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22 October 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, October 22, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: With 1.5 sacks at Washington, DT Gerald McCoy will have 33.0 for his career, tying DT Brad Culpepper (33.0 from 1994-99) for the sixth-most sacks in team history.
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

(Opening Statement)
“Injury list: Reid Fragel is in the concussion protocol. We’ll keep monitoring him. Tony McDaniel tweaked his groin a little bit yesterday, so he was not able to practice today. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is still getting better daily, but is not quite there. Everybody else practiced on a limited basis, which is a good thing, including Russell Shepard, who was full [participation] today.”
(On the status of guard Logan Mankins)
“Logan Mankins, groin, limited – arrow going up.”
(On the running back rotation with Doug Martin and Charles Sims)
“You have to have a starter, your bellcow, and that’s Doug for us. From there, there’s a lot of football, a lot of hits, you just need a relief [rusher]. They’re different running backs, they complement each other perfectly. Then it’s a feel for when you should take a guy out. [If] they have a hot hand, let them keep going, but don’t overdo it. Tim Spencer and Dirk [Koetter] and the rest of our offensive staff have done a good job with that. So we feel really good about those two, but then, also, [if] Doug [is] out a little bit you can say there’s Bobby Rainey. If Bobby had to step in and take a more active role, he could do it too. I’m very pleased with what we’ve gotten with our running backs.”
(On how Sims has improved after being limited with injuries his rookie season)
“I think it’s only that. We liked him a lot coming in. You miss all of training camp, you’re missing something. He’s had a full offseason with us, he has been healthy, he’s been in every meeting, had every practice and the guy that we saw on video we’re seeing right now. A guy that can run in between the tackles, a guy that can make you miss in the open field. We feel very comfortable splitting him out, throwing him the ball, running a wide receiver tree, so that’s what we’re getting from him.”
(On how the return of Johnthan Banks helps the cornerback depth)
“Just a good solid player. Of course he played well against [Washington] last year, but he’ll tackle – he’s different from the rest of our DBs (defensive backs) that we have, becauise he has height and length and long arms. He’s been a playmaker for us – can’t have too many good corners. We haven’t been totally pleased with how we’ve played on the back end, that’s been documented. To get another one of our guys, who we start the season with as our starter, back, has to help.”
(On how important height is in cornerback-wide receiver matchups)
“Well it’s becoming more and more of a factor as we look at it. Talking offensively speaking, we like those big receivers. We should have an advantage on some of those smaller cornerbacks. Seems like the smaller corners didn’t get that memo. They’ve been that height all their life. For some reason, they tend to play up a little taller than they are. As I look throughout the league, I just don’t see big receivers, people throwing fade routes to big receivers and them catching the ball always. It just doesn’t happen like that. There’s a lot more that goes into it. If you’re playing a defense where you’re just locking up and singling coverage with a small DB, big receiver, yeah you’re going to have some issues then. We try not to put ourselves in that positon very often.”
(On Washington’s defense and their defensive coordinator Joe Barry)
“Typical Joe Barry-type stuff. You know they’re going to play hard. You know Joe is an energy coach, so you’re going to see that. [They are] sound, so that’s [what] we’re getting. They’ve taken the ball away. I know last week the takeaways were big for them, so that’s what you’re going to get. Again, I mentioned Joe Barry earlier, I know a couple of their defensive coaches – Perry Fewell also, their secondary coach, a good football coach also.”
(On Washington’s pass rush)
“Decent pass [rush]. [I] know a couple of their guys too. Stephen Paea we drafted when I was at my last job. It’s going to be one of those type – we mentioned Dashon Goldson. Of course Dashon is playing good football for them. We’re expecting a battle. We just know that our defense really needs to show up and we know how important takeaways will be in that turnover ratio each week.”
(Opening Statement)
“I think the Bye Week has been productive for us. We’ve had a chance to go back and look at ourselves and do a little self-scouting. Now we get a chance to go on the road and work to get us a win on the road, which would be great for our team. We’ve had a good, productive week up to this point.”
(On if cornerback Johnthan Banks will start if he’s medically cleared to play)
“There’s a good chance. We’ll have to see how things go the rest of this week. Even though he’s cleared medically, can he really do all the things he was doing prior to the injury? We have to determine that. We’re hoping he’ll have a good day today and put another good day together tomorrow.”
(On the impact the return of Banks would have on the cornerback rotation)
“It would be a boom for us. He’s a good player and one of our guys we really kind of count on. Not having him really hurt our depth. To get him back would really help us. We are playing a team that runs some three and four wide [receivers] at times, so it would help to have him back for sure.”
(On the defense’s ability to get sacks this season)
“It’s very encouraging. That’s everything in our league, to be able to rush with four [players] and sometimes when you do have to bring five or six, that you can get there. We’ve been pretty successful with our four-man rush, so you got to keep it going. You have to be able to do some other things that can help you rush like being able to stop the run, put people in predictable situations, but that’s big for our defense if we can get those sacks and put people in third-and-long situations. It makes a difference. It’s a big deal.”
(On if it is fair to say safety Chris Conte has played as good as anyone in the team’s secondary)
“I think so. He’s stayed healthy, which was a concern all along. As he is healthy he is one of the better safeties in our league. He’s a smart guy. He can match up on tight ends, backside of the backfield, he can even go out and cover third or fourth receivers at times and he can tackle. Yes he has. He’s played very, very well. We just have to keep him on the field and he will continue to get better.”
(On if Conte has a knack for being around the ball)
“He does. He gets his hands on balls. He’s not one of those guys that falls for some of the trickery that offenses can try to do – evidenced by what he did in the New Orleans game when they tried to flea flicker. Yeah, he’s a smart guy who has a knack for being around the football.”
(On defensive end Howard Jones and the progress the staff saw from him leading up to the Jacksonville game)
“We put him through a lot prior to putting him on the field against Jacksonville. Just a lot of drills, a lot of meetings, a lot of tests to see where he was from a mental standpoint. Everything we threw at him he passed with flying colors so we knew athletically he had the ability, we just wanted to make sure mentally he would be able to function when we did certain things. He showed that and then he got on the field and did a great job. The athletic ability was always there, we just wanted to see he could get it down mentally and he showed that he can and he should just get better and better with more playing time.”
(On if the defense takes advantage of quarterbacks known to throw interceptions)
“I think with every quarterback, one of the keys is can you rush him, can you make him uncomfortable in the pocket? If you can’t, it’s still the NFL, these guys will really pick you apart. We got to make [Kirk Cousins] uncomfortable in the pocket as best as we can with our four-man rush or when we are bringing pressure – get him off his spot a little bit. That starts with [us] being able to defend their run game, where the quarterback has to make a lot of throws. He’s more than capable. He can easily get away from those picks if you give him time like any NFL quarterback.”
(On if Washington’s offense is the same as last season)
“There are some things similar but every year is different. This team that we have is different than the team we had a year ago. The team that they’re fielding now is, in a lot of ways, different than the team that we saw a year ago. It’s a new year. It’s a different part of the season. I don’t know how much you can put into what happened a season ago. It’s a new start for both clubs.”
(On giving up a high number of touchdowns)
“I think just looking back at it, there are some things we can do a little bit better than what we have. We don’t necessarily have to change the scheme so much. There are some things that we can play a little bit better and we spent some time over the last few days, we’ll do it again tomorrow. That should help us to improve. The personnel is the personnel that we have and we are pleased with our personnel. We just have to play some things a little bit better than we have and we think we will going forward.”
(On if he feels there is an issue with the talent and scheme matchups in the secondary)
“No, not so much. I think it goes back to what I said a moment ago. There are some things that we can do better as a group and we worked on some of those and we’re going to work on it throughout this week and hopefully we’ll be a little bit better going forward. We’re playing some single-high [safety], but we play some two-deep as well. You just mix it up. You don’t want to get too predictable in what you do. We just got to do some things a little bit better than we have.”
(On if the defense has done anything schematically to produce more sacks and pressures)
“We’ve added a couple wrinkles to what we do and it has helped us in certain situations. We’ve got to build on that as the weeks come. We have added a couple wrinkles that I think have helped our rush, for sure.”
(On linebacker Kwon Alexander)
“I think we are very pleased with where he is at the end of five games in our season and we expect him to get better and better. We know there are going to be some growing pains. We knew that going in, when you start a rookie middle linebacker in our league and you’re on the field all the time. We don’t take him off the field on third-down situations or when we send certain personnel on the field. He’s shown the aptitude to pick up things and then go out and get it done on the field. That being said there are some moments when you go, ‘Okay, he’s a rookie’. But he’s getting better and we’re going to grow with him.”
(On if tackling is one of the areas the defense needs to improve in)
“For sure. We look at yards after catch and there are some times where guys have caught the football and what should be maybe a four-, five-yard gain becomes a 10-yard gain. There are some things that we can do better when it comes to that. We talked about that. The only thing about our league [is] it’s so hard to work on tackling because of the limited opportunities you have. We are doing more tackling drills. We are doing some things to emphasize that, which you always want to do on defense. That’s one thing that we can do better and there are some other things we can do better as well.”
(On the defense being ranked as a top five defense, but still being ranked low in categories such as points allowed and passing touchdowns)
“At the end of the day, it’s always about points allowed. You don’t want to give up a lot of points. That keeps you in ball games. We need to continue to work on not giving up points, especially in sudden change situations or when we are in ‘plus’ territory. We have to do a good job in those areas. It’s a point of emphasis from our standpoint. We’ve got to do a better job in that area, but you’re pleased with some of the other things we’ve done – the way our third down has improved, not giving up a lot of yards. Those are goods things. What we are doing as far as getting to the quarterback, those are positives. Now, in this Bye Week, we had a chance to go back look at some of the negatives and that’s an area we want to improve on.”
(On Washington safety Dashon Goldson and linebacker Mason Foster)
“I really enjoyed personally working with the both of them. They are pros’ pros. Those guys worked hard when they were here. Mason did a good job for us trying to learn a new system and trying to get integrated into it, which was not easy for him, nor for a lot of other guys, but they gave us everything that they had when they were here. Dashon, he’s a ball-hawking guy. I wish nothing but the best for the both of them and their experience in Washington. They worked hard for us.”
(On the key to improving red zone performance)
“I think this Bye Week, hopefully, will have helped us in that area. Going back through some of the things that have hurt us and then just trying to do some things a little bit better, whether it be our rush with our coverage in the red zone or just tacking in the red zone – when we are in position, being able to make plays and everybody being where they are supposed to be. Going back and getting those extras reps should help us get better in the red zone. We’re not going to change a whole lot of things schematically. [We] just need to do some things a little bit better than we have.”
(On what 3-3 would feel like after six games)
“Is it sad to say you are looking forward to 3-3? [laughs] No, it would be great. That’s all we can do. Our situation is what it is right now and it’s about winning games each and every week from here on out. 3-3 is the next one. That’s the only one we can worry about and getting to that point would be great for us. Then we could definitely build off of that and keep this thing rolling.”
(On still competing for a playoff spot with a 3-3 record)
“Absolutely, we’re still in this thing. Obviously, Carolina, Atlanta off to good starts, respectively, but it’s a lot of games left. A lot of time to catch up and do what we need to do in this division.”
(On wide receiver Mike Evans being in a ‘funk’)
“I don’t know about that term, but he is doing everything he needs to do out here. He’s practicing well, he looks good each and every week. Ups and downs, just the way [the game flows]. Some guys get more targets and some guys get extra coverage and things like that. Mike is playing well. [I’m] excited for him to have a great year.”
(On Washington’s defense)          
“They’re solid. They have some talented guys throughout. Up front, obviously they got some tough guys, some guys that can get after the passer. We need to make sure we’re seeing where that pressure is coming from, take care of Jameis in that pocket, give him some chances to get the ball up the field and we’re just going to be aggressive. Obviously we have done a good job running the ball for the most part of the season and we want to be more consistent in the passing game and obviously continue [to do well on third down]. We had a really good week two out of the last three games on third down. We want to keep that rolling.”
(On the offense being more balanced this season compared to last year)
“Yes it is and we need that. I think staying in games helps that, obviously, sustaining drives, keeping our defense off the field and just controlling the clock a little bit more and being able to run the ball and control the game and dictate to the defense. That’s what we need to do and we have the ability to do that.”
(On what type of advice hoes he gives to Mike Evans about being in a slump)
“I just say just stick to the fundamentals. Keep working at your craft each and every day. These things come. They happen. There are slow weeks for three, four, five weeks in a row and then all of a sudden you’ll go three weeks and just be tearing it up. We know he’s a smart kid. We know he is having fun still. I haven’t seen any change in his attitude or approach to the game. He’s still competing out there and he is definitely a threat that teams respect.”
(On how he embraces being a leader in the locker room)
“I enjoy it, being a guy with tenure. I know these young guys look up to me. The best thing I can do is lead by example – going out there, handling my job each and every day and being accountable to them. I do try to share knowledge. My experience is something these guys don’t have yet. Whether it’s Jameis [Winston], a first-year guy, or a guy in his third, fourth year want to ask me about preparation or pregame routines I have no problem sharing that stuff. It’s really fun and I enjoy sharing my knowledge because I want to leave a legacy here in this locker room and for this organization for guys to be great professions.”
(On how refreshing it has been to play with a with such enthusiasm like quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I love it. I love the kid’s energy. He has it each and every day and it’s been that way since he showed up. I really haven’t seen a drop or kind of inconsistencies in his approach in his approach to his game. One, I think that’s an attribute to his competitiveness. He comes out and he wants to be great. He wants to be really at what he does and he has fun. He loves this game and you can see that when he is practicing, when he is playing – the good, bad, indifferent no matter how the games is going, he steps right back in the huddle with that energy and with that smile like, ‘Guys, we’re going to get it right. We’re going to go down and get some points and let’s do what we do.’ It’s definitely infectious and he is our leader in that huddle.”
(On if he masks his emotions)
“Absolutely not. He lets you know. Everybody comes expecting that. He’s done enough. I know he is a rookie and it’s only Week 7 here, but he’s set that foundations here in this locker room and this organization about the way he’s going to play, the way he’s going to approach and you better be rolling with him.”
(On Mike Evans struggling, even though he hasn’t changed his approach form last season)
“It is. I’ve heard about the ‘sophomore slump’ and things like that that carries with guys, but some of that is unfortunately just the timing. Again, I expect Mike to continue to contribute to this team. I think he’s going to have a great year. There is a lot of football left to be played, but I’ve seen no changes. If anything, he’s a better player than he was last year – his skillset, his ability to run routes, his understanding of concepts of defenses and this new system he has picked up really well. He’s doing everything the right way so, I am proud of him.”
(On Evans having a breakout game against Washington last season and if he could have one against them this week)
“It could be. I don’t think there’s a particular team that has to be that spark, just because it’s a new season, it’s a new team. We have different people, they have different people. At the same time, we’re going into their place again. He had a great game there last year, so I’m sure he’s going to be excited to get it rolling and give them a taste of what they had last year.”
(On how impressed he is about Evans’ patience and maturity)
“Again, that’s something we share and take pride in in our receiver room, because of the fact that we know we have to be complete receivers. We have to help this offense as a whole and a lot of that is going to be in the running game – being good blockers, finishing our plays and understanding that there are certain times of the games when that’s what we need to do and that’s what’s best for the team. You have to do it with energy and you have to do it with a smile on your face. Do we all want to go out there and make plays and help our team statistically? Of course, that’s the fun stuff, but if we’re winning games I think all of us are not going to be complaining about the targets or yards or anything else.”   
(On how encouraging it is gets pressure on the quarterback and producing sacks)
“We’re doing more, but we haven’t done enough. We are getting there, but if you look at the tape there are so many more opportunities that we could take advantage of and even change some things up. We got to go back to the drawing board last week and hopefully we can see the fruits of that Sunday and moving forward.”
(On the defense having six sacks against Washington last year)
“Yeah, six, but that’s last year. [They have] a couple different coaches on the staff, a lot of different players on offense. Coach [Jay] Gruden says they want to get back to running the ball. That was big for them in their two wins. Coach [Leslie] Frazier always says rushing the passer has to be earned, so we definitely have to stop the run first.”
(On Washington have a ‘one-two punch’ in their backfield with running backs Alfred Morris and Matt Jones)
“Yeah, they definitely do. Morris has been their guy since he came into the league and he is a solid runner. You know what you are going to get with him. Matt Jones, he’s coming downhill so you better bring it when he’s got the ball in his hands.”
(On if stopping the run is more important when facing a quarterback that is known to make mistakes on third-and-long plays)
“You just don’t want to put them in an advantageous third down, which would be third-and-4 or less. It’s better to have them in third-and-7 plus. That’s only going to happen if we stop the run. Coach Gruden said in their two wins they ran the ball. I think they were averaging like 150 yards in those two wins. We definitely have to be on it.”
(On how the defense gauges what is successful when they are at the top of the league in certain defensive categories and at the bottom in others)
“You can look at that, but it really doesn’t mean a lot because if you look at how many points we’ve given up it’s pretty bad. Total defense is [an] okay stat to look at, but it doesn’t really tell the true story and the true story is we are not good enough on defense. We have to be a lot better. We’re giving up way, way, way too many points. We have to start holding teams to either nothing or a field goal in the red zone. It doesn’t matter where the opposing offense gets the ball. We have to be better on defense. It’s as simple as that.”
(On the biggest changes he saw from defensive end Howard Jones from his first day in Tampa to his debut against Jacksonville)
“When he played against Jacksonville he just had so much confidence, but I don’t know if there was necessarily any change in how he played. When he was out there on scout team, he always made the offensive tackles angry at him. You always saw one of the tackles get upset with him because he goes so hard at practice. He was out there giving them a lot of trouble, so when he got in the game and did what he did, I was just kind of like that was what he was doing in practice so he wasn’t afraid to make it happen when the lights turned on.”
(On being well ahead of pace to last year’s sack total and it it’s all relative to how the rest of the defense plays)
“We just got to keep getting there. We just got to be more consistent with it. You have three here and then you have a game with one, a game with one and then you just explode with six. You have to be more consistent with it. Our goal is to average three a game. That will put you close to the top of the league if you average three a game. That would take a lot of pressure off the back end.”
(On getting to a .500 record and the significance of this upcoming game)
“It being the next game on the schedule makes it huge, especially coming out of the Bye Week. You don’t want to come out of the Bye Week starting slow. We got a long stretch of games. We come out of the Bye Week and get a big win, maybe we can get on a run. I said yesterday on my radio show, one at home, which you been needing to do, we go on the road for two weeks and win two road games to come home against the Giants – that’s a lot of momentum and our fans would be rocking. This game is huge for us.”
(On how Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen motivates his group of linemen)
“He’s crazy man. He’s a good crazy. I respect him. Of coaches I’ve had in my lifetime he’s right up there at the top for most respect from me, because he doesn’t care who you are, what your name is or what you’ve accomplished – you’re nobody to him. You have to put the work in every day, every single day. Nothing gets to him. Nothing you do, how well you play, none of that. He doesn’t care. It’s not good enough. You got to be better and that’s his mentality and I think that’s what pushes us and I respect that.”
(On what ‘good crazy’ is)
“With Coach [Joe] Cullen you have to hear the message not the tone. I’ll leave it at that (laughter). You always got to listen to the message. Sometimes he does some things I’m like, ‘Hear the message, Gerald. Don’t worry about the tone. He’s being Joe.’ I love him. I really do.”
(On having Johnthan Banks back in the lineup)
“Banks, man, he’s starting to become one of those guys you can put him on anybody and you know he is going to handle his business. He’s starting to be more consistent with it and it’s huge to have him back. We definitely missed him and can’t wait to get him back out there. He had a big game against these guys last year, so his eyes are real big waiting to get back out there.”

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