talent – it is going to be hard but it is going to make everybody that much better. Which is good because with a team like ours and a lot of young guys, guys need to be pushed. We haven’t reached our potential yet. I think all that talent is going to continue to make us better more than anything. Those guys played well for us.”
Another young guy that you saw closely but wasn’t visible to the fans was Doug Worthington. How did he look to you during last year?
“He was good. He was getting better. He did some things different at Ohio State. He got with us and started to figure things out towards the end. Him, Al, Frank, all these young guys have a lot of talent. It is amazing to see what they do. To see that potential that he had - there are a lot of guys with it and it is no telling how good they can be.”
Josh Freeman said he was going to organize some team workouts during the lockout. Is the defense and defensive line going to work out together some during the lockout?
“We talked about getting together. Right now a couple of guys are in Africa doing things. When we get closer to that OTA time we’ll talk. With this lockout guys have made other plans. It is going to be a challenge to get everybody together. Guys on one hand want to spend time with their family. These guys are men with things to do, but at the same time we have to get together and get that bonding going and get things done. We got to figure it out, but we definitely will get together.”
A year ago in the offseason you dropped weight for Morris defense after bulking up to play the two-gap system that Bates employed. This year are you staying the same or looking to make a change in your makeup for next season.
“I plan on losing a little bit more weight. I want my conditioning to be at a very high level. I want to be able to run a lot of plays. I feel like I need to drop a couple more pounds. I really need to work on getting stronger, too, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I don’t want to be more than 305. I want to be about 295 or 300, and continue to work on my strength. I feel like I don’t need to be that heavy. A lot of what I do is a lot of technique. It does have a lot to do with cutting, too, but I feel like I have that with proper technique I can handle it. That’s what I been working on and what I’m going to hang my hat on this year.”
To close out the year you guys were in a three-team playoff race with the Saints and Falcons. New Orleans is a veteran team that you guys beat on the road the past two Decembers. Atlanta is a young team that you guys almost beat in each game. Which team is the biggest rival and which one do you guys have the most bad blood with?
“No doubt it is Atlanta. It is just kind of annoying that every time we play them it always comes down to one play and we haven’t been able to finish it. Atlanta, definitely. With the young guys we told them last year this is a team we always come close to beating. We've got to come with it. Telling them that and at the end of the season they understood. They were like ‘Dang those guys have been beating us.’ It is annoying to them, too. It just confirms what I’m saying to them that it is tough to play against them. That is the team that will continue to be a tough rivalry.”
In December, Roddy White started his conference call by saying, “We’re going to come down and kick your butt *censored* this week.” It seems like when the Bucs are playing the Falcons it has a different feel to it.
“That’s the other thing. We have to come out and be the same team that we are every game. For some reason we are a different team on that day. If we can play like we have played at the best of our game, every time we step on the field, I feel like at the end of the year there is no telling where we can be.”