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13 November 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, November 13, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans is the first rookie in franchise history to post consecutive games with at least 100 yards receiving (124 at Cleveland, 11/2/14; 125, vs. Atlanta 11/9/14)
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
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
(Opening statement)
“Injury list is cleaning up. Didn’t have anyone – everyone was able to practice at least on a limited basis, which was good. Doug Martin, Alterraun Verner, Anthony Collins was able to go the entire practice. So it’s always good to get all of our guys here. Of course, we’ll need them all as we go and play Washington.”
(On if he is still looking for the right combination at linebacker and safety)
“Yeah, we’re still – well, I won’t say looking for the right combination. We’re playing the guys that we feel like deserve to play. Yeah, we are doing that. There’s a lot that goes into – I’m disappointed in our takeaways in general. Sometimes, you have to look at the amount of opportunities that you get. Are you dropping balls? They’re not dropping a lot, but there is some. Probably more disappointed – but to me, you can create them. If there’s a run, you have an opportunity to get it out then. Yeah, very disappointed in the amount of takeaways we have right now from interceptions to fumble recoveries and all.”
(On his confidence in kicker Patrick Murray)
“Lot of confidence in him. He’s earned all of it. We talked about him just being our kicker and earning his way into that spot. He hit a lot of balls to be able to do that. He’s a confident – you guys have gotten a chance to talk with him – he doesn’t need a pep talk each day. He’s pretty much been on point before the game telling me exactly where his range was. Couldn’t be more pleased with what he’s done. It’s a good pickup for our team.”
(On linebacker Mason Foster)
“He’s been on board the entire time. All of our guys, of course, have bought in to everything we’ve asked them to do.”
(On if Foster has been asked to play deeper in coverage than he has in previous years)
“Don’t know a whole lot about that, but I just know what we expect from a MIKE linebacker position. He’s played pretty good, doing the things we’ve asked him to do. He’s a part of not getting takeaways too though. To me, linebackers are supposed to make tackles – that’s what they do. But you need more than that. Lavonte [David], Mason, Danny [Lansanah], all of them would say that we need to get more splash plays. It’s kind of simple as that. Mason, just like the rest of the guys are, [is] playing good ball; we need to all play better ball.”
(On the coverage problems presented by Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson)
“I’ve been on the other sideline quite a bit [against Jackson]. Some guys can make you turn over fairly quick and stay deep, and then there’s the DeSean Jackson’s of the world that really make you do that. And especially with a good – Washington believes in the run, so when you have a run threat that they believe in, that they’re committed to, you can’t play too deep coverage an awful lot versus it. So you have to put our guys in one-on-one situations. Just one-on-one, that’s a tough matchup for anybody in the league, I think, when they have to guard him with what he can do. [He] can catch the ball, you have to turn over, but he’ll stop it and catch it also. So we’ll try to mix up our coverages as much as we can and keep the ball in front of us.”
(Opening statement)
“Big game for our team this weekend, going on the road to Washington, we desperately need to get a win and we’re working as hard as we can to get that done on the road. A lot of work ahead of us, I think the walk-through we just went through should help us, we need to have a good practice this afternoon, in order to have a chance to win against an offense that is very productive.”
(On why they haven’t been able to get more interceptions)
“We definitely need to get some more takeaways. We were hoping after the couple we got against the Browns we would get something going and then we came up empty on Sunday. We’ll keep plugging away, but that’s something we’re emphasizing throughout. I think we have good enough athletes on the back-end to get some takeaways and we’re going to need to get it done on the road this weekend, but it’s something that we’re working as hard as we can to get turned. They usually come in bunches and hopefully that will be the case this weekend and we can get it going.”
(On the issue of why defensive backs have been able to get more interceptions)
“I think we’re getting better at having our eyes where they need to be, but we’re not coming away on the consistent basis with the takeaways. I think Johnthan [Banks] had an opportunity on the one deep ball, they took the shot to the end zone and he was able to get a hand on it, those are the kind you would like to see a guy go up with two hands and snag that football and that was an opportunity. We just have to get in that mindset of when the ball is in the air, it’s ours and attack it for the interception as opposed to a pass break up. We just have to keep drilling that and keep emphasizing it and get it done.”
(On why the team is rotating safety Dashon Goldson out in passing situations)
“We want to take a look at Bradley [McDougald]. He has done some things to warrant being on the field and taking a look at him and that’s the only way to get it done. Dashon has done some good things for us and we think he will this Sunday and in games to come. We would be remissive if didn’t take a look at Bradley and see what he is capable of doing and we’ll see how he progresses.”
(On if linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy have been frustrated)
“Those guys are true pros in every sense of the word and they are great leaders in the locker room and the classroom with their teammates and it’s frustrating for us all. They’re frustrated, they all want to win. We all want to see our team perform better, see our defense improve and perform better, but they haven’t been griping or complaining, they just want the same thing we all want and we want to get it turned around and start winning some games. That’s one reason that they’re as great as they are as players, it’s not just about what they do on the field, but how they handle themselves in the locker room as well. They’ve been terrific under the circumstances.”
(On if having David and McCoy fuel his optimism in that it will get turned around)
“No doubt, those are two of the better players at their positions in our league and to have those building blocks is key when you’re trying to get things turned in the direction that you want it to go. To have both Gerald and Lavonte, we know that there’s hope and we just have to keep working to get the guys that we have on our team to improve and we’ll keep pushing at it.”
(On how he has seen Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III change under a new coaching staff)
“He’s been limited in his time on the field, he played in the first ball game, then was injured in the second game and up until a couple of weeks ago to now, we haven’t seen much of him, but it is a new offense. We saw a little bit of them in the preseason and it seems like with the time off, he’s adjusted to that offense. He’s a tremendous athlete; he’s very capable of extending plays and making plays on the run, but he’s become a better pocket passer as well. Those things haven’t changed, he’s a terrific player and a guy we’re going to have our hands full with trying to contain.”
(On safety Bradley McDougald)
“We’re thinking at this point he can be one of those guys that can be interchangeable. He can play down low, but also be flexed out and cover tight ends. We had a couple of occasions on Sunday where we matched him up with their receivers when they went four wide receivers and he handled himself well. He’s got some flexibility in not just being a run-stopper, but having some man-cover ability as well. In our league, the way people spread you out, you need that. He’s not a one dimensional guy.”
(On facing an offense that likes to push the ball down field)
“No question, they take their shots. I think DeSean [Jackson] is leading the league in plus-40-yard catches and by pretty large margins. There are going to be opportunities and we’ve got to take advantage of those when they come. We just have to be where we need to be and catch the football. They’re not going to stop taking shots with a guy like that and we just have to be in position and make the play.”
(On if players need to start winning more one-on-one battles on the line of scrimmage)
“No question, that’s the case. Gerald is getting a lot of protections sliding to him and centers coming to him and that creates opportunities for other guys and we need to take advantage of it. Our guys know that and we’ve got to find that person that can do that. Hopefully this week we’ll get Michael [Johnson] back and he’ll get those opportunities, but if not that means other guys would have to step up and if they get the one-on-ones they have to win for us, which puts a lot of stress on our secondary when we don’t.”
(On if surprised that they haven’t been winning one-on-one battles at the line of scrimmage)
“In our league, if you’re not able to consistently rush the passer, then you have to bring five or six and that can really expose your secondary. We have to find a way to get that one other person to give us consistent pressure if they’re going to try and take Gerald from us, somebody else has to step up.”
(On why they haven’t been able to keep a fourth quarter game)
“The thing that comes to mind is not being able to make that one play to stop that drive, it could be a sack-fumble or an interception, you have to come up with that one play to stop that drive and we haven’t been able to get that done, whether it be St. Louis or this game we just played, just finding that play – Minnesota the same thing. Being in position and making that play – we may find ourselves in that same situation this week and we’ve got to find a way to make a play to get us off the field and help our team get a win.”
(On if the next step for David and McCoy is making splash plays)
“If can get a sack-fumble from Gerald or Lavonte who we’ll bring sometimes on pressures or just kind of what he did in the first Atlanta game, finding a way to strip the football out and somebody else picking up the ball, but it’s something that we’ve got to get done. The takeaways can be an equalizer when other things aren’t going right and especially on the road. Being able to take the ball away on the road, it raises your potential to win the game. This is a week where we need to get it going when it comes to takeaways that’s for sure.”
(On how McCoy’s injury affected his play Sunday)
“It definitely affected his play when you can’t burst and twist and turn like he has to and you’re still getting double teams all the time, it takes away from your play. To his credit, he played through it, we’re trying to get him rested now to hopefully have him for Sunday, but it made it more difficult for our team without question not having him at full strength.”
(On if the team is concerned with not having McCoy at full strength on Sunday)
“I don’t know how much better he’ll get in a shorter span with that type of injury. It’s a leg injury and a muscle pull so we’ll see, but even a 60 percent Gerald is better than no Gerald. I’m hoping he’ll be able to go.”
(On defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s comments that a 60 percent Gerald is better than no Gerald)
“Gerald’s not [at] 60 [percent], I’m fine. I don’t have to put a number on it, I’m fine.”
(On how critical it is for him to learn how to beat double teams)
“It has to be done in order for me to be effective and it’s something I have to work on extremely hard, especially if it comes in practice because that’s the best time to work on it. There’s a lot of times where teams max-protect and somebody has to win. I just have to get better and perfect working against double teams. There are ways to slip double teams, there are ways to align yourself in a better way, even when you know it’s coming. There are a lot of different things I can do, but I just have to keep working at because if I get it done, then it will help us a lot.”
(On getting pressure from outside rushers)
“It just has to be better. It’s as simple as that.”
(On if he gets frustrated facing double teams all of the time)
“It used to frustrate me, but then I just kind of realized what comes with it. 99 [Warren Sapp] told me ‘It’s tough sledding down there when you’re the guy, this is what you’re going to get, get used to it and get over it.’ That’s just kind of how 99 works.”
(On if he had recent conversations about beating double teams with Sapp)
“It was a couple of days ago.”
(On if he and linebacker Lavonte David try to keep each other positive during this rough stretch)
“It’s not just us two. Knowing we’re the leaders of the defense, we have to keep everybody up. Not just on defense, but everybody and the whole team, the leaders of every position group has to take their guys, keep them up and then this will spread throughout the whole team. Yes, Lavonte and I have had conversations and we know we just have to keep going to work.”
(On the plays David makes)
“I made a joke to him yesterday that said it’s almost cheating for you. For one: your nickname is ‘The Flash’ for a reason – he’s so smart that he knows what play is coming before it happens. If you already know what play is coming and you’re ‘The Flash’ then it’s almost like cheating. It’s just not fair. He’s not human, you just get used to it and it’s expected at this point. He had 14 tackles, that’s a slow day for Lavonte, that’s an average for him, but no he’s playing great for us and he’s just doing what we ask him to do. Those splash plays will come, we have to help him more upfront and get some tip passes to him, make the quarterback make some bad throws and those plays will come.”
(On quarterback Josh McCown’s emotional press conference after Sunday’s game)
“This game is very hard to play. For him personally, he did a whole lot to comeback and the things people didn’t see about Josh McCown is what he did when he wasn’t playing. He’s pumping up the defense, telling us what effects quarterbacks, what we can do better, staying on his guys, pumping us up and pumping them up, in Mike Glennon’s ear constantly and then while trying to do all of that, he was working to get back. He finally gets back – I believe he played well, there were things everybody could’ve done better, but putting in all of that work and then coming up short, especially against a division opponent and how that whole game played out, it kind of sucked. To see the passion that he had and has for the game, it’s good to see and you need that in your leader.”
(On if he’s had one of those ‘it ends here’ moments)
“I’ve said that already, I said that a long time ago. It was in Pittsburgh, I already did that and I’m sorry if you missed it. They’ve got this thing called ‘Google’ everything is online.”
(On the defense needing to work together as a group to get pressure on the quarterback)
“We have to work better together and that’s a fact, we definitely do. That’s with coordinating our rushes, meeting more than just in the meetings is required, we have to meet more as a unit and just get a feel for how we want to rush, but yes we definitely have to work better together.”
(On facing Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III)
“In this league, it’s always great to face great athletes and great competitors. I think he’s a very fierce competitor, that’s why he takes all of the hits he takes because he’s trying to make the play to help his team, and it’s always great to play against great competitors. I guess you can say that when you know you’re facing a RG3, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, just the great competitors of this league, it’s always great to face them.”
(On if Griffin’s injury has affected the way he’s played)
“Injuries can change how anybody plays. It’s kind of not what happens, but how do you bounce back from what happens. He tore his ACL in college: it was actually against Oklahoma when we played them – he tore his ACL and he bounced back and won the Heisman, he had a good transition. I think it slowed him last year, but then he dislocated his ankle, so one it can affect you if you’re not on the field. Nobody gets better by not playing – the mental aspect of it, I think he’s growing, but yes, the physical aspect of the game, it can affect you. If you’re not on the field, it’s hard to be able to get active reads or make the right throws and know where everybody is supposed to be, you can’t really do all of that if you’re on the sidelines. With being sidelined, yeah it can affect you for sure.”
(On the defense struggling with keeping leads in the fourth quarter)
“Well even more than just that – end-of-halves or end-of-game situations period, we haven’t been good in and that starts with practice. We do two-minute drill on Thursdays and we have to compete at game speed, even though we don’t wear pads, we still have to compete at game speed. You don’t have to bull-rush anybody, but you can still get a good pass rush, get your hands down, timing down, receivers can run great routes, in the back end they can make sure they’re in the right position, but we have to compete much harder in those drills in practice for it to carry over into the game. Sometimes the two-minute drill, at the end of practice – Coach Smith is very strategic and he’s very smart, he does it that on purpose. To practice for however long we practice and then you put this two-minute drill at the end of practice, it’s to simulate the game. Starting with me and all the way to the backend we have to compete, compete and compete at the highest-level in practice in order to improve on that in the game.”
(On if everyone on the defense has bought into the scheme)
“Yeah, I believe so. Somebody on the radio show yesterday named all of the Hall of Famers, even when I talked to 99 [Sapp], he named off all of the Hall of Famers and potential Hall of Famers that were on the defense he played in, but then following that he said it took us a long time to get that chemistry to be able to know where each other is supposed to be. How I can relate to him and tell him ‘Hey, if I’m taking this double team I need you to get the guard off me,’ or ‘Gerald, that’s not good enough. You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that.’ Then guys just flowing together, it took them awhile to get that too. Once that happens, this defense is very effective and I just think we haven’t gotten to that point yet to where it’s all meshing together, but I truly believe everybody is buying in.”
(On if it’s frustrating knowing it takes time to learn this defense)
“We just have to keep working and you just have to be patient in this league. ‘It is a what have you done for me lately?’ type of league, but the teams who keep pressing and stay consistent with what they’re doing every week, they eventually start to come around and those are the teams who thrive. I believe we’re on that pace right now.”
(On how much more comfortable he is now compared to training camp)
“I’m way ahead of when I started out. I was injured in training camp early on and [focused on] getting healthy. The offense is picking up – it’s like a second nature to me and I’m playing faster than ever.”
(On how much enjoys the competition of one-on-one battles)
“I love it. I’m a competitive guy. Growing up, I’ve always been competitive. When I see it’s one-on-one, I have to make a play. That’s my job. You never know when you’re going to get an opportunity, so I just make the most of them.”
(On if he prides himself on his consistency, having recorded at least four catches in every game this season)
“Yeah, when I’m targeted, it’s my job to catch the ball. I saw I had a stat like that in college. So I guess it’s a little luck involved as well.”
(On lining up on both sides of the field)
“It’s going good. I love moving around on the field. Playing in the slot is a big advantage for me as well to create mismatches, so I’m having a lot of fun.”
(On if he has been keeping up with the other rookie wide receivers and their performances)
“Not on purpose. It just happens – I’ll be on Twitter or something and I’ll see what they did or something like that. I see our rookie class is pretty good. It’s fun having those guys to compete with as well.”
(On how much it helps to have veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson to give him pointers)
“They can’t lead to my side or they’ll leave [Vincent] wide open, and then if they cloud his side, then they’ll leave me in a one-on-one. So it’s great. We complement each other. He’s a bigger help off the field.”

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