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03 December 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, December 3, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Per Elias Sports Bureau, this season, Tampa Bay has had 47 starts from rookies, the most in the NFL this season.
                                                        
Below is a 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 is a little bit shorter today. Bruce Carter, George Johnson, Gerald McCoy and [Jacquies] Smith weren’t able to practice today. We have a few guys that were able to go, which is a good thing. The Atlanta Falcons [ are] a division opponent. We know them well.”
 
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy saying he had a procedure done on his hand and if he can play with the injury)
“He had a minor procedure done on his hand. That’s about all I can really tell you right now. Minor procedure done on his hand. We’ll kind of see how it plays out. He wasn’t able to practice today of course. In a few more days we’ll see how it plays out.”
 
(On if McCoy not practicing was precautionary)
“He’s not healthy and ready to practice. He can’t go, injured, just like the rest of the guys, haven’t been released to practice. Just like George Johnson, [Jacquies] Smith, Bruce Carter, they have something going on and they can’t practice today.”
 
(On if guard Ali Marpet will be able to play on Sunday)
“He’s doing more and more. Yesterday he looked pretty good. He looked better today. He’s been out a while. He’s a tough guy and all that. We need everybody of course right now so hopefully he’ll be able to.”
 
(On defensive end Will Gholston’s improvement over the last two seasons)
“When we first got here he was a guy we knew a little bit about him, probably on the outside looking in. Now he is one of the guys we’re counting on each week playing multiple positions, starting at defensive end position, can play inside and has been kind of a rock as far as staying away from injuries. Again, he’s the kind of guy that we’re counting on right now. I think that’s what [Coach Leslie Frazier] is talking about. [He has] good size, height, plays hard. He’s everything we want him to be.”
 
(On if Gholston has untapped pass rushing ability)
“We’re always going to be talking about our guys become better pass rushers, but Will will never be classified as a speed pass rusher on the outside, but he can be a very good six-technique – got to be able to [match up] with the tight end. That guy is valuable, a guy that can play on tight ends first and second downs, could play inside at three-technique, under tackle on passing downs. As far as untapped potential he has a lot of it. He’s a green player. [He went] from a guy on the outside looking in to a guy now that we are counting on in year two. Of course there is still a ways we have to go.”
 
(On Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan causing a lot of turnovers)
“I think all good players – and in Matt’s case, some great players – can go through times when things just don’t go their way. We understand that he’s thrown the ball, he’s had a few more interceptions that he normally has, but again I’ve seen him a lot of times. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the game. It’s always about the next week. We’re preparing for him like he hasn’t thrown an interception all year.”
 
(On if fearlessness is teachable)
“No, I don’t think you can. I think that’s something that you have, the same with us. I think some us in here are fearless and some of us are fearful. I think it’s just like that in society in general. Jameis [Winston] is fearless, I think it’s safe to say that in all our dealing that we have had with him. I think when a guy get to this point we can teach him the plays and some things like that, but their makeup by now is kind of on display I feel like.”
 
((On if quarterback Jameis Winston is doing a good job protecting himself)
“Absolutely, I know early on there has been a couple times that I’ve said, ‘I wish he hadn’t run that time,’ but sometimes you have to do that. Just look at last week’s game. He got a good run, he got down. Of course the guy was still allowed to hit him while he was down, but that’s another story. He did get down. I think as we talk about Jameis, each week there is something like that that he is doing better. You expect to see improvements weekly from guys in their first year and I don’t think there is any doubt that’s what we see.” 
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
                         
(Opening Statement)
“We’ve had a good walk-through this morning and a good first day yesterday. [It’s a] big football game, obviously, for our team, for our defense against a very good offense. This is a big one in a lot of ways. We’re looking forward to it.”
 
(On if  linebacker Kwon Alexander has played well through adversity)
“He has. He really has and you’re right he is facing adversity throughout the course of the year that you would think that his performance and his attitude would really dip. He has been a pro throughout this entire experience. There are enough things to deal with as a rookie as it is and then you deal with some of the issues he’s had to deal with, to come out and perform the way he’s performed says a lot about him as a person. He is a good football player, a good person and he’s playing well for us, very well.”
 
(On the secondary’s performance against Indianapolis)
“[Indianapolis] hit some passes in some man coverage. Everything that had happened wasn’t on Jude [Adjei-Barimah] and Sterling [Moore]. Our defensive line, our safeties as well, even our linebackers – sometimes drops – contributed to some of those completions so it may seem to the viewers that it’s just the corners but on a lot of those completions that wasn’t the case. There were some other guys that had responsibilities that didn’t quite get their jobs done either.”
 
(On pre-snap penalties and what he can do as a coach to fix the issue)
“The frustrating part is the fact that they are pre-snap penalties. We talk about how important it is for us not to give a team first-and-10, first-and-5, and third-and-5 becomes a first down. To see it happen again on Sunday after going two ball games where we had one penalty per game on defense the last couple weeks prior to the Indy game was a little bit frustrating. Hopefully we can get past that. We don’t need to do anything to give this team second-and-shorts or third-and-shorts as a defense. It’s something we’re talking about. We’re trying to handle and hopefully it will show up this coming Sunday.”
 
(On the line between being aggressive and committing penalties)
“That’s a good question because that’s what we addressed this morning in our actual defensive meeting. We talked about just that. As much as we are harping on not jumping offsides or lining up in the neutral zone we still need to get off the football and that’s important as a defensive lineman, extremely important. There’s a balance, but we don’t want to put ourselves in situations where we are creating those pre-snap penalties. We’ve got to be able to get our jobs done without creating those penalties.”
 
(On if defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has improved his play over the last couple of weeks)
“He’s been pretty consistent from my standpoint throughout. It’s just the type of blocking that he gets doesn’t always show up statistically, like we said before, how he helps other teammates, but there are going to be some games where he’ll get some numbers if they do some things blocking-wise that allow him to get some one-on-ones, but as I said before, even if he doesn’t get the statistics, he still affects the game in so many ways. It’s good to see him get the numbers, but he’s been playing good football for us.”
 
(On the rush defense and who did a good job in the middle of the defensive line)
“[Akeem Spence] really did. Will Gholston did a terrific job. They’re a type of team that like to run to the tight end side. He really did a heck of a job on their tight end and anytime they ran to his side. Akeem did a great job for us. Our linebackers obviously tackled very well. Lavonte [David] did a good job. Whenever you play good run defense it usually involves the secondary as well. Our safeties did a good job, our corners did a good job in support. You saw the tackle for a loss that Sterling [Moore] had coming up and making a pretty good play. it was a combination of a lot guys playing well and tackling well. You don’t usually see a team with a back like Frank Gore averaging a yard when they carried a ball 26 times – one yard per carry. It was a good day in that regard for sure – our rush defense.”
 
(On Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman)
“He’s a good back. I remember the first time we played him, I think he was leading the league going into our ball game in rushing. I’m sure he’s champing at the bit to get back on the field after going through the concussion protocol. He can do a lot of things to hurt a defense. He’s a good back.”
 
(On if defensive end Will Gholston is one of the most improved defensive players on the team over the last two season)
“I would say so. I was talking to Joe Cullen, our D-line coach, about Will last night. I just think back to a year ago when we first got here and we were looking at him, going through the bags and we were like, ‘Man, this guy is going to take some work to get to where we want him to be,’ but he’s a hard-working guy who has a lot of ability and he puts in the time. I don’t think anybody has come as far as he has in as short a period of time. He’s playing extremely well for us. He’s the kind of guy you like to keep on the field as much as possible. [He’s] not the kind of edge rusher per se but he finds a way when we put him inside or at the left end position. He has a lot of value He has really helped our team, our defense for sure.”
 
(On what cornerbacks Sterling Moore and Jude Adjei-Barimah can do to get familiar with Atlanta’s offense before Sunday)
“They got a few snaps in that ball game, but it’s the NFL and that’s going to be the case sometimes. You are going to lineup against a receiver you haven’t faced at all over the course of your career or until that Sunday, so you have to put in the time studying that player along with talking with guys that have played against him and just try to get a feel for what they like on offense and what kind of routes these receivers like to run. He’s got some guys in that room, Johnthan Banks and Mike Jenkins, who played against these receiver and they can kind of pick their brains. Then it’s a matter of going out there and playing.”
 
(On Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones)
“Look at his numbers. He’s on a record pace. He has a chance to – I think it’s Marvin [Harrison’s] record. He is having a terrific season without question. A lot of defenses are going into games on Sundays trying to figure out ways to take him away or at least slow him down. I don’t think you are going to shut him out. They do a lot of things to get him the football. He may be the most dynamic player that we have today. He’s a special guy without question. The way they utilize him puts a lot of pressure on your defense and our goal is to kind of contain it. I don’t know if we can completely keep him from catching balls but just limit the number of times he has a chance to go over the top of our defense. He’s going to get his catches. He’s a great talent and we have to contend with him on Sunday.”
 
(On if he will put a specific player on Jones the entire game)
“We’re going to come up with something to hopefully slow him down. He’s a heck of a player.”
 
(On if giving up small chunks of yards is the trade-off for not allowing a big play)
“It is. When you run a scheme similar to ours the goal is to not give up those big chunks. Right now I think we are leading the league in the least amount of explosive plays. You have to hold teams to field goals for that to be effective, if they are able to move the football. I thought last week we were doing a good job of doing that. They got a late touchdown, a couple touchdowns in the second half, but yes, philosophically you want to limit the amount of explosive plays whether it be in the passing game or run game and hold them to field goals and then find ways to take the ball away. Unfortunately we didn’t get that done last week. We didn’t take the ball away and that ended up hurting us. You have to take the ball away. We’ll be working to get that done this coming Sunday.”
 
(On Atlanta’s offense putting up good numbers but not getting corresponding wins)
“I think when you look at their stats, people aren’t really stopping their offense. I know they’ve been talking about it all week long – the number of takeaways. If you look at their turnovers prior to our game the first time we played them and you look at how those numbers have jumped in that four-week span I think they had maybe four turnovers before we played them the first time and it’s up to 21 now. That’s probably the difference, but they are moving the football. They are moving up and down the field. Hopefully we can get some takeaways as well.”
 
(On the biggest challenges of replacing linebacker Kwon Alexander)
“It’s one of those things we’ll have to deal with when we get there. Hopefully it’s no time soon. He’s becoming an integral part of our defense. Like if we lose anybody else, it will be next man up. Somebody else will have to step up and play well for us. Kwon has done a good job for us for sure.”
 
(On former Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams getting inducted to Tampa Bay’s Ring of Honor on Sunday)
“Doug and I played against each other in college, so we’ve know each other for a long, long time. [I’m] so proud of what he’s achieved in our league – the MVP in the Super Bowl, what he did here in Tampa. Of course I played against him in the NFL as well and I always admired what he’s accomplished and how good a player he was at the quarterback position. [He was] just a tremendous football player and gave us a lot of trouble throwing the football around and moving around. For our organization to be able to honor him and show him and his family this type of respect is well deserved. He was a great player in this organization for a long time and [I] look forward to that celebration on Sunday and hopefully we can deliver a win with it.” 
 
WIDE RECEIVER VINCENT JACKSON
 
(On being Tampa Bay’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year)
“It’s an honor. It’s humbling to be selected amongst the organization, your peers, your teammates and coaches, seeing what I do in this community, but it’s a group effort. I have a great team behind me that works with the foundation. A lot of volunteers put in a lot of hours and are very selfless, so it’s a group win.”
 
(On to what he attributes his charitable contributions)
“As a young kid, I can recall my dad taking me out on weekends when he would be off and we would go do some volunteer work, whether it was cleaning up highways or going to feed the homeless at a Salvation Army, things like that. We tried to do that once or twice a month when I was younger, so it kind of got instilled in me, it’s about giving back and being selfless and impacting your community.”
 
(On playing meaningful games in December)
“It’s exciting. Obviously every game we play is meaningful. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to play this game at this level. I don’t ever take a game for granted. To actually be in that hunt and be in that conversation again, it’s really fun.”
 
(On facing Atlanta and staying loose before a big game)
“I think that’s it, you just can’t get too tight. We’ve been doing this for quite some time now at this point in the season and we’ve been doing it pretty well. We just need to continue to clean things up, continue to improve like we have each and every week and have fun, keep guys loose, keep the energy loose at practice and make sure we go out there and play like we always play for each other.”
 
(On how he can help the offense against Atlanta)
“Obviously it shows up. The early games when I was playing, then obviously I missed a few weeks and I came back and [we] had a really strong game with the Eagles. Just being back in the mix, having more of your weapons, whoever that is, is going to make your team stronger, especially offensively. Hopefully we get Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] back soon and we have all of our weapons. Just being balanced, being able to give the defense different looks and move guys around to different positions I think is a strength for us.”
 
(On bouncing back from a disappointing game at Indianapolis)
“That’s the quickest way to get the taste out of your mouth, to get back out there and get in live action again. For us, we’re off to a great work week. I think we have a great gameplan. Obviously knowing a division opponent, being very familiar with them, we’re feeling good about it. We’re excited to be back out there.”
 
(On quarterback Jameis Winston being named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month and if he is maturing on the field)
“He has for a while. I think he did it the right way. He came in here, he’s a humble kid, he works hard, he does it the right way, he’s a natural leader. For him to start getting that national recognition is no surprise for us in this locker room. He’s doing it the right way. He’s leading by example. He’s putting all the work in. I think he’s going to finish this year really strong.”
 
(On facing Atlanta’s defense)
“Like any defense you’re going to face each and every week – for them in particular, they have some great players, smart players back there, some veteran guys in the linebacking core and the defensive backfield, so they know how to play the game and they’re not going to try and give up any big plays. For us, we’ve just got to be patient. We’ve got to be able to run the ball and get first downs and when we have our shots and our opportunities, we have to take advantage of them.”
 
(On missing practice on Wednesday)
“It was more just kind of letting it cool down, letting it refresh. Obviously I dealt with it a few weeks ago. I’m feeling good, I’m feeling strong. I think it’s just our training staff saying ‘Hey, we can buy you a day here or there, just to keep you stronger for Sunday. We’ll do that.’”
 
(On if having competitive games in December adds extra motivation)
“I wouldn’t say extra juice. We understand the circumstances and how there’s really not much room for error. Like Lovie has said, we put ourselves in that position. We have to embrace it and look forward to it. If anything – not saying there’s not a certain level of focus each and every week – but if there’s an opportunity to do something different that you haven’t done at this point in the season to improve or get one more detail or spend a little extra half-hour watching film, I think this is the time to do it.”
 
(On if he thinks the team can win out)
“I believe so, absolutely. I think that’s the way we should approach it. Whether we need to or not, we only control what we control. We can’t determine what other teams are going to do, so that will put us in the best position if we do.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
 
(On being in the playoff picture at this point in the season)
“It’s huge. We’re in a spot that we haven’t been in in a long time around here. We have a tremendous opportunity that we can’t let slip away. We have no room for error now. We have to be almost perfect.”
 
(On if he thinks the team has to win the rest of the games this season to make the playoffs)
“We do. We definitely do. There’s no room for error anymore.”
 
(On the Atlanta Falcons)
“[They are a] division opponent. [It’s] always fun to play against a division opponent, especially the Falcons. It’s back and forth. We tied the series with them with the last win we got. [We] got a big win in their place. We’ve got to defend our home field. Got to.”
 
(On a team wanting revenge on Tampa Bay)
“There’s a lot of different ways you can look at why it’s a big game. We just approach it as the next one. With it being a division opponent we know who they are, what they are capable of, so we just have to be on top of our game.”
 
(On retired quarterback Doug Williams getting inducted into Tampa Bay’s Ring of Honor)
“He was here when I got drafted. He was around the building and I got a chance to spend some time with him. [He’s] a great guy, gave me a lot of good advice. To be in that atmosphere, in that environment that there will be on Sunday – he was a big reason for the first change the Bucs made. We are going to need some of his mojo on Sunday.”
 
(On how excited he is to be playing meaningful games in December)
“Being in this spot, like I said, we haven’t been in this spot in a while. That was my rookie year. This is exciting. This is why I put in all that work to get to this point. We just have to capitalize on it. [It’s] a great opportunity.”
 
(On the first game against Atlanta this season)
“We got the takeaways and it was necessary. They got the yards, but with Matt Ryan at quarterback they are going to get their yards. You expect them to get the yards, but takeaways are huge. [It’s] a big reason why we won that one.”
 
(On if he pays attention to the standings)
“I look at it when I’m watching a football game and they put it on the screen, but I don’t go Google it or anything. It is what it is. It’s my job to go out there and give it my all. That’s all I’m concerned about.”
 
(On if Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is more dangerous given the Falcons’ position)
“I don’t know if he’s more dangerous. He is who he is. If you give him a run-pass option he can kill you, so we have to get rush up the middle in his face and get him uncomfortable early.”
 
(On hand injury)
“I had an injury the first half of the game, got it looked at, kept playing – it was necessary to keep playing. I had it looked at after the game, had a small procedure and hoping to be out there on Sunday.”
 
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