Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris explained during his Wednesday conference call with the Atlanta media that his comments a few weeks ago about the Bucs being the best team in the NFC were more about getting his team to believe in itself than taking a shot at other teams
On the Buccaneers' success this season and their fourth quarter comebacks:
"They're a young team that just believes. They've been playing smart. They've been playing hard. They've been playing fast and they're just trying to put some consistency together. We, by no means, are a finished product yet, but we want to go out there and have fun with this young football team. We want to go out there and play our best. We want to go out there and be our best self every week, and they've been able to go out there and execute. With the development of my young quarterback, he's really starting to show characteristics and similarities to your guys and what he's been able to do. He showed them that time in Atlanta. ... He's starting to do that with our football team, and hopefully he can develop and become those type of guys and become that good of a football player for us."
On Mike Williams:
"Mike, when we drafted him, the thing that came to mind for me was a player that reminded me of Roddy White. He had some of the dynamic ability that Roddy has and some of those things that he can develop into. Roddy is really coming into his own as a premiere receiver in this league, and Mike Williams has to try and follow some of those same footsteps. What we see in him is a route runner and he came in here and showed an immediate impact. Now, really his spin is starting to come on. He's really showing some strength, some of the things that he was able to do in college and some of the speed and bursts that we felt when we saw in his tape. Now he's getting better and better every week and he's developing. Again, you have to go back to the young quarterback, and what he was able to do and how he worked with those guys and get those guys better everyday."
On LaGarrette Blount:**
"He was a guy that we targeted in the draft and a guy that we targeted and did a lot of studying on and a lot of homework. We did not draft him; we wanted to see if we could get him in free agency. He slipped though the cracks in free agency and ended up in Tennessee. All throughout Tennessee, we were able to monitor him and what he was doing and his progress and how he looked on tape. We got lucky. Tennessee let him go to waivers and we were able to claim him. He was able to come here and be a part of the Buccaneers for a couple of weeks and get acclimated with our system and find out what it takes to be a pro, and be able to get him around guys like Cadillac (Williams) and Earnest Graham, two veterans that we have in the building. They've really taken him in and shown him the ropes. Now he's starting to get a couple of carries and we're starting to see some productive running and some productive things from LaGarrette Blount. He's exciting us all and exciting everybody in our town and everywhere."
On the turnover ratio:
"I think it's a credit to those guys all playing together. We're developing at different places everywhere. On the back end, we've got some veterans like Ronde Barber, and Aqib (Talib) has been playing for a couple of years and some of those type of guys that are really ball-aware. They know their job is to try and score and get the ball back. Up front, we have a bunch of babies. We're just getting better and better every single week. Gerald McCoy went out and had his most disruptive two games in a row. He's been up in front and causing some problems for people and they'll get better and better as time comes and time goes. As you guys all know, the defensive line really develops the slowest in this league because of the complex blocking schemes and how much work it goes into it , but I'm really proud of what they've done. I'm really proud of where they're going, and they're finding ways to win games at the end. Like you said, we're not as concerned about the stats because we're going to judge ourselves based on playing hard, playing fast, playing smart and playing consistent."
On the veterans Ronde Barber, Barrett Ruud and Stylez White:
"We're really young. We really have one vet and that's Ronde Barber. Barrett has really become a vet by circumstance just because he's one of the leaders because of the knowledge of the system. There's an amount of years he's been able to put into service for us and some things he's been doing for us, but we're a really young football team. We're led by Ronde Barber and then we've got a couple of young leaders that have emerged on this football team. Josh Freeman on offense and, as you mentioned, Barrett Ruud on defense. Some of those other guys are starting to step up and like Quincy Black and some of those kinds of guys. We're really young and we're just getting better and better every week. We're having a lot of fun doing it and it's a great challenge for us to be able to go down there and play against the Atlanta Falcons who also hold the same record as us and kind of went through some similar deals as far as growing pains. Now you guys are trying in the league as one of the big dogs and starting to hunt."
On being called the best team in the conference:
"I really believe it's a mentality before it's a reality. If you don't believe in yourself, no different than I believe all of you believe in your children, no one ever will. That's what we're doing right now. I'm believing in this young football team, they're believing in their young head coach and we're believing together. If we can somehow find a way for all 61 men on our team, including the practice squad, to all stand up together and go out and accept that challenge every single week, win, lose or draw, no matter the fight, no matter who the opponent is, we'll be fine."
On the Falcons' game against the Bengals:
"First of all, it starts with the quarterback. Matt Ryan has really gone in there and changed the franchise and what they've become, and who they want to be. We really got a great chance to see a great player, Roddy White. You guys have your own veteran, Tony Gonzalez and how beautiful he's been working with Matt and Roddy and all of those guys and really making this thing come alive. You have one of the best coordinators, in my opinion, in football. You guys can really run the football with Michael Turner and Jason Snelling. (Jerious) Norwood is on IR, but it's just some of the many things you guys can do. Mike Jenkins in coming into his own, Harry Douglas is starting to play well. I'm sure you'll be getting Mike back soon. There are other guys on out on the team that people don't know about, but we do because were fortunate enough to be in a division with those guys. Like Eric Weems and how quick he is and how dynamic he can be. On the opposite line, they're playing better and better every time I seem them. They're getting after people and starting to play with a nasty demeanor on offense as far as how you guys block and how you cut down the field. Then, on defense, John Abraham, on of my favorite players of all time since he was a Jet, watching him develop into who he's become as a lethal pass rusher. Then, Dunta Robinson, one of the best corners that I feel has been in this league for a while has really been underrated because of injury or whatever the case may be. You're talking about a physically tough human that goes out and gives it all every single week. I'm watching these young guys like Brent Grimes and Thomas DeCoud and some of these guys really come along, and some of these linebackers that we know from here and Stephen Nicholas and Curtis Lofton, you've just got a bunch of young talent, surrounded by some veteran leadership and I think they're right in the cusp of greatness."