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29 December 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Monday, December 29, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: With 1,051 receiving yards this season, WR Mike Evans is the youngest player in NFL history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season, and is one of only three 21-year olds to ever accomplish the feat (Keenan Allen, 2013; Randy Moss, 1998).
 
Below is a brief selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
               
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Linebacker Lavonte David
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
Quarterback Josh McCown
               
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening statement)
“Guess we’re down to one last press conference with you guys. Been a whole lot of fun, of course. Football season didn’t turn out exactly the way we wanted it to. There’s no way around that. Hadn’t envisioned a 2-14 season, but what I did know is that when you come in, you know sometimes you have to first establish a foundation, which I feel like we’ve done. We set a foundation for our ball club going forward. You do have to crawl before you walk and you have to fight through adversity, but you really find out exactly what we have and we were able to do that. I do know our football team a lot better right now. Our future is bright. So those are positives. Once we were out of the playoffs, everything has been kind of geared toward 2015. That’s kind of where I am right now. We went through our season without an offensive coordinator, so our staff isn’t complete right now. What I was able to do today – the order of business today was players had their exit interviews. I met with the team at 11 o’clock for a few last comments to let them know what’s coming up in their future. And then, of course, wanted them to get away for a while and just enjoy life a little bit with their family and just doing things they haven’t been able to do. For us as we go forward, I’m in the process of evaluating everything that we’ve done and everything that we’ll do. First order of business, of course, is to have interviews and talk to my staff – our staff – as we go forward and go over the evaluations from our players and my evaluation of the staff members and all of that. So that’s what I’ll be doing in the immediate future. Part of the immediate future is also to start the process of evaluating players. So I have a lot of things on my list as far as that’s concerned. Don’t have a timetable for a lot of these things; just kind of start the process and then go forward from there. So that’s where we are right now. This day in general, I’ve been through this day on a lot of different sides. Our league lost a lot of good coaches today, or teams went in a different direction. A lot of them I know personally – good football coaches. But normally your next job is a lot of times better than your last one. That will be the case for a lot of them. I am excited about [the] 2015 season for us and look forward to the opportunity to bring our team back from having the first pick in the draft to hopefully a championship. Everything that we’re doing from here on out – of course, after our game yesterday, officially started that process.”
 
(On when he will start the process of searching for a new offensive coordinator)
“Since we didn’t have an offensive coordinator throughout the season, I knew – as the year went along, the plan initially was to have an offensive coordinator on our staff. So I’ve been looking throughout. Of course evaluating coaches on my staff and, of course, I’m a football fan, just looking what’s happening in our profession too. Of course after the season, that’s one of the first orders of business, to see who all is available. It’s just not as simple as that. There are a lot of people I’d like to talk to. I want to talk to as many people as I possibly can to get the right fit for us. But we have coaches in the playoffs that can’t talk and different things like that. But I’ll just say the process has begun.”
 
(On if there is a certain time that he would like to have a new offensive coordinator hired)
“Yes. As soon as possible. I mean, that’s it as far as the timeframe. We’re not playing a game tomorrow or anything like that, but I’d like to get the staff in place really as soon as possible. But at the same time, not rushing anything – we have time. So I’m going to take my time and use this opportunity, as I said, to talk to as many people as I possibly can and go from there.”
 
(On who will be making the decisions on which coaches will remain on the staff for next year)
“In the end, I’m going to make all the decisions on that, like I’m responsible for everything in our program. I would like to, yes, get the coordinator in position, and then from there we go forward. So it’s pretty hard for me to talk about what we’re going to do offensively and things like that without getting – that’s the first order of business: to get that in place and then we’ll take the necessary steps from there.”
 
(On how greatly not having an offensive coordinator affected the season)
“Well, in hindsight, we’re going to have an [offensive] coordinator this year [2015]. Not in hindsight, but – I mean, that was the plan going into the season until something came up, so I think we’ll be a better offense this season with a coordinator.”
 
(On whether potential No. 1 draft picks play a role in the offensive coordinator search)
“That will definitely be a part of it. Again, if you have to be down where we are right now, to have a chance to – I mean, we start the domino effect as far as the draft is concerned. To me, it should be an attractive job for guys out there and that will affect it a little bit, but it’s not like we will reinvent how football is played or anything like that. There are certain parameters that I’m looking for in an offense coordinator and I think we’ll be able to get those.”
 
(On whether he feels the team is close to success)
“Knowing me and knowing how I’m going to answer that question, I think we are close. As I look at the season – and, again, I haven’t had a chance to go back and really analyze everything –but three football teams were better than us, really better than us, on that day. And I thought that we matched up fairly well throughout. We didn’t handle some situations the way – we will handle some situations a lot better this coming season, 2015. But I think we are close. I know where we’re drafting and that’s what you are, what your record says you are, but I just feel like we can move up the ladder fairly quick.”
 
(On the positive things that he spoke to the team about in the morning meeting)
“I really as a general rule try not to talk an awful lot to you [media] about what I talk to the team about, but I’ll just leave it at that though. I talked about the positive things, about laying the foundation and how they came to work every day: trying to get better, coachable, they took coaching. And, again, through adversity we just saw them – there was never any pointing, any of the blame game. None of that happened. Except for us winning on the football field, which of course is a big thing, I just kind of thanked them. This is always a sad day, too, for your football team, when you say the last time we’re together as a group. Nothing stays the same. Some of the players in there that helped lay this foundation, they’re not going to be there to reap all the benefits at the end. That’s a sad time. So we talked about things like that for the most part, and just let them know that offseason [workout programs] will be here a lot quicker than they think.”
 
(On what he uses to judge whether the team is close to success)
“By how the games played out. Most of the games we were in it right up there until the end. I’m going on the results that came out from the games. I think when you play games, you realize whether you really had a chance to win the football game or you didn’t, and most of the games, we had an opportunity to. That’s why I say that we’re close.”
 
(On whether the coordinator search will focus on coaches with NFL experience or if college coaches might also be considered)
“I would like to get the best offensive coordinator. I just don’t think you put yourself in a box. You look and you talk to as many people as possible. Every guy in the NFL was once in college, so I don’t think you can close the door on that. So I’m just going to – all available guys that I think we should talk to that would give us a chance to be successful offensively, I think I owe it to our organization to talk to them.”
 
(On whether he feels the defense has reached where he wants it to be)
“I think we were closer to how we are going to eventually play defensive football around here, but no, we are not there yet. We wouldn’t be 2-14 if we were there. But it was good for the players to see. Just defining roles, it takes a while for guys to see exactly how important they are to our team. And it’s just not defense, offense too and special teams, they know that right now and we see signs. We talk about our foundation a little bit. Normally as we’re talking about defense, we’re talking about it right down the middle of the field: Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David. And then of course the back end at the safety position. And that’s important. And at the safety position we had a guy who really stepped up this year in Bradley McDougald that I like an awful lot. So there are signs going forward of a lot of positive things happening, and eventually we’re going to be one of the best defenses around.”
 
(On why he feels the year didn’t go the way he planned)
“I wish I could give you an answer for that, but I really can’t. As you look back to free agency, no, it didn’t go the way we had planned. Some of our acquisitions didn’t turn out exactly the way we wanted. But it first starts with us as a coaching staff. We didn’t do as good a job as we will this coming year. You can say we failed in all those areas – our record says that. We’re all taking credit; it was all on our backs. But that has nothing to do with what we’re going to do going forward. It’s not like we’re going to be out of the free agency business, no. We’re going to try to improve our ball club and just try to do a better job every step along the way, is how I would answer that, starting with free agency.”
 
(On whether the Tampa Bay coaching staff has been invited to coach the Senior Bowl and what role not having a complete staff plays in the decision to accept or decline)
“It will affect it quite a bit. And we have some things going on right now. No we haven’t been [officially invited]. And that right there is not right at the top of the list, also. Of course getting our staff in place is the first part of business and we’ll take those necessary steps from there. When you have the first pick in the draft, everybody that we need to see and that we need to talk to, we have first dibs. So we will be able to get all the information we need without coaching the Senior Bowl if that’s the case or whatever. Again, that won’t be a concern at the end.”
 
(On whether he would be comfortable starting a rookie quarterback)
“Absolutely. In an ideal world, I guess you have a guy that waits. In some situations I guess you can have a player in a situation like – the best player in the league right now – Aaron Rodgers is in. But normally it doesn’t work like that. I’ve seen the Andrew Lucks and Peyton Mannings – there have been guys who have come into the league that were able to play. This past year we had a couple I think. Oakland, Minnesota both started rookie quarterbacks and they were able to [play well]. So for a football team, if they choose to go that direction, I think you can get that.”
 
(On if he got a good look at quarterback Josh McCown this season)
“Well yes, by not being exactly where wanted to be on the offensive line – that happens sometimes too, so you need to see guys in those circumstances also. I think for the most part everybody that played this year, we’ve taken into consideration where we were, but we got a pretty good evaluation of everyone. I feel pretty good about that.”
 
(On if he still considers center Evan Dietrich-Smith as foundational piece for the offensive line)
“As you start with the center, I mean you better like him. Evan would be the first one to tell you like all of us – we didn’t perform as well we will next year, but yes Evan is a part of our future. I said that then and I’m saying that now.”
                                                                                 
(On how his coaching staff performed this year)
“We all performed at a 2-14 level. Simple as that. As far as other changes, again, I haven’t talked to our coaches yet, I’m going to talk [to them]. I go through the evaluation process of me meeting with – just like with the players – meet with every one of the coaches and then make decisions based on that, but just because we didn’t perform the way I thought we all should doesn’t mean that you start over. Just like I talked about seeing our players in a tough situation, I saw our coaches in a tough situation and got a chance to see exactly how they would handle it. That’s a part of the evaluation process that we’re going through right now.”
 
(On how they will build the offensive line for 2015 and how the line was built for 2014)
“What we tried to do this year was to add as many pieces as possible, we thought we needed some help on the offensive line and we’re going to go through the same process – and it’s just not through free agency. I know everyone talks about the first pick in the draft – which is pretty important – but I don’t know if there is any offensive lineman worthy of that pick right off the top of my head, but we also get in the second round and third at the top of the round quite a few times. We’re going to get some good football players from the draft, I feel very confident of that, but also through free agency too. Right now as I talk to you a day after the regular season ends I just feel like we can make some moves to get some other good football players in here to help us win games.”
 
(On if tackle Demar Dotson’s future going to be on the left side of the offensive line)
“Everything is to be determined, but I thought he did a pretty good job there to, in midstream, finish the game, the next day you show up, ‘Hey Demar, guess what? From right you’re going to left.’ ‘Ok coach.’ And that’s pretty much how that happened. ‘You think I can do it?’ ‘Yes, I think you can do it.’ ‘Do you think you can do it Demar?’ ‘Yes, I know I can do it.’ That was a step that we needed to take to see him and again, his better days are ahead of him if we decide to keep him at the left tackle position and as I talk to you right now, I don’t see why not. Nothing has said he can’t do it.”
 
(On what his pitch to potential free agents is going to be to join a 2-14 football team)
“I don’t think they are [going to be hesitant]. I think guys first off: how long have you lived here? A long time right? You love it here? People love bringing their family down here. When they start looking inside of our program though, I think they’re going to like what they see. No matter what position or what side of the ball, I think they’re going to like the guys we have in place. The foundation that we talked about, it’s just not going to be me, it’ll be the Gerald McCoys and Lavonte Davids. We’re all going to be recruiting guys to come down here and I think they’re going to like what they see. They’re going to like the foundation, again, they’re going to like how close we’ve been and they’re going to assume that we just need a little bit more, which they can give us. For the same reason we’re all here and I’m talking about our organization, I think guys in free agency will look at it the same way.”
 
(On if he’s spoken to the Glazer family)
“I speak with ownership at least once a week throughout the football season. I assume some places where the owners are away and they pop in and ‘Hey, let’s get to know each other.’ No, it’s constant communication I’ve had with all of our owners, with all three of them throughout. Of course Bryan [Glazer] is in the building quite a bit here always. It’s not like we have to get to know each other, they know exactly where we are with our team. All the decisions that I am talking with you about right now, before I talk to you I talk to them about all of that.”
 
(On what guard Logan Mankins brought to the team this season)
“I thought that Logan had a – on a 2-14 team I thought Logan did a good job. He played consistent ball for us throughout. He was great in the locker room, the culture that we’re changing – we’re talking about when you have a guy that’s been through it like Logan has, I thought he was outstanding doing that. As we go forward, he’s one of the reasons too that we talk about here to there and making that move, but against a tough situation for him – a guy that has won his entire time in the league pretty much, to have to go through this – but he did and I thought it was good for our football team to see how a real pro handles a situation like this.”
 
(On if he will dictate the type of offense the new offensive coordinator will bring in)
“First off: of course I’m going to give him specific things that I want him to do. Do you want to know those specific things? We want to have balance and we want a productive offense. That’s a pretty wide variety, direction of range on what we want to do. Contrary to public opinion, for some, I don’t want to run the ball out of a 100 play game, I don’t want to run it 99 times from there, and we just want balance. As I look for once, I’m keeping all options open, from spread looks to – again, I just want to be able to run and pass the football when we need to and when we want to. It’s kind of as simple as that and as we mold this Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense together, it’s not like I’m going to be over the guy’s shoulder saying ‘Hey, do this or do that.’ I’ve given offensive coordinators that I’ve had a lot of full range to implement their system.”
 
(On how important it was for the running backs to have a good performance on Sunday)
“It was very important for them to be able to do that. You talk about ‘What’s the look of our offense?’ I’ve gotten that quite a bit on ‘What you would like to do.’ When we run it, we want to be able to run successfully and stay out of third-and-long situations. That’s what we were able to do early on in the game, so you want to be able to do that. It always starts up front, we know we need to get that part straight and once we can do that we have a chance to see more of who Doug Martin really is. We got a chance to see more of who Charles Sims is and Bobby Rainey, so that’s how we would like to run.”
 
(On his opinion of the read-option offense)
“I think it’s a good offense, but with every good offense there are some negatives I guess you would say is about protecting the quarterback. On the other side of the ball, when you’re playing read-option teams, eventually most read-option quarterbacks get hurt I think, so you want to try to protect your quarterback as much as possible, but to occasionally have a couple of those in your offensive attack is a must nowadays.”
 
(On why the owners should have confidence in him choosing the right offensive coordinator)
“There are circumstances that come into play when you say ‘Get it right sometimes.’ I got the job here based on us winning a lot football games with the coordinators that I had. Sometimes things happen where you have to go a different direction, that’s what happened with our last coordinator. Anybody can get sick, things come up at any time, so I think you look at the record and I think they feel pretty confident that we’ll do it and get it right this time. When something doesn’t happen exactly how – that doesn’t say quit or don’t go with what you believe, it just says do it a little bit better next time and that’s what we’re going to do this time.”
 
(On who were the standouts on special teams)
“I talk a lot about Patrick [Murray] because I didn’t know a whole lot about him coming in, but then there is a core of special teams players. I’m going to talk about a guy that you know a lot about – Russell Shepard. Just look at him and what he was able to do as a gunner, wide receiver, third quarterback, but just one of the core special teams players that we had – just really pleased with what he was able to do. A guy like Keith Tandy, Leonard Johnson, those were good special teams core players for us. Our linebackering crew as a whole we have to feel comfortable. I have to say as we go forward that all of them are the reasons why we’re having success with our special teams too.”
 
(On if the players entering the draft are franchise-changing players)
“You have to keep in mind that I haven’t been evaluating a lot of college players right now, that’s just not how it goes. I’ve been evaluating NFL – watching a little bit of the college players – I don’t know a lot right now about top of the draft or the draft in general, that’s the next step to go on. I hope that’s the case. Again, when you’re down here you want to be able to get players that make a difference. As I look at the drafts, last year’s draft, there were a lot of players in that draft that made an immediate impact on the NFL and I’m hoping that will be the case this year, especially for the guys at the top when we’re drafting.”
 
(On quarterback Mike Glennon’s future)
“Mike was a real pro about how he handled the entire situation. As I talk about our team, we ask guys throughout the year to play different roles for us and we asked Mike to do that, to take a step back and Mike handled it well. As far as the future going forward, I just think that Mike will have a future going forward, all of that is to be decided still. If you just look at the games he played for us, the Pittsburgh game, New Orleans and some of the games he did some good things, so we’ll kind of see how it all plays out a little bit. As we talk about the quarterback position and it being successful, again, we’ve talked a lot about the coordinator and we’ve talked an a lot about the offensive line, so it’s a lot of things – about the running game and not getting the running game going, I don’t know if we’ve gotten a good look at what everybody and who everyone is offensively right now.”
 
(On if he will be attending the Rose Bowl)
“We started the evaluation process for the 2015 season, how’s that?”
 
LINEBACKER LAVONTE DAVID
 
(On what makes the team optimistic about the future)
“Even though the season ended the way it did, there were a lot of times you could see that we could be that team that can go from worst-to-first. From the defensive side of the ball there was a lot of improvement that you can look at, but this season just didn’t turn [out] the way we wanted it to turn out to be. But [there is] a lot of excitement still because we know we have a lot of great athletes in this locker room and next year we’re going to be shooting to be first.”
 
(On if having Lovie Smith as the head coach is the cause for the optimism)
“Of course. It’s his first year, this is all of our first year, basically, and everybody learned something new this year. A lot of the games that we did lose almost came down to the wire. Maybe that one thing that might put a little bit of hunger – hopefully we can get that next year and maybe we can turn 2-14 into 14-2.”
 
(On how close the defense is to where it wants to be)
“Real close. We still have some small things to work on obviously, but we improved a lot and all of the guys see that, we’re not blind to that.  We know how great we can be and that’s what we’re looking forward to next year.”
 
(On the message from Coach Smith)
“Just all of the positives that we had this year, some we can look forward to next year. Obviously [there are] little, small things that need to get taken care, but other than that, we have no reason to hold our head low. We feel like we played our hardest throughout the season and a lot of the games that we did lose, came up to the very end, small things that we need to fix to get us over that hump and hopefully next year it will happen.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
 
(On what lesson he learned about the 2014 season)
“Got to learn how to finish. A lot of our games came down to the end – first half or the end of the game – and we’ve just got to do a better job of finishing. A lot of close games this year. We had a couple of games where we clearly lost, but we were in pretty much every game. So we’ve just got to do a better job of finishing.”
 
(On if he feels like he laid a good foundation for the defense this year moving forward)
“Yeah I think so. It took a while to get it going, but I think for the most part, you see the flashes of what we can be and what we will be in the future.”
 
(On how interested he is in who the team will select with the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft)
“I don’t know. I only think about the people on the team. Once they get on the team, then I’ll think about them. Until then, I’m only focused on who we’ve got now.”
 
(On if he looks at season where the team does not make the playoffs as wasted years in his career)
“No. It’s not a wasted year. I mean, I played, didn’t I? It’s still a career. But what do people want out of a career? You want a championship. So you just keep playing. Regardless of how long it takes, you just keep fighting until you get there.”
 
(On if he can pinpoint a moment where things started to turn around for the defense this season)
“After the bye week, things started to change. We really started to come around a little bit, you started to see flashes here and there, and then there was times where our defense was really on top of it. So after the bye week, things started to change.”
 
(On if he thinks this team is close to being a contender)
“Are we close? Yeah, I think we are. I mean, like I said earlier, we’ve been in pretty much every game. It’s just that those teams that win, they know how to finish the game, and that’s the difference. They say it’s a game of inches for a reason; it’s a very small margin of error in this league. I truly believe every team is good, but those teams who have the winning records are the teams who know how to finish in those moments.”
 
(On if it is ever a bad thing to have a high draft pick)
“If you can get a high draft pick, you just make the best of it. Nobody wants it, but once it’s decided that you’re not going to get into the playoffs and then your pick comes in or whatever you’re going to be, you just make the best of it. The draft is a hit or miss – you try to do your best to hit on it.”
 
(On what he would say to free agents as a sales pitch to come play for Tampa Bay)
“Things will change. I guarantee that. If you want to be a part of it, come get on board.”
 
(On what defensive line coaches Joe Cullen and Mike Phair have meant to the team this year)
“If you take a group of guys that you don’t know, a group of guys that are really just really raw, don’t know much about football – have talent but don’t really know how to use it – and you can turn it into a group that’s had the most sacks since 99 [Warren Sapp] left, I think that goes to show a lot about those two coaches and what they were able to do. It was kind of like a revolving door in the D-line room for a while. We got a good core group of guys, had some injuries, you never knew who was going to be up each week, but it didn’t matter – it was a next-man-up mentality. Regardless of how many people we had up – whether it’s seven, eight or nine guys that day – we have that many starters. That came from them and how they coach.”
 
(On what makes him believe in Lovie Smith)
“His optimism. He never wavered. It doesn’t matter what happened – we could play a terrible game [and] he comes in the next day smiling and he points out all the good. He’ll say, ‘Alright, we didn’t do this very well – that’s obvious. But look at what we did do well,’ and he’ll show us. And it’s like, ‘Man, we didn’t know we did that much well. We got [blown] out, but we did do this.’ When a coach can point that out, that’s something that you can build off of, and he’s so intelligent. He has a championship [pedigree], and he’s won at every facet of the game: as a position [coach], coordinator and head coach. So a guy with that much experience, he’s seen worst to the best. To have a guy like that, you can’t ask for much more than that.”
 
(On if Lovie Smith’s final message to the team emphasized the positives of the season)
“Yeah, that’s all it was about. He didn’t really mention much negative, if any. It was just all the positives. One thing he did that was awesome, he told all the guys who were on the team this year thank you because he told us this thing will turn around and a championship is coming, and everybody who was on the team this year played a part in it and setting the foundation – whether they’re here next year or when we do win a championship, they played a role in it in setting the foundation of how this thing is going to be run. Stuff like that is why I believe in him. I think that was really awesome. He said to take a break, get off your feet, and then when it’s time to go to work, go back to work.”
 
QUARTERBACK JOSH MCCOWN
 
(On the high number of hits he took this year)
“Yeah, obviously that’s part of the game and it’s not ideal. But I’m thankful to the training staff and strength coaches and those guys for just helping me to get ready to get back out there every Sunday.”
 
(On what he would say to free agents as a sales pitch to come play for Tampa Bay)
“Obviously you guys know how I feel about Lovie and what we’re building here, so I would tell him he’s got a chance to be a part of something special, and he’s going to be treated like a man when he comes in this locker room and there are going to be a lot of guys in this locker room that as long as he comes in and is willing to work, we’ll accept him and we’ll work together to help him be the best he can be. I think that’s what you get here – the opportunity to develop as a player and become the best player you can be.”
 
(On if he felt like he was ever able to hit his stride and play consistently)
“I mean, it is what it is. It’s hard. Just in fairness, when you take that offensive coordinator spot off of a team, it’s hard to really know kind of what it would be, especially when you’re evaluating your quarterback – or any position really. So it’s hard. But that’s this business and we try to pick up the slack as best we can. I just don’t ever think we got it where we needed it to be; trying to overcome that, we just never did. Obviously when you’re sitting here with this record, I don’t think anybody fully hit their stride to that degree.”
 
(On it being hard to quantify losing the offensive coordinator just before the start of the season)
“Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. I don’t know how you measure it. How do you go about it, other than – I said this a couple weeks ago – other than there’s a reason why people have that position on a team and on a staff. You just don’t know. We’ll never know. But again, that’s life. Those things happen and what you do is your best to pull up the slack and make the most out of it, and we did the best we could. The effort was certainly there, we just didn’t get the results. How much that played a part in it, we’ll never know. But conventional wisdom says that won’t be the same case going into 2015 – there will be a guy in that spot. That in and of itself is evidence enough to say that that’s a valued position.”
 
(On potentially being a mentor to a rookie quarterback next season)
“Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do it the best I can and whatever helps this team. That’s my stance on it, regardless of whether it was me or anybody else. But a player of my age, he can’t play forever anyway. So somebody’s got to come in and play and be ready to go, and whether that’s next year or whatever. So I want to help whoever’s here and that will always be [the case]. That was how I approached this thing with Mike [Glennon]. That’s my goal. I take a lot of joy in that too, helping those guys get ready. So if that’s the direction we go, I’ll do whatever I can to help our team get that guy ready to go.”
 
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