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11 December 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, December 11, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: DT Gerald McCoy has 8.5 sacks this season, after posting 9.5 last year, becoming the first Buccaneer to record consecutive seasons with at least 8.0 sacks since 2004-05 (Simeon Rice).
                            
Below is a brief selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
               
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
Cornerback Alterraun Verner
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening statement)
“I think we had three guys that didn’t practice yesterday: Clinton McDonald and Major Wright weren’t able to practice [today], but everyone else was able to at least on a limited basis, which is a good thing. A good Thursday practice, considering. It’s kind of a defensive day so I’m going to talk about some of the defensive players a little bit. T.J. Fatinikun has done a great job in a limited amount of reps that he’s gotten. I’ve talked a lot about [Jacquies] Smith too, guys that weren’t on the radar early on, Bradley McDougald and players like that have really gotten our attention a little bit. We didn’t play as well as we needed to this past week defensively and hopefully we can get back on track this week.”
 
(On trying to develop a winning culture and if that is an important part of the job)
“It is and we haven’t won in a long time. [We’ve got] these next three, but we’ve been trying to do it all year. I keep telling the guys eventually we’re going to get over the hump if we keep developing young players like I’ve talked about and find a way to win some of the close games at the end and keep working on the field. Eventually it happens, but yes we do need to change the culture. I talked about us being relevant a long time ago. We’re not yet, but eventually we will be though.”
 
(On how linebacker Lavonte David is performing and responding to the concussion protocol)
“He’s done a great job and is doing a great job. Hamstrings can really knock you back a little bit, but it seems like he’s back to 100 percent and is good to go. Just kind of talking about Lavonte’s play a little bit, when I describe him I say the best outside linebacker, I’m talking about a guy that drops into coverage and isn’t a rush outside linebacker, with that, Lavonte will tell you that he wants more interceptions and we have to get him on that big play chart more, which he is capable of doing. There’s no limit to what he can do with his physical abilities, but Lavonte is doing well. There’s no issues with Lavonte’s [concussion] – he’s cleared, he’s good to go and he should be alright.
 
(On kicker Patrick Murray and what he thinks about the ability he has shown to be a successful and consistent kicker in the NFL)
“It’s hard for me to say. I just know he’s been that way all along. It’s kind of cut and dry a little bit. It’s exactly how you see it a lot of times with kickers. He’s been pretty consistent. I got here, he knocked it through, and he continued to do that throughout. Initially, we weren’t as sure how far he could kick it, and each week we found out a little bit more about that. He’s kicked indoors now. We’ve seen him indoors, we’ve seen him where it was a little cooler, against the wind, with the wind – I think we’ve seen him in just about every situation. He’s the same guy. Talking about young players you don’t know an awful lot about, that’s really encouraging to have a young kicker that’s just a solid guy – one of the guys really liked in the locker room. We could talk about him for a while.”
 
(On if the inconsistencies with the offense can be attributed to the departure of offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford just before the start of the season)
“Everything that happens to a football team during the year affects the on-field play. So, yeah, those are things you have to overcome – like injuries; you don’t know when they’re going to pop up, how many. You have to adjust and sometimes it knocks you off-track, off-course, which had happened to us a little bit. But there’s a lot of reasons why we haven’t performed the way we would like offensively.”
 
(On how the team will defend large receivers like Carolina wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin)
“I think it’s kind of a little bit cut and dry on that too. Most of the corners in the league are under six-feet. Most of the time, they have pretty good vertical – they can jump. There’s comes a point that can only get you so far. If I’m five inches taller, that should show up eventually. You mention Johnthan Banks for us. I think as you’re putting your team together, you try to get a few guys that – you keep searching for those corners that have a little bit of height and long arms, and maybe they’re not as quick as some of your traditional cornerbacks you have, but it’s just tough duty. For us, we have one, but we only talked about one guy. From there, eventually he comes down, so you’ve got to hit him when he brings the ball – they may catch it here, but it eventually comes down when they tuck it away and that’s where you [use your] hand-eye coordination [and] knock it out and then hit him hard when he catches the ball. Those are the ways we’ve always defended big guys. And for our guys too, it’s not like we get into a game, ‘Oh, there’s Kelvin Benjamin, big guy.’ I mean, every day, we have offense, defensive drills always so our players get a chance to go against good, big guys.”
 
(On linebacker Orie Lemon’s increased playing time and how he has played)
“Performed well under the circumstances. It’s hard. As you look at our defense, you say what players have the most responsibilities – of course, it’s the linebackers. Probably that way with all defenses. But it’s the linebackers and the safeties on our defense. So for a linebacker to have to come in and not only – special teams is good, but now we’re relying on him as a starter. But he’s done a pretty good job with it for a player that hasn’t really been in our system that long. All our guys that have stepped [up] – whether it’s Danny Lansanah and all those guys that weren’t on that initial depth chart have done a good job.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
 
(Opening statement)
“Big game for us. We haven’t gotten our first NFC South win yet, and hopefully this will be the weekend that that happens on the road. Looking forward to the challenge. We are well aware of the quarterback change and having a little bit more time to prepare, hopefully it will help us in our preparation from a defensive standpoint. Big game for us to try to get a win against an NFC South team, and we need to play well on defense.”
 
(On safety Bradley McDougald)
“He’s done some good things. At times you can see some of the things you’d like to see in a young safety: the athleticism, the speed, the range, his ability to come up and tackle. But there are also some things that, as he gains some more experience, you’d like to see him get a little better at. Just being able to have good field awareness and good judgment on the back end. Some of that will be the growing pains that we’ll go through when he’s in the starting lineup, but he’s fared well in the times that he’s been out there.”
 
(On linebacker Orie Lemon appearing as the SAM linebacker)
“He’s done a good job under the circumstances. We were looking at him more for depth on special teams and helping us to shore up our special teams, and all of a sudden he’s thrust into a starting role. He’s made some good plays for us. He’s tackled well, done a good job in his run fits, and done a pretty good job in coverage as well. He’s been a pleasant surprise and we need him just to keep coming along. He’s going to continue to, seems like, get more snaps.”
 
(On the possibility of linebacker Danny Lansanah receiving more time as MIKE linebacker)
“He does some things that you like, but I don’t know, necessarily, if we’re looking at him as a future MIKE. We liked the things that he did outside when we had him outside full-time. It’s just, because of the injuries, he’s had to play MIKE off and on. But we liked the things he did outside as well, his playmaking ability. We’ll see as we go forward. He may have to play MIKE again, depending on what Mason’s [Foster] health situation is, but, ideally, we’d like for him to be an outside ‘backer. But we’ll see what happens.”
 
(On Lansanah playing all three linebacker positions)
“It’s extremely hard. On Sunday, he ended up switching positions twice, playing both the MIKE and the WILL in the ball game. And that’s tough, especially your first year in the system. It’s tough enough just to learn one position, much less the MIKE, where you have to get everyone lined up and you have to be aware of the other guys at linebacker and what they’re doing. But to his credit, he’s been able to handle it. I’m sure it’s kind of taken away from some things – we were just going through our walk through, and there were some new things for him at a new position. So, it’s challenging, but that’s the plight that we’ve been in because of injuries. He’s done a terrific job of having to learn all three positions and play all three positions for us this season.”
 
(On Carolina tight end Greg Olsen and the threat he poses)
“He’s a good tight end. He’s one of the top tight ends in our league and he presents matchup problems for most teams that he faces, whether you’re playing him with a safety or a linebacker. We’ll have our hands full and we’ll have to contain his effectiveness in order for us to be successful as a defense. He’s a guy you definitely have to contend with.”
 
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and whether he is being neutralized by the opposing team in the second half of games)
“I’d have to say that we are pleased with what Gerald has done. It’s rare that he gets one-on-one blocking schemes. So many teams, when they are in sure passing situations, are either bringing the center in over there, or a back, to try and chip him, or put a tackle down. He’s done a good job. People make adjustments sometimes in the second half and sometimes the games are different than they were in the first half, but his production and his play, he’s been outstanding for us. And for a defensive tackle to end up with double-digit sacks, that’s pretty impressive, and he’s well on his way to getting that done. But, no, we are not disappointed in what has happened in the second half. There are some things that, sometimes the circumstances contribute to fewer opportunities in the second half.”
 
(On the tackling in last Sunday’s game against Detroit)
“We could have tackled a little better. I can think of a third-and-three or-four where we had a chance to make a good open field tackle that would have gotten us off the field, and we missed that tackle. We could have tackled a little bit better. There were some things we could have done better in that ball game for sure. We did some good things, but probably the thing that sticks out are the two big plays that they got in the ball game: the long run and the long pass coming out of the half, which we should have not allowed to happen in what we were doing. But we definitely could have tackled better.”
 
(On whether up and down play on defense can be attributed to having to plug in so many different players at various starting roles due to injuries)
“It can be challenging, but all of us in this room know that you can’t make any excuses in our league. You have to figure out a way to get it done, and that’s what we have to do from week to week. Every team in our league does. We’ve got to make sure that we’re on point this week in our preparation. We’re playing a team that rushed for 271 yards last Sunday against a pretty good team. No matter who’s out there, we’ve got to figure out a way to get it done, and that’s the bottom line.”
 
(On the difference between preparing for Carolina in Week 1 and now in Week 15)
“Well, when we were preparing in Week 1 – much like we were about to begin to prepare on Monday – [it was] for a different type of offense. Fortunately, this time we get a little bit more lead time in the quarterback change, because it is a different offense with [Derek] Anderson versus Cam Newton at quarterback. So they’ve changed from the time we played them up until [about] Monday, and now the offense that we will see, more than likely, will be more like the one we saw the first game of the season, as opposed to what we saw, say, a week ago against New Orleans. It’s a different style offense.”
 
(On his confidence that defensive end Jacquie’s Smith will be a consistently productive player)
“Well, I don’t think he’s a flash in the pan, but you said it right: not a big sample size [of games]. There’s a lot more football ahead in his career. I expect him to just get better and better over time. Some of the things he’s done, beating some pretty good tackles in our league, one-on-one, and then some of the hustle plays he’s made, some of the chase plays, and chasing down quarterbacks like what we saw on Sunday. That tells you that even when he’s maybe not on his A-game as far as the tackle is concerned, he can still make some plays because of his athleticism. And that’s a good quality to have. He’s got some abilities that some guys don’t have, so you like to see him continue to get snaps and believe that he’s going to continue to improve as he gains more experience, gets a little bit stronger and keeps developing as a player. But he’s done enough to make you think that he has a chance to be a good player for a while.”
 
(On Smith’s closing speed)
“It shows up. When he chased down [Matthew] Stafford in the ball game on Sunday – Stafford is a pretty good, at least a mobile quarterback. For him to chase him down and make that play, and he’s done that. He did that on a screen when we were up in Washington. He chased down a running back who had pretty good speed as well. So that can kind of separate you from other guys – the ability to chase plays down from behind with his speed. That’s a good quality to have.”
 
(On Carolina quarterback Derek Anderson)
“He’s a quarterback who has started in our league and had a pretty good career. But he’s more of a pocket passer than Cam is. You kind of know where he’s going to be, but he’s shown he can escape, as well. Like with all quarterbacks, you want to, whatever their strength is, take that away from them. And his strength is being in the pocket, being able to see things and make throws on rhythm, so we have to find a way to get him out of rhythm.”
 
(On facing large receivers that pose a vertical threat, like Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin)
“[Benjamin] is a long, angley guy who can make some tough catches down the field. Even when DBs are in pretty good position, he finds a way to come down with the football. He’s going to be a good receiver in our league for a while. But you’re right, other than Johnthan [Banks], we don’t have a guy with that kind of length. But the other guys will have to use their quickness and athleticism to find ways to get in position to make plays on the ball. It’s not like they aren’t going to throw it to him, so we have to find ways to get in position and make plays on the ball.”
 
(On whether the defense facing wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans in practice helps prepare for facing other large receivers)
“The only thing, during the season you don’t line up against Vince and Mike that often, just because the ones don’t practice against the ones that much. But you watch enough tape, you go against other guys during the season, and sometimes we’ll have some other big guys that are on practice squad who will run those routes. Probably still not the same as facing the real thing, but you try to do some things to make the guys aware of the challenge they have ahead of them.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
 
(On how approaches the role of playing spoiler the rest of the season)
“Is that what we are? Spoiler? I don’t know where you got that, but we will approach the game as the Buccaneers. How you approach not being in the playoffs but still having three games left is you look at it as a privilege and an opportunity to go out and show who you are and what type of person and player you are when there is adversity. When things are not going your way, I look at it as an opportunity. Every day, just come into work and do the same things we’ve been doing. It’s not a ‘get ready for next season’ mentality, it’s a ‘finish out the season as strong as possible’ [mentality] because these next three weeks we’ll get to find out a whole lot about each other and see what type of guys we’ve really got on this team when you know you only have three left, there’s no playoffs. You have to look at it as three opportunities and privileges to play the game.”
 
(On why he continued to play Sunday after injuring himself)
“Because I love my team and I feel my team needs me, not just every Sunday, but every day. There is no room for error with me and I feel like regardless of what happens my team needs me. It’s not even just from my performance, but just my mentality, my leadership ability and just my presence. My team – I just love them and I couldn’t leave them out there, but seeing them from the sidelines out there competing and giving everything they had. I’ve been out before and I didn’t have an opportunity to go in at that point, well this time I had an opportunity to go in and I was like ‘I’m in there.’ I told them I would be back and I went out there and competed.”
 
(On if he consulted with the medical staff before reentering the game)
“I just went back out there, I was going to play and so I played.”
 
(On if he saw how his teammates were affected by him reentering the game)
“Any time you go out and compete on Sundays you want to be at full strength or as strong as possible and the only way to do that is to have your guys. Well if I’m not out there, if Lavonte [David] is not out there, all the way down to whoever it may be, if they’re not out there then we’re not at full strength. I recognized that and I know that me being a big part of what we do here, I have to be on the field. Like I said, it’s not always just my performance, but just my presence and being the leader I know guys look up to me. If they see me down it’s like ‘Ah [Gerald] is out, now what?’ When I’m out there, regardless whether I’m at my best or not, me being out there, it pushes guys because they know I’m out there fighting and battling with them.”
 
(On facing Carolina quarterback Derek Anderson instead of quarterback Cam Newton)
“First I would like to say I wish Cam all of the best and I’m praying for him and that’s just unfortunate, but it’s a blessing at the same time because it could’ve been a lot worse. I wish him all of the best and I pray that he heals fast and takes the time to get better because his health is more important than being on the field. As far as Derek Anderson, he performed well against us Week One and I think people forget just because he’s the backup now, they forget that he has made a Pro Bowl before, so he knows how to play the game. He can pick a part a defense because he’s played at the highest level before. We just have to get on him. We see some opportunities on our side of the ball. [We’re] a completely different defense than we were Week One, so we’re going to try and give them some different looks. Guys have matured and grown in this defense and I think we’ll be a lot better this go around.”
 
(On being recognized by USA Football and selected to their All-Fundamentals team)
“Every offseason I kill myself to try and get better because there’s always room for improvement. Bringing in Coach Joe Cullen and Mike Phair this year has been huge for me because they’re teaching me how to play the game with technique. They took my God-given ability and put better technique to it and it has improved my play, but that just goes to show that all of the work that I’ve put in is paying off, but it could be a lot better. It’s an honor, it really is, but I could be so much better and I just have to keep working and keep improving.”
 
(On if he’s continuing to push guys to keep fighting despite not having a chance to make the playoffs)
“Well you have to. Like you said, being the leader, those are the type of things you have to notice and if those things are not up to par or where our head coach expects them to be, then somebody has to pick up the tempo and get the guys going. Coach is not in the locker room, that’s our locker room and if things are not right then it’s the leaders’ fault. It’s our responsibility to gauge that and to pay attention. Leaders – that’s I said there’s no room for error for me because I have to be looking for everything. I have to show up to work every day, I can’t have a bad day. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s reality. I can’t have a bad day and regardless of what happens I have to be on it in every facet of the game. That’s in my locker room, in practice and on game days, even when we’re traveling. If guys are not doing what we’re supposed to be doing when we’re traveling ‘Hey, you need to get it together.’ That’s just what I have to do as a leader, I have to gauge everything and at this point in the year, like I said, we’ll get to find out a lot about each other in these next three weeks.”
 
(On if the team’s drive is still high)
“I think it is, I really think it is. I don’t think we’re [trying] to play spoiler, but we are going to win games, definitely.”
 
(On how he is dealing with being 2-11)
“Like I said, until the season is over there are more opportunities to show who you are and what you’re about. Take Cam [Newton] for instance, he didn’t know he was going to get into a car wreck, but he got in a car wreck and now he’s not playing. You have to see this game as a privilege and take every opportunity you can to go out and perform and be at your best, that’s how you look at 2-11. You don’t look at the record, you look at the fact that God’s blessed us with an opportunity to continue to play. We are 2-11, but hey Cam got into a car wreck, he’s not playing this week, but we get an opportunity to play. Regardless of what our record is, we have to go out there and use it as an opportunity to show the world the gifts we have and the ability we have and show them what type of people we are. When you’re faced with adversity, how do you deal with it? It’s not about what happens, it’s about how you deal with what happens and that’s how I look at it. I don’t know how everybody else looks at it, but that’s how I look at it and being the leader of this team I try and pass that on to everybody, ‘Hey, it’s not the end of the world, we’ve got three more opportunities, guaranteed. Three more opportunities and you have to take advantage while you got it.’”
 
(On how much he is driven to develop a winning culture in Tampa Bay)
“It definitely does [drive me] because being the leader, if we get in situations like this and I tank it, then everybody else is going to tank it, that’s reality. People look at me like ‘Ah he shut it down, well then what are we still going for?’ Against Detroit I could’ve stayed down, but I didn’t. I’m not going to shut it down, I’m never going to give up because I want to win that bad. The Glazers gave me an opportunity to play in the NFL, they gave an opportunity for a kid’s dream to become a reality and if they believed in me enough to come on this team and help them win championships, regardless of what happens, each season week-in and week-out I’m going to do everything in my power to try and bring a championship here. Regardless of what the record is, I’m never going to stop, I’m never going to quit and I’m trying to pass it on to everybody.”
 
(On what he would say to fans that want the team to lose in order to have a higher draft pick)
“Nothing. I’ve said everything already.”
 
CORNERBACK ALTERRAUN VERNER
 
(On facing bigger wide receivers and Carolina wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin)
“No, it’s going to change too much because we’ve been facing big guys for the past couple of weeks: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson – [Benjamin] just goes along with the rest of them. You just have to make sure you play their hands and play the ball because they’re long and rangey guys and their radius is going to be a little bit bigger.”
 
(On how much better Benjamin is since their Week One game)
“I just think even from the confidence standpoint he realizes that he can compete with the best of them. He’s been going against a lot of good corners throughout the season, so you just see the confidence building with him. He’s always been good at catching the ball and things like that because you saw that in the preseason and he’s just been building on that and you just see the confidence level between him and the quarterback just takeoff.”
 
(On preparing for Carolina quarterback Derek Anderson)
“I think if any team is going to have the best chance to know what he is then it’s going to be us since he did play against us. We’re probably going to rely heavily off of what we saw from him in the first game and then they’re going to have some tweaks obviously they’re not going to come in with the same game plan, but I have to prepare for him and you have to know that he did the job really well the first time and he threw the ball where his players could make plays and he ran a very, very efficient game. I think that they will probably be a little bit more aggressive and try to attack us in the running game a little bit more with people being a little bit healthier because I think the offensive line was a little banged up when they played us in Week One. That’s about it, I don’t think there’s any drop off with Derek Anderson, I think he’s a very, very capable quarterback and I think he’s very, very good and he showed it the first game and I expect more of the same.”
 
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