One day after the Bucs’ 27-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Bruce Arians was still frustrated from an early whistle blown by the referees. An inadvertent whistle on a forced fumble by Devin White stopped a play that was picked up by Andrew Adams and ran back for a touchdown, a play that would have given the Bucs a three-point lead with three minutes remaining in the game.
Arians didn’t hold back when venting about how referees get away with mistakes and aren’t held to a higher standard. Arians also admitted the Bucs made plenty of their own mistakes, but that early call by the officials changed the final outcome.
Here is a full transcript of Arians’ press conference on Monday with the media.
“Again, not to beat a dead horse but an inadvertent whistle, if we have those last three minutes and some change with a three-point lead and win the game, I think everybody is writing different stories, talking different things. It was more than just a play and everybody except one guy saw the ball out and blew a quick whistle and my biggest thing is – referees aren’t held accountable. Coaches get fired, general managers get fired, players get cut, referees aren’t accountable and it’s a shame. It’s been that way for 40 years and now that we got a new agreement it will be that way for 40 more years.
On the game itself, again, turnovers early in the ball game, poor red zone offense and poor red zone defense, poor coaching in some of those situations also, especially offensively. The 3rd-and-five play, we screwed that play up in practice, we fixed it, we liked the play. I should have vetoed that play, the fourth-and-one play. Again, that’s on me, not on Byron, that’s on me to have a better chance of being successful in those two situations, those are both on me. Defensively, our front seven, I don’t know if they can play any better, they’re playing outstanding. We got out of our gap one time and gave up a run, I think he had 72 yards and two of them were for 50 yards, we’re doing everything we can do on the front seven. Our back end was good at times and then we don’t play the right technique a couple times and those things have been a problem and we’re going to get them corrected, and I know we’ll get them corrected.
Again, when I look at the number of missed assignments in a game, after totally making that a point of emphasis in our off week and last week in practice, where they had disappeared, they show up back in the game. We got to look at our preparation, we got to look at our coaching, are we teaching it properly, something’s not happening from Saturday to Sunday and to take our base run and run it against a front that we saw everyday in practice and not block it correctly is baffling to me. It starts with coaching, it starts with me, as far as anything else, everything that we’re doing from right now is to beat Seattle.”
On if he got any explanation about the inadvertent whistle when there’s been an emphasis on letting plays go
“Exactly, that’s the emphasis. Now two out of three weeks for us, we get turnovers that we don’t get. We got a touchdown, we got the ball, now we still should have taken the ball and scored a touchdown and won the game, but instead we should have won the game already or had the chance to win it. In New Orleans, I was told to challenge it because they knew we had the ball, but when you go back to replay it wasn’t a clear recovery. Again, it was an inadvertent whistle. Why is it continuing? Since the Rams-Saints game the second week when the Saints got the touchdown that they didn’t get, there’s been an emphasis on letting plays go. If you can’t answer why it’s not happening, then I don’t know.”
On the fourth-and-one play, if it wasn’t blocked properly or if Ryan Jensen got overpowered
“It wasn’t blocked properly, we didn’t get to the Mike linebacker. Again, part of it was design, part of it was the play, part of it was our execution of it, and I’ll take it for that one.”
On if he’s seeing Devin White starting to develop the sideline to sideline ability
“Oh yeah. The injury hurt him, it set him back pretty good. He had a couple of blitzes that he could have gone and he held up a little bit, but he’s getting better and better.”
On if the first touchdown allowed by the defense if there was miscommunication
“We totally lined up wrong. It started with our safety, who didn’t cover the right guy. It led to three guys talking back and forth and the ball snapped. It was just poor communication.”
On the details in the game costing the Bucs that ends up on the accountability sheet
“It’s very simple plays. That’s the frustrating thing for me is how am I not getting anything across? Why is this not getting across? I’ve seen it get across for a long time, and for whatever reason it ain’t happening. We got to find out why.”
On if it’s because they can’t win with guys that don’t get it, and you can only win with smart players
“That helps. But again, I’ve had guys that struggled but they had so much pride that they would not be on that sheet. They struggled to learn but they would not on that sheet.”
On the balance between short term and long term goals at the trade deadline and wanting to keep the team as close to winning right now
“Yes, and if there’s a trade that helps us win right now or if it’s the price is right and the deal is real, trade for the future, then yeah. But I’m all about winning and winning as many games as we can because when you sell the farm, you don’t know what you’re buying anyway. And you’re playing with a bunch of young guys that have to learn how to play again.”
On having 12 passes in the fourth quarter with none of them going to Mike Evans
“You don’t throw into double coverage, but just because it’s Cover 2 doesn’t mean Mike’s covered. There were some passes, he hit Chris when Mike was open, so as a quarterback, you take what they give you. But there are times that we tried to move Mike around to get him open and we didn’t get the ball to him.”
On Ronald Jones not playing as much because the offense is in pass heavy packages
“He’s gotten much better at blitz pickup and we talked about it. He’s improved each week, which should get him more snaps. As far as two-minute, Dare’s been the best one that we have as far as who to block and how to block them. I think Ronald’s going to have a hell of a future.”
On if it’s on the coaches to design plays so they don’t let the defense take Mike Evans away from the game
“Yeah, you can’t just leave him back there. You got to move him over, get him in the middle, which everybody, eight or nine snaps of that, somewhere in there. Maybe you don’t catch Cover 2, then all of a sudden it’s man-to-man and he’s doubled some other way. You can’t force balls to guys but as a coach you can still get him open.”
On how tough it was to make the call to punt on a fourth-and-one on the Titans’ 43 early in the fourth quarter
“It’s not tough at all, you got a three point lead. If you got a seven point lead, hmm, but a three point lead, no, you’re two first downs from a tie. Punt it down, man, Pinion did a great job, our special teams did a great job. They started at the one, the eight, the 10, T.J. Logan was what I thought he’d be. He made the best of his opportunity and he’ll keep doing it as a cover guy and as a retuner. Our special teams I thought won the battle for us, we’re just not doing a good job of backed up football, holding them down there. That one little play out on third-down-and-four, third-down-and-six, that’s where we got to improve. And then we get the ball back at the 50 and with short fields we’ve been really good offensively at turning them into touchdowns.