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02 October 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, October 2, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: With his first-quarter sack at Pittsburgh (9/28), DT Gerald McCoy now has 20.5 in his career, the fifth-most ever by a Buccaneers DT/NT. Additionally, McCoy’s 16.5 sacks since 2012 are tied for the second-most in the NFL by a DT.
 
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 Vincent Jackson
Quarterback Josh McCown

HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening statement)
“Four guys didn’t practice today, as you know, Larry English, Mike Evans, Dashon [Goldson] and Josh McCown. It’s good to get Mason Foster out there doing some work. We’re starting to get more of our guys back out which is a good thing. Besides that, we had a good practice today. It’s hot in Tampa in October, I’m finding out, which is a good thing. I’m excited about playing. I feel like we have a good gameplan. We know that it’s tough duty whenever you go on the road, especially against a good Saints team that’s pretty disappointed in their record.”
 
(On scoring in the red zone)
“No doubt you have to be smart in those situations, I’m sure all teams practice them quite a bit, that’s why I was disappointed we didn’t handle the situation as well as we did in the St. Louis game. Again we failed the first time [in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh], but we as a football team converted the second time around. Most games come down to that last drive one way or another. I think three of our games have come down with our offense having the ball and needing to score. Then it’s about making plays. You’re right, being smart and not doing anything dumb, making good decisions and all of that – and you can go on the last time that we were out, we handled the situation well.”
 
(On linebacker Mason Foster returning to practicing)
“I’m trying to think of what happened yesterday, I just know today he looked pretty good. He’s making progress. I don’t know if he’ll be able to go this week or not, but he’s getting reps now which is a good thing. I know our Mike linebacker is a pretty important position. The Mike linebacker position had an opportunity to make a lot plays last week and it’s like that – our system is set up for the linebackers to be in on the action quite a bit. It will be good when we get him back full-time.”
 
(On players who have been on-and-off of the roster being able to make plays)
“I think it’s natural to be motivated, especially for some like Larry English or Louis Murphy, guys that were off of the football team and you realize most teams would be a lot better if players were released and came back the second time around. I’ve been in that situation, I was released and getting a second chance, you normally do things a little bit differently and for us too with our roster, that’s why we talked about a 53-man roster, but it’s a 63-man roster and for our players on the practice squad to see that guys are coming up, a lot of different combinations. If you do something in practice – the odds are if you deserve to play, eventually you’ll get a chance to play, dress and be able to contribute and now that’s on video with a player like Louis Murphy having that big of a role at the end of the game.”
 
(On how important it is for the safeties to match up against Saints tight end Jimmy Graham)
“Well it’s a tough duty match up for anybody – safety, linebacker or whoever – when you go against a player like Jimmy Graham, but Mark [Barron] is a scholarship player too and we have more. The safety position in general, a lot is asked of it. He has to be able to stop the run and play down in the box like your linebacker and with us [in the] Tampa-2 he’s back deep. He has to be able to cover ground like the best defensive back and then when you ask him to take a tough duty-like man-coverage on a great tight end like this, but normally a safety is up to that challenge. It’s a different breed of guy in general, going all the way back to a guy like John Lynch. We feel like we have a good group of safeties and last week we had injuries. Dashon Goldson hasn’t practiced this week, but Major Wright stepped right in and got a game ball. We like Bradley McDougald and Keith Tandy, we have a couple of options which you always need.”
 
(On what he learned about safeties Bradley McDougald and Major Wright after stepping in last week)
“I wouldn’t say a whole lot about Major, I’ve seen him in every situation that you can think of and there’s a reason why we brought him here, I knew exactly what we were getting from him. Bradley McDougald, Keith Tandy and those players, I’ve seen enough out of them out here to like them. They’re young players with talent that will only get better when they get opportunities to play. We feel comfortable with them.”
 
(On safety Mark Barron and the performance of the safeties and linebackers)
“I think our football team has been OK. And with that, everybody’s technique has been OK. Mark will be the first guy to tell you there’s some things that he will – not can – he will improve upon. Coachable player. I think about as impact of a hitter as there is at the safety position in the league. But there’s still some other parts of his game that – and in our system, as was mentioned, we put a lot on our safeties and linebackers. For them to just get it down the first month of the season, it takes a while. But we love growing with our defense with Mark and guys like that.”
 
(On if he expected the secondary to have made more plays on the ball at this point in the season)
“Passes defensed, that can say a lot of things. I go on opportunities that they’ve had to make plays. Yeah, this many games, you would think that we would have more opportunities to make interceptions. There were a couple. Dashon [Goldson] would tell you he should have had one. But eventually, if you keep going – you go through spells where you don’t [make plays on the ball]. Our safeties all have good hands and this is just a matter of time. But right now, just interceptions in general, we’re disappointed. Where are we at? One? By Danny [Lansanah], a linebacker? A Sam linebacker at that that doesn’t play most of the time. So those numbers have to change.”
 
(On if making more plays in the ball is a point of emphasis this week)
“I just don’t think that you can put any more emphasis on. There’s a sense of urgency for us. No one talks about it more than we do. Again, my experience tells me eventually, it will come. And just not that. We’re not pleased with the amount of takeaways we’ve had. But again, the guys are doing things to correct those.”
 
(On the performance of cornerback Leonard Johnson)
“Leonard Johnson played his best game last week. Very pleased with how Leonard played. He needed to. He’ll tell you he hadn’t played his best ball – like our football team though. But it takes a while at that position too – the nickel position. I was talking about the safety position. Nickel has to be able to play in the box, guard one of the receivers man-to-man. He may have the toughest duty on our defense. But Leonard has played it well. And again, if last week was an indicator of where we’re heading with him, we’re pretty excited about that.”
 
(On how he thinks linebacker Dane Fletcher has played)
“OK. Dane will tell you there’s some plays we left on the field last week. But you just don’t move into that position. For us to expect to have Hardy Nickerson right away, it just doesn’t happen like that. But we’ll just keep working with him. I see improvement daily.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
 
(Opening statement)
“Looking forward to this afternoon’s practice. Thought we had a good day yesterday up at Tropicana Field. Back on our surface today and looking forward to trying to get better as a group. Should be quite a contest on Sunday.”
 
(On the positive takeaways from the Week 4 victory at Pittsburgh)
“There were a lot of positives from that game. Just the way we played run defense against a team that was averaging 163 yards rushing – had come off a 264-yard game against a good Carolina front. To hold those guys to 85 yards and 3.1 yards per carry, the five sacks by our D-line, the strip fumble. You can see the difference of having a Gerald McCoy, a Michael Johnson on the field – although, they’re not one hundred percent. But just their presence helped us to make some progress on defense, so that was encouraging. There were some things that we can build on from that game.”
 
(On the defense’s struggles to prevent first downs on third-and-long situations)
“Without question, that’s an area we’ll have to improve on. We’ve talked about it today. This is our third-down day, so it’s a point of emphasis. To get a team in as many third down-and-longs as we got that team in on Sunday is rare in our league, and not to be more successful was very disappointing. So it’s something we want to definitely improve on. It will help our third down percentage. It’s every defense’s goal to get a team to third-and-thirteen, third-and-elevens – you think you’re going to get off the field when that happens and we didn’t execute a few times and they extended some drives.”
 
(On New Orleans’ inability to create big plays on offense so far this season)
“On defense, you’re always trying to take away big plays – pass or run – and it’s no different with their first four opponents. We’re going to try to minimize the number of big plays they get, but they’re more than capable. They’re putting up a lot of yards, they’re doing a lot of good things on offense. We’ve got to find ways to take the ball away, turn it over a few times. So they still are capable of being explosive on offense.”
 
(On what New Orleans does to allow quarterback Drew Brees to make big plays inside the pocket)
“Their guards have done a great job for them over the years, which is the key to their protection. Their tackles have been guys who have kind of allowed defensive ends to maybe run by the quarterback, and their guards do a pretty good job of allowing him to step up and make the throws that he has to make. They’ve been doing a good job of that and that’s probably one of the keys to their passing attack, whether or not you can rush against their guards.”
 
(On how you game plan to stop Brees)
“There’s some things that we want to be able to do – without discussing a lot of strategy – we have some ideas and some plans, but other people have too. He’s one of the all-time great quarterbacks in our league. Sometimes those plans work against him and sometimes they don’t. We think we have a pretty good plan – we’ve got to get it executed.”
 
(On how the defensive backups that have replaced injured players were able to step right in and contribute)
“For us, it’s been kind of forced on us to a degree – [we] lost some key guys really early in the season, so guys have had to step up and get a lot of reps in practice that would not have gotten those reps in the past. And because of that, they’ve gotten better. And for some, it was their second opportunity. The Atlanta game, for a lot of those guys, it was their first time starting at their positions in an NFL game. So a little bit of experience, a little bit more time to prepare, but also having a Gerald and a Michael back helped their performance as well. But more reps in practice, more time to prepare probably helped some of those guys be ready to play.”
 
(On the struggles of the secondary in defending the pass)
“It’s true that you want to be able to rush the passer and get sacks, and we were able to get that done, which you hope will cut down on the yards down the field. But there were some things that we can do better, both on the back end and even up front as well, that will help us with our linebackers, with our secondary to minimize those chances where guys are getting open on the back end. We’ll be tested for sure this weekend; they have a very good passing attack. But we’ve got to continue to rush the passer and just keep getting guys to get to their spots and hopefully get our hands on some balls.”
 
(On the responsibilities of different guys on defense)
“There are some things in our defense – it’s not as simple as most would think, just lining up and playing the Cover Two. There’s some responsibilities for every guy at every position. And when you’re a new guy at the middle linebacker position or a new guy at the outside linebacker position, like [Danny] Lansanah or Dane [Fletcher] is. There’s some things that have to happen over time, and they’re going to get better. We’ll get better as they get better. Just got to keep going out there and playing and practicing and getting them ready. But it’s not as simple as just rolling out and saying, ‘OK, we’re going to play Cover Two.’”
 
(On if Brees’ quick release will change the defense’s approach upfront with rushing the passer)
“He’s one of those guys that does not take a lot of sacks – even when you get people around him, he has that innate ability to get rid of the ball. So we’ve just got to make him uncomfortable as best we can. We’re going to try to do it with four, and we’re going to try to do it other times with five or six, but we’ve got to find a way to not let him take his time to scan the field and pick any defense apart when he has time. But he’s more than capable of sliding and moving in the pocket and making plays.”
 
(On if there will be times that they treat tight end Jimmy Graham as a receiver)
“Sometimes, we will. There’s going to be times where we look at him as a receiver because they do move him around a lot. It’s not often that he’s the point-of-attack blocker – you see that on tape. He’s an outstanding tight end with great pass-receiving skills and you have to respect that. And the way they move him around, you have to recognize that he’s not always in the tight end position. So there are times that we’re going to treat him like he’s a receiver.”
 
(On if any part of the gameplan calls for more emphasis on run defense or pass defense in certain situations)
“That’s a part of it. You go into every game, generally, with an idea of what you need to take away. And we went into that last game, the Pittsburgh game, saying we’re not going to let them rush for 200 yards; we’re not going to do it. We know they have an outstanding receiver in Antonio Brown, we know that Heath Miller is good, but we’re going to make sure that these two backs aren’t running up and down the field, because we thought that we had no chance on defense if that happened. But that doesn’t mean that you neglect your pass defense. We still have got to make plays on the tight end or the wide receiver – whoever it is – but you do have to make a decision, usually, in a gameplan; what do you have to take away? How are you going to make him left-handed? We have a plan for this week and hopefully our plan will be able to get it executed.”
 
(On if he is surprised that safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson and cornerback Alterraun Verner do not have any interceptions so far this season)
“I think the interceptions and the pass breakups, they’ll come. Dashon being injured right now, we’ll see what happens with him. But the guys that will be playing this weekend, we’re counting on those guys to make some plays for us on the back end. We hope to get New Orleans in a throwing mode and throw the ball around and we’ll have a chance to make some plays on the ball. But [they’ve] still got time to make some plays and there’s no greater time than this weekend.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
 
(On how the team is 1-3 yet is only one game out of first place in the NFC South)
“That’s the league. This year, it just so happens to be this division. But that’s how the NFL works. Any given year, it can be any division. You can go 0-3 and then win one game and now you’re one game out of first place. It’s just how the NFL works. It’s why I always say you can’t sulk in a loss. You just have to keep fighting and work to get a win and just keep moving forward. Anything can happen.”
 
(On if there are certain quarterbacks that he would rather get a sack on than others because of their ability to escape pressure)
“Drew [Brees], he’ll definitely get the ball out; he’s very crafty. You get your hand on him and he’s one of those guys that will flip the ball, backhanded, throwing over his hand, doing trick passes and stuff in the middle of trying to get him on the ground. Another thing is he just doesn’t hold the ball. So getting your hands on Drew is definitely always a good feeling.”
 
(On the last few games they have played at New Orleans and how they plan to make Brees uncomfortable)
“It’s been ugly the past couple of times going in there. Definitely not what you want. Drew Brees is a Hall of Famer, but I’ve seen different defenses get to him and rattle him and make him have a bad day. We have to do that. It’s going to start with us in the middle. He’s a shorter guy so we have to get in his face. We have different packages where we’ll get taller guys in the middle [and] try and get our hands up and just pressure him. The big thing is to get him off the spot, and then it’s a rush and coverage combo after that. But we definitely have to get him off the spot. He likes to throw from a certain spot, he has a certain step up spot he likes – you have to get him off of that and get him uncomfortable.”
 
(On his hand injury)
“Hand feels good. It’s definitely still broken, but hey, it’s the NFL. One thing I will say is the fans, after the Atlanta game, the fans was like, ‘Man, we really need Gerald back.’ And then after playing Pittsburgh, the fans was like, ‘We really appreciate his effort out there with one hand. So nobody was like, ‘We don’t feel bad for you. Just play.’ The fans actually had some type of feelings. But yeah, it’s definitely healing. It’s just a day-to-day process.”
 
(On how the fans have been following the team’s first victory of the season)
“The fans want to see us win. They just want to see us win. As soon as we got a win – I did say, ‘All it takes is one win and things will start changing.’ The fans, they finally got to see a one in the win column and all their mindsets and comments started to change. It’s a great feeling. It’s very contagious and we want to keep that going.”
 
(On the team’s momentum coming off a victory heading to New Orleans)
“You just build off that momentum. We’ve got a lot of momentum going into New Orleans. A lot of guys were not here last year or the year before, so they don’t know what has happened the last couple of years going up to New Orleans. But a couple of guys like myself, Demar Dotson, Da’Quan Bowers, Lavonte [David], we were there. We got to feel it, so we’ve just kind of been letting those guys know, ‘This is what’s been happening the last couple of times we’ve been in that building.’ They play really, really, really well at home, so we’ve got to be on it. No letdown. We can only go up from here.”
 
(On how much the loss to Atlanta affected the team’s morale)
“It definitely motivated us, but when we got those extra days off, we really did put it behind us. Besides being asked about it, nobody really brought it up. It was just one of those reality checks like, ‘We’re 0-3, we were here last year, we can’t keep allowing this to happen.’ But it definitely was an eye-opener like, ‘We’re already 0-2, then you go and allow this to happen? Nuh-uh. We can’t keep this going.’ So after that weekend, we really let it go and it was on to Pittsburgh.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER VINCENT JACKSON
 
(On his wrist injury)
“Like I said last week, it’s something that’s going to linger for a while, but it did pretty well in the game – don’t think it’s any worse for the wear. I’ll just continue to be on top of it as much as I can and do what I can to protect it. But I’ll just have to deal with it and manage.”
 
(On the late comeback drive in last week’s game and the preparation involved)
“It’s something we draw all the time. We always try to finish our practices on Thursday and Fridays with that kind of positive note: scoring drives, things like that. Just kind of [to] build that mentality of going down. Defense, obviously, needs stops, and offense needs to score. It’s what this game comes down to in this league each and every week across the board. I think it’s something we can build on. Will every game be like that? Of course, no. You can’t ever exactly predict the situation, but you prepare yourself for everything and hopefully whatever situation you get into you can execute.”
 
(On success in two-minute drive situations)
“I think it’s about having a smart football team. It’s about really educating your offense, your offensive line, your running backs, your receivers. Knowing when to get down, when to get out of bounds, obviously knowing the situation with the clock, the score –  do you need a field goal, do you need to score? When you see teams execute well, it’s usually not because they do amazing plays, it’s because maybe somebody doesn’t make that mistake where, ‘Oops, shouldn’t have gone out of bounds,’ or, ‘Oops, should have fought for more yards.’ Those kinds of things usually kill those drives. I think our coaches do a great job of educating us each and every week, looking at different situations around the league that have happened, and I think that’s going to be key for us moving forward.”
 
(On this week’s game in New Orleans)
“We already know New Orleans’ reputation. They are able to put up points; they’re going to play very strong at home. They had a tough game last week and they are going to be fired up. We are ready to take their best shot. We are coming in there very aggressive and we’re going to try to score each and every time we get our hands on the ball.”
 
(On quarterback Mike Glennon’s calm demeanor in pressure situations)
“I noticed it even when he came in, when he got pushed in last year. He was prepared. He had that look in his eye like, ‘Hey, I’ve studied hard, I’ve worked hard on my mechanics as a quarterback, and obviously, mentally, learning our playbook and our system.’ This year with another year under his belt, the coaching staff has really done a great job with him. He’s put in the time. When you put in the time and effort and you work hard on your craft, you should be able to step out there on that field and feel confident. And that’s what you see with where Mike is at. Now he has some more experience under his belt. He’s seen some different looks in the defenses, he’s a lot more confident with his reads, he’s trusting the players around him and he’s playing aggressive. It’s fun to play with him.
 
QUARTERBACK JOSH MCCOWN
 
(On his thumb injury)
“It’s feeling better. It’s obviously not quite there yet, but an improvement, so that’s good.”
 
(On quarterback Mike Glennon’s first start last week)
“I thought the way he handled it was magnificent. It was so cool. I’ll take you back to Friday after Atlanta. When you walk into this room after that game and you feel what we felt, that moment in Pittsburgh was even more special. I was thrilled for our team, I was thrilled for Mike. In the matter that it takes place, as a young player to go into a hostile environment like that and do what he did was outstanding. It was special; it was fun to be a part of.”
 
(On seeing his brother, Luke, who plays for New Orleans)
“It will be cool. I’ve said it over and over again, but it’s a blessing just to be in the NFL for one person, and for two people from the same family, those odds… and we have, I believe, [Tampa Bay cornerback Brandon Dixon] and his brother [New Orleans cornerback Brian Dixon], so it’s kind of neat. And we have Gill [Byrd] and his son [New Orleans safety Jairus Byrd]. It will be fun on Sunday. It’s a neat thing; I’m very thankful to have this opportunity. It will be very special for Luke and I.”
 
(On the connection that he and his brother have with NFC South teams)
“I don’t know if weird is the right word, but this is how it’s worked out. We have Charlotte, and Atlanta and New Orleans and Tampa covered. We know where all the spots are, that’s for sure. It’s just where the journey has taken us. It’s been fun and we feel very thankful to have played in those organizations. I really – all of our stops, the guys we have gotten to work with along the way, whether it’s Jake Delhomme and myself in Carolina, or Matt [Ryan] and Drew [Brees] with Luke. It’s been great; we love the guy’s we have worked with.”
 
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