On Tuesday Tampa Bay Buccaneers players reacted to the demotion of coach Jim Bates. The question to the Bucs players appear in bold below.
Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber on why he felt the need to come into the locker room and talk to the media today.
"It's important to make a statement in this regard. Rah made a decision and we're all living by his decision. There are some things we're trying to get done on defense that I think Raheem can better coach us at. That's what I think he's doing. He's going to call some defenses for us. We're not doing things completely different. Jim Bates' defense still is in place. There's just some things we're adding. I'm not going to tell you what those are because I don't want Atlanta to know. We're good. This team will stick together as it has all year through these tough patches. Don't worry about it. We'll find a way."
Barber on if he was surprised it took this long to change back to more of a Cover 2 system?
"I wouldn't say that's what we're going back to. It's an easy comment for [the media] to make, but that's not necessarily true. There's some defenses that we all liked in the past that we're in minimally this year that we'll probably see more of. We're not doing that much different than what we were doing under Jim. We're just giving ourselves some different options. We're ready to move forward."
Barber on if he agrees with Morris' decision to strip Bates of his play calling duties and start calling plays on defense?
"Jim is a big part of what we're doing and what we are right now. Everything we did from March to last week was Jim, and you don't just get rid of that. Don't think Jim's stuff was bad. It wasn't bad. We didn't play it well enough. When you're struggling like we're struggling right now, there are certain aspects of situational-type football that you have to make changes, and that's what's happening right now."
Barber on what type of changes are taking place in the defense.
"We'll find out Sunday. I can't be specific with you. I think we'll get better. I really do. I think we're more comfortable with some of the things that we're going to run."
Barber on if the changes impact the front seven in terms of transitioning from a two gap system back to a one gap scheme, which would affect the front seven and their ability to defend the run most.
"There will be some changes there. We've been doing that for a couple of weeks anyway. Without giving Atlanta our game plan, we have some things we want to get better at. Some of those things weren't things we were running the first six or seven weeks of the season. We're going to continue to get better at them."
Barber on if this move is the result of players not fitting Jim Bates' scheme.
"I wouldn't say that. Schemes are schemes. I wasn't supposed fit Jim Bates' scheme. I think I fit it pretty well. That's not it at all."
Barber on if the players are excited to have their identity back as a Cover 2 defense.
"Let's not get confused. We're still trying to form an identity. You can see for yourself that there's not much we've done particularly great to be able to say we have an identity. We're still trying to establish that."
Barber on if he would agree or disagree that the outside perception of One Buc Place is chaos and confusion.
"We're a 1-9 football team. I don't think anybody ever expects to be that. You'd rather have stability, but you live with your decisions. In a time like this I wouldn't say we made a bad decision with Jim Bates. Jim has done some great things for this defense. Raheem wanted to take it upon himself to turn this thing around. I'd like to think that's what he's doing."
Bucs defensive tackle Chris Hovan on Bates being demoted from his defensive coordinator post.
"It's been a challenging year. We're 1-9 and I respect Coach Bates for all that he's done for us. He's put us in position to win, but in the end this is a business and production-based, and when you don't win certain things happen."
Hovan when asked if he felt at any point the team was putting square pegs in round holes in Bates' system.
"I can't make that decision. I do know the familiarity I have with the Tampa 2. It's something I've always been successful with. We have the personnel to run it. They decided to go in a different direction during the offseason, so it didn't pan out. We put the pads on and run whatever defense they tell us to run. Right now Coach Morris is going to take over the play calling and Coach Bates is going to help us in any way he can. We're going to play the defenses that are called."
Hovan on whether he and Ronde Barber, as team captains, had to approach Morris and ask that the team go back to the Cover 2 system.
"Absolutely not. This is a decision based Mr. Dominik and Coach Morris. It had nothing to do with the players. We had no say in the decision."
Hovan on the outside perception of what is going on at One Buc Place.
"It's adversity right now. It's been a long year of adversity. We have a new head coach and some new personnel. We've had some losses and it hasn't been easy. At the same time, we do have the coaches and personnel to right this wrong. It starts with getting a victory this week. The only thing you can build off of is wins. It's not our job to analyze or look for answers. The best answer is to win, and that starts in Atlanta."
Hovan on a report that suggested the players approached Coach Morris and asked that the team go back to the Cover 2 system on defense.
"I do not know anything about that nor have I heard anything about that. Any rumors or talk you've heard about the players is totally false."
Hovan on Morris saying last week that he didn't have the players to run Bates' system, and then changing the system this week.
"I take it for what it is. I have a job to do, and whatever assignment or technique is called I have to go out and do it. All I know is we're going to keep this locker room tight and believe in each other, and go out against Atlanta and get a win."
Hovan on if there's an excitement factor of the players feeling like they might be getting their identity back by going back to more of a Cover 2 system.
"There's a reason why they call it ‘Tampa 2.' Let's not kid ourselves. Everyone has tried to copy it and scheme it their own way. Am I more comfortable in the Tampa 2? Yes. I'm not a two-gapper and I'm never going to be a two-gapper. My abilities are to run, penetrate and create at the line of scrimmage."
Hovan on if the Bucs franchise has a clear direction.
"Yes. We have great ownership, we have a great general manager and a great head coach. Right now we're going through some tough times and some adversity. We have to come together and get through this."
Hovan on if the defense has been playing some more Cover 2 as the season has progressed.
"At the beginning we were playing more man-to-man. We started breaking in some more Cover 2. We've basically been mixing in some coverages here and there. Should one person be to blame. No. At the end of the day we didn't get enough wins and there's changes now because of it. Those are the facts of life."
Bucs cornerback Torrie Cox on how the defense can benefit from the changes, particularly the secondary.
"We just got to go out and play football. We've been playing the Cover 2 for years and years. We just have to go out there and play football, execute and make plays."
Cox on whether the defensive system played a role in the defense's shortcomings.
"I didn't say that at all. I'm just saying we have to go out there and make plays. We're all grown men and we get paid to do a job. It's been a rough 10 games. We have to go get it done. It wasn't just the defense. We weren't getting it done as players, so we have to go out there and get it done."
Bucs rookie defensive end Kyle Moore on Tampa Bay's decision to move back to more of a Cover 2, one-gap defensive system.
"I just work here. Whatever changes we make I have to be for them. The Cover 2 defense is very similar to the one I played in at USC."
Moore on how tough the transition will be in terms of making such significant changes this late in the season.
"I don't think it's too tough a transition because we're pretty much doing the same thing we did at USC. This is more of a shoot-your-gap system. It's not hard at all. The plan [the coaches] put in today was very similar to what I did in college, with the Over and Under fronts and things like that. It's pretty much the same thing."
Bucs defensive end Stylez G. White on all of the changes that have taken place at One Buc Place this season, including Jim Bates being demoted as defensive coordinator.
"Honestly, I don't know whether I'm coming or going the way it's been going. The way things are going, I don't know if I'm going to be here or if the guy next to me is coming or going. This has been one of those things where you just want to kind of fall in line and not mess up any balance here."
White on why Jim Bates' defensive scheme didn't work out in Tampa Bay.
"It didn't fare well. I have no idea. I wish I had a better answer, or maybe this is the answer Coach Morris came up with."
White on if the defensive personnel is better suited for a one-gap system like the Tampa 2.
"Time will tell. I'd like to say yes. Hopefully we'll go out there and play great, but if we don't you'll be asking me more questions. It's tough. The best way I could describe this is it's a learning experience for everybody. I'm familiar with the defense from last year, so probably more so for the younger guys."
White on if the players feel like they have their identity back going back to more of a Cover 2 system.
"I think guys are excited about going back to something we know. We're definitely more comfortable in it. We're just buying time to see how everyone plays together."
White on if there was a lot of confusion in the old scheme in terms of gap responsibilities and control.
"I don't know. I know we didn't perform well. I don't know if it was the players or coaches. I don't know."
Bucs defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson on the change at defensive coordinator.
"They told us it was a team decision and that it was in the best interest of the team. We're going with what they say and we're trying to make the best of it."
Wilkerson on playing in a one gap scheme.
"That's what we played last year. It's going to be like riding a bike again. It never gets old. It's going to be refreshing, but also challenging for the new guys because a lot of them haven't been in that situation."
Wilkerson on if returning to a one gap system helps the players better understand their assignments.
"I think so. Based on what we did last year in terms of our defense against the run, we didn't allow a 100-yard rusher until we played Kansas City [on Nov. 2]. It's going to be a very good thing for us when we do play Cover 2. Everybody is going to adjust quickly and practice as if nothing happened."
Wilkerson on why Jim Bates' system didn't work in Tampa Bay.
"I couldn't tell you. I really don't know. It was a decision made by Coach Raheem and the rest of the organization, and we need to stick to that decision."
Wilkerson on how his responsibilities change from a gap standpoint.
"If we line up in the C gap we get the C gap. If we line up outside we get the B gap. It took a lot of pressure off of us. We didn't have to read the C gap and the B gap at the same time. Everybody had one gap and if everyone is in their gap we're going to win against the run [in a one-gap scheme]. The defense we were trying to run this year was more of a two-gap system. That could have brought some confusion as far as the defensive line and the linebackers. Overall, I think they're just trying to simplify things."
Wilkerson on if the Bucs have been transitioning to the Cover 2 over the last few weeks and if Raheem Morris has been more involved in the defense.
"We've been sprinkling in the Cover 2 a little bit. I think guys are excited about the change, especially the defensive backs. We played a lot of Cover 2 last week. They feel comfortable in the Tampa 2 given how long Coach Kiffin was here and how long Ronde and those guys have been here."
Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud on if the players are excited to go back to the Tampa 2 defensive system?
"Well you can't really go back to it, you can't scrap your whole defense. It is one of those things where a change was made, and it is what it is for players. We are going to execute everything. It won't be a huge change on defense. You can't overhaul everything in a week or whatever. We'll run the same sort of stuff with a couple of little tweaks, so yeah I think guys are excited."
Ruud on running sideline-to-sideline and not playing a two-gap system.
"Well I mean against the Falcons the goal is you have to stop the run. You have to. Like I said we can't change that much because we don't have that much time. We are just about being detailed on our fits. Like you said, the Falcons are a top running team. If you're not in your fits they have a good shot of gashing you. We are going to work on putting eight-man fronts in the box, and just stop the run."
Ruud on if this defense is more comfortable for him.
"Yeah it is not that much different. It is really not. A couple little tweaks here and there. I like a couple of the moves. I think we are excited to work on it this week, and take it into a game."
Ruud on if it is the right move at this time.
"Well it is tough to say, obviously we are 1-9, and we've been struggling. Hopefully a change will provide some good things. Is this the right move, it remains to be seen. We are going to go in and play and hopefully it turns out to be the right move, because we need to get some wins and 1-9 is definitely not good enough.
Ruud on if this season has been a crazy ride for players.
"1-9 yeah, it is a wild ride. Everything is easy when you are winning all your games. When you are the New Orleans Saints, everything is very good right now. It is very easy. When you lose you learn a lot about character though. You learn about guys that are going to play through all the adversity. That is one thing about our team. We've never lacked effort. We haven't executed very well but the efforts always been there."
Ruud on criticism on himself and the defense.
"You know what there are going to be critics and guys that think you're good too. You know I was great last year and I suck this year. It happens. I've felt that I haven't played poorly. I'd like to play better for sure, but you know, hey there are always going to be opinions of you. Nobody's always going to think you're great and nobody is always going to think you're terrible too. My mind set is on improving on a daily basis that is really all I can worry about right now."
Bucs linebacker Geno Hayes on how he found about the change and his reaction.
"I just heard it over the radio. It is part of the business. It happens sometimes, but he is a great guy. He understands the situation. He's still on my side of the field, and still going to be on defensive schemes and that sort of thing."
Hayes on if he saw this coming.
"No I didn't. You never see anything like this coming, but it was unexpected."
Hayes on if they waited too long to make the change.
"You know I don't think it was too long of a wait, but at the same time you never know going into a season how long anything will take. You have to just work with it and get all the kinks out before anything breaks down."
Hayes on switching styles of defense in midseason.
"The style of defense is still going to be there, the same philosophy. I want to say that Raheem is going to add his little twist on things too, so I don't really want to say things or elaborate more."
Hayes on being drafted for a Tampa 2 system and the comfort to play that again.
"It is good because a lot of the guys on the squad come from places where the Tampa 2 had already been established. I think it is big we slot in with coach Bates and his philosophy and his scheme. We had our own Tampa 2 incorporated with what he had."
Hayes on the comfort of the Tampa 2 system.
"It is going to be real good. It is going to be comfortable. Hopefully there will be more plays to make on the run."
Hayes on how much Tampa 2 they have been playing.
"We didn't really play a lot of 2. Every now and then in certain situations we'd play it but most of the time we were really in max coverage.
Hayes on the defensive calls.
"Oh no you know, even though we had one person calling the defense whatever the defense that is called we still got to go out and execute it."
Hayes on if the players were bothered that Morris said the front seven was too small for Bates' defense.
"That didn't bother us one bit. We take it as real talk and real about the situation of the team, and that's what it is."
Hayes on if there is a clear direction for the team.
"Yeah there is, there was a clear direction since the beginning of the season. Right now we got to keep going. Some stuffs happens during the season, we just have to keep moving."
Hayes on if this will be better for the defense.
"We'll see how it turns out."
Hayes on how the Tampa 2 will effect this Sunday's game with Atlanta.
"I think from watching tape, they run something similar to the Saints as far as the running plays, and a lot of influence on plays. It is going to be same thing week in and week out. We just have to go out and execute."
Hayes on if the Tampa 2 will help the front seven.
"I think it can because it kind of simplifies everything up for the back guys in their run fits. It doesn't put a lot of pressure on the defensive tackles to make a lot of two-gap plays. It is going to work well for us. It is going to be good. We are going to take this week and the extra time that we have to go through it and get ready."
Hayes on if the players wanted this change.
"I don't want to really say. I don't think so. I think everybody had the same attitude. No matter what the defense scheme is we have to go out and execute it. It is what it is."
Hayes on if this gives them some life.
"It gives us some life, but at the same time whatever the call is made we have to go out and execute our defense."
Hayes on if it is the players fault for not executing.
"Yes. That's what I said not too long ago. We have to go out there no matter what the call and do the work and put in the time."
Bucs defensive tackle Roy Miller on his reaction to the change at defensive coordinator.
"I don't know. There are a lot of things going on. I don't know what happened, or what caused that to happen. We have to move on and do our thing this week."
Miller on how difficult a transition it will be.
"I did this last year in college, so I'm excited. It is something I'm very fond of. It is something I did in college, to get up field and make plays. I'm excited to play in this defense and just to get started."
Miller on how shocked he was when he heard this news.
"Like you said, I don't know what to expect. I just come to work and try to take responsibility of my actions every day and give it all I got. I don't know what to say. A lot goes on up there that I don't know about. I just know I'm really excited about this new defense.
Miller on if it was the scheme's faults for the defensive struggles.
"I couldn't tell you. That's the most frustrating part about it. As players looking at how we play up front, a lot of times we are right and the play still breaks. I don't know what it is, and that was the most frustrating thing to us because we didn't know. But we don't make the calls we just play. If we mess up that is our fault. We just play as hard as we can."
Miller on if the players went to Morris to try and get the change.
"I don't know about that. I don't know."
Miller on not having to read the play but now get up field.
"I'm excited man, like I said this is something I did in college and I made a lot of plays doing it. It also helps us to get off on the pass rush. I'm just more excited. I dreamed to come in here like Warren Sapp and all those guys played in this type of defense. I'm excited to play in this defense."
Miller on the franchise's identity was that defense.
"I'm just looking forward to going out in this defense and seeing what I can do."