Opening statement from Bill Sheridan.
“First, I just want to thank the Glazer family, Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano for the opportunity they are giving me here with the Tampa Bay Bucs. It’s an opportunity I am very, very excited about and one that I absolutely recognize the magnitude of the responsibility that goes with that job. I just want to share with you a couple things that helped my candidacy here when I visited with Greg. Right from he get-go we saw a lot of things on a very eye-to-eye level, especially about how defense should be played and taught. Not necessarily in a particular order, but the number one statistic in defensive football is scoring defense and that obviously that will be an emphasis in everything we do. Obviously, if you keep people out of the end zone you are going to win games in this league. Another concept that I know Greg talked about when he talked about the offensive side of the ball, on the defensive side of the ball we absolutely believe in being physical and out-physicaling our opponent and actually attempting to physically dominate our opponent. We recognize this is predominately a passing league and the fans love to see the ball thrown all over the park and touchdowns passes and that kind of stuff. But we understand and recognize that games are really won on the front and we have a good young front here. And we are definitely going to talk and coach to our players about being aggressive and attacking and bringing everything across the line of scrimmage towards the opponent.”Opening statement discussing watching film from last year’s Tampa Bay defense.
“In the short time I have been here we have looked at some film of last year’s Buccaneers defense. Not nearly to the extent we will. We are trying to get ready for the combine here in the next couple of days. One of a few things that really stood out was the volume of big plays they gave up here a year ago. One really encouraging thing we have seen when we watched the film was all of it is correctable. And that is the one thing that can and will be corrected is the sheer volume of big plays – which is plays that you might call plays of 20 yards or more – and a lot of that has to do with great effort and pursuit to the ball, which again, Greg and I saw that exactly the same from an important standpoint.”
Opening statement on the expectations of his players.
“I think the last thing in just regards to dealing with players in the time I have been in the NFL, all NFL players want to be great and are willing to do whatever you lead them to do to be great. They all want to be successful and win games. And so if you can show them how to do that, but more importantly, if you can be demanding of them, and that is something we definitely as a defensive and a full staff here – be with our players – we are going to demand the exact. They may never get to the expectations we have or we may be coaching them the exact same coaching points from July to January, but being demanding of your players in regards to the effort and execution. Those are the two things that win in the National Football League. If you can get your players to believe in your system and play as hard as they possibly can on each down and also get them to execute their jobs within the defense, that’s what wins.”Opening statement on the way Sheridan and his staff will teach the defense to the Buccaneers players.
“In regards to the teaching style on the defensive side of the ball, we view ourselves as that – we are teachers. It is our job to communicate not only the schemes and the techniques we expect our players to execute, but to motivate them to perform them at the top level. Everything we do will be with energy and urgency and even though the season – as you guys know – is a marathon. But in a moment-to-moment basis there has to be a sense of urgency. From the 8:00 a.m. position meetings in the morning to everything you do in the practice, everything will have a tremendous amount of urgency to it. Our staff is all about correcting and teaching. We are not interested in justifying or explaining we are about finding what the issues are and correcting them and get them taught to the extent we need to, to win.”Opening statement on his lone season as the New York Giants defensive coordinator in 2009, which resulted in his dismissal following that season.
“If you will let me I just want to address – a thing maybe you guys are dying to get to – I just want share with you my experience in New York and how that affected my candidacy here. First I want to say when I left New York and I talked to John Mara and Jerry Reece and Tom Coughlin I explained to them, as I did Greg when I took the interview here – I take, and took full responsibility for the fact we didn’t take good enough defense at the end of the year when I was coordinating that year. That was the first thing. Because I was put in charge of that and the bottom line was at the end of the year we didn’t keep the people out of the end zone good enough to be successful. If I can share with you a couple thoughts, the couple things that happened and a couple things I think that will b distinctly different here. When I was in New York I inherited the job there. I was promoted from within and we maintained the exact same staff that we had had the previous three or four ears with the exception of the linebackers coach that we brought in to replace me. Even though we started off the season 5-0 and had the number one-ranked defense in the National Football League, after sustaining a couple of season-ending injuries to some of our starters Antonio Pierce and Kenny Phillips, a first-round safety from Miami, Fla. we started to falter and we hit a skid during the middle of the season. I think in hindsight looking back one of the things we probably did was we assumed as a defensive staff. We assumed because we made the playoffs for four previous years that things would get turned around and that things would get better. The exciting thing about this opportunity is the fact that Greg is assembling an outstanding coaching staff with people that are coming from different backgrounds. Now as we go through OTAs here and into preseason camp and as we go through each game-planning session during the week we will be going over everything in a tremendous amount of detail so that we are making sure we are on the same page and that nothing will be assumed – because we have not been together. That’s kind of exciting from that standpoint.”Continuing the discussion about his lone season as defensive coordinator for the Giants in 2009.
“The second thing that happened was when we sustained those injuries in the early to middle part of the year, in an attempt to help the new players that we were bringing in and working with – and some of those players were free agents off the street and they were bringing them in and they had to play in our lineup at the end of the year – I think we tried to be very simple for them to give them a chance to actually execute. In hindsight, again I think we might have been guilty about being too simple because it’s great for your own players because you present them a simplistic scheme that they can execute on Sundays, but you aren’t posing enough issues for the teams you’re playing against. You aren’t giving them enough problems. In hindsight, those are two things that are probably shoulda, woulda, coulda or definitely will look at going forward. I just wanted to share some of those thoughts with you and I’m looking forward to taking your questions.”What did you like about this defense based on your film study and where are the biggest areas of weakness?
“That’s a good question. In general – very generally – they are young, which I think is great because they are only going to get better. Do you know what I mean? Guys aren’t stuck into a five- or six-year rut where maybe if they have been in the league half a dozen years that’s probably what they are as a player. Our players are young and they are only going to get better. As I mentioned earlier, I think we have a potentially very good young front. That’s a great way to start. The team that just won the Super Bowl won it that way and we won it in 2007 that way as well. Those two things – I think there is a lot of youth on the defense and that’s exciting because you change guys, and I think the front is potentially very good, which is a great way to get it started.”The Bucs had similar injuries to starters and had to bring in guys off the street, too. As a staff, do you need to have veteran role players and guys that can step in and actually play at a high level, and is that where free agency becomes important?
“I think free agency was critical every offseason. Obviously, Greg, Mark and our staff will do a great job of analyzing what is out there and what is the best fit for us. I think your point is very well made in the fact that a veteran NFL player – even if it is a third- or fourth-year guy – at least has been around NFL defenses and can digest something maybe even coming in on a Tuesday and can line up as a backup on a Sunday the following week. As opposed to sometimes … because the college defenses are a little bit different, especially with the hash marks and how they are put together, I think there is a big learning curve for the rookies when they come in. If you are able to get a guy that has been around some other NFL teams a lot of time the terminology is similar and the schemes are similar to where they can line up for you in a short period of time. Free agency is critical.”Is there enough leadership on defense on the current Tampa Bay roster?
“I don’t know that yet. I really don’t. I haven’t been around the players but a handful of them that have been through the facility in the last couple of days. I know when we come back from the combine we’re going to be diving into free agency, but that’s something I’m going to be looking forward to find out who are really the bell cows of the defense, outside of Ronde [Barber], which everybody recognizes. But I really don’t have a feel for that and once something is critical and something that we’re looking forward trying to find out as we get around our players more when the offseason program starts.”Speaking of Ronde Barber, has there been any dialogue with him about having him return for a 16th season?
“I haven’t hardly reached out to any of the guys other than some of the guys I’ve bumped into at the facility here the last couple of days. Right now we’re concentrating on getting ready for the combine coming up. When we come back free agency will be a priority. At that time I know Mark and Greg and I will start talking about defensive needs and our current roster and where the needs are and how we’ll address free agency. But a lot of that stuff has not been talked about in the short time that I’ve been here. Our biggest sense of urgency now is to get ready to go down to Indianapolis and try to make the best use of the four or five days while we’re in town there to evaluate the draft prospects."When looking at the defensive film from a year ago, was there a common thread that you saw that led to the Bucs struggling so badly?
“Two things. One, they’re very correctable from a technique standpoint. There’s not a tremendous amount of variety in the NFL. There are only so many different coverages you can make up. People are playing similar types of coverages and schemes – 3-4, 4-3 – there are just about a half a dozen ideas you can have. But I think when we watch the film, and again, we’re watching the worst plays, we haven’t seen any of the TFLs (tackles for loss) or the sacks, we know those are good and they’re good and we want more of those, but we’ve watched the worse just to get a feel for our personnel and what some of the real issues were.”Continuing the discussion about watching the Bucs’ defensive tape from a year ago.
“A lot of it is first just the techniques that you see. The one common thread was, on the big pass plays anyways, there wasn’t any pressure. I don’t mean just four-down pressure. Of course, if you can pressure the quarterback with four-down you’re going to win in the National Football League, but from a schematic standpoint it was kind of ironic that … the one thread when we watched, it was all just four-man rush. You’re vulnerable, somewhat, because the passing game is so fantastic in this league, the skill level for the passers and catchers is so fantastic, that unless you disrupt the guy throwing it it’s tough sometimes to match up and cover the down-the-field routes, and we recognize that.
“So it’s very easy to sit up in the stands and critique the DB that got beat on the 7 cut, everybody can see that, but the fact that the quarterback had a thousand four, a thousand five to throw the ball, that’s not fair to the guy that’s trying to play on the back end. So that was one common thread we saw. That’s not to imply that the Bucs didn’t pressure last year. Obviously, they had more success when they did and most people do if their pressures are executed effectively. But that was one common thread, it was mostly just four-man rushes.”Greg Schiano talked about wanting to play a very aggressive style of defense. Is that a vision that you share?
“I think two things. One is that everything we do defensively, even in a non-pressure scheme, will be all aggressive across the line of scrimmage techniques, especially in our front. We always say, we don’t let the offense climb up on us. You definitely have to pressure in this league, you can’t just rush four and say we’re good enough on the back end or we’re good enough with our front four. If you can do that, that’s great, and there’s a place for that in every single game. But you need to pressure. One, is it turns your player loose and gets them a chance to run at the ball, run across the line of scrimmage. The other thing is obviously it poses problems for the other side of the ball, the offense, which you definitely want to create for them.”Continuing the discussion about pressure defense
“I think [pressure] an overused term, people love to talk about pressure and blitzing and how much and all that stuff, and you have to do it in a calculated form because the offenses get prepared for that, too. And if they know what’s coming and when it’s coming and how it’s coming, they’ll have an answer for it. There’s always and X’s and O’s answer for everything on both sides of the ball. So you definitely have a strategy and a percentage in mind of pressure. It needs to be calculated and it needs to be changed up and not always consistent so that they don’t get a beat on what you’re doing."”
Want will be your base defensive scheme?
"In the building right now we have four-three personnel, that’s what they drafted for and we will go that way, of course, because that’s the makeup of our front seven. To try to convert to that in a single offseason would be very ambitious and you don’t need to. Half the teams on the league are doing three-four or four-three so we will definitely be a four-three. But when you watch film you see all the teams, particularly the 3-4 teams, which I came from in Miami, we look like four-down a lot, even though we are going to be a 4-3 personnel. We’ll look like an odd front plenty of time, but the actually guys will be four down guys with three linebackers." What about the gap responsibilities?
"I wouldn’t say that (it will look like the Giants), although it’s easy to say that because it’s a four-down defense. When you play an eight-man front and you decide to bring a safety off the back end and bring him down in you can afford to play one-gap responsibility, you can play your guys a little thinner on their shades and a little more vertical. When you’re playing tow high, which you definitely have to play in this league because of the quality of the wide receivers, somebody in your front seven is going to have to two-gap. Not your whole front seven, you don’t have to play an odd two-gap technique, but somebody on one of your edges, either your six technique or your open side end, especially if you get into one back sets, they can put you in situations where you’re better off if you can two-gap maybe one of yours guys. So yes, (they will have to learn a variety of techniques0< but they’re carryover in all of it. The mechanics of the techniques don’t change. It’s the alignment shades and the bottom line responsibilities." What are your early impressions of Mason Foster?
"I loved Mason coming out. When I was in Miami I gave him a very high draft grade. I just thought he made a ton of tackles at Washington. And I can’t speak to how he looked last year, I know on the passes plus-20 cut up that we’ve been watching he didn’t look too great, but nobody did. But I liked him a lot coming out last year. I really pushed for him in the Dolphin draft. As far as where he liens up, I can’t speak to that yet until we assess free agency and the draft and then look at our overall package. But I will say this, he’s a linebacker, and to me if you’re a good linebacker, you should be able to play Sam (strongside), Mike (middle) or Will (weakside). You’re off the ball in a two-point stance, you’ve got similar key progressions, and very similar coverage responsibilities. I’m not hung on pigeon holing guys into specific positions. You’re a linebacker, and he definitely has talent." Will this be a Bill Sheridan defense or a collective effort?
"All of that got discussed when we visited and I view it as a gigantic advantage. Along with having Butch Davis on our side of the ball, I don’t know how Butch is titling him as a defensive consultant; I view that as a huge plus. I think our defense, it’s going to be Greg Schiano’s defense, because he’s our head coach and I’m coordinating it for him. Obviously he hired me because he feels I have a lot of experience and knowledge and competence and I’m excited about jumping into it and trying to mesh our ideas together, but it’s Greg’s defense for sure. He’s an outstanding defensive coach and was long before he was ever a head coach at Rutgers. And so that was all discussed on the up and up when we interviewed so I know exactly what I’m getting into. But like I said, I view it as a huge plus. Some people might view it as being too interfering but I don’t view it that way at all. It’s going to be great to have Greg as a resource and Butch."
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