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09 October 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, October 9, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Since becoming a full-time starter in 2012, CB Alterraun Verner has the most run stuffs by any cornerback (8), while tying for the fourth-most interceptions (8) and the fifth-most passes defensed by a corner (34) in that span. In addition, Verner’s 303 tackles since entering the league in 2010 are the fifth-most by a cornerback during that timeframe.
Below is a brief selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
Defensive End Michael Johnson
Cornerback Alterraun Verner
(Opening statement)
“You guys are well aware of Coach [Lovie Smith’s] situation and our prayers and thoughts are with he and his family as they’re going through a difficult time. We had a good, spirited practice this afternoon. A lot of enthusiasm by a lot of our guys who are anxious to get back on the field and get a home win in front of our fans. Injury-wise, these are the guys that did not participate in practice: Johnthan Banks, Jonathan Casillas, Dashon Goldson, Vincent Jackson and Josh [McCown]. They did not participate. Larry [English], Mike Evans – those guys were in a limited capacity. And we also had Mason [Foster] back, so two days in a row, he was able to participate in everything we did in practice, which is encouraging for our defense. Overall, looking forward to getting back on the field and hopefully having a good practice tomorrow and try and improve.”
(On when the team expects Lovie Smith to return)
“We’re expecting him back actually this evening, late this evening.”
(On if cornerback Johnthan Banks’ injury was suffered during the game against New Orleans)
“It was. He did something with his neck and he’s working through that. We’re hoping to have him back on the field tomorrow. We’ll see. He’s making improvements, so it’ll be good for us if he can get back on the field tomorrow.”
(On the team’s tackling performance against New Orleans)
“As the game went on – and particularly late in the fourth quarter and overtime – we didn’t tackle nearly as well as we did earlier in the game. I’m not sure if we can blame it on fatigue, but we weren’t tackling as well as we were. We’ve talked about it; we’ll try to address it. We’re doing a better job earlier than we were doing later, and particularly on that last run that they had; the kid broke two or three tackles on that run and we didn’t wrap up.”
(On the injury status of wide receiver Vincent Jackson)
“We’re optimistic that he’ll be able to get some work tomorrow. So we’re expecting him to be ready to go, but we’ll see how it goes. We’re hoping that he’ll be able to go tomorrow.”
(On the injury status of wide receiver Mike Evans)
“He was limited in some things. He didn’t do everything, but the things we asked him to do – from an offensive standpoint – he was able to get accomplished. We’re pretty pleased with where he is.”
(On how the transition has gone of switching between linebackers Mason Foster and Lavonte David calling plays on the field)
“It’s a big deal because for us, the signal caller is really our quarterback on defense, which is usually your middle linebacker. He’s the guy that kind of controls the huddle and gets everybody lined up and everybody playing the same defense. Having Lavonte have to do that in the last ball game – he’s done it before. [It] wasn’t as big of an adjustment because he’s comfortable in doing it and guys are comfortable with him doing it. Ordinarily, you’d like for it to be your middle linebacker doing that, but we chose to go with Lavonte and it worked out pretty good.”
(On if linebacker Danny Lansanah’s two interceptions returned for touchdowns took more than being lucky)
“Yeah, you have to put yourself in the right place at the right time and he’s been able to do that. It’s more than just a lucky break here or there, otherwise, there’d be a few other guys getting those same type of lucky breaks. But he’s done a good job of anticipating where the ball is going to be and then he’s finishing. There have been other guys who have been in position to make interceptions or get a takeaway and they didn’t do it. But he’s been able to get it done. So credit to him being a guy who’s at the right spot at the right time, but some of that goes with his film study and how hard he’s working.”
(On why Lansanah has been so successful this season after bouncing around between the NFL and UFL)
“His hard work. He’s a guy who hasn’t given up, and you’re right: he’s bounced around a little bit, and he’s kind of found a home. Early on, he wasn’t one of those guys we were counting on – we didn’t have him in the starting lineup and he’s kind of worked his way there by making plays both in practice and in games to the point where it’s going to be hard for us to take him off the field. He’s the only guy in the league with two touchdowns on defense. He’s done some things for us to believe in his abilities and not given up and just continuing to work hard. And he does have some talent, he has some ability.”
(On if he is surprised the defense has not been more productive)
“The points [scored against us] for sure. We were fairly good as far as points allowed the first couple of ball games, then we went to Atlanta and it kind of got out of hand a little bit. We were fine in Pittsburgh. And on Sunday, we did a lot of good things: scoring on defense, taking the ball away. But still, you don’t want to give up that many points. So we’ll keep working on it and keep working to do some things a little bit better when it comes to points. But we get another chance against Baltimore to improve.”
(On if there is a common theme as to why the defense is struggling on third downs)
“Yeah we’ve got to do a better job in our zone coverages when we do play zone coverage, whether it be a rush or whether it be guys getting in their spots in zone coverage. When we do play man [coverage], it’s just a matter of a guy winning in those situations. We haven’t done enough of it. We’ve got to improve our third-down defense to limit those number of plays. But part of our extending plays on Sunday [against New Orleans] had to do with the penalties as well; we extended some drives because of costly penalties in that ball game and that hurt us. And it’s something that we’ll have to keep working on. But third down definitely has to be something we have to improve on if we want to improve as a defense.”
(On if he expects the kind of performance from cornerback Alterraun Verner that he had against New Orleans in every game)
“He got his hands on a lot of balls and we’re counting on that – we need him to do that. We’re matching him up sometimes against other teams’ best receivers. The way he played on Sunday is what we need consistently the rest of the season. We’re going to definitely need it this weekend. Baltimore has two very good receivers and we’re going to need him to make a lot of plays for us.”
(On Verner’s tackle to prevent a New Orleans two-point conversion in the fourth quarter)
“That was a big tackle. One-on-one against a guy that probably outweighs him about 50 or 60 pounds and he drops him. So he did a great job of getting his hands on balls, he tackled well, he played a good all-around game.”
(On moving from the sideline to up in the booth to call plays these last two games)
“We were talking a little bit about the personnel and just trying to make sure that we got the right personnel. That’s important when you’re calling [plays] and we had some people in that role. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to be there to kind of see myself alone with having someone next to me to help with personnel, and it’s worked out pretty good. The Saints are one of those teams where it’s difficult sometimes to get personnel and they’re changing every down. It really helped to be able to get the calls in a lot sooner [by] being able to see it alone with having someone to point it out to me as well. So we’ll see how it goes this week and going forward. But it’s worked well these last couple of weeks.”
(On when the first game was this season that he called plays from the booth upstairs and if that will continue)
“The Pittsburgh game. I kind of like the way it worked out, and more so this past weekend. It was a tough deal trying to get that personnel as much as they were changing; then they would hold personnel during timeouts. And that’s a big deal when you’re down on the sidelines waiting to hear what group is coming on the field. It’s worked better in these last two weeks for us. So we’ll see how it goes going forward, but the plan is to continue.”
(On the performance of the team’s pass rush)
“We got some good hits on [Drew] Brees on Sunday. He was able to get rid of the ball on a number of occasions. But I think we had maybe 16 [or] 17 hurries and about eight or nine hits on him, but we didn’t actually get him on the ground; and part of that was, if you remember, just seeing him throw the ball away even when he’s in their grasp – he did a great job of that. This week, we’re going to need to get this quarterback on the ground. He’s a very good quarterback and we need more when it comes to pressuring the quarterback and [getting] sacks on the quarterback – that’s a combination of having good coverage along with the rush. That’ll help our rush as we cover a little bit better as well.”
(On if the secondary was able to make more plays on the ball in the last game against New Orleans because they were in the right place at the right time)
“That’s got a lot to do with it. Today was probably our best practice on some of the basic things we’ve been working on going back to OTAs. So we’re making some improvement, and now we need to carry that over to Sunday. But there have been some things that we’ve been trying to teach that haven’t really come across as well as we would’ve liked. But walking off the field today, I really felt good about some things that I saw and some of our base principles. And then you combine the fact that on Sunday they threw the ball 57 times – you better get your hands on some balls if they’re throwing it that many times. We were able to do that. The disappointing thing about Sunday was not so much that they threw the ball and got yards – we expected them to throw the ball a lot [and] we wanted them too – but the rushing in that fourth quarter, that’s what puts a dagger in your heart, that shouldn’t happen. We held them to 34 yards in the first half and they went over a hundred yards in the second half and that goes back to [your] point about the tackling. We were in position and we didn’t get the guys on the ground like we should have. But if they throw it 57 times, you better get your hands on some balls.”
(On what makes Baltimore wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. so unique)
“Well he’s been a great player in our league for a number of years. And he’s torched a lot of secondaries over the years, whether he’s running reverses or catching balls downfield. His mental toughness; he seems to be a guy who the more you challenge him, the better he plays it seems. So he’s a tough guy with tremendous talent and we’re going to have to find a way to slow him down and corral him because he’s a guy who can change a game. He’s a game breaker for sure.”
(On if Smith Sr. plays with an edge during games)
“It seems that way. When you watch him play and you look at some of the tape and how he handles himself, he’s not a guy that’s easy to tackle; he’s fighting to get extra yards. He’s not your typical wide receiver in that way.”
(On the injury status of Foster)
“We want to see how he does tomorrow. We’ll go back and look at how he practiced today and just see where he is. He’s still – this is his first week really back with us taking full reps. So we’ll see how he does tomorrow.”
(Opening statement)
“First off, I would just like to start by saying I know that’s it been reported that coach is not here today, he’s got a family matter that he has to tend to. He’s in our thoughts and prayers. He’s kind of left it on the leaders to keep things going today and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re definitely thinking about him and we’re going to do everything that we can to make sure that we have a great day today.”
(On what they need to do on defense in order to finish games)
“We do have to finish and I think what it’s really going to take is for us to get back to basics. Every team has defenses and every team has base coverages that they play base assignments. A lot of the things that we gave up against New Orleans were in base calls, being in position on base stuff. We're getting the strength call, to be aligned right, to just being in your gap and tackling and simple stuff like tackling, we have to be better at tackling. We have to be better at definitely tackling. Defensive penalties have to stop, we have to keep them at a minimum, but really just getting back to the basics. Knowing our base assignments and playing that perfect before we can try and do anything else.”
(On if they are getting enough pressure on the quarterback)
“Pressure bursts pipes, that’s all pressure gets you. Nobody looks at the stat sheet and says man he had a million pressures – it’s all about that sack and we have to get them on the ground, we definitely do. One thing that we did do last week that we did in Pittsburgh is rush as a unit. There were a lot of times guys were out of place, you would flush a guy to a certain spot and there supposed to be a guy there waiting and then he’s out of place. That happened on the right side and the left side, both sides of the line and all the way across the board. We just have to rush better as a unit. We are getting better, but pressures and hits on the quarterback are great, but we have to get them on the ground.”
(On improving at getting off the field after third down)
“Rush and coverage combo is not working together right now. Sometimes you have a great rush and no coverage and sometimes you have great coverage and no rush. It has to work together consistently, there have been times where it has been working together, but it hasn’t been consistent enough and we have to get that. One thing that has to be consistent even if in the back end is not always there is the rush. Like I said it has to be four guys rushing together. We brought a couple of blitzes, but for the most part we have just been sending four. We have to rush better as a unit, we can’t just have one guy winning or two guys winning, everybody has to be in place in order to get off the field on third down.”
(On what the target percentage is allowing for third down conversions)
“Mid-30s or in the 30s. You said we’re at 48 percent? So that’s half of the third downs – we have to win that. So seven-out-of-10 third downs, we have to win seven of those. It’s where we have to be. It’s not where we want to be, it’s where we have to be to win games.”
(On if it is important it is for the defense to line up correctly before the snap)
“It definitely is, especially with who we are about to play and with who we just played. Drew Brees would just come up to the ball and just snap it. Our first third down, nobody was even set, we were all standing up and [Joe] Flacco does the same thing, we have to be aligned. When you have your feet set, it’s easier to play fast. When you’re scrambling, it’s hard to get to your spot and play fast and we definitely have to line up. We can’t up front – me personally, I know that I do this sometimes because I do study so much film I just know where to align, I know how to line myself up, but sometimes the linebackers have rules where it’s not normal on where I would line up so I have to wait. Sometimes I line myself up and you’ll see me scrambling to the other side and that’s because I didn’t know that extra rule that they put in. you kind of just have to wait on the call and they’re working on it. Making the transition with Lavonte [David] going back to making the calls, he hasn’t done it since last season so he’s getting back to it and so far on walk through today and yesterday’s practice, he’s been doing a good job.”
(On linebacker Danny Lansanah)
“He’s stepping in and playing great. The thing is, he did that all camp. He did that so many times during camp and he’s just made plays for us. He did it in preseason and he’s done it twice this year, but he’s stepped in and made plays all camp, so we knew that if he did get on the field he would do well for us. It’s the next man up mentality. He didn’t start the season, but now he is and that’s just how the NFL works. When your name is called, there is no ‘Oh I just got in, I haven’t been playing,’ we expect you to be just as good the quote-unquote starter and now that he is, he’s been doing great for us.”
(On making Raymond James Stadium a home-field advantage)
“One thing that I will say is that our fans are awesome, our fans really are. Do we sell out every time? No, but whoever is in the stadium, there’s a lot of people I talk to that can’t even make it to the games, but are at home watching and cheering. I don’t always look at the attendance as a thing where I look at the stands and go ‘No one is coming to the games.’ Sometimes people just can’t get to the games, but the people who are in the stands are going crazy regardless of the score, they go crazy for us. Our fans are awesome. I really love them for the things that they do, but we have to have more pride at home. You don’t let anyone come to your house and take your remote from you and if you’re watching SportsCenter, you don’t let them turn it to Lifetime. ‘I’m going to watch SportsCenter and you’re not coming in here changing the channel.’ We’re letting guys watch Lifetime a little too much. We just have to make sure it stays on SportsCenter.”
(On if David will be calling the players for the rest of the season)
“I’m not sure, I really can’t answer that, but right now that’s what it is. They say ‘Gerald line up to the right and mess something up,’ that’s what I’m going to do. Whoever tells me to do it, it doesn’t matter, if they say do it I’m going to do it.”
(On how they stay mentally tough during a rough stretch)
“Well you’re looking at, you see me smiling right? It’s the NFL, short-lived and life will go on after football, but while you’re here you have to enjoy it regardless of what you’re going through, you have to have run with the process. We’re not far off. It would be completely different stories if we finish that game out against New Orleans, completely different things written up, “The Bucs are on a roll, can they keep it going?’ but now that we lost against New Orleans it’s like ‘Here we go.’ We’re not far off. Our owners – I know for a fact, I’ve talked to them – [they are] very positive, the head coach is very positive, everybody in the building is very optimistic and excited about what we got going here because we’re on the right track, it’s just the little things that we have to tweak. Those penalties killed us last game, you take away just half of those and it’s a completely different outcome.”
(On what they need to do to stop Baltimore’s offense)
“We need to get off the field on third downs and it starts with the run. We want to get them in third-and-long situations, eliminating pre-play penalties, offsides and those types of things that any offense can get a good drive going if they’re starting first-and-five. If we can’t stop the run, the offense is in third-and-twos and third-and-threes, the percentages are – offense usually wins that, so we have to get them in third-and-longs and it’s going to start with stopping the wrong in which they do very well, they can run the ball. We’re going to have to be gap sound and be on it this week.”

(On being featured on ESPN’s E60 show)
“It’s awesome. E60 has been following me around for almost a year and the little story is only like five to 10 minutes – it’s very quick for them to follow you for an entire year. It’s awesome, they went all over, they came here, they went to San Diego where I train, they went to camp in Oklahoma, they came to my home here, they went to my dad’s home in Oklahoma. I had a blast with it.”
(On facing Baltimore’s backup left tackle James Hurst)
“I would like to [exploit him], but I’m going to go out and try to play my game, rush hard and do my best within the scheme of the defense to make plays.”
(On facing Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco)
“You just have to go, you react. You can’t go out there thinking. You have to read your keys and go. Everything goes from there. He’s a big quarterback, he’s strong, he’s a lot more athletic than people give him credit for, he does a great job of getting the ball down the field and when he has time, he throws a great deep ball. You don’t want to give him that time to be able to set up and do that. also he’s got some escapability, I’ve seen him get away from a lot people, it looks you got him and he was able to get away from them, so we have to do a good job of getting to him and getting him down.”
(On Baltimore wide receiver Steve Smith Sr.)
“He’s been playing really well and I’m not surprised at all. The times that I’ve seen him play and played against him, that’s the type of competitive nature he has. If he knew that he could still play and I don’t think he would allow himself to play if he wasn’t able to compete out there at a high level. I’m not surprised and I look forward to the matchup. He has a big heart for the game, from his passion to the way he plays and that’s why he’s so tough. He might be slowing down or he might be fatigued in a game or something could be going wrong and just his passion and his drive to win and dominate the opponent. That’s what continues to let him play at such a high level. There are a few special individuals that have that and he’s one of those.”
(On getting his first interception of the season)
“Well it was actually a surprise to me that he threw the ball that deep. It was a third down play and in my head I thought they were just going to try to get the first down, just extend the drive and hopefully just kick a field goal and try to win the game in regulation. I was just running with my guy, realized he was going deep and they were trying to win the game by a touchdown and I just saw the ball and went to go get it and what was going through my head was that ‘I can’t drop this one too, I already dropped two today.’ It was a fortunate thing to get that to at least give us a chance to win in overtime.”
(On the challenges Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco presents)
“He’s a steady quarterback. To me he’s one of the most consistent quarterbacks, you don’t ever see him have just a terrible day I feel like. I feel he always puts his guys in positions to make plays and he manages the game really well. I wouldn’t say he’s a game manager when I say that, but I say he doesn’t really make too many mistakes and that’s one thing that I see about Joe Flacco, you can tell that he has a strong presence in that huddle and people respect him and they expect him to lead. Those are the characteristics I see from him.”

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