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02 November 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Monday, November 2, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: At Atlanta, LB Kwon Alexander recorded a career-high and team-leading 11 tackles, while adding one pass defensed, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He is the first Buccaneers player to record an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the same game since 1996, when former S John Lynch did so (vs. NO, 11/24/96).
                                                                                                        
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening Statement)
“What a difference a week makes. You have to fight through adversity a lot of times. Things kind of hit you in the face that make you take a step back, but it’s how you respond. Our team really went to work last week. We knew we had a great opportunity ahead of us. We split up our season into four quarters and in the second quarter getting a chance to get to 2-1 was big for us. That’s where we are. We have two division wins right now – road wins, which is hard to do and we have an opportunity to go 3-1 in this second quarter, which would put us in decent shape. A lot of good things happened yesterday. [I’m] just going to go to the end of the game; offensively, needing to put together a good drive to score points in overtime, [we] were able to do that. I don’t know exactly how many, 15 plays or whatever. Big third downs, a lot of guys had to step up – protection had to be good, running backs had to be on top of their game, wide receivers catching the ball, of course Jameis [Winston] throwing, O-line blocking, all of it – just a great drive. From there, calling the special teams to get the field goal. Then it’s only fitting that the defense needed to go out and get a stop. We knew they put a lot of yards on us, but we needed to stand up and make a big play. Howard Jones [had a] good rush and just good defense at the end. We finished it up the right way. We are excited about the win. It puts us in position. [We] had a couple injuries from the game. William Gholston, of course fought through a knee injury so he is a little banged up. [Jacquies] Smith hurt his ankle. We’ll continue to monitor them. Hopefully we’ll get a couple of our players back that have been out for a while.”
 
(On defensive adjustments in the red zone)
“Believe it or not we’ve been trying to keep [our opponents] out of the end zone, especially down in the red zone. Each week we’ve been working on things and that’s what we did last week. Yeah we tweaked it and played some different things, but the execution part was a lot better this week. It’s one thing to get stops down in the red zone, but to take the ball away in the red zone is just really big. [We] mixed in a lot of things, but in the end it’s just guys making some individual plays in the right position.”
 
(On linebacker Kwon Alexander’s performance and if it was one of his best games in terms of execution)
“No doubt it was. I’m still going to go back to the one they called back. That was no fault of his. That’s a great play in a coverage where it was linebacker on a receiver a little bit – a great receiver and he made a great one on that. Yeah, that was his best game. You know the plays, the interception was big too, but to take the ball away – it’s one thing to get a tackle, but then to cause a fumble, recover the fumble and then get positive yards too. How many rookies would even be thinking about that? I should get away from the rookie part, because that’s not a rookie play by any means there. We all know what he was going through and that takes an awful lot to be able to stay focused like that throughout the game. At this time you were helping another part of your family do something that was important to them. It was a great game, one that he’ll never forget.”
 
(On the emotion Alexander showed when he was presented with the game ball by his teammates in the locker room after the game and what it means for fans to see positive moments like that)
“I thought what you saw in that locker room is what was real, unscripted. Logan Mankins, one of your captains … When you’re on the football team you don’t get a chance to share as much time with all of your teammates. An offensive lineman and the linebackers don’t hang out and go to dinner each night, but sometimes when you go through something like Kwon is going through, for him to find out just how much he really means to the group and Logan [Mankins] asked me if he could do that. It wasn’t just Logan. [He] of course handed him the ball and presented the ball to him, but all of his teammates were feeling for him the entire game. When I say we have a special group of men, I can go on the rest of the day. We have a special group of men, we really do. Sometimes when things like this happen you get a chance to see it, but it’s kind of what we see daily.”
 
(On how he will remember that game)
“Yeah, no doubt it’s a special game for all of us. There were a lot – you talk about the emotions of a game – but it seems like that’s life in the NFL, too. As you all know, first, to go on the road is tough, get a lead, the lead leaves us, evaporates, then you have to make some plays at the end. But sometimes when things are going along you need to be put in tough situations to see exactly what you have, to see how the football team will respond. If you just go back to – I say just move on, but I’m going to go back to a week ago – to know what all the team was going through, to be able to get it together like that and to finish the way we did just says a lot.”    
 
(On the unique nature of the camaraderie in football and what allows that to develop)
“Of course, you’ve been in sports all your life and have played it, you know that it is a unique position to be in. When you’re part of a team – it’s one thing to be [part] of a team, but we talk more about being a part of a tribe, where you’re really connected. And when you go through some of the things, the different emotions, if you’re not a part of the team, you know it’s a game, you move on, you’re upset if we don’t win, and of course if we win, you’re excited, but for our guys to be invested that much – just look at the sideline after, just that picture of the sideline after won. When you’re invested that much in the group – and it’s hard to put it [into words], but it is a drug, in a way, that you need and you want, really, the rest of your life. While you’re living it, you have to take advantage of it. And your job is to do your job, and that’s what it really comes down to and that’s what the guys did.”
 
(On having 10 rookies and/or first-year players play roles in Sunday’s game, many pressed into service without much warning due to veteran injuries)
“I just know that when you’re part of a team and you put a group together, you just have to realize that if you put the group together and you have some young players on there, odds say that you’re going to have to call on them. I think it says a lot about our veteran players, too, where they can keep bringing in young bodies and be that perfect example on how you get things done. And I’ve talked so much about our veteran leadership that we have, but you do need to go through times like this. And for our rookies, I don’t think that crossed our minds, ‘You know, I’m just kind of a first-year player out here.’ No, they were just stepping in there, whether it was Donteea Dye, Adam Humphries, Josh Shirley getting reps yesterday, Howard Jones, and all these guys taking center stage. Of course, we too know, go back to our – Kwon Alexander starts every defensive call for us. Rookie. Jameis Winston does the same thing. Nowadays, rookies can handle those situations.”
 
(On whether the win yesterday, given the circumstances surrounding linebacker Kwon Alexander, has galvanized the team in a way that it previously had not been)
“Let me go back – I don’t go out with every coach on our staff, either, but that doesn’t mean [we aren’t close]. Before any of this happened, this was a close team. The team doesn’t need anything else to bring them closer. It’s just sometimes, as a man, you don’t let it out how you feel about someone always. It’s no more than that. I don’t think this team can get any closer. They like each other. They know that there’s a responsibility that you feel to do your job for your teammates, so I think we’re already there. But what is happening with our football team, yeah, we need to keep taking steps and we’ll do that.”
 
(On whether he has learned even more about Alexander through his personal loss)
“No doubt. I think when you see someone go through a tough situation, whenever you see someone go through a different situation, you learn something about them always. And, yes, we have [learned more about Alexander]. And what I’ve seen from Kwon as he’s handled the situation is what, really, I knew. There’s a reason why we put him into this role, the type of man he is and what he believes, how he plays. I knew a lot about his family and how he’s been raised just kind of based on that. Again, we could talk about Kwon for a while, the football part of what he’s doing. He played an outstanding football game yesterday and that’s the bottom line.”
 
(On whether Winston’s leadership has grown)
“Yes, it has. And that happens with confidence. The more each day you see that you do something different and you cash into that role, especially at the quarterback position. He is more vocal. And I know you guys know Jameis, [so] that’s saying an awful lot – Jameis is more vocal – because he likes to talk a lot (laughter). Which is a good thing. But he is going to be our leader. He’s not a captain yet, but he is in that role and we should see him in that role even more Wednesday and of course the next game and it will keep going on.”
 
(On Winston jumping in as a goal-line blocker for running back Doug Martin)
“On some of those things, we’ll coach him up afterwards, but it would probably be bad if you had a quarterback who was like, ‘Uh, I don’t know if I want to stick my face in there.’ That’s not Jameis. He’s about, ‘What do I need to do to help my team win?’ And at that moment, he thought it was a good idea to go in there and block. Of course [the coaching staff] didn’t. But I’m going to go back to him scrambling again – you don’t want your quarterback taking hits either, but he looked a lot like maybe even Roger Staubach on that one. Well, maybe not that much (laughter). But he really did look good scrambling. And of course the touchdown, the instincts to get the ball in the end zone. He did a great job with that, too.”
 
(On Winston’s ability to collect the team and lead them on the game-winning overtime drive)
“I think that’s what we’ve seen from him. That’s how he’s handled just about every situation. But what he needed to do was get into overtime and have to do that. And to lead his team down there. As a rookie quarterback, even though we say a guy can do certain things, he has to go through it for the first time. And [Winston] handled it the right way.”
 
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