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24 November 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Monday, November 24, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Against Chicago, QB Josh McCown connected with WR Vincent Jackson for a 27 yard gain on third-and-23. The last time the Buccaneers had converted a third down of 21 or more yards was September 21, 1997, when Trent Dilfer threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to Warrick Dunn on third-and-29.
Below is a brief selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Tackle Clinton McDonald
Cornerback Alterraun Verner
(Opening statement)
“Tough loss yesterday, of course, as we’ve already talked about. 2-9 record, two games still out of first place [in the NFC South] is how we’re looking at it. When you do some things the way we did them yesterday, you normally don’t win football games. Talked about a lot of different things that happened. We turned the ball over I think four times; they did one time. Plus-three [turnover ratio] normally gets – that’s normally the winner that has that. We had too many penalties yesterday. And just letting a lot of opportunities slip by. Played pretty good ball for parts of the game – most of the game, I guess you could say that. Third quarter really dinged us.”
(On if the blame can be placed on the offensive line)
“As we look at what happened yesterday offensively, we didn’t play as well as we need to on the offensive line, yes – and that’s been the case a few times. Just talking about yesterday, Josh [McCown] was under a lot of pressure. Still, we would like to have some of those throws back, but it was a combination. A defense can tee off on you once you can’t run the football. We’ve talked an awful lot about being a balanced offensive attack, but when you can’t run it consistently, that hurts. Believe me, we don’t want to be a team that’s passing the ball that much, but at the same time, you’ve got to do what you feel like you need to do to win the football game, and that’s what we did. You have to give them a lot of credit. Their front really played well yesterday – defensive front.”
(On if he would have preferred to run the ball more against Chicago)
“I think you have to look at each game. You come into a game and you have a commitment to running the football a certain amount of times; but then you get into the game, you have to look at what’s working for you. Thought we had some good matchups. They had their best cornerback that went down – we should have been able to throw the ball if we could’ve protected a little bit better. But whenever you have 22 carries or something like that, we would like to have those numbers up, yes.”
(On if it is safe to say that the retooling of the offensive line has not worked out how he planned)
“I think that’s safe to say. We haven’t played as well on the offensive line as we would have hoped. We thought we needed to retool it starting off, had a few injuries, but we haven’t played as well as we need to. Everything starts up front. So as we talk about what we’re doing offensively, I’ll always start off talking about what we can do with our offensive line. As we talk about our defense and about the last month or so, we’ve played a lot better – the defensive line has led that charge. So I think that’s safe to say.”
(On why he thinks the offensive line has yet to come together)
“I wish I could give you an answer to that. We’re working on that. We’re trying to solve that. But don’t know exactly what it is. We haven’t played our best ball always together. And it just takes a couple of bad plays – it’s not like we had a lot of bad plays the other day – but if you break down a few times and end up getting a really bad play – an interception or something like that – it looks a lot worse. It’s not like we didn’t get anything from our running attack yesterday. We were able to get a little bit. But again, the pressure was just a little bit too much.”
(On if fullback Jorvorskie Lane’s injury played a role in the team calling fewer run plays)
“I don’t want to start giving you a whole lot of reasons why we weren’t able to run the football, but yes, that hurt us yesterday with our tight end situation. All three of our tight ends went down for periods of time and we lost our fullback. So it’s hard to have a true running attack that we envisioned coming into the game. But you need to be able to adjust – that’s what [forced us to become more of a passing team]. You have to go with what gives you the best opportunity to be successful offensively, and that’s what we had to do. Hopefully we’ll get some of our tight ends back this week.”
(On if the defensive pressure by Chicago came mainly up the middle)
“Up the middle and off of the edge too. Steven Paea had a great day against us, one of their inside guys. [Jeremiah] Ratliff was pretty tough too. But they got some pressure off the edge also.”
(On if the stunts by the interior defensive players for Chicago confused Tampa Bay’s offensive line)
“I think each week, straight rushes you’re going to get, and you’ll get different types of games, different stunts – pass rush games going on. So we got that yesterday, and they were successful with some of it. But some of it was just straight rushes too, so we’re not going to blame it all on that.”
(On how, as a coach, you get your players to rebound after a bad quarter)
“Well we didn’t dwell on it. I don’t think we did that. I think, during the course of these games, you’re going to have momentum swings – we had that. I think we withstood that initial momentum swing that they had. We fumbled the ball going in to get us back in the game – we had our opportunities right up until not converting on fourth down. So I think we regrouped and got ourselves back in position. But during the course of a game, there’s going to be periods of time – when you have the momentum, you need to capitalize on it more. I was probably as upset about that as anything. In the first half, we had an opportunity to really get a lead, and we weren’t able to do it then.”
(On the performance of the punt return game)
“It’s been a quick turnaround right now. Each week, we analyze what gives us the best opportunity to win. We haven’t been pleased with – I think three games or so, we’ve put balls on the ground; that’s not a good thing. We need to be able to get more from – we haven’t been able to get much production from our [punt] return game, or our kickoff return game, and we need to do that.”
(On if there was any consideration to slow down the tempo of the offense on the fourth-and-one try near the end of the game)
“As you look at it in hindsight, you can say that. But at second-and-one, thought we had a good play call. We missed a block; had a double-team, the guy split it. You should convert it there. And then the hurry up situation, that can be a benefit to you also – the defense has to be ready. But in the end, we got the snap off, they were ready for it and they made the play and we didn’t in that situation, which was tough.”
(On if someone upstairs told him to challenge the spot of the ball after the failed fourth-down try)
“It was my call. Of course, we got one quick look at it. In that situation, it would have been tough. Gained 40 seconds or so on the other end, but there was a chance for that. Again, I didn’t know for sure on it and I just went with it and felt that was our best opportunity.”
(On if, at some point, the team will start playing and evaluating younger players at the expense of potential wins)
“We are [still alive for the playoffs]. We’re two games out of first place. We are still in the playoff hunt. So there’s no looking at younger players – it’s who gives us our best chance to win, period. So it’s pretty easy for us right now. Forget the record right now; everyone in the NFC South is disappointed and has let games get away and feel like they’re a pretty good football team – we’re right in the mix of that. So it’s full steam ahead for Cincinnati for us. We haven’t won a home game this year, so we’re excited about [changing] that, and we’re going to have a great week of practice and improve on some of those things that we continue to talk about.”
(On quarterback Josh McCown’s effort against Chicago)
“I thought his effort was great, like it always is. His play is not good enough – Josh will tell you that. We’d like to have a lot of the balls back, some of the decisions that we made. We didn’t play good enough at the quarterback position to win the football game. We didn’t play good enough on the offensive line to win the football game. We had opportunities in the passing game. We made some big plays and we got penalties right behind them. So there were a lot – it’s Josh and our offense – and most of the offense would say the same thing, so let’s group them all together, which we’re doing.”
(On wide receiver Mike Evans’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after his touchdown and what he says to the players to prevent them from committing costly penalties after the play)
“Yes, believe me; we have gone over it quite a bit – before and after. With young people, sometimes you have to go over it a bit more. I haven’t gone over it enough. He’ll continue to hear it. And these are learning situations. As I told Mike, ‘Great play.’ And he’s made a lot of great plays. We haven’t seen that part. I’ve been talking about how much Mike has matured and how he’s making veteran plays. That’s a rookie mistake. But I think he’ll learn from it, just like Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] learned from it the week or so before. And hopefully, eventually, we won’t have to continue to talk about these things.”
(On if he gives slack to the defense since two of Chicago’s touchdown drives began in the red zone)
“This is how we look at it and it’s how I look at it on both sides of the football: when you lose or when you win, it’s pretty simple. Our defensive guys would say that their defense outperformed us. If we say it’s all about turnovers – we can talk about all the different stats. Offensively, we had a lot more yards than they did. But turnover ratio – in the third quarter, they took the ball away. And when people say, ‘Hey, you keep talking about turnovers and taking the ball away – you can’t rely on that.’ No, that’s how games are won. And their defense stepped up and took the ball away in critical situations. As a defense, the last five weeks, we’ve gotten a lot better. We’re seeing signs of – for a period of time there, we didn’t let the guys – [we said], ‘Don’t reference our defense as Tampa-Two; call it St. Pete-Two or Clearwater-Two or something like that.’ But lately, we’ve been seeing signs of that, and we are getting better in a lot of areas. But yesterday, we need to take the ball away more.”
(On the rotation of the running backs against Chicago)
“I think all – Charles [Sims], Bobby [Rainey] and Doug [Martin] – all got their opportunities to play yesterday, which we want to do; we want to keep them all involved as best we can. We’ll continue to try to get all three guys their reps.”
(On how the linebackers performed with the absence of linebacker Lavonte David)
“I think they did a pretty good job, considering we were without Lavonte David, the best outside linebacker in ball. I think we did a pretty good job. Danny [Lansanah] didn’t get a lot of reps in practice at it, so to move into that role, he did some good things. Orie Lemon also stepping in at SAM position. Talking about two backup players that moved into prominent roles and kept the train going forward. We had opportunities. Mason Foster will tell you – when we get the chance to intercept the ball like we did just a few times yesterday, you’ve got to make those plays. But linebacker play was pretty good yesterday.”
(On the injury status of the team)
“Well [Jorvorskie Lane] had a significant leg injury. We’ll be able to tell you a little bit more a little bit later on in the week, but it’s not a good thing. We have one fullback on our roster and he’s done some good things. Lavonte David is getting a whole lot better. But Jorvorskie Lane, [losing him] did hurt a lot. We’ll kind of see a little bit later on. As I mentioned, the tight ends too. I mean those are – you put that fullback and tight end position together and we normally play about four, using them in different roles, and that affects your offense quite a bit.”
(On if getting turnovers is the next step for the defense to succeed)
“It gives this defense a spark. This is how the defense is built, it’s an explosive defense, this isn’t a sitting on blocks, take up space-type defense, this is a get up field-type defense. It’s a getting the linebackers fast flowing, getting downhill and getting to people fast. This is getting [defensive backs] in people’s faces and try to push them around, this is a physical defense. When you’re switching the defense like this, then you have to be on point.”
(On recovering the fumble after defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded sack-fumble)
“Gerald does a great job each and every day of coming in and working hard. He does a great job on Sunday of getting to the quarterback and God allowed me to be in position to get the ball right when he hit it out and I was just happy to be there.”
(On playing with McCoy and racing to the quarterback)
“It’s funny, it’s a race for all of us. Me just coming here this year, I’ve learned a lot from Gerald. Just getting off the ball, hands and things like that and it’s a race every down. We look at each other when we’re out there and we’re like, ‘Alright, I’ll see you in the backfield.’ It’s an encouragement, you’ve got to make the game fun, you can’t go out there and ‘Third down, alright let’s go.’ No, you have to get excited and have fun with this.”
(On the defense making progress)
“I think people are buying into the system and you see it coming true. The thing that hurt us this week from last week was turnovers and that’s the thing that Coach Lovie is just expecting us to do and that was a big reason in this game. If we would’ve pulled out some more turnovers in that game to help our offense, then that would’ve been the difference for us, but you definitely see just the confidence level and us just playing together as a unit more as the weeks have been going on and that’s what you want to see and that’s all you can really ask for at any point and time. It’s good to see that.”
(On the contesting more passes)
“I think it’s us having a better understanding of the defense. As that improvement going with us playing as a unit and I wouldn’t just say it’s us having tighter coverage, I think the defensive front getting in the lanes of the quarterbacks, getting the pressure that they’ve been getting the past couple of weeks, as well as the linebackers getting their depths and things like that. I think all of that is equating to us getting much better against the pass. I wouldn’t just say it’s the secondary that took strides, it’s everybody as a unit and we’re starting to make plays on the ball. You see the growth of Johnthan [Banks] out there, the guy has been playing so well, especially in the last couple of weeks and it’s been great to see that. With his size and his athleticism, that’s what you want to see out of him. Like I said, I think it’s just us getting more familiar with the defense knowing what we’re supposed to do and where we’re supposed to be at and that’s allowing us to contest more passes.”

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