How did the amount of rotating players in and out defensively affect New Orleans?
When we start changing things, it not only puts pressure on them from the standpoint of what they had wasn't working against what they had, but also it's totally new to them. It puts pressure on them. We had a good plan. Coach (Monte) Kiffin had a good plan going into this game. More than anything, we knew we had to really step up our tempo of play, we had to really get after it and hit, run and you could see defensively we were substituting in and out the whole time. It took everybody, especially on our side of the ball, to get this win because we knew we were going to have to be like that, with Reggie Bush back there and those skill-position guys. We knew we had to make it seem like they were playing against 12.
But that doesn't work if the guys coming off the bench don't make plays, right?
That's the thing you realize about this game. It isn't your starters, whoever they are, that make you a good team. It's the quality of your depth. It's the guys that can come off the bench and can actually give you a boost. They're playing, playing, playing, and then all of a sudden a Greg White comes in and bam, he gets a sack. We have athletes that can come in off the bench and spark it and make plays like that. That's what you need.
It's only one game, but is it a statement that the Bucs defense is back?
To a point. You want to make a statement. But more than anything for us, the only people we really have to prove it to is ourselves. Going out there week in and week out, we have a huge challenge coming up next week (St. Louis). We have another great quarterback (Marc Bulger), we have another great set of skill position guys, we have another great running back. It seems week in and week out you're faced with the biggest game of your life. That's what it takes and today we were able to rise to the occasion.
Kevin, how does Monte Kiffin compare to any other coach you've had in the NFL?
The spirit of what he does, who he is on a daily basis, you would expect someone like him to be a little more standoffish because he's such a "legend," someone you wouldn't see do so much hands-on stuff. But he's involved and knows every detail and every aspect of this defense, everyone that's doing something he's involved in it. During practice he works just as much with the defensive front as the linebackers and the secondary.
Does he get a little crazy when you're up 28-0?
You know what? I try to stay away from him most of the time. I try to focus on what I'm doing. The whole time he's walking around and he's asking you very, very specific questions about what you did on one certain play. If you go out there and play five or six plays on one drive, and you come off the field and you have to really think about what he's asking you. He'll be like, ‘What are we doing on that overcheck?' And he's asking you this very specific question and he knows exactly what he's talking about. It's cool to have someone who's so prolific in this game and has his reputation, who can do anything from a defensive scheme standpoint, but still be so involved day to day.
Is the Rams game just another game for you, or is it a little more special?
It's always special when you play someplace you played before. I don't know many guys over there now. It's been a long time since I've been a St. Louis Ram. Those kinds of games are always special.
Can you talk about the impact that Greg (White) made today? Can you put into perspective what he's doing? Here's a guy who's been cut by a number of teams over the years, he's been trying to catch on in the NFL. He was playing in the air conditioning (in the Arena League) just a couple of months ago. And here he is on a pretty big stage.
"You know what?" Carter said. "Second chances are great. I knew him back in my Tennessee days when he was on the practice squad up there. He's a guy that, I think, a lot of guys are pulling for. You see him play and you think, ‘Man, this guy can play football. He can rush the passer.' I think it took the right situation and the right setting for him to be able to make a contribution and he's balling out for us."
You see a difference in him from when he was in Tennessee to now?
Well, his knowledge of the game is so much better, and that comes from experience. Back then he was young and he didn't know a whole lot. Some people have to take the long road to get here, but once they get here they make their mark. I mean, look at Jeff Garcia. We're happy to have him.