Joe Talks To Dave WannstedtNovember 28th, 2013
Joe enjoyed a chance yesterday to spend solo time with Bucs special teams coach Dave Wannstedt, the former Bears and Dolphins head coach, who won a national championship and Super Bowl rings as a defensive coordinator for Jimmy Johnson. Wannstedt’s been coaching since 1975. This is Part I of the interview, diving into special teams and Mike Glennon.
JoeBucsFan.com: Is there an unsung special teams player that fans wouldn’t know about who is having a great year?
Dave Wannstedt: I think everyone knows Adam Hayward and [John] Casillas, who was a guy that we signed as a free agent. They were a couple guys that we had brought in with high expectations. I’m excited about where their progress is at this point. Someone the fans might not be aware of, the first thought that would come to mind would be [rookie] Russell Shepard, a receiver that was actually cut by the Eagles and we signed him. And he had done a little bit of special teams work. We put him out there as a gunner on punt, and a kickoff coverage guy. He actually had the most points last week of any player; we do a production chart every week, and he had the most production points of any player on the special teams unit. It’s funny because he was a quarterback when he first went to LSU, and then I think they moved him to defensive back and then wide receiver, and now here he is as a special teams/kickoff coverage guy. So it’s kind of a neat story and obviously one that most fans are pretty much unaware of.
Joe: Is he in on all phases?
Wannstedt: Yeah, he plays on all four.
Joe: Eric Page. Coach Schiano talked on his radio show the other night, sort of saying this guy’s got massive upside but patience is running thin as Page’s teachable moments add up. Can you talk about Page, who’s just 22 years old, and what he has to learn?
Wannstedt: You know he’s not the fastest guy in the world. But he is, some players when they have the football in their hand have a feel for when to make the cut and where the tacklers are coming from and do it really with God-given instincts. He has those. He has a real good feel of where to make the cut, when to make the cut when he has the football. I think that at times he gets a little confident. I mean [against Detroit] he had two kickoff returns, one 39 yards, I think, and the other one 33, and then he had a 17-yard punt return and then he gets a little bit cocky and a little bit anxious. And rather than letting the ball go on that one punt at the 3, he tries to catch it and he didn’t fair catch it. So when he didn’t fair catch he was telling me he was catching it to return it. And obviously we don’t want to do that, you know. So he’s still learning as far as what’s smart play and when can you be aggressive. But right now we’re fifth in the NFL in kickoff returns and ninth in the league in punt returns. So that’s a real credit to him.
Joe: You’ve seen what Mike Glennon has done. From the perspective the history of the NFL, he’s performed extraordinarily well as a rookie, especially coming into this situation like this. This is a tough division for quarterbacks. You won three AFC East titles with Jay Fiedler, who’s not a name that’s going to go down in history. Do you think the game’s changed to where you need a quarterback who can be a Cam Newton type and run the ball and do all sorts of things? What’s your take?
Wannstedt: The qualities of a quarteraback, a top quarterback in this league, are the same, regardless of what offense you run. I mean the guy’s got to be a leader. He’s got to demonstrate that on and off the field. Players have to believe in him. And in crunch time, he needs to be able to deliver. That is constant whether you’re running a two-back running attack like we do, play-pass. Or if you’re running a quarterback read game like Philadelphia, the type of offense really doesn’t matter. The qualities of an outstanding quarterback do matter, and they have to be constant. And I’ll tell you what, Mike [Glennon] has just been unbelievable. I mean, he’s totally, I don’t want to say, “caught people by surprise,” but I don’t think there was anybody that would admit in July that they thought this would happen. No. 1 that they thought he’d be the starter, and No. 2 that he’d perform at such a high level. It’s exciting. I was at the Doplhins when Tom Brady got his first start, and I can’t remember him playing as good or better or as sure as what Mike has. I don’t know what the numbers compare, but they can’t be better.
Part II will be posted tomorrow.