Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy
On change of preparations with Cam Newton in lineup: "Well, I wasn't a part of the first game, but we prepared the same. We prepared as if he was playing, so it wasn't any different to be honest. We prepared as if Cam was playing, because it was up in the air whether he was or not. We prepared for Cam Newton, he just didn't end up playing."
On watching Cam Newton film: "Well, Cam Newton is Cam Newton. He's a former league MVP. And he's a home-run hitter man. He can kill you with his feet, kill you with his arm, he's getting smarter by the year, and he's extremely talented. You know, he's a big guy, very elusive, hard to bring down in the pocket. And he's making plays."
On rattling Cam Newton: "That's what the Atlanta Falcons and Vic Beasley said. We know that Cam Newton is Cam Newton. You don't have a reputation of getting rattled and you're the former MVP. You know, MVPs don't get rattled when times get tough. They make plays. And that's who Cam Newton is. He loves the tough games, loves the competition, loves to go against the best, and he enjoys doing it. Like I mentioned, he just has that big ol' smile all the time while he's playing. And a lot of times people take sometimes what he does for being angry or being a bad sport, and it's just passion. He's a very passionate player, and he's fun to watch. Careful when you're preparing for him, you know, but any other time, he's fun to watch. He brings a type of passion and energy and passion to this league that we play in that I think is very necessary. So I don't think he's the guy where if you rattle him, then you got a chance. I think he makes plays when he's under pressure, and that's what makes him so good."
On Cam Newton continuing to make the league more fun: "Yeah, I mean Cam has been Cam since he got in the league and that's what made him a superstar in this league. He was like that at junior college. You go back and watch his junior college stuff, they got videos of him rapping before games, running around having a good time, you've seen it at Auburn, and then he brought it to the league. He's not going to change who he is, and the NFL needs to accept that. He is very necessary in this league in my opinion. The type of person he is with…I don't want to call it flamboyant...but he's outgoing and he shows his passion by having fun. You know, the dancing, he's very generous with handing out footballs, and he likes to have a good time man and he's going to be who he is. So, if I had to put myself in his shoes, you just keep being you. Don't let nobody change you, and he's not. He's going to continue to be him, and I respect him for it."
On Cam Newton's postgame outfit:"Yeah, he got a man style, I like it, I like it. You know, people sometimes make fun of his style, he's got his own style, you know. He's…what's the word I'm looking for…he's fashionable. Very trendy."
On Kawann Short and sack numbers determining worth of defensive tackles: "I don't know. I'll let whoever does that do that man. My advice to him is just to keep playing, keep doing what you been doing. You know, you are only as valuable as your team thinks you are, or whoever pays you. That's your worth. Whatever they pay you, that's your worth. And whoever's going to pay you, you let them decide that. You just make sure you keep putting good tape out there, and everything else fall where it may. It's just how it goes. This league is how it is. Whoever wants to pay him is going to pay him. But my advice to him is to just keep doing what you been doing. Playing well, just keep it going."
On sacks as an overrated stat: "I don't know. It depends on your role in your defense and the style of defense that your team plays. You know, a person can have a huge impact on the game without having a lot of stats. So, that just kind of depends on style of defense you play."
On how to attack Cam Newton: "Play football man. It's just like if you play Lebron James or a Kobe Bryant, or a Steph Curry, or a Russell Westbrook, whoever it may be. You know who they are, you know what they bring to the table. You respect them, and go play them. Cam is who Cam is, we know he can run, we know he's hard to bring down, we know if you give him time, he'll kill you. We know that he makes plays with his feet and he can extend the plays. And we know that if he gets momentum, he's going to put on a show. So, it's just who Cam is, and you just prepare for it. And the Carolina Panthers offense do what they do, they don't try to change up for anybody. So you just prepare for that and go play the game."
On Cam Newton's down season: "You got to ask them that my brother. I wish I had an answer for you but I don't. Ask the Carolina Panthers offense that. I'm sure if you ask Cam that, I don't know if you'll like the answer that you get, but I don't have an answer for you, you got to ask him that."
On difference in film from Cam this year and last: "No. Every season is different. Last season they were hitting on all cylinders, this season they have had positives, they've had negatives. That's the NFL. It's hard to be consistent year in, and year out. That's why the teams that are get so much praise. That's why the players who are getting so much praise. But Carolina is Carolina, and Cam is Cam. But every season is not going to be a magical season. They had a magical season last year and they are doing what they can. But you don't knock a team that goes 15-1 and they then don't have the same season they did have and then now, "Oh, this team isn't this, Cam isn't this." That's the problem with…I guess the outside world of the NFL. There is too much stock put in, "Oh well they were like this last year, What happened? They were this." Year to year you see different things happen. Look at the Oakland Raiders, look at the Dallas Cowboys. Year to year, you see different teams evolving and have their year. Carolina just had a down year, but that doesn't mean they aren't going to try and come kill us Sunday. We don't really care about what they've been doing or the season they've had, we care about Sunday and what they bring to the table for Sunday."
On Buccaneers evolving into playoff contender: "Yeah it's great. I think this year has been special. We headed on the right path, it would be great to finish on the up and up. The Carolina Panthers are no slouch, so it's not going to be easy to finish strong, it's not going to be easy to finish with a win. So we just have to keep doing what we been doing, we haven't played our best the past two weeks, it's a bounce back game for us as well. So it's going to be a good one on Sunday, looking forward to it. NFC South division games are always fun to watch and play in. So, ready to go."
On he and Cam missing previous matchup: "I don't know. Any team that plays without some of their top guys, the game is always going to be different when they come back. I didn't get a chance to play, he didn't play, we got a lot of people didn't play, so did they; Jonathan Stewart didn't play either. So, getting every back is going to be fun, it's going to be fun competing against Cam. It's always fun to play against Carolina, go against Cam, he's a great competitor, loves competing against him, I have nothing but respect for the guy. So I'm excited about it."
When Cam Newton appeared on his radar: "My radar? His year at Auburn , you know, I seen this huge quarterback making all these runs. I think he had a 50-something-yard run against LSU, I think it may have been at Auburn. And I was like, "Man, who is this dude making all these cuts?" He's 7'6'' 280 pounds, who is this dude? So then he just kept making plays after plays after plays and then came into the league and had the rookie year he had, so I think I took notice of him his year at Auburn."
On similarities of Jameis Winston and Cam Newton's development: "Everybody's different, you know, everybody's different. Everybody develops differently. I can't give you the answer because I am not around Cam every day. What I can tell you about Jameis is, he works to be the best. You know, he's the first man in, last man out. A lot of people say that, but that's a fact with him. We'll leave the building, I leave here close to six o'clock and I get here at six o'clock, and he's still…walking back into the meeting room to watch film on his own. So, he's definitely put in all the work, he's far beyond his years, he's very mature, and he loves to compete. Him and Cam are similar in their competitive nature, they just don't stop and you never see quit in them. So if they are similar in anything, it's their competitive nature."
Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter
Evaluation of their season:"I told our media and I'll say the same to you. Our time for looking back is after the season is over and our season's not over. So right now, I'm not looking back, I'm looking forward 100 percent to Sunday and Carolina."
On his process of becoming head coach: "Well back in 1959 when I was just a twinkle in my father's eye…(laughs). You know what? Maybe I'm a little unique but I think all assistant coaches would like to be a head coach in their career. And by the time I got to the NFL, heck, I thought my goal in life was to be my dad, to be a head high school coach. And by the time I got to the NFL, I had been a head high school coach and I had been a head college coach for nine years. So really when I got to the NFL, I was fine. If it happened, it happened. If it didn't happen, I was fine with that. Taking you back to one year ago, I had hip replacement surgery scheduled for the day after our season. It was Lovie Smith's second year and my first year here. I knew there was some interest in me with some other clubs as a head coach but the first thing for me on my list was to get my hip replaced and everything that went down after that as far as the Bucs go was a total surprise to me. I did have a couple interviews set up with other teams after I got out of the hospital but the way this thing shook out was a total surprise. The whole Black Monday deal and coaches just in the NFL, it's out of your control. There are so many things out of your control. I think for every assistant coach, we all as coaches, have to do the best job that we can. Usually things work out because other coaches in the League notice guys that do a good job."
Preparing for Cam Newton:"Inherent challenges are that he is the MVP of the league. I mean he is one of the best players in football. We didn't face him last time. Every team has injury issues. You guys missing game in our first game and missing Luke Kuechly now for the last few games. When you take MVP type players out of our lineup, there's going to be an effect on the game. Cam is tremendous. I love the way he throws the deep ball. Obviously it's almost impossible to sack him. He's got really good weapons around him. (Offensive coordinator) Mike Shula does a good job of using Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn and your big guys, Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. You're running the ball well with Jonathan Stewart. Cam's got a lot of weapons at his disposal and he's very capable of taking over a game all by himself."
How to prepare for this week: "We're still alive for the playoffs, and I know all of our media is trying to tell me how slim our chances are. But I just believe you keep competing until they tell you it's over. I think most coaches are like that. We are going to do everything we can to win this game. This isn't like a college bowl game where you have 100 guys dressed down and you're experimenting with all these guys. You only have 46 guys. So I don't know, you're not going to do too much different from what you do. I don't know anybody who would do much different than a normal game. But I know we sure aren't."
On how fun it is to still be alive for the playoffs in Week 17: "You know the run you were on last year. The last several years, you know all about that. We haven't tasted that here. We have a young team. We are hungry to taste that. It's been great for our guys and for all of us to see our name up there in contention. Unfortunately, we have stumbled here in the last two weeks, with losses at Dallas and New Orleans last week. But we'd love to close this thing out on a positive note and who knows, maybe everything goes our way and we get in. I'm a big believer if you get into the tournament, anything can happen from there."
On the health of their team:"Like you said, everybody is banged up. Obviously we made a move yesterday putting Cameron Brate on IR. He's had a heck of a year from us at tight end. I think he's a guy that can pattern his game after your excellent tight end, Greg Olsen. Cam's a young guy, in his third season out of Harvard, really his first year as a full-time player. He really came into his own this year. We've had to put him on IR. There's a chance that we have a couple other guys that are banged up and there's also a couple of guys that we could get back that missed last week. Everybody in the league is struggling with that at this time of year, and if you compare our injury list with your injury list, I mean there are some good guys missing this game."
On what makes Greg Olsen a difficult matchup:"What makes him a difficult matchup is that he can do anything. There's not many of those tight ends left anymore that can do it all. They can run routes like a wide receiver. He can block. He can block in the backfield. They use him all over. Most tight ends these days are either a glorified wide receiver or a glorified tackle. Greg is one of those old-school tight ends who can still do everything. He can get deep on you. He can beat a safety one-on-one. He can go over the middle. He didn't just give us problems. The fact that he's got his third 1,000-yard season. I was fortunate enough to coach Tony Gonzalez for a few years in Atlanta and those tight ends that can get you 1,000 yards, they are few and far between, very special."
On Jameis Winston's development: "I think the key word there is 'development.' Again, you guys should know more than any other group because of Cam Newton. I was in the league in Atlanta when Cam came into the league. Jameis is a tremendous talent. He's a great leader. But he's learning. He's still learning. This will be Game 32, played a lot of snaps. People tend to forget that Jameis could easily be playing in a bowl game this week. He should be a senior in college. When you get drafted number one overall, it's usually because you are going to a team that is not at the top of the heap as far as talent goes. Jameis has come in and worked his tail off, competed his tail off, but he's still learning. He's still learning all the nuances of playing top-level quarterback in the NFL. He will get there and I believe that because he wants to be great."
On Cam Newton not running the ball as much this year:"I wouldn't be the one to ask about that. I haven't studied that closely. But I think if you ask any defensive coach in the league for any team, every defensive coach is scared to death of a quarterback who can beat you with both his arm and his legs, and Cam is the best at that in the league."