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17 November 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Monday, November 17, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Since Tampa Bay’s bye week in Week 7, WR Mike Evans has been one of the most productive pass catchers in the NFL, setting a new career high in each of the past four games. His 536 receiving yards lead the league during that span, while his five receiving touchdowns are tied for the second-most during that timeframe.
 
Below is a brief selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
                       
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
Defensive End Jacquies Smith
               
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening statement)
“It’s kind of good to come on this podium and talk to you after wins. It’s been a long time, which I’m sure some of you were going to bring up before long. We talked about starting fast and then we got a takeaway right away, which set the tone, but we’ve started fast and haven’t been able to finish and we were able to do that this past [game]. I thought the team played hard and we were physical. Offensively, a lot is going to be said about the game Mike Evans had and rightfully so. When you’re a rookie doing some of the things that he’s done – not just yesterday, but the last month or so he’s been playing outstanding ball. It seems like he improved each week that he’s come on to the football field, getting Josh [McCown] back into the mix, throwing the ball to him and in order for all of that to happen the offensive line has to do some good things and I thought for the most part we did a great job with protecting, keeping a good pocket to throw the football. They played the run fairly well throughout. We didn’t get as much production from the running game that we needed to, but we’ll stay committed to it. I thought Charles [Sims] had a couple of runs – at least one in particular that he would like to have back, if he could keep his feet a little bit more he might have been able to get a few more yards from that. Then protecting the football on the offensive side, that’s as important as anything – the turnover ratio and ball security on the offensive side did a lot for us. Defensively we set the tone though. I said that first interception, but it was more than that. Gerald McCoy talked about setting the pace and what the defense needed to do and the improvements that we needed to make and I thought for the most part we did that. The front four got pressure. We had a few injuries in the back end, in the secondary – one in particular, but some of the younger players stepped up in that role going against great receivers on the other side. Special teams, besides that one mishap on the punt return, for the most part did a good job. It’s good to get the win. Didn’t get any major injuries from the game, which is also a big deal and to just have that second win. Normally at this time of the year when you’re talking about that second win you’re not throwing a lot of parties with that, but for us to be two wins out of first place in the win column, that is big for us and hopefully we can build on this, keep practicing hard and make improvements and kind of see where we go from there.”
 
(On defensive end Michael Johnson crediting the secondary for the sacks by the defensive line)
“I would hope a defensive lineman would talk about the coverage part and I would hope if you talked to the guys on the back end they would talk about the pressure that the front gave, it has to go hand-in-hand. We did do a pretty good job in the back end covering them and I think the defensive staff did a good job of mixing things in, bluffing and showing, playing man, playing zone and for the most part playing our defense. It’s good to get Michael [Johnson] back out there he’s coming off an injury. Michael and Jacquies Smith played outstanding ball. Just like on the offensive side we talk a lot about what Mike Evans has done as a young player coming, Jacquies Smith just talking about him a little bit, came in late with us and we’ve seen steady improvement from him also. I can see why Michael would say that.”
 
(On how important the pass rush is to the defense)
“It’s critical, it’s a must and I would say to a man that they would all say that. Of course the defensive line better say it, but all of our defensive guys, everything starts up front. I know they had a couple of injuries on their offensive line, but we had six sacks or so, but there was a lot more than six sacks, there was constant pressure throughout, it’s hard for a quarterback complete throws.”
 
(On if the team’s success is predicated on getting after the quarterback)
“For us, it has gone that way, it’s funny how that works when you are able to get pressure and it does set the tempo for just about everything. That first drive the quarterback was scrambling around on the first play Lavonte [David] would tell you if he had gotten that seventh sack –  which he probably should’ve had – we wouldn’t have gotten that takeaway the first play of the game. That normally starts it off in the right direction for us.”
 
(On what makes wide receiver Mike Evans standout)
“I think as you look for what makes a great receiver – which I think he’ll be – if you’re just talking about Mike Evans, it’s his size. He’s not your typical wide receiver, he’s a big guy, a big target for the quarterback to see, and it’s hard to not see him. He has excellent hands, yesterday he made all of the catches, they were good balls that were thrown, but he made the catches. He’s a big physical guy too and for a rookie, he’s a smart player. He’s been playing wide receiver for a long time, he has some great body control, as Mike will tell you ‘I was a great basketball player too, but I think all of those things are what you’re looking for in a receiver that can be special.”
 
(On the DEA’s league-wide investigation into NFL teams and stopping the Buccaneers prior to leaving the airport Sunday)
“I was not aware that anything – we were excited about a big win driving to the airport and we were stopped, but I’m told our team was stopped along with others, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren’t targeted, but again they had some information that they wanted to get from part of our party and they were able to get that and we moved on from there.”
 
(On what he thinks about the DEA investigating NFL teams)
“I assume that the DEA and everyone else are always investigating teams to make sure everybody is doing things the right way. This is the first time this happened so I assume that they’re just doing their job and hopefully they got all of their information that they want from all the teams in the league and you move on.”
 
(On the team’s policy when it comes to pain medication)
“We have a policy in place. Of course I’m not going to go over the policy right now, but we have a league policy in place that we feel pretty comfortable with and I’ll just leave it at that.”
 
(On how long the team was delayed)
“Right after a big game like that, there’s a lot of sleeping going on and I caught most of it – I don’t know a few minutes, 15 minutes or so, I don’t really know exactly how long, but we were right at the gate getting ready to get on the airplane.”
 
(On if the delay spoiled the victory)
“Not at all. It was just a little minor delay, we have delays from time-to-time and that’s how we looked at it.”
(On talking to the team about expecting to win and how that attitude comes about)
“Well I know you have to have faith before [you win] and believe in what we’re doing. When you’ve lost as many games as we have, you have to keep believing, and then just kind of go on what is actually happening – looking at reality. The reality is we’ve been improving. We haven’t been able to finish football games, but we’ve been in games. I believe you are what your record says you are, but it’s a little bit more to it than that. And for our football team – I know, as a head coach –they’re getting the message. And you can look in their eyes and see and know when they believe in what we’re doing. But you need to get wins to truly validate what you believe. And when you go on the road in a hostile environment and dominate a team like that, it has to help.”
                                                                                 
(On if he sensed confidence in the team at halftime despite giving up a touchdown just before the end of the half)
“Well I saw disappointment in how quick – we had dominated the game for the most part. And for them to get that – we were in great position still. We had the lead, we had the ball coming out of the second half, and I thought we were a better football team – our guys felt that way. They’re just disappointed in that series; there’s no way around that. We wanted all of us to be disappointed in that. And there’s some things that happened; there was a bad call in there that really – I’m going to take the screen for a touchdown – that’s more on me. So when guys realize that, it’s just about getting back out there and dominating the second half.”
 
(On how the team approached the fourth quarter after having lost close games)
“Well I don’t know if they say, ‘Here we go again.’ We’ve lost some games in the fourth quarter, but isn’t necessarily, ‘Here we go again.’ We lost some games in the past, but this was a new day. You kind of go on how – that wasn’t the mindset because of how we played that second half. We kept the pressure on throughout. Again, there was disappointment, but no more than that. I think the guys felt like they were the better team. ‘This time, we’re going to finish the job.’ We had our coach talk. Bear with me for coach talk: we had our best week of practice last week, we’re doing more things – ones-on-ones – just really felt like we were in position to finish a game.”
 
(On if there is any consideration giving defensive end Jacquies Smith a larger role in the defense)
“We tell the players always, ‘If you get in a few plays and you’re productive with those, you’ll get more.’ Kind of simple as that. He has continued to get more plays based on his play. He’s come a long ways from being cut by the Bills and coming down here and now really being a factor. So it’s safe to say that, yes.”
 
(On if Evans’ performance against Washington validated the team’s correct decision to draft him)
“There were a lot of good players that were taken in the first round of the draft – good receivers, other positions. There were other players that we liked – we had a list of players that we liked. But we were unanimous in what we thought Mike Evans would do for our football team and he hasn’t disappointed us at all. But he’s still a rookie, for the most part. He doesn’t sit in first class. He’s back with the rest of the rookies when we were back on the plane and is earning his stripes with our football team. So I think as you go back to his video at Texas A&M with Kevin Sumlin coaching him, you see some of the same things.”
 
(On if he is concerned about the DEA investigation being a distraction to the players)
“No distraction at all at any level, as we said. I slept through a lot of it, like the rest of the team. It’s a non-issue with us. I’m sure they had their reasons for carrying out those searches – throughout the league I might add. For us, no. It’s kind of on to Chicago for us.”
 
(On if quarterback Josh McCown is playing the way the team expected him to these past two weeks)
“Yes he is. And he’ll say the same thing. If you kind of look at how the season played out, Josh became the starter, and everyone early– the play in the league right now is a lot better than it was at the start of the season, for all positions, all teams. And that’s where we were. Josh was a part of that, and then you get hurt before you get a chance to take that next step. He took advantage of his time on the sideline watching, learning. So this is the type of play we expect from Josh. He’ll say the same thing. Protecting the ball, making good decisions, throwing the ball at certain times when we needed him to, running with it. So yes, this is what we expect our quarterback to do.”
 
(On the performances of cornerback Johnthan Banks and linebacker Danny Lansanah and their ability to make plays on the ball and if it is a coincidence that they lead the team with three interceptions)
“No I don’t think it is. Joking around with Danny, he’s in the right place at the right time. For us, we say that’s more you running to the football, pursuing. And that’s what we asked the guys – good things happen when you get around the ball. Take that play yesterday for both guys: Johnthan’s interception was a tip – great play by Mason Foster – and Johnthan, of course, tipped the ball for Danny to get it. So I’d say those are guys that – playing hard and running to the football, and good things will happen.”
 
(On the backstory of Lansanah being out of football for a few years and he now leads the NFL in interceptions for linebackers)
“Isn’t that something? Only in America, huh? Only in the NFL. But Danny, one day early on, brought him in and was talking to him, ‘Danny, kind of go over your history a little bit.’ And it was a long process and all he’s had to go through being told he can’t play, facing the disappointment, coming back. So what we’re going through right now is kind of right up his alley a little bit – he’s been the underdog most of his life. It’s only fitting that guys that hang in there and keep working hard end up having success like he is.”
 
(On if defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is playing his best football and how much of it is due to lining up next to defensive tackle Gerald McCoy)
“Very important. A lot of times when you get a nose guard, you’re not asked about an awful lot. But Clinton McDonald has been everything we’ve wanted him to be coming here. We wanted him to be a force. He’s one of the elder statesmen – guys listen to Clinton. Because he’s not a BSer – he’s just to a point, works hard. And for a nose guard, he’s rushing the passer fairly well. Just been very pleased with the leadership he’s brought. His overall play in our locker room, on our football team has been outstanding.”
 
(On the performance of tackle Anthony Collins on Sunday coming back from an injury)
“It was good to get him back – I’ll kind of start with that. When you miss time, you miss practice time, it takes a little while to get back into the full swing of things. But it was good to get him back out on the football field. Of course, he’s a good player and we need him out there.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER MIKE EVANS
 
(On if he expects to be covered differently after his recent games)
“It’s always hard just making the play, I just hope to continue to make plays and that’s all I can do.”
 
(On if he was surprised Washington used a linebacker to cover him)
“No, they do weird coverages like that. The linebacker will cover the third receiver, so they made me the receiver in the slot and he carried me, but I just outran him. The offensive line did a great job protecting Josh [McCown]. They sent a blitz, [the offensive line] picked it up and Josh delivered a great ball.”
 
(On setting records and being compared to former All-Pro wide receiver Randy Moss)
“No, I didn’t know [I was setting records]. I was told after the game and it’s great being mentioned with one of my favorite receivers of all-time, Randy Moss. It’s great and the win is even better.”
 
(On being able to get quarterback Josh McCown his first win as the starter for Tampa Bay)
“It’s great. He’s one of our leaders, he’s the captain and he comes to work every day no matter what, even when he was the backup quarterback, he’s going hard no matter what. It’s great to get that for him and hopefully we can get this win in Chicago for him.”
 
(On how important it has been to be on the same page as McCown)
“It’s great, we depend on those guys to throw great balls and the offensive line to block and I just can’t thank those guys enough. They did a great job this week and they have been all year and I’m very fortunate.”
 
DEFENSIVE END JACQUIES SMITH
 
(On what he has gained from getting more playing time)
“You ultimately get a lot of confidence. It’s just not only me having confidence in myself; I want my teammates to have confidence in me and the coaches, they put me out there on the field and just hopefully I’ll go out there and fulfill the role that they’ve given me.”
 
(On applying pressure to Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III)
“Well there’s some of the things we talk about in the defensive line room: working as a unit. If I can stand over and make Robert step up in the pocket, I know Gerald [McCoy] or Clinton [McDonald] or [Akeem] Spence or one of our [defensive] tackles will be right there. The same thing goes vice versa: if they make him step out of the pocket, that’s where our ends – me, Michael [Johnson], Will [Gholston], Larry [English] – we have to be there. That’s just kind of the room collecting sacks and things of that nature.”
 
(On the defensive line’s energy increasing throughout the game and finishing with two fourth-quarter sacks)
“That basically goes back to the unit thing. We all have to play as a collective unit and once it’s clicking and all of us are clicking on all cylinders, you see the potential and you see the things that we’re capable of doing. It’s just a matter of just consistently doing that.”
 
(On the defense being full of guys that have had to prove themselves and what that means to him)
“Everybody has a story in this league. It doesn’t really matter how you get here – it’s what you do when you get here when you’re given the opportunity. You’ve got a lot of guys buying into what the coaches are talking about and they’re comfortable in the playbook and things of that nature. Once you get your opportunity, you just have to go out there and do the best you can with the opportunity. Guys are making plays.”
 
(On if the defense did anything differently against Washington that resulted in a higher sack total)
“I’d just say we were working more together as a unit. I think, like I said, if I’m collapsing the pocket on the right side, Gerald is right there or Michael is right there picking up the sack, things of that nature. It’s kind of poetry in motion when all of us are working together. So it’s got to be a unit thing as a defensive line. We did that yesterday.”
 
(On if he would be comfortable with an increased role on the defense)
“I just do whatever those guys upstairs tell me to do. If they put me out there 20 snaps, I have to make the most of those 20 snaps. If I get out there 40, I have to make the most of those 40. So basically just doing whatever the coaches tell me to do.”
 
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