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06 November 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, November 6, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson has scored a touchdown in each of his last three matchups with Atlanta (four total), while eclipsing 100 receiving yards in two of the three games. With a touchdown against Atlanta on Sunday, Jackson would be only the second Buccaneer ever to post a touchdown in four consecutive games against the Falcons (FB Mike Alstott, 9/21/03-12/24/05).
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
Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson
(Opening statement)
“Injury list: Anthony Collins; Doug Martin; Akeem Spence – hurt his hamstring a little bit yesterday, I guess he wasn’t on the list yesterday – and Alterraun Verner still is nursing that hamstring injury. Besides that, everybody practiced at least on a limited basis. Thursday practice, division opponent, we’ve talked three days before, so you have all my thoughts on the Falcons.”
(On how running back Charles Sims has looked in practice this week and if he expects him to play on Sunday)
“He gets better and better each day. Looks good. Do I expect him to play? Yes. I expect him to play – hope he plays. He’s looked good and yes, we need to get him out there as soon as possible.”
(On the offense’s performance on third downs)
“What can I say? You need to convert. You need to keep the drives going. [We have] had opportunities throughout. That’s the money down. A lot of times when you look at how many yards you have or how many points you have, it’s just about more plays – especially when you feel like you can have some success. You need as many plays as possible. And this is a big third-down day for us. We just need to do a better job with it as much as anything. And try to stay out of third-and-longs – try and get manageable third-down situations and convert.”
(On why the team struggled on third-and-short conversions last Sunday against Cleveland)
“Of course, you won’t hear any excuses. The next time in those situations, we feel pretty good about – as long as we continue to have third-and-shorts, eventually we will convert. We will start converting some of those. What I’m more concerned about is staying out of the third-and-long situations and [the] odds will start going in our favor.”
(On the importance of scoring in the red zone)
“That’s simple. It’s football 101. You get down there – at the minimum, it’s a field goal. Of course you want a touchdown, but a turnover down in the red zone is just – it really kills you. That really hurt us last time.”
(On if Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones is in the same class as Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant)
“I definitely think so. Big, great size, competitor, tough guy, he’ll block, he can make the catches – just tough duty all the way around. I definitely think he’s one of the better receivers in the league. Normally he proves that when he goes out. Hopefully we’re going to try to slow him down a little bit.”
(On the possibility of cornerback Alterraun Verner missing the game with hamstring injury)
“It’s not ideal if that’s the case, but we’re not there yet. Vern is getting better, but we’ll have corners out there and we’ll have a plan to try and slow him down a little bit. Julio [Jones] is a good player, as you mentioned. Roddy White didn’t play last time, but he’s playing this time. Devin Hester had a big game against us, so there’s not just one guy that we’re really concerned with, there’s a few and everybody needs to be on top of their game. One thing that could help that a little bit is the pass rush, where we make them get the ball out of their hands a little bit quicker.”
(On how they plan to slow down Atlanta kick returner Devin Hester)
“You have some options. One of them is ‘Hey, we’re going to stop him. He puts on his cleats like everyone else does.’ Another one is to try and keep the ball out of his hands or punt it higher to be able to get coverage down there, we have a few different options. We won’t be using the gameplan or we’ll at least change up a little bit of the gameplan from last time.”
(On having most of the defensive line for this game compared to their game against Atlanta in Week Three)
“I know we need it and we need all of the guys out there. As we talk about the different receivers – they’re special receivers – but we have to be able to put ourselves in a favorable position and that’s with the pass rush. Gerald [McCoy] and Michael [Johnson] didn’t play last time. We’re rushing the quarterback better, we have the home-field crowd and there are a lot of things in our favor to play good defense, especially when we can get them in – we’ve given up some third-and-longs and if we get in those situations we have to really come through. We’re anxious to get our full group on the field at the same time.”
(On tackle Kevin Pamphile’s first action of the season and how he performed)
“He’s a player with a lot of potential and we like his whole makeup. I think for the first time out there he did a pretty decent job. The arrow is pointing up with him. Again, he has good size and good athletic ability that you’re looking for in a left tackle. We’ll just see how it plays out, but it was good to get him some work.”
(On defensive end William Gholston)
“He would like to have a couple of plays back from that last game and one in particular, but just that, on first and second downs he’s giving us good play over the tight end as a six-technique. Where he’s made the most improvement I think is being a force inside, that’s a big body to throw over, whether he’s deflecting passes or just a different body type on some of the guards that are used to playing bigger guys inside. Will has been productive and getting better and better. He’s a green player as we started off, but he’s starting to put himself in positions to do some things for us.”
(Opening statement)
“Big NFC South football game coming up for us this weekend at home. Anxious to get our first win at our stadium – at Raymond James Stadium. Big game for us for obvious reasons. Need to get us a win at home.”
(On what he has seen from defensive end Jacquies Smith that earned him more playing time)
“He came up with a big sack for us in the red zone in that ball game on Sunday and we’ve seen his ability to rush the passer show up in the snaps that we’ve given him. He’s getting a little bit better each week for us. He kind of earned a few more snaps and we want to continue to take a look at him and see how he progresses. But his ability to rush the passer has shown up.”
(On if he can compare Smith to another player he has coached in the past)
“It’s so early in his maturation, but as he continues to develop, you can see he has some of those traits that you look for in guys that can rush the passer: the quick twitch, the ability to bend, turn the corner, and then to finish. So you see some things and we just have to continue to watch him perform and see if he continues to grow. But up to this point, he’s making good progress.”
(On if he is surprised at Atlanta’s record since beating Tampa Bay in Week 3 and if Atlanta has been doing anything differently on offense since then)
“We’ve had our hands full each week trying to prepare for each opponent. I haven’t paid that much attention prior to our preparation for them. In looking at their offense, they still have the weapons they had when we faced them on that Thursday night: they’ve still got a great core of wide receivers; the quarterback is still playing at a high level; the offensive line, they’ve had some changes there and that’s kind of showed in the production there; the skill guys; the run game is still the run game that we saw weeks ago. So they’re still very capable. We’ve just got to find a way to slow them down.”
(On if he is shocked that Atlanta has not won a game since beating Tampa Bay in Week 3)
“It’s the National Football League. We just don’t want them to figure it out when they play us on Sunday. Things happen in our league.”
(On the differences in the team’s defense since last facing Atlanta)
“I think it’s kind of obvious. You look at the way our defense has played coming out of the bye, we’re a much better defense with a Gerald [McCoy] or a somewhat healthy Michael [Johnson], or getting our middle linebacker back. You felt like you were playing with the JV [team] on that night. It was tough. The guys that played, they did everything they could – they battled. But we were a little bit outmanned and they did a good job against us. We’ve got to fight back – but it helps to have a Gerald McCoy. He’s a premier defensive tackle in our league – arguably the best in our league – and he’ll make a difference on Sunday I would expect.”
(On if he senses the defense is starting to come around and play to its potential)
“I think so. You look at – I think we’ve averaged on defense giving up 16 points the last couple of weeks, which is a big improvement. Our third-down percentage has improved – we were probably the best we’ve been this past Sunday. And to hold a team to 1.8 yards rushing the football for the day on average, those are signs of improvement. Now we’ve got to continue to improve. But there’s no question the numbers are getting better. But this week will be a big challenge. This is a team that’s coming off a bye, they did a great job against us the first time we played them, so this will be a good barometer as to how much have we actually improved.”
(On if inserting safety Major Wright in the starting lineup helped the defense improve and if the early season defensive problems can be attributed to players being out of position)
“With Major’s familiarity with the system, it definitely helps – his communication, his leadership – it helps a lot as far as getting guys in the right spot and having a guy back there who’s so familiar with the defense and can kind of anticipate things before they happen because he understands the scheme so well. He’s going to definitely help us – he helped us on Sunday and he’s helped us even in practice in some things he was doing even before he started. His success on the back end will help our defense improve as well. It’s a plus for us having him back there.”
(On the improved play of cornerback Johnthan Banks)
“It seems like his confidence has really grown. You watch him in practice – he’s practicing with a little bit more of a swagger now, and part of that is just understanding what his role is in the defense and what we expect from him, and we’re seeing it on the field in games. He had a real good game on Sunday – an outstanding game. Made every play that just about came his way – whether it was in the run game or the pass game. But his work ethic has always been there. I think it’s just a matter now of the fact that he has a greater understanding of his role within this scheme, and that’s starting to show in his production.”
(On if he can expound on his comments on his radio show that head coach Lovie Smith has been harder on some players in meetings)
“I said that coach is just letting guys know that we’re going to do things one way around here: his way. He knows his way works and that’s what we’re going to do, bottom line. That’s the head coach. His way he believes works. How I was raised is whoever is in authority, whatever rules they set in place and whatever they have said is what you do. So that’s what I’m preaching and that’s what I’m trying to spread throughout the team. This is our head coach and regardless of what we’ve been going through all season, he’s never wavered. All he asks is that we follow simple rules and just execute the game plan the way he coaches it – simple as that. That’s really all his message was.”
(On what Smith’s way is)
“However he wants things done. I’m not just going to go down the list of what he’s told us, but however he wants things done is what we need to do.”
(On if players have not been listening to the coaching of Smith)
“No. But it’s never any problem reiterating things of that sort. Coach [Joe] Cullen [and] Coach [Mike] Phair in the D-line room, they show us the same film over and over and over. You can never state the rules or show a person how to do things the right way too many times. It’s never a number to how many times you can let a person know how things have to go.”
(On if he feels the defense is in better shape now than in Week 3 in Atlanta)
"More important than who's playing [is] our attitude approaching the game and during the game. We didn't play with much heart or pride that game, so that has to be better this game. More importantly than who's actually executing the game plan, whoever's out there we have to do it with more pride and more heart than we did last time we played them."
(On if the Bucs have been looking forward to another crack at the Falcons)
"No. We haven't been worrying about Atlanta. We've been worrying about the teams that we play each week. This week it just so happens to be Atlanta, so that's who we focus on."
(On if they are motivated by that Week 3 game)
"We're not thinking about that. Coach said it leaves a scar, which it does, so all of us have scars. When you look at a scar you just remember, 'Oh dang, I got that scar from this happening.' That’s how we look at it. Atlanta's been doing what they've been doing to give them success in certain areas, but then they've been doing a lot of things that we see that we can try to expose. The same things with us – we've been focusing on what we have to do better, even starting from last week against Cleveland. So it's not really anything of looking back at the last game and what they did."
(On Atlanta struggling since Week 3)
"I'm not concerned about Atlanta.  I am now, but what they do every other week is Atlanta – I'm concerned about the Bucs."
(On what he likes about the emergence of defensive end Jacquies Smith)
“He listens. He’s not afraid to take coaching, he’s not afraid to make a mistake and then own up to that mistake and that’s helping him improve. One thing he can do is he can run. I told him – I said, ‘If you just run, I’ll help you. I’m going to draw a lot of attention for whatever reason that is, but if you just run, I’ll help you. I’ll help you make some plays. I just need you to just do what you do best and that’s get off the block.”
(On if Atlanta’s injuries on the offensive line gives them an opportunity to take advantage and apply pressure to Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan)
“Each week on each NFL team, there’s going to be injuries. So we just have to make sure we take care of us, regardless of who they have blocking for Matt Ryan. We have to do what we have to do because there’s been instances in the past when we’ve played teams who didn’t have their starters in and we didn’t expose them. So we have to be more concerned about us than who we’re facing.”
(On if the defense is starting to play more loose and free)
"Yeah, I would say the past couple of weeks we've had a lot more fun playing – due to our preparation and just going out there and letting it all fly. There are a lot of things we did that we can build off of – [we’re] definitely not there yet. We have to start finishing games. I said last week that we have to take the ball away. We took the ball away twice but we've got to score with it. The great defenses score and that's one thing we have to do. And we've just got to be more consistent collectively as a unit."
(On if he's trying to remember to have fun while playing)
"Yeah. I always try to preach to have fun. This is a very short-lived game. Even the Sundays, before you know it, it seems like it's a long game, and everybody says, 'Oh, it's a long game, it's not over until it's over,' but you blink your eyes and there are two minutes left in the fourth quarter and you [haven’t] had [any] fun all day. So I always tell guys you've got to enjoy it while you have it because there are tons of people who would do anything to switch places with you. We've just got to have fun regardless of what the result is."
(On if there's more pressure to win at home)
"I don't think there's added pressure, but I think our team knows that we have to give our fans what they deserve, and that's a winner, especially at home. Our fans, regardless of what has happened with us this year, they've shown up and they've rooted and cheered all the way to the end. We just want to give our fans a reason to enjoy the rest of their Sunday. Especially when you have an opportunity to go see your favorite NFL team play at home, you've got an opportunity to see your favorite players play. I know me, if I was a fan of a team and I had that opportunity, I would want to go home smiling. I think our team knows that and we want to give our fans what they deserve and that's a winner."
(On how much it meant to him to have his breakout performance last Sunday against Cleveland)
“It didn’t mean enough. I wanted to win. I was doing everything in my power to help the team win and it wasn’t enough.”
(On if he can be pleased with his performance despite the team losing the game)
“Not at all. I’m always confident no matter what my stats are or anything like that. I know I can go out there and play ball. I’m a professional [and] that’s my job. If we had come out with a win then it would have been alright, but we lost.”
(On if this game has added meaning after losing to Atlanta in Week 3)
“Yeah absolutely. They had their way with us the last time we played them. It’s a big week for us. We’re still in the division [race] despite our unfortunate record. It’s a big week. I think it’s a must-win.”
(On what he needs to do to adjust back to having Josh McCown as the starting quarterback)
“Just do what I’ve been doing: just run my routes and just catch the ball when it comes my way. I played with him previously, so it will be easy to get that relationship back.”
(On what he took from the Week 3 loss at Atlanta)
“Oh man, it was a good old fashioned butt-whooping. We got off to a slow start, and once they got that ball rolling, they kept it rolling. We know we’re a much better team this time and we’re excited for it. Each and every game in this league is important and division games always carry a little bit more weight. We’re happy to have them here coming to our house. We’re looking to obviously put up a better performance.”
(On if there is a desire to prove that this team is improved since Week 3)
“Oh absolutely. Each and every week – we haven’t been thinking about them since that loss – but now that they’re back and now we’re reviewing that game and looking at what we’ve done since, we know we’re not that same team. Even at that point in time, we felt like we just didn’t execute and perform as well. We get another opportunity. When it comes down to it, you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to perform, you’ve got to execute, and play sound football and that’s what we’re looking to do this Sunday.”
(On if it will be a big adjustment with quarterback Josh McCown starting again)
“No. Both these guys are very familiar, very comfortable in this system. They both – obviously we’ve taken a lot of reps with both of them, so we don’t expect to skip a beat with Josh back at the helm.”

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