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21 September 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Monday, September 21, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Since recording his first career sack against Cleveland last season (11/2/14), DE Jacquies Smith has totaled 10.5 sacks, which stand as the third-most in the NFL during that timeframe, behind only J.J. Watt (16.5) and Justin Houston (15).
 
Below is a brief selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
               
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Safety Chris Conte
Defensive End Jacquies Smith
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening Statement)
“[We] are excited about the win. We talked a lot about [winning] a division road game and being able to go down there and play better football than we did last week, which we were able to do. A lot of guys contributed and played. We saw marked improvement from Week 1. Offensively, Jameis Winston did a lot of good things. He would tell you he would like to have a couple of balls back, but I thought he made great decisions and threw the ball when we needed him to. The drive right before the half was big. He made some clutch throws then. [The] running game, again, gave us life. I thought Doug Martin and Charles Sims both had a good day running the football. Our line did a pretty good job up front. I felt like we missed a couple plays offensively – we left some points out there on the field. That’s probably always the case. Other side of the football, defensively, guys just came out strong. We were playing against a good offense that puts a lot of points, a lot of yards up on the board. It starts up front of course. ‘Jack’[Jacquies] Smith was outstanding. When you see the three sacks you take notice.  I think he had a couple caused fumbles too. Other times we had good pressure on the quarterback. His best game that he’s had, of course, since he’s been here. Chris Conte was outstanding also. [He] played well [and had] impactful plays. Whenever, as a safety, you can have an interception, cause a big fumble, 20-yard tackle for a loss, made a play on a halfback pass – good play from him at the safety position. It was Lavonte David, there were a lot of guys that really played hard throughout. Again, it was just Jack. I thought we rushed the passer well. Special teams, I’m talking about when they took the ball away late, unfortunately – I should say they didn’t hit the field goal. Of course the extra point, missing that was big too. [We] got good play throughout from our team, something we needed to do. Injury-wise we had a couple guys go down with injuries. Evan Smith has an ankle [injury]. We’ll evaluate it. Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] hurt his shoulder a little bit.”
 
(On being able to keep the lead through adversity at the end of the game)
“We needed to cross that hurdle because we haven’t been able to. It’s documented that we haven’t finished the way we would like. We had a big lead in that game, but normally the home team is going to make a push at the end. You need to stand up and we stood up. [We] haven’t done that in the past. We got it done yesterday. It should definitely give us confidence. Of course, [we] are going on the road again this week, in a hostile environment. Hopefully we can keep that momentum going.”
 
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy’s injury status)
“[He] should be fine. Good to go. A physical game like that, you have to take a few plays off every once in a while, but Gerald should be good to go.”
 
(On quarterback Jameis Winston being a ‘game manager’)
“As you make reference to that, that’s a bad thing. That’s just not a bad thing. I think every good quarterback should be a good game manger. We’re not going to run the ball 60 times and ask him to only play action pass. No, but what we would like to do, we want to establish the run and from there it opens up everything else. When he’s played 15 years for us here and you ask him that question, I would like for him to say, ‘Hey, I’m really managing that game well.’ As a quarterback, that’s a good thing.”
 
(On if Winston is doing the right things to manage the game)
“I say we won the game. I say he managed it fairly well. Not fairly well, we wanted to see improvement from last week, we saw that. [He] had a good week of practice last week. He prepared to play a better game, like our football team did. Yesterday we got it done. Just like we talked about last week, we played well yesterday and now, for us, that next step based on what we’ve done in the past around here is to follow that up with another good performance this week. That’s our plan.”
 
(On where Winston improved the most this week)
“All areas. All areas and that’s not running away from the question. That’s what we needed to do. It’s about throwing the ball. He protected the football. I thought he made good decisions. He threw the ball better. When I was talking about protecting the football, when he need to be the drop-back quarterback and pass the ball down the field, and I’m going to go right back to the drive before the half, that’s what he did. He can throw the football. His speed is talked about an awful lot. What a quarterback needs to do when he needs to run and be mobile in the pocket, he did that. I thought that was a pretty impressive touchdown run he had yesterday too.”
 
(On Winston not trying too hard to make up for a poor Week 1 against Tennessee)
“It was good to see, but Jameis that’s who he is a little bit. Again, we’ll eventually leave the first game, but when there’s disappointment, you assume for a young player it’s overwhelming to him and that’s just not the case. You go back to work. That’s what we’ve seen from him throughout. He’s had a day that’s not as good as he would like, he comes back from it quickly. It was good to see him do that.”
 
(On tackle Donovan Smith and guard Ali Marpet’s growth)
“Well they are figuring out this league together and it takes a while. What we should see is improvement weekly. You see someone different each week – a different type of athlete you play against each week. This past week they had a worldly veteran that he was going against. I’m talking about Ali. Ali has put together two pretty solid games. Donovan, it’s tough duty at the left tackle position – hardest position on the offensive line to come in as a rookie and play. You have to keep that in mind with his play, but we are pleased with what they guys are doing. They’re both good football players and, again, another challenge this week, but they’ll meet it.”
 
(On how the players have responded to the importance of takeaways)
“Of course, they have been a big part of it and that’s about all they know. Our players are saying that’s the culture that we have around here, but you do need to see it. As you continue to talk about takeaways, you see how it impacts the game. Just look at yesterday’s game, both ways. They got back in the football game based on us turning the ball over a little bit. For our guys, we needed a big takeaway like that and [Chris] Conte is right on the ball. Sterling Moore’s third down play, they converted on third down – to be able to knock the ball out that way. It’s not just about takeaways. For the first thing we talk about is playing hard. If Henry Melton hadn’t been running to the football – he only made it by a few inches form what I’m told – if he hadn’t been running to the ball, that wouldn’t have happened. It’s good to see all that on video on why we force him to do that.”
 
(On much of a weapon kicker Kyle Brindza has become)
“We’re definitely fortunate to have someone like him late in the [preseason], just in general. For him, kickoffs too, so we expect him to really knock it out of there and make them go at least 80 yards each time. It does help the game planning. You have a spot, on when you can kick the field goal, we are trying to get the ball to, whether it be 37, 40 [yards], whatever. He’s allowed us to push it back a little bit more. That has to help us. He’s a likeable guy, kind of fit in with the group right away and we are counting on him to do some things for us.”
 
(On Brindza’s range being 70 yards)
“Was that outside? He told me a little bit higher than that inside. He was talking outside? He does have a big leg for sure. You just never know. We have an area, but if you are in a close game, and what do we do? When you have a guy like that, we may attempt one a little bit longer than we normally would with your typical kicker.”
 
(On his message last week about not letting one game define the team and what his message is this week)
“It’s the same thing. It was one game, but the message also last week was, ‘This is where we are. This is how we perform, alright. Let’s see how much improvement we can make between [now] and this next week of practice.’ That was the message. [The] message will be the same this week. Now when you win the football game, it’s good that we won. It’s hard to win in the NFL, but when you watch the video guys see that, ‘Yeah we won, but I can play that play better and if I only did this.’ For our football team, we had a lead. It’s just a lot better making improvement on a win though than a loss. I will say that.”
 
(On wide receiver Mike Evans’ first game back)
“I thought he did well, which he did last week. We felt like we brought him back at the right time. You know my history with hamstrings; we definitely didn’t want to push him back. For Mike, he didn’t have no trouble, no issues at all. It was good to get him back into the flow of things. As we talked about big improvements on our ball club from Week 1 to Week 2, we want to see the same thing from Mike to be able to get Mike more involved. We have a lot of guys from the state of Texas they are pretty excited about going back and playing. We’ll have Mike be a bigger part of the offense this week.”
 
(On his comment that the team left points on the field and whether he hopes to take more advantage of red zone opportunities going forward)
“No doubt. When I say we left a lot out there, we had some opportunities offensively where we got field goals instead of touchdowns, though we had favorable positions a few times there. And then just some plays we actually missed, as much as anything. I thought our offensive staff did a good job calling plays and putting the guys in position. But it’s always – when we say we left points out on the field, it’s about us not executing a certain play a certain way. But we’ll get more opportunities this week.”
 
(On his emotions following the win)
“I was just excited for the game. I think it’s as simple as that. As I say, it’s hard winning in the NFL, period. And we worked hard and just felt like we’re a better football team than we were – just talking about this season – we’re a better football team than [how] we played the first week. And to see that show up on the scoreboard this week, [we] should be excited. If we win this week, you’re going to see us more excited than we were this past week. And hopefully that will continue throughout [the season]. For us, first, we needed to get used to winning a game, so we’ve gotten that [obstacle] all out of the way, yeah.”
 
(On Bobby Rainey’s kickoff return before halftime)
“It helped. But we had time, we felt like – unless we were just backed up or so, we were going to try to get something positive out of it. Felt like we had enough time to. But Bobby’s return gave us a boost, ‘Hey, we’re more likely to get something going now.’ We depend on Bobby for that. Bobby can make people miss and he’s going to put us in favorable position this year, whether it be kickoff return or punt return. [I] just really believe he’s going to embrace that role and give us some good play from it.”
 
(On special teams)
“Very pleased. You’re right, the two-point conversion – 10-point game, a two or one-score game, that was big. And for Johnthan Banks on that play, initially when [New Orleans wide receiver Willie Snead] caught the ball, we said, ‘Hey, he’s getting in [the end zone].’ Just a great play. We had so many individual plays like that throughout the day – so many guys. But, yes, special teams are important and we have to keep that going. Another big challenge, of course, this week.”
 
(On whether he was more impressed by Winston’s second quarter third-and-16 conversion or the touchdown pass later in the same drive)
“Third-and-16 was good, but, the touchdown pass – it was just a small window. He had to release it at a certain time. Good coverage on their part. That was a great throw. Might have been Jameis’ best throw on record here, I’ll say.”
 
SAFETY CHRIS CONTE
 
(On the defense’s play and making an impact versus New Orleans)
“Yeah, it was a big game for us. We knew we would have to play well on defense and get some turnovers going to get some momentum and start feeling ourselves on defense. Those momentum plays were really big for us.”
 
(On how much easier it is for the back end of the defense when the defensive line is applying pressure)
“Those guys played their [butt] off. I don’t know how many sacks we ended up having, but it seemed like they were getting a lot of pressure and you can just tell it makes the secondary’s job so much easier. I mean, look at any good secondary – they have a great pass rush so when those guys are going, it makes our job easy.”
 
(On if his reaction to New Orleans’ first fumble was a result of Coach Smith’s emphasis on always finishing plays)
“Yeah, definitely. In practice we run to every ball. Honestly, from past experience we had a play in Chicago against the Packers where the ball hit the ground and they picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown, so whenever the ball is on the ground you’ve just got to run. You never know until the whistle is blown, so you kind of learn from past experience.”
 
DEFENSIVE END JACQUIES SMITH
 
(On how he is different this year from last year)
“Being here for a year last year, I feel like I’m more comfortable in this system, just more comfortable around here. I feel like I can play a lot faster than even what I did last year. It’s kind of helping me out a lot, just getting that continuity with the guys in the locker room and the coaches, it’s really helped my game out a lot.”
 
(On how the double teams that defensive tackle Gerald McCoy faces help the defensive ends)
“Here, we’ve got a great player like that – he’s going to get double-teamed and that presents one-on-ones for other guys and that’s what we talk about, we have to win our one-on-one rushes. I think we did a great job up front as a group, just putting [New Orleans quarterback] Drew [Brees] in a well, making it kind of tough for him to throw in there.”
 
(On what it says about the Buccaneers team to bounce back after last week)
“It’s big for us, to get that first division win. We didn’t get a division win last year at all, so it’s big for the confidence. I just commend the guys for going to work last week, having a good practice week and it showed out there on the field.”
 
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