(on getting settled in Tampa Bay)
The moving around gets old. That’s something that I didn’t really look forward to. I’m somewhat tired of that. But to be able to come to Tampa, and team up with Coach (Jon) Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been a true blessing for me. It’s been a great opportunity. I feel that I’ve been well-received here and was put in a position where I could compete to be a starter on this team. That’s all I could ask for. To be able to be around a guy like Coach Gruden with his energy level, his enthusiasm, the knowledge that he has for the game and being able to learn, understand and just grow as a quarterback under him, has truly been a blessing. I’ve really appreciated the experience and what I’ve been able to do here. It’s been fun so far at this point of the year. Hopefully we can just keep it going in the right direction.
(on if he’s bought or rented homes during his journeyman career)
(laughs) I’ve made some mistakes and purchased some properties in some places where it’s difficult to sell once again. At this point I’m more on the ‘rent until I understand what’s going on.’ I do have a permanent home in California that I go back to in the offseason, so that’s where my main setup has been. Then I just kind of adjust from there.
(on how many homes he has for sale right now)
I was able to unload a couple last offseason, so I’m just trying to get rid of a townhome in Detroit. It’s a tough market to do that.
(on how he feels about his long-term status in Tampa)
I signed a two-year deal here in Tampa Bay and I’m really focused on hopefully making it a situation where it can be lengthened and I can really play out my career. I really don’t know how many more years I have left in the tank. I felt like two years would be a good setup as far as getting me to that point where I really wanted to reach 10 years in the NFL, 15 years overall playing professionally. But with the way I feel physically and mentally, I believe that I can go another three or four years. So we’ll just have to see how things go after this season, where the team stands with me, what their thoughts are for the future and if I am part of their plans. I don’t really want to move around any more. I would like this to be the last stop in my professional career. Hopefully those things will take place and I can adjust after that.
(on replacing Donovan McNabb last season with the Eagles after McNabb’s season-ending knee injury)
It was rewarding because, as much as I knew what my situation was there in Philadelphia, and the reason why I chose to go to Philadelphia was because I felt like it was an organization and a team that could compete to be a playoff team. I didn’t have those opportunities prior to last season to go to a place where I could compete to be a starter. So I went to my second-best option, and that was to be with a team that I felt could compete to be a playoff-caliber team. Going there, I understood my role. But even if you understand you role, and having been a starter for so many years, it was really tough to sit on the sideline and feel like you were actually part of the team. It just wasn’t the same to me anymore and it was really taking more of the luster out of the game than had already been taken out of me from my experiences in Cleveland and Detroit. But when I did get that opportunity to step onto the field and compete once again, and play with a group of guys that really understood what there roles were, and we all got on the same page, headed in the right direction and started winning some football games and helping that team to be a playoff team, that was really what revived me in so many ways and brought the fun back to the game. That’s how I feel like I’ve been able to carry that over here into Tampa Bay and still maintain that same enthusiasm, that same energy level and that same excitement on the field. That’s what football’s all about for me. When it’s not like that, when I don’t have that enthusiasm and that excitement, it’s not a game for me anymore and it’s not something I really care to be playing all that much longer. If I can keep it like this and play off of my experiences from last year, it can be a real positive run for me.
(on the difference between this year’s Titans run defense and last year’s)
We struggled against them last year, that’s all I remember. It was tough to get the ball down the field. It was tough to run against them. It was tough to complete [passes]. I shouldn’t say we didn’t do the necessary things to win the game – obviously we didn’t do that – but a lot of that was because of how [the Titans] play defense. They do an excellent job of stopping the run. In watching film, there just aren’t many windows of opportunity in the passing game, either. One of the things that this Titan defense is, is that they’re very opportunistic. When they are forcing quarterbacks to throw the football, they are in the right place at the right time, picking off passes, scoring touchdowns and doing things that are helping their team to be as successful as they are. I give a lot of credit to the players on that team and the coaches on that team for the way that they play together, the way they get after the running game, the way they get after the quarterbacks and the way that they lock down outside with coverage on receivers, tight ends and running backs. They do a great job of playing overall outstanding defense.
(on if the Buccaneers’ game plan will change with their adjustments at running back since losing Cadillac Williams to injury)
We are struggling with the running back position. That’s something that is going to have to be worked through in some way or another. I do anticipate that there is going to be more put on my shoulders. That’s just the nature of the business and the nature of the game. I’m going to have to be ready for that. I feel like if I just continue to go out and prepare the way that I do each and every week and approach games making good decisions and being good with the football, it gives our team a chance to win football games.
(on if teams around the league are running more out of the shotgun)
I think it’s just the nature of the evolution of this game and where it’s going. I see Tennessee play so much of their game out of the shotgun [which] enables Vince (Young) to do a lot of different things, whether it’s running the football, handing the football off or throwing the football. That does seem to be a trend around the league – being not so one-dimensional when you are in shotgun to be able to have those opportunities to do more than just throwing the football, but also running the football and creating different protection schemes and run schemes with the quarterback in shotgun.
(on the importance of body language in the NFL)
I’m sure it does have an effect. That’s where you have to be mentally strong. Even if you’re struggling during a game, you need to find a way to fight through it and never show that you’re discouraged, frustrated, getting down or if you’re hurt. It’s a difficult part of the game. That’s something that you have to really focus upon. It’s a key aspect of the game. You don’t want to show that a team is getting the best of you.
(on his first NFL start with the San Francisco 49ers in 2000, which was against the Titans)
I remember that it was a really positive experience for me. I remember that it was my first start for the 49ers and being able to play in Candlestick. I just remember driving to that game, how excited I was about that opportunity to be back home and starting for a team that I grew up watching. I knew that I was going to be going against a pretty good Tennessee team, which obviously ended up being a Super Bowl team that year. I remember going out, making good decisions and being good with the football, running around a little bit and do the things that I still try to do today.
(on if seeing the mobility of Vince Young makes him wish he was more mobile)
I wish that I had Vince Young’s ability when it comes to a running quarterback. I definitely wasn’t blessed with those abilities, both in size and speed. But there are only a few out there who are. He’s a pretty exceptional athlete. As far as [my play] is concerned, it’s more like running scared and trying to create time to find a receiver. That’s pretty much what my game is all about.
(on whether expectations for young quarterbacks can be too high)
Every offense is programmed and wired differently. I think that Tennessee does a great job of working with Vince and putting him in good positions. When the game is close and on the line, obviously Vince has found a way to take it over himself. He’s a great closer. The guy does not get rattled very easily. He shows great composure. He makes the throws when he needs to make the throws. He has great runs when the team is counting on them. He can really turn a game around. There aren’t many kids coming out of college that are capable of doing those things as quickly as Vince has done them. It’s a rare exception to the rule. I think it’s unfair to put that on other quarterbacks coming into the league. First of all, they don’t have the abilities that Vince Young has. Secondly, they’re dealing with different schemes and different situations. At the NFL level, there is so much to learn and understand. If you don’t have the (physical) ability and the mental ability to back it up, you’re not going to experience success as early on.
(on why the Titans have been so productive in run defense so far this season)
They have a great defensive line and good, solid linebackers that do a great job of getting to the football. They are very athletic linebackers. You have a guy like (Albert) Haynesworth up front, who just does a great job of taking on two offensive linemen at times, or getting through the gaps and creating havoc in the backfield. Then the defensive end, number 93 (Kyle Vanden Bosch) just does an awesome job of playing with a full motor all game long. There’s just a solid front seven right there. They do a great job of stopping the run and freeing up their DBs to play more ‘cover two’ or more quarters, and not necessarily forcing them to be the run-stoppers. I think it’s a combination of scheme, players abilities, and just doing what they need to do and doing it well together. It’s not like one guy overshadows the other. I think everybody knows their role in that defense and they play it very well
(on if he’s seen Albert Haynesworth’s diving play in the Atlanta game, and how that makes him feel to be under center this week)
I saw it. He’s a great player. He’s an exceptional player. As big as he is, he can move very well. He’s very quick off the football. That’s something that we’re going to have to contend with this weekend.