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18 December 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Friday, December 18, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston has thrown for 3,422 passing yards, the seventh-highest single-season total in team history. Winston also has 20 touchdown passes, tied for the seventh-most in a single season in franchise history.
                                                         
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening Statement)
“Not a lot has changed in the last three hours since we’ve been together. Still disappointed, [we] had opportunities, but didn’t play well enough to win. They played better than we did. Offensively we had a lot of yards, did some good things – ran the football. Doug Martin, our running backs, Charles Sims did good things throughout the day, Mike Evans had a lot of yards. In the passing game we had one interception, but made some plays in it. We didn’t finish drives though as much as anything. We didn’t get points when we had opportunities to. When you have almost 30 first downs and over 500 yards you expect to have more points than that. Defensively, just didn’t play well enough early on. [We] let them get their passing game going. Going into the game you would assume we would have more trouble with their running game than their passing game. The last four weeks or so we haven’t taken the ball away. When you have games at the end that are within a score, with zero takeaways it’s hard to win that way too. Special teams hurt us – the returns, the kickoffs. Both kickoff returns put us in a bind. Normally you end up with a loss from there. [I’m] disappointed with how we played last night. We’ve seen major strides that we’ve taken. We’re not there yet and that’s what we get from the game. I thought we had arrived and we are getting closer, but we haven’t made it there yet. We keep pushing, have a couple more games to leave a better taste in our mouths than what we have right now.”
 
(On what has been missing from the defense)
“We’ve tried a lot of different combinations. You try a lot of different combinations because you don’t like something that is happening. During the course of the year you look at all your options. You try to go all of your options, which we feel like we’ve done. Yeah, it’s a combination of our rush hasn’t been exactly what it needed to be, the backend definitely hasn’t been as good as it needed to be, third-and-long situations, early downs. That has been one of the storylines from our season of not being able to play the pass better than we have. Last night, you look at some of the things that happened – should not give up, of course, that long touchdown like that in a coverage that should force us to keep the ball in front of us. They scored on a screen pass and they scored, I think, on a reverse. Those types of plays we’ve stayed away from most of the year.”
 
(On if the team matched St. Louis’ physicality)
“I think we did. They didn’t run the football. They are a physical running football team. They didn’t run the ball against us. They hit us with the pass as much as anything, got us off-balance that way. We were able to run the football against them. I don’t think it was about being physical, by any means. We didn’t play as well as we needed to in certain situations, but I don’t think it was that (being less physical).”
 
(On playing without linebackers Kwon Alexander and Bruce Carter)
“That’s a factor, of course it is, especially at the middle linebacker position, it’s like a quarterback. You go down to – last night we were to our fourth guy. That’s hard. You’re going to expect bad plays from that. That’s just a small part of some of the things that have gone wrong with us. You have to adjust throughout. That has hurt us.”
 
(On if quarterback Jameis Winston was overly emotional at the start of the game)
“Fair to say Jameis and some others were a little bit more [emotional]. Everybody wants to play well. It’s a different setting [in primetime]. Jameis would probably tell you that. We can take care of those type of things right there. The least of our problems are our quarterback being a little bit too excited.”
 
(On Winston’s desire to win)
“I don’t think it’s any doubt that that’s a part of it. As you’re a young football team, you have to go through it. You have to get on center stage, see how you react. Then we have to react from us on how we need to handle the situation next time around. We didn’t handle center stage as well as we will in the future. That’s all of us, everybody had a part in that. As far as what we wanted to do, everybody wanted to play well. Not just that, we say we’re getting better and most of the country hadn’t had the opportunity to see us play. We’re a better football team, but we didn’t play that way completely last night.”
 
(On questioning the team’s maturity)
“That’s not unfair at all. We did. We act like, in some parts, a young football team that makes young football team mistakes. You have to go through it. You have to get your hand burned, so to say. What I’ve seen from our young football team is that we do learn from these situations. We haven’t handled some situations well, but I’ve seen improvement from that. Of course this will be a learning experience for us. We have a couple of opportunities to make it right. When you have a game like that, you do want to get away. Players are able to get away a little bit. Then we’re going to get a chance to make it right against the Bears next time at home.”
 
(On exasperation with penalties)
“What we’re going to see from this is when we correct those things, we’ll become a championship team. Until then, we’re going to continue to talk about them. We’ll continue to try to eliminate them, but before we can really get to where we want to go, we’re going to have to take care of these things. Those shouldn’t be hard things – it should be a little bit hard after the ball is snapped to have a successful play than to get in the hole before or after. Based last night on the [idea that the] second guy [to commit a foul] is normally the one who gets caught. We’ve gone [over] that a few times, but we haven’t gone over it enough. When you’re with a young football team, you have to keep pounding it. But eventually we’ll get it.”
 
(On how Johnthan Banks performed at cornerback)
“OK. It’s hard for me to talk about a whole lot of things we did well. Besides playing the run and after the long kickoff return of keeping them out of the end zone for a touchdown, we didn’t do a lot of good stuff. And [the corners] were part of that. Johnthan came in, for us to stay with him that way, he played pretty good. We’ll kind of see how it goes from here.”
 
(On if the objective of the defense is to stop the run and set up obvious passing downs)
“That is the goal, and normally that says you’re going to be OK. But normally you don’t give up a long touchdown pass – you can’t [do that] and win. And you can’t give up a couple of trick plays for touchdowns. That’s 21 points right there. It shouldn’t happen that way. When you play a great running back like we played and hold him in check like that, and go for over 500 yards, almost 30 first downs on the other side [of the ball], that normally says you’re talking about the good things that happened last night. But what we saw from that is that it’s more than that and you can’t give up plays like that. In the future we won’t. We’re not there yet.”
 
(On the past two losses and fans being frustrated with slow starts in those games)
“I understand the fans’ frustration – and ours, I might add – on us losing the last two games. And there is so much more that goes into it than just a start. It’s the overall play throughout. And, believe me, we understand their frustration and we’re working to get it right. Truth of the matter, though, a lot of people are working to get it right, we’re not there yet. We’re making progress, but we’re not there yet. But we have another opportunity to get there. This [next] home game, what we can do to help people get a better taste in their mouth is to play better next time.”
 
(On safety Major Wright and whether his increasing role in the defense is due to what he is doing as a player or what other players are not doing)
“Most things are a combination. When you come to a decision like that, what he’s doing, what others aren’t doing. So, yes, I’d say that every decision we make is partly that.”
 
(On whether playing backup players as starters has a trickle-down effect that hurts special teams play)
“Yeah, it does. As we talked about the linebackers early on – everybody moves up or everybody moves down a slot, however you see it. In this case, when you move up, yes, it’s going to [have an effect]. And it should be that way. You see that a little bit in those situations. The special teams should hurt a little bit, just like the rest of your football team should. We haven’t given up big kickoff returns – it’s hard, kickoff returns nowadays, to have that type of success that [St. Louis] had last night. So, yes, you do see it a little bit on that, but, again, for some of the players, they have a couple more opportunities to kind of play better in those roles. Hopefully that will be the case.”
 
(On whether there were any significant injuries from last night’s game)
“No. Kourtnei [Brown], [Chris] Conte went down – we had a few guys that went down during the course of the game, but I’m trying to think if anyone was not able to come back. Nothing major happened, injury-wise, from the game.”
 
(On whether he feels that he and General Manager Jason Licht have a strong grasp on the strengths and weaknesses of the team going forward)
“No doubt we do. I feel like we have a good feel. And how do you get to this point? Of course you go through, and we’ve been through every situation, but I also think when you have guys on your roster, you let them play. I think for the most part, most of our guys have had an opportunity to show us whether they belong, whether we think they belong, if they need more time, if they need to start, or if we need to move on. Yes, I think in the amount of time that we’ve been here, we understand that. We know the areas that we’re not as strong as we eventually will be, too.”
 
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