TAMPA — Here's a transcript from new Bucs head coach Bruce Arians' comments at his introductory press conference Thursday at One Buc Place:
General Manager Jason Licht: "I've spent the last couple of days here trying to think of the word that explains how honored I am to be here to help introduce you guys (Bruce and his wife Chris) here to Tampa and I guess it's just freakin' excited. Through the process we met some great candidates – worthy candidates. It was very insightful. I love the way that we operated, talking to all these guys. At the beginning, we put a checklist together of the things that we were looking for in the head coach with no clear front-runner – I have that checklist right here.
"First, we wanted somebody that would command the room and command the moment and Bruce checks that. For those of you that know him, you know what I'm talking about. For those that don't, get your earmuffs ready. We wanted somebody with a proven track record, not just as a coach, but also developing players, developing coaches – Bruce checks that. We wanted somebody that was going to bring swagger and those late '90s teams here in Tampa – early 2000s Super Bowl – that team was full of swag. Bruce checks that. Last but not least, just that 'It' factor that you really can't explain, but once again anybody that's around Bruce know that Bruce has 'It.' I've never been around a guy that has such magnetism about him that players and coaches just instantly want to follow him when he comes.
"We're dealing with a lot of email, texts and phone calls right now with those coaches and we're getting close to wrapping up his staff – the staff that he presented to us, that he wanted, day one when he walked in here. With all that said, with no further ado, I want to introduce Bruce Arians – the coolest damn coach in the NFL."
Arians: "That's a little hard to follow. I can't tell you how excited I am to be here. I'm sure a lot of people wonder why I got back in this business. First, the Glazer family. The family word means a lot to me. When I heard that this job was going to be open – and I have a lot of respect for the coaches who have been here, I thought they did a heck of a job – but family and then Jason.
"There's three keys to winning in this league: ownership, general manager-head coach combination, then when you have a quarterback, you have a pretty good start. Like I said, I'm extremely excited. We'll get to all the questions and all those things in a minute. The thing I missed the most as I was in broadcasting – if you haven't grown up in a locker room, you probably don't know what I'm talking about – but there's something about growing up in a locker room: the bond and the relationships that you build building a football team. The ups the downs, all the things that go in-between probably is the thing I love the most about the game.
"And I miss the arena. I'd be broadcasting a game – and obviously I couldn't use the words I would normally use on television – but the excitement kept building. Then when this opportunity came, all the dominos – I just like to say the stars aligned, because we have those three things. The staff that I wanted and always wanted is available. It's going to be a staff of fantastic teachers.
"We will have a large staff that do things a little bit different. In spring when you guys come out to OTAs (Organized Team Activities), you'll see two practices going on because we'll have a staff that can take all our young players and get those 40-45 reps that the veterans are getting,. You can't find a diamond in the rough if he's standing on the sideline watching. We don't know if a rookie can really learn if he only gets three reps. We're going to have those guys and we love young players. I love veteran players. This is a great group.
"I think we have the core here to win quickly. I'm not about building – I'm about reloading. With that, I can't say how excited I am to be a Tampa Bay Buc."
On if he feels that the circumstances that brought him to Tampa are similar to the ones that brought him to Indianapolis in 2012:
"It really is a lot of similarities. I always say I was re-fired in Pittsburgh because I said I retired, but that call from Chuck Pagano kind of changed everything. That year of fantasy, what happened in Indianapolis that year, with Chuck being sick. I learned one thing: if a group of men can have one common cause, they can do miraculous things. When Chuck was ill – you know you have teams break down, 'One, two, three, win?' Everything in Indianapolis that year was, 'One, two, three, Chuck,' and we were going to play for Chuck. Andrew Luck was unbelievable as a rookie – as were the other six rookies who were starting on that team. That opportunity, Chuck being ill, gave me a chance to be a head coach. Probably would've never got the chance without it. Thank God he's healthy and well and hopefully coaching this year somewhere. My own illness has changed a few things. Got everything, clean bill of health and extremely happy about that. That same feeling – that rejuvenation – is back."
On what parallels he can make between the 2013 Cardinals and the 2019 Buccaneers:
"This one's much easier I believe. When I walked into Arizona, we had no quarterbacks. We were fortunate enough to sign Drew Stanton then trade for Carson Palmer. People want to know what's your system? Your system's your players. This coaching staff will build a system to what our players do. When we meet as coaches, I ask them, 'Please don't tell me what our players can't do. Tell me what they can do and then build around that.' I think the core is here and obviously some of the rooms are outstanding. There, it was a little bit further behind."
On why he turned over the play-calling to someone else:
"I've been training guys for this job. I always said I would never give it up and look over anybody's shoulder until I found one I knew could do it. Harold Goodwin did it for me for a little while, but Byron [Leftwich] I think is rising star in this business. What he did with the interim title out there [in Arizona in 2018] – it wasn't even his offense, it was Mike McCoy's offense – and he did a heck of a job with some rookies. He's more than ready. I think this coaching staff is going to be outstanding."
On if there is any pressure on quarterback Jameis Winston with this being his final year of his rookie contract:
"No pressure, no pressure whatsoever. I want him to relax and play the game. Talent is no issue. It's just becoming a little bit smarter. With Clyde Christensen as his quarterback coach and Byron Leftwich – he's going to be coached as well as he's ever been and more prepared than he's ever been fundamentally and mentally. It's his team and I'll tell our players in the first meeting, this isn't my team, it's your team. We'll be as good as you want to be."
On how much he plans on working with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles:
"That's one of the things I learned in Indianapolis. Becoming the interim leader, I was never the head coach, we always had Chuck as the head coach. As the interim leader, there wasn't any time. I learned how to delegate. Do your job, do your job, I'll do my job, I'll decide if we go for it on fourth and it worked. Fortunately, I got Todd in Arizona. If I click over – and I usually don't have to tell him to blitz anyway – but if I click over, bring them all. And he knows it."
On if the coaches have discussed plans of changing the defensive scheme:
"Again, what we'll do is what our players do best. Three-four, four-three, some call is over and under. We call it different – they still line up the same. Not a two-gap team. We're going to attack. As long as our players attack – in today's NFL, you're in nickel defense 70 percent of the time, so you're playing a four-man line. We'll have odd-man lines, we'll have four-man lines. That's just schematics to me."
On how his wife feels about him returning to coaching after his health being an issue in the past:
"She had gradually got on [board]. The more she saw me get excited, I think she started to get excited. The reception that the Bucs put on flipped her over the top, so she's in good shape."
On how former Tampa Bay Rays and current Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon helped convince Arians to come to the Buccaneers:
"I'd already convinced myself, but we're old friends. We grew up fairly close to each other. Jason [Licht] actually introduced us a few years back and we really hit it off together. It was more break bread, have fun. I didn't need any convincing."
On his relationship with Jameis Winston:
"Just knowing each other, I always looked him up when we played him. Told him to keep on going, it's going to be fine. This is actually the ring I showed him I think when he was in ninth or tenth grade. Evidently it made an impression on him. He definitely made an impression on me in that football camp, that's for sure."
On if he will delegate more with the Buccaneers than he did with the Cardinals:
"No, it's probably the same. I've always felt it's my job as a coach to get the next group of great coaches ready. Coordinators pushing to be head coaches have the next man, James Bettcher was ready to take Todd [Bowles'] place and push those guys out into the public and have the next people ready, then have the next guys ready to take their job. That's one of the reasons we have a large staff. I feel very strongly that that's one of my jobs."
On if his defense will include defensive tackle Gerald McCoy:
"I've always had to game plan for him. Every player will be evaluated going forward. Obviously, we've got some work to do in that area. Saw him this morning, he's working out, so I hope so."
On his involvement in the NFL Draft process:
"Extremely involved. Our coaching staff and our scouting department is one. There's no personnel and coaching – it's all one, it's all Buccaneers. Every decision that we make will be a Buccaneers decision. What's in our best interest? Who gets the credit? I don't care as long as we get the right guys and the best decision is for the Bucs."
On if the NFL get rid of older coaches too quickly:
"I don't think there's any doubt. Some of the best coaches I ever worked with didn't get an opportunity to be a head coach and they should've been a head [coach] – Tom Moore, Dick LeBeau got a short stint, Howard Mudd – I mean some great, great coaches that were just assistant coaches forever. Some guys want that, but I think – I was really pushing Vic Fangio this year when I was on television because he deserves a shot. He's a great coach and John Elway saw that – Mike Zimmer. I'm hoping that when I was young at 60 and some other guys started getting hired in their 50s, that it's going to be a trend to bring us back. Experience matters in this league"
On how much it helps to have a staff of coaches that have worked with him:
"It's extremely [important]. Trust, loyalty, respect is what we build everything on and it starts there. When this staff comes together, they either played for me, coached with me – four of those guys would have been captains for me at Temple University back in the '80s. Clyde Christensen was on my staff back then. We've got history – I think that's very important because we're all in it together. It only takes one guy to have a different agenda to split the whole thing up."
On if his motto 'no risk it, no biscuit' came from Joe Namath:
"Not really from Joe. I'm trying to think. I can never remember which coach said that to me. I kind of live life that way. I try to hit every par 5 in two and I put a lot of balls in the water. If you don't try to hit it, you're never going to hit it. I want to reach for greatness. If you don't reach for greatness, you'll be average the rest of your life."
On why the phrase resonated with so many people:
"It's just the way I've lived my life. Probably way too many risk its, but we got a few biscuits."
On how he has seen Jameis Winston's game develop over the years:
"First of all, he was a bright student and an unbelievable athlete, so you knew – and I followed him because he was a legend in Birmingham. My son was actually in Birmingham then and I followed him through his career at Florida State. I was really happy to find him on the field when we played out in Arizona a couple years ago. It's funny, in that football camp, five kids are in the NFL and I've kind of followed their careers just because they were in our camp. It's been fun, but it's been really [enjoyable] for me to watch him grow and look forward for a lot more growth."
On if he would compare Winston to any player that he's worked with:
"I really don't like comparing him because I haven't worked and been in the room with him for an extended period of time yet. I'm really anxious to get that started. They're all different, but the great ones have grit. When you go out to evaluate them, you can look at their arm strength, you can look at their athletic ability, but the two muscles that you play the position with – your brain and your heart – are very hard to evaluate, until you get them. Byron [Leftwich] had it, Ben [Roethlisberger], Peyton [Manning], Andrew Luck, Tim Couch, all the guys that I've had, Carson Palmer – when they get in the huddle, men follow them, and that's what a quarterback is. Thank you. Thank you, so much."