Bucs’ offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will be calling plays for the first time under Bruce Arians for Tampa Bay this season. He’s had previous experience before, calling games for the Cardinals last season in an interim role, but this year he will get to call the offense for his protege Arians.
As the Bucs prepare to play the 49ers for week one, Leftwich also discussed how ready Tampa Bay is for the game and how much they’ve all grown together as team through preseason. Here is Leftwich’s full press conference with the media from Thursday.
On how he’ll feel the night before the game getting to call the plays in the system
“I’m quite sure I’ll feel the same way I’ve felt in the past. Great thing is I’ve been in these type of situations before as a player, but they don’t get to tackle me, they don’t actually hit me now. You just really focus in, try to always constantly think of how to put your guys in positions to make plays. Just making sure we’re practicing, just trying to rev the guys up making sure we’re ready to play on Sunday. That’s really my only thought process right now.
On the biggest thing the team accomplished going into the regular season
“Anytime you got new systems on both sides, the more you can practice the more you can get just repetitions of everything is always better. We’re getting closer, we’re coming together, just watching the guys the way they’re talking, the way they’re doing in the locker room, this is a close group of guys when you watch these guys interact with each other. That’s what I like about it the most. These guys are all in with each other, they are committed to each other, and those are normally signs of pretty good football teams, but we’ll have to see. I just like the way these guys are handling every situation that we’re putting in front of them. They’re doing a heck of a job with all of that.
On if it helps playing against a defense that he was in the division against last year
“I played against these guys for three-four years so I know them, but they know us too. They know us too, I’m quite sure, we’ll have more wrinkles, different wrinkles because it’s me instead of BA, but it won’t be a game of surprises. This game of football, Sunday football, is really played who goes longer, who goes harder, and we’re trying to be that team.”
On what is it about Mike Evans that helps him
“I don’t know if I’ve been around a guy this long that can run like Mike can run. People don’t realize how well Mike runs and how he can adjust to the ball and how his catch radius is really off the charts for a guy that big that can be able to do the things that he can do. That’s special, that’s unique, I’ve had the opportunity to coach Larry Fitzgerald, but Mike’s way taller, Mike’s a taller, thinner guy, to see him make some of the plays he makes. Mike’s a special guy, you all know that, you’ve all seen that. The unique special things he can do for him to be a guy as big as he is, he can do things that little guys can do being that tall.”
On Evans playing against Richard Sherman and if he likes that matchup
“ Our number one guy is our number one guy. I got a lot of respect for Sherm from being in that division, I know what type of football player he is. They got a lot of good guys on that football team on that side of the ball, to be honest with you, we got a lot of work to do here on Sunday, but it’s the game, you’re going to have this conversation every week. This league is filled with players each week, we respect what they got, I got a lot of respect for Sherm because I’ve coached against him, I’ve seen the plays that he’s made, I’ve seen what he’s playing now. We’ll see how that works out.”
On the 49ers defensive line and how he’ll try to control that
“They’ve already had what, how many first round picks, right? And then they added two guys, they added another first round pick and they added Dee Ford, a guy I had the opportunity to play against last year in Kansas City. These guys really know how to rush the passers, they have a lot of guys that are a lot of good football players, a lot of good football players across the board. They have a lot of guys that are first round picks that might be the third or fourth guy, and that’s tough when you can rotate guys in that have as much experience that they have and have guys that can really get the job done.”
On how much Bruce Arians will be in his headset on Sunday
“Not that much. I promise you, not that much. He has his moments, but not that much.”
On coach Arians being “bored” not calling plays.
“He’ll be more bored than anything, just because he’s not used to being active. He has a lot of time to get at them referees now, and he’s doing a great job of that. I don’t think it will be much, we always talk though, we always talk in between series when he was calling plays. It won’t be much different, it’s just I’m calling the plays now.”
On if the game was too fast for Scotty Miller
“Okay, so you leave college football and everybody else is on preseason game three speed. He never got preseason one, preseason two game speed, so he gets on the grass and it’s a little faster on the NFL than it is in Bowling Green. It looked a little fast for him, but that’s everyone, game one a lot of guys looked like that, you guys didn’t see it because the other teams guys looked like that too. You’re playing guys in the second half, you’re playing guys who all just came out of college, they’re all a half a tick slow but all 22 of them together you don’t notice it. Then you put a guy like Scotty and he gets a few reps with the ones and a few reps with the guys that have been playing on Sunday and sometimes it looks a little slow, but that’s just part of it, that’s something that every player goes through, I went through it, every player that gets to this league gets out onto that field for the first time and they’re like ‘Holy smokes.’ It’s completely different than they ever thought it was, and just more opportunities to be out there, that thing tend to go away quick.”
On if there’s more adjustments in the first game of the season because there’s less film
“Everybody tends to have wrinkles on week one, we’ve been thinking about this for months now. Everyone’s thinking of this week one game for months, but the core of us is going to be the core of us, and what I mean by that is as coordinators, as head coach, whatever it is, whatever your system is, I’m quite sure there’s new wrinkles all over the place especially for them guys especially for us too. But at the same time the core of what you are is the core of what you are and what you do, so yes there will be wrinkles on both sides, but at the same time, I believe that the core of what both teams do is the core of what both teams do.”