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18 December 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, December 18, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: With 69 receiving yards against Green Bay, WR Vincent Jackson will have his third consecutive 1,000-receiving yard season with the Buccaneers (fourth consecutive overall). If Jackson reaches 1,000 receiving yards this season, he will be only the second receiver in team history to post three such seasons (Joey Galloway, 2005-07).
                            
Below is a brief selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
               
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening statement)
“Injury list: we’re getting better, only one guy didn’t practice today and that was Isiah Frey. Everybody else was able to do a little bit. Dashon Goldson practiced yesterday and he was limited today – I guess that’s a negative – but we’re getting Mason Foster more reps and Clinton McDonald was able to do some things today. It’s looking a little bit better. We’ll need all of our troops this week.”
 
(On if he is using this game as a way to see where the defense is)
“The other day I said that this team has as good of chance as anyone to win it all. It’s a chance to see how you match up against a team that we feel is that good. Defensive guys playing against the best quarterback in football and on the other side of the football [they have] great pass rushers. It’s definitely a measuring stick and each week is a measuring stick, but yes when you go against a team like this.”
 
(On safety Dashon Goldson’s injury)
“Shin injury. Yesterday he tweaked it a little bit. He was able to finish practice, but he had some soreness today. We don’t think it’s anything serious, but he wasn’t able to do everything today.”
 
(On what defensive end Michael Johnson needs to do to become successful like Julius Peppers)
“Julius Peppers is one of the all-time greats, he’s as good of an athlete I’ve ever been around. How does a player get to that point? Well, very few have his talent and so you just work as hard as possible at your craft each day. That’s probably what [Johnson] would say, that’s what we say to all players on reaching your full potential. Work as hard as you possibly can every play. You have to get lucky and not have the injuries and things like that. For Michael, he hasn’t had the year that he and we thought he would have, but he has two games to leave a good taste in all of our mouths and that’s just about that with him. As we talk each week, it’s our defense versus their defense, our offense versus theirs. It’s our defensive ends outperforming theirs, so we’ll see exactly what we have.”
 
(On defensive end Jacquies Smith and linebacker Danny Lansanah earning starting roles)
“I think it’s a process about learning about that team, especially for us not knowing our football team so you start off with that. We had an idea – I’m talking training camp and different places – you don’t tackle and you don’t really have a chance to finish until you get to the game. I also think that you start off with guys with potential and we’ve seen a lot of guys you’re talking about. I think they’ve just improved though the course of the year, they’ve gotten better. You keep working with them every day, you keep showing up every day and just trying to improve every day and we have a lot of players where that’s happened. Again, I realize where we are, our record, but behind the scenes we have a lot of players like that we are finding out about and maybe a couple of more this weekend that we haven’t seen an awful lot. That is a positive – without naming and leaving someone out – but we have a big group of players that I barely knew about that have taken big strides to get better.”
 
(On how important the left tackle position is for a franchise)
“I think it’s a must. There’s some positions you know you’re looking for – got to get your quarterback in place; a MIKE linebacker; a [No. 1] receiver, but I think at the top of everybody’s list, they would say you need to establish and have a left tackle that can take care of the great pass rushers by himself without giving him any help. Demar Dotson, as you draw up that perfect guy, he would look a lot like that – his size, long arms. But again, he’s been there one week. I’m anxious to see – it’s a big game for a lot of us, but I’m anxious to see him take another step this week and I think he will.”
 
(On how much credit he gives guard Logan Mankins for staying focused and committed this season despite a lack of wins and given his past with the New England Patriots)
“You’re right, he’s not used to it. He has won every year he’s been in the league, so it’s been an adjustment for him. I think one of the ways you would describe him is he’s the ultimate professional. He’s the same guy that’s getting ready for the playoffs right now or he’s on a 2-12 football team that’s not playing for an awful lot. When you have a guy with character like that, it doesn’t matter what the score is, what your record is – you get the same thing each day. Again, having guys like that, our other players see it too. They know who he is just like the question you asked, so they see that’s what we’re learning – how to be a professional, but you have to see it. Logan, I can’t tell you what all he’s done for our football team just from that.”
 
(On why ex-offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford’s hurry-up offense that was seen in training camp was never implemented)
“With the new staff coming in, you can see why no team in the league wants you to start talking about what they’re going to do until then. But as far as what our plans were on how our offense would look and how it ended up looking, a lot of things happened. Yeah, we didn’t have the guy that we started off with coordinating and we had to go a different direction from there, but again, that’s a long time too. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out exactly the way you would like for it to.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
 
(Opening statement)
“Get the chance to play one of the top teams in our league this weekend. Obviously a very good offense and one that our defense will have to rise to the challenge. It’s an exciting time for us to face an offense that’s so potent. Should be a great experience for our players and should be a good day for all Bucs fans.”
 
(On if this game is an opportunity to showcase to the league how much the defense has improved)
“I think anytime you face an offense that’s as good as this one is – they’ve been pretty good throughout the season – it’s a challenge for any defense. We want to rise to the challenge and play well on Sunday at home in front of our fans. They present a lot of challenges, not just in the passing game, but the run game and what they’re doing with the offensive line and obviously the quarterback. So it will be a good barometer for us to just get a feel for where we are and how much we’ve actually improved. I think we’re looking forward to that challenge.”
 
(On if losing defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to injury is a signal to the rest of the defense that they need to step up)
“Oh no doubt. When you lose a guy of his caliber and the kind of season he was having – yeah, we talked about it on Wednesday once everybody got together and we realized he’s going to be down the rest of the way. It’s a tremendous challenge for some other guys that will have a chance to step up and fill those shoes, and we’ve got some guys that are excited about being able to have a chance to do that. Da’Quan [Bowers] will get an opportunity; we’ll rotate Akeem Spence there as well who’s also getting some snaps at the nose. So we’ll get some rotation going and might even see William Gholston in there from time to time. Those guys have a great opportunity in front of them to really go out and play well this Sunday.”
 
(On how well Green Bay fans travel to opposing teams’ cities and what effect that has on the team)
“Well you like when the home team does something well to hear cheers and not boos. So it can definitely have a negative effect. But as professional players, you rise above it and you stay focused on the task at hand. But you want to hear cheers from the home team. You want to make it hard for the visiting team when [they’re] on the field trying to get their cadence going on offense. You want to make it hard for them with your fans. Looking forward to hopefully having a lot of our fans there cheering us on and that we give them something to cheer about and drown out any other noises other than cheers for the Bucs.”
 
(On players stepping up on defense this season that were not expected to make an impact)
“You think you have an idea in OTAs without pads on, your personnel, you’re watching tape, you’re trying to get a feel for them. Once the live bullets start flying, you really find out what you have and what you don’t have. We’ve learned a lot about our players on defense as the year has gone on. We had to get a rotation going probably a lot sooner than we expected at some positions because of injuries and some other factors. But to the guys’ credit, I think they’ve hung in there and they’ve improved as we’ve gone along. That’s part of it: just learning your team and getting a feel for the guys that you’re working with, what their strengths and weaknesses are. Sometimes you don’t find that out until they’re actually in live situations. So even though you practice time and time again, there’s a reason why some guys rise and some guys fall over the course of a season. We’ve learned some things about our players and we’ll learn some other things this weekend as well.”
 
(On how having a rotation at the safety position has been working out)
“I think Bradley [McDougald] in there has – he’s helped us. The injury with Major [Wright] has played a factor in the fact that Bradley’s snaps have really gone up. We’re not going to have Major again this week, so that’s tough, but it also means that Bradley gets more snaps and gets more experience at the safety position and we get more views of what he can and can’t do against a very good offense [and a] very good quarterback. So that’s going to help us in the long-term. That’s been part of it over the course of the last few weeks just having a rotation and trying to get a look at a lot of different guys.”
 
(On what it will take for safety Dashon Goldson to get back to being a feared, hard-hitting safety)
“I think he’s still a physical safety who has the ability to make those hard, jarring hits across the middle of the field. There have been times this season where you’ve seen the flashes of the Dashon that you described – the guy who really has done a good job of controlling the middle of the field. We just need the consistency week-in and week-out. But he’s more than capable of being a playmaker and taking away the middle of the field, and we need that. We’re going to need it this weekend.”
 
(On how closely he has watched the game film of Detroit and Buffalo’s defense against Green Bay from this season)
“You take a look at those teams and the success that they had and why did they have that success. They did some good things with both of those defenses. There’s some things that we’ll be able to take away, but every game is different. The personnels in each situation are a little bit different, and the circumstances sometimes are a little bit different. But there’s definitely some things that we’ll try to draw from, and looking at what those two teams did and a couple of other teams that slowed them down a little bit as well.”
 
(On why Detroit and Buffalo were able to play well against Green Bay)
“Probably what they were able to do from a physical standpoint, they really were physical, and we’ll need to be on Sunday as well at the point of attack with our front. We really want to be able to establish the line of scrimmage with our front – that will be important. Although Green Bay lost their game on Sunday, they still did a good job of running the football and rushing for over 150 yards. So they still did some good things in that ball game. But for us, it will be about establishing the line of scrimmage.”
 
(On what he wants to see from defensive lineman Da’Quan Bowers in these final two games)
“You like to see a guy who can be – what we just talked about a moment ago – being physical at the point of attack. We’ll probably get more runs at that position than we’ve probably had all season because Gerald is not playing. So he’ll have an opportunity to really show his teammates [and] his coaches what he’s able to do in an extended period. We saw a little bit of that last week when Gerald went down early. He got a few more snaps and he found out the importance of conditioning – which is very important if you want to play well. But we need to see if he can pass rush, we need to see him go down in and down out and really do the things we ask him, and run defense as well. Great opportunity for him [to] maybe showcase that, ‘I’m more than capable of being a quality, potential NFL starter in this league.’”
 
(On what he likes about defensive end T.J. Fatinikun and what he has done to earn more playing time)
“You like the athleticism that he’s shown – sometimes on special teams, you see some of the things that he does and you can see it also when you put him on the edge and let him have a chance to rush. His ability to change direction, to be able to dip his shoulder and put some pressure on the quarterback is something we need. So we’ve given him a few more snaps without taking away opportunities from Michael [Johnson] because it gives him a chance to get fresh as well. But we just thought it would be a good idea to – based on what T.J. has done – to give him a few more opportunities to show if he’s deserving of more snaps. Up to this point, he’s proven that he deserves to be on the field a little bit more. So we’re going to get him out there again, and this is a team that throws the ball very well and we need everybody who can rush the passer on the football field.”
 
(On Bowers and if it is tough to switch between playing defensive tackle and defensive end)
“It can be because it’s a totally different position even though you’re playing on the defensive line. The blocking schemes are a lot different than when you’re playing defensive end. Sometimes there are two people blocking you with a guard and a tackle versus a tight end or a tackle at defensive end. But based on where we are and what our needs are, he fits the situation. He did a good enough job for us a week ago, and we’ve been playing him inside throughout the season; we’ve also had him outside. But at this point, he’s probably exclusively an inside player for us because of the circumstances.”
 
(On if he can visualize this defense becoming elite next season with a good offseason and how far away he thinks the defense is from being elite)
“This ball game is so important for us as we are trying to finish the season strong. You really have to focus on the group that’s here now and trying to get them to improve and play well this Sunday, and we’re going to have so much time this offseason to talk about what went on in 2014 and how we can improve in 2015. So there will be a time to have those conversations, but at this point, probably the biggest thing we can do is to figure out a way to get the guys that we have on the roster right now to play well on Sunday on defense and to get some takeaways and limit some of the things they’re capable of doing on offense. But we’ll have time to project what the future holds for our defense.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER VINCENT JACKSON
 
(On receiving the Buccaneers Man of the Year Award for the second consecutive year)
“It’s definitely an honor. There are a ton of guys that spend a lot of time in their off time that go out and do work in our community, but I’ve put in quite a bit of time and hours in for supporting our troops and serving those that serve and I absolutely love it. This community has really rallied around it, this organization has rallied around my foundation and I’m excited for what we’ve accomplished, but I’m just really looking forward to more things in the future.”
 
(On what he gets out of his community service personally)
“The award itself is an honor. I’m kind of put in that elite group of guys around the NFL and around our country who served and I’m definitely proud of that, but at the same time it’s more exciting for the endeavors of what we’re doing and knowing that we’re making that impact. That’s what I get satisfaction from, seeing the faces on those kids, seeing the faces on those families at our events and our programs. When they send in those letters, hand-written and saying ‘Thank you for taking the time and thank you for making a difference in my son’s or daughter’s life,’ those are the things that stick with me.”
 
(On his work with military families being personal for him)
“I am that child, I am that kid that grew up with a military background and with that household and traveling around and having to change schools and doing all of that stuff. I understand the challenges that they face. I’m just here to give them a hand in any way that they can and continue to learn how we can continue to best support them. We’re really not an organization that tried to impose what’s best for them and try to give them what we think is best, we go and we ask them what we can do for them and serve them. It’s really been fun.”
 
(Oh what’s been his favorite event)
“It’s really hard to pick one, they all have their special place. The book release this year was awesome and I’m very excited about that, it’s been well received. The house we built – the home makeover is really special for that one family and all of our events have something unique to them. It could be the fall festival up in Old McMicky’s farm was beautiful, it’s a petting zoo, these kids were just loving the animals out there. We just did our Santa social on Monday and Santa Claus is a hit, me I could’ve been Joe Blow sitting on the side of street there, but I loved it. We’ve just done so many different things looking back on this year and it’s really flown by, but all of them are special and all of them I think have been positive, we’ve gotten great feedback from all of them. We’ll just take that and continue to grow as an organization.”
 
(On what he’s learned during this season)
“I don’t think it’s any harder for me than anybody else. It’s a disappointing season for sure, we all put in a lot of time, a lot of work and a lot of effort just like every other 31 teams in this league. Nothing is guaranteed to us and I think that’s been the biggest lesson is the fact that even though you go and you do everything you’re supposed to do the right way – those things do add up in the end and I think they will help us turn the corner in the future – but for now in the immediate [future] you have to play football the right way and you’ve got to execute, you can’t beat yourself with penalties and all of the things that we’ve had that set us back this year, turnovers or whatever it is. It’s definitely been a big learning lesson and I think that for me personally I still love this game and I’m still having so much fun despite the record. It’s a privilege to play with these other men in this locker room and to work for a coach like Lovie Smith and this organization that’s been so good to me. I take a lot of pride in that, I take a lot of pride in the game and respect for the game, going out there, playing the right way and representing myself and my organization.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
 
(On how he is adjusting to his role with the team after being placed on season-ending IR)
“Coaching [isn’t] bad. You get to help guys out, pass on some of that knowledge you think you have. I don’t know if I have any real knowledge, but they listen to me so that makes me feel good about myself – [laughing].”
 
(On how tough it will be for him to miss playing in this game against one of the best offenses in the NFL)
“I’m one of Aaron Rodgers’ biggest fans. I know it’s bad to say as a defensive lineman, but I am. I’ve been wanting to play against the guy since I got drafted. Arguably not just the best quarterback, the best player in the NFL. For his athleticism to his smarts to – they showed on America’s Game, he does this little ball drill and he set like the record for that. I’m just an Aaron Rodgers fan. So I’ve been wanting to play against him. In the end, this team is a potential Super Bowl team, they’re one of the top offenses in the league. You’ve just got to – those types of moments don’t come around often. And for me, I love this game so much; I’m just a huge competitor. I’m just missing the fact that I get to play against a team of this caliber, or a quarterback such as Aaron Rodgers like 99 [Warren Sapp] got to play against [Brett] Favre all the time. It’s not like I have bad [quarterbacks in the division] – I get to play against Drew Brees twice a year. But Aaron Rodgers, I’m just a fan of his. I hate that I have to miss this because this will be my second time missing the opportunity to play against him. So hopefully it will come around again.”
 
(On the opportunity for the team to win their first home game of the season in these final two games)
“One thing you want to be able to do if anything is at least win a game at home. We haven’t been able to do that and guys kind of feel that. You always want to have the reputation of having home field advantage and this year, we haven’t had that – not because of our fans. Our fans are awesome. They show up regardless of what the score says. Our fans are yelling at you. It’s not because of the fans – it’s on us. It sucks to be what we’ve been at home this year and our fans deserve so much better. They deserve a win at home. Guys really feel that and it’s kind of gotten to guys. You can see it more now, guys feeling that the fact that we haven’t won nearly as many games as we should, but definitely haven’t won at home.”
 
(On if he has been following the potential order of the NFL Draft and who the team might select with their first pick)
“No. I want to beat the Packers. That’s what I want to do.”
 
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