I had the pleasure of interviewing Buccaneers linebacker Jonathan Casillas prior to the start of the season.
I was fortunate enough once again to have a chance to speak with him on Friday to discuss the Bucs rough season so far as well as head injuries in the NFL.
How much support is there within the Buccaneers locker room for head coach Greg Schiano after such a rough start?
“It’s tough when you haven’t won a game two months into the season. I would say there were some disgruntled people. Just people upset. For me, I’m not used to losing anything that long. I’ve always won wherever I’ve played at. It’s just a tough thing to swallow. We had some disgruntled people, but I don’t think it was directed towards the head coach. I think it was people just being upset with the situation we’re in.”
“When you’re losing everything is bad I feel like. Stuff just doesn’t go right. This week has been good because we finally got a win. I feel like we got the confidence back. And you know we were pretty confident every game but you could sense now that we finally got a win. Now we kind of hit the potential. I’m calling it a win streak. We got a win streak going right now and we’re just trying to keep this ball rolling.”
Now that you guys got your first win of the season, what’s the mind-set going into this week’s game against the Falcons? Are you thinking about making a playoff run?
“I’m not thinking down the road like that. Because once you start doing that you might lose focus on where you’re at right now. We’re focused on Atlanta. We played them well up there in Atlanta. I think we played well enough to beat them, but the score didn’t favor us at the end of the game. But we know these guys well. It’s always going to be a competitive game.”
“Every one is a must win. So if we want to make any type of splash. Not even a playoff run. Even if we want to finish the season strong for moral reasons. For personal reasons to make sure everything will be OK. Because at the end of the day…..honestly when a team does bad or a team does good people get moved.”
When looking at the Falcons offense what’s the one thing you have to focus on?
“Well you know Matt Ryan is at the center of it. He’s been making the thing go for a while. They’re not clicking as well as they have been in past years. But they still got their weapons. They’re missing number 11(Julio Jones). You know he’s a great player. He’s out, but you know I think Roddy White just came back. You know Tony Gonzalez is a Hall of Famer. Even when you have him covered he catches the ball. So they can always present a mismatch. Their still a talented team. They’re just like us. Where stuff just hasn’t gone right for them this year. ”
What are your thoughts on head injuries and players being diagnosed with CTE?
“It’s a pretty scary thing. To see the guys that have played. The alumni of the NFL having these head injuries. It’s definitely scary with the position I play and the way I play. You know I’m throwing myself at guys you know twice my size. I’ve been dinged up. I had a concussion last year. It’s something that you worry about. You know I got a daughter now. I don’t want to not be able to do something because of something that happened to my brain while I was handling my career. It’s just crazy to think of something like that.”
Have you thought about changing the way you play?
“A little bit. You know I think I’ve kind of done it over the past few years. Just trying to be a little smarter about the way my helmet is located at. Just try to keep my head up on tackles. Seeing what I hit. I think that will help prevent a lot of helmet to helmet collisions.”
“It’s difficult playing the position I play . You know tackling a guy in the hole it’s kind of difficult to move your head in a certain direction when everything is happening so fast. You know some stuff is unavoidable, but if I can run at full speed try to keep my head up , not turned down because a lot of bad things happen when people put their head down or to the side and not seeing what they hit.”
Do you think you’ll be back with the Bucs next year?
“I don’t know. Who knows man. This is my fifth year . Next year will be my sixth. When my contract was up in New Orleans I honestly felt I was going to still be there. With somebody like myself with a one-year deal a lot of unexpected things can happen. People end up in one place then they get shipped to another place then they go back to where they started.
“I would love to be here in Tampa again. I have a nice house. I love the team. I think we have a great team. We just haven’t put it out there yet.”
Thanks to Jonathan for taking the time out of his day to let me interview him. I wish him and the Bucs the best going forward.