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24 September 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, September 24, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: With his touchdown reception against New Orleans, WR Vincent Jackson now has 18 as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, the eighth-most in franchise 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
Cornerback Alterraun Verner
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening Statement)
“Injury list: same three guys from yesterday – Austin [Seferian-Jenkins], Evan [Smith] and Major [Wright] weren’t able to practice. The rest of the guys that were limited yesterday are the same, getting better which is a good thing. [It was a] good spirted practice today. We put together two good practices, which we need to do, correcting a lot of things, excited about this weekend.”
 
(On the rest of the league starting to notice defensive end Jacquies Smith)
“When you are productive, people take notice. A game like that you should acknowledge it. He’s been a good player for us since he’s been here. The injury in training camp held him back a little bit, but fresh legs and we needed him to continue to play like that.”
 
(On what it would mean to the team to have a winning record)
“[It would be] new ground for us. Last week, of course, it was too to get to .500. Right now, we understand everybody looks at us as the past Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We’re in a positon to do something about it, guys realize that. It’s tough going on the road two weeks in a row and winning. We have an opportunity to do that. I feel like we are going to be a good ball club. So many things we need to tighten up from our last game, but we are seeing that. We have young players and just asking guys not to make the same mistake again. It would do a lot for our psyche to get to 2-1, yes.”
 
(On tackle Donovan Smith)
“All of our rookies have looked like rookies. [He’s] making improvement as a rookie. It’s tough duty playing the left tackle position, but Donovan, of course, can handle it. There’s a lot of things you are going to see – a different type of guy each week he’ll get. Normally he will get the best pass rusher. That in itself is a chore, but he is handling it well.”
 
(On if cornerback Alterraun Verner is playing nickelback and what it would mean to the versatility of the secondary)
“That was probably just a regular set when we brought our corner over or something like that. You saw him on the slot, so I don’t know exactly what you are talking about there, but we match up our corners from time to time, but he’s a cornerback for us.”
 
(On linebacker Lavonte David in coverage)
“He’s about as good as there is in space and he’s been that way and he’ll continue to be that way. He did make some special plays. We expect special plays. When you are a special player you should make a whole lot of special plays and he can. A couple today out there that probably only Lavonte can make. We’ll continue to put things on his plate and just like everybody else, second year in the defense he’s seeing a lot of things – it’s a defense designed for that position to be at the point of attack and make a lot of plays. When you have a special guy like that it’s fun watching him.”
 
(On if David’s recognition is faster in his second year in the defense)
“Yes, no doubt it is. I know that’s saying a lot, but again we have a lot of things in mind. He’s a toy that you can definitely play with a little bit on what you can do with him.”
 
(On if he has talked to the players about starting 2-0 on the road)
“We have. Every way you can talk about the second win, we have – two on the road, two game winning streak, feeling good two weeks in a row. It goes on and on. Heavy underdogs, we use everything. We don’t have to use it, that’s what it is. We’re facing reality; we know what’s at stake.”
 
(On players besides J.J. Watt on Houston’s defense that present a challenge)
“Starting with Vince Wilfork; great run support player inside. He’s a big man and it’s hard to get him off the ball. You have to double team him and awful lot. That makes it easier for everybody else outside, so you start with him. He’s the closest guy to the center of course. Again, J.J. Watt is a heck of a player. [Jadeveon] Clowney was the first pick in the draft [2014] for a good reason. He’s healthy now and he’s someone you have to deal with on the outside. [There’s] another first rounder on the other side in [Whitney] Mercilus. A lot of guys pose problems and I’ve just talked about the front. Of course, [Brian] Cushing is a heck of a football player. They have a lot of talent on the team. That’s why it’s so much of a challenge for us.” 
 
(On Watt’s ability to line up on different sides and how rare that is)
“Good point. Most of the time, we’ve had – we have of course a great player now at the three-technique position, we have a Hall of Famer [Warren Sapp] that’s played at the position, but they were primarily inside. I think it is rare to see a player as comfortable inside as he is outside. I think that’s what [Watt] will say; I know that’s what his play says. That’s why everybody has to be ready for him. But we just can’t concentrate on one player. Most of the time that one player is on one side, there are other guys who have to do something. So we acknowledge he’s a great player, but we have to deal with him and some others, too.”
 
(On Winston being enthusiastic about playing against great players like Drew Brees and now J.J. Watt and how refreshing that enthusiasm is)
“Very [refreshing]. It’s just raw emotion that you’re hearing. Jameis is a football fan. As a football fan, when you play against Drew Brees, it’s special, and to have a chance to get up close and – hopefully not up too close [laughter] – but to acknowledge a player like that. And for Jameis, we’re going to be saying the same thing each week. I mean, different degrees of a great player, but it seems like everyone has someone that as a young player you know about.”
 
(On whether Smith likes hearing his young players have excitement to play against great players)
“I don’t think you really have a choice. I know I’ve answered more questions on J.J. Watt this week than probably any other player, I know since I’ve been down here. And that’s what you get when you’re that type of player.”
 
(On center Joe Hawley and his performance stepping in when Evan Smith was injured)
“There was a learning curve, but when you’ve been in the system for a while, it has to help a lot. Joe came in and did a good job for us, as simple as that. Evan was really playing well. Joe came in and we got the same type of production. He played so well he almost got a game ball, voted by his teammates. We expect that from him. It’s good to get a veteran player like that. When you get a good veteran player that’s been in the system, it helps a lot when you come to a new place. Similar to a Chris Conte, coming in, a good player, knows the system so has a lot of experience in it. But [Hawley] played well.”
 
(On kicker Kyle Brindza)
“I don’t know many kickers that haven’t had a lot of confidence in themselves, though. That’s definitely the case with Kyle. He believes he can hit – he’s trusting me if I send him out there, he assumes he’s going to hit it. And when he missed one, there’s a reason for it. And he knows the reason. We have a lot of confidence in him, and not just to make kicks. We need him [for kickoffs]. We want the offense to start on the 20 each time, too. He knows his role.”
 
(On the team game planning for Watt)
“Again, guys, you talk about J.J. Watt, you name it, we’ve done it. We’ve looked at every possible way to deal with a special player. I’ll just say that.”
 
(On the artificial turf at NRG Stadium and whether the team will do anything different knowing it is a new surface at that venue)
“No. It’s artificial surface and we play on artificial surface – I don’t believe when you play on artificial surface that you practice on it. We want to play on our grass. I think it helps the body an awful lot. So, again, artificial surface last week, we keep our same routine and practice on grass as long as we possibly can.”
 
(On whether he is a fan of screen plays)
“I’m a fan of all plays that work [laughter]. No, seriously, yes, a screen is a tough play to deal with and of course we have every imaginable type of screen. And not just us, I mean every team now a screen is a big part of every game plan you have to deal with. And I think we can be a good screen team, in general. You want to get your running backs in the open field, that’s what you would like, running back, wide receiver, whoever. You want to get them in there where it’s not real cluttered, and you can get that, of course, with screens. They’re hard to deal with on the other side.”
 
(On how difficult screen plays are to deal with as a defense)
“It’s a killer play if you let it. Talking about it from the other side, though, the way you take care of screens – you need to get guys running to the ball, as simple as that. Especially the line. The x-factor, of course, is your linemen being able to get out. And with how we insist on our guys running to the ball, if you see a screen and you don’t see linemen around it, it’s a bad thing for us. Defensive linemen, that is.”
 
(On if the potential for running screen plays was one of the things that made drafting running back Charles Sims so attractive)
“For that reason, but catching the ball out of the backfield in general, running the football – we just think he’s a good football player. I like the way he’s been running this last game, the way he ran the ball. Especially inside, because you just assume he’s an outside guy for those type plays, but he’s been getting good in-between-the-tackle play, too. I think he’s just a good all-around football player. Being from the Houston area, I know he’s pretty excited about playing. We have a couple guys like that. But Charles is a good football player.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
                         
(Opening Statement)
“Good afternoon everybody, [this is] a big game for us on the road. It’s an AFC South opponent. Houston, they’re looking for their first win of the season, so it should be quite a challenge for our defense and for our team as well. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
 
(On what is allowing defensive end Jacquies Smith to have the production he is having)
“I know he worked hard this offseason. He put a lot of work into trying to improve on certain things from a season ago. As you recall, there were some flashes, a season ago, that he could put together a game like he had on Sunday. We’re hoping as the season goes on he’ll get better and better. He missed a whole lot of training camp because of an injury. To see him come back and play the way he played in the second game of the season, that’s very encouraging. Obviously had a big game for us.”
 
(On the importance of the interior defensive linemen taking on double teams to allow Smith to have such a productive day)
“That was huge. We talked throughout the week, what the rush lanes – the importance of it and what it meant for our success on Sunday. We needed to be able to occupy the middle of the field with our rush and not just get pushed by the quarterback. Give our ends a chance and both Gerald [McCoy], Tony McDaniel, Clinton [McDonald], they did a terrific job of executing the game plan. That allowed Jacquies [Smith] to get the pressure that he did along with George [Johnson] when he was able to get some pressure as well. Our inside guys deserve a lot of credit. They might not get their names in the paper because they didn’t come up with the numbers Jacquies did, but they had a lot to do with our success and rushing the quarterback on Sunday.”
 
(On the relief knowing defensive tackle Gerald McCoy’s injury was not serious)
“[It was a] big-time relief. Gerald is the heart and soul of what we do on defense. That is a hard guy to replace. I don’t know if we could replace him. I’m glad he’ll be ready to go when the time comes – big relief, big relief.
 
(On matching up certain corners with New Orleans wide receiver Brandin Cooks)
“We did match up. We put a certain corner on him at different times of the game. We thought that was necessary based on what we have seen of him and his two seasons in the league and it worked out. It worked out well for us.”
 
(On if he expects to rotate the cornerbacks)
“It could happen. A lot of it is game-plan. Like what we did this past Sunday was game plan. So it could change week-to-week.”
 
(On the amount of confidence he has in safety Chris Conte)
“It didn’t take a lot to convince me when we talked about him in the offseason. [I] faced him a number of times being in the same division, so I was well aware of his talent. The big concern was the injury history. That was the major concern. We know when he is on the field and he is healthy, he is a very good player and he showed that on Sunday. He missed a ton of time over the past year, so to get him back, get him in the swing of things – and he missed the majority of training camp, I think maybe he came back the last week of training camp. We know he is more than capable as a player, it’s just a matter of keeping him on the field.”
 
(On Houston quarterback Ryan Mallet)
“He has a very strong arm. We think he is an accurate passer as well, that arm strength, his ability to be able to get the football down the field, that’s a concern. He’s familiar with this offense having worked with their head coach in the past. He is a guy we’ll have to contend with, with that live arm that he does have.”
 
(On linebacker Kwon Alexander’s improvement between Week 1 and Week 2)
“I think like a lot of our players, his maturation from the first game to the second game, it was clear he was much calmer in his approach during the week, played with poise on Sunday and made some plays for us. Marked improvement from him. It was evidenced by the way our defense played in general. A lot of it had to do with the way he improved during the week and on Sunday as well. Big jump from him and we hope to see some consistency now going forward, but he did a good job for us, really good job.”
 
(On Lavonte David in coverage against New Orleans)
“That’s a great point. I was thinking about it during the game and some of the plays he made. I go, ‘A year ago he probably wouldn’t have made this play.’ That just goes to show you what experience does being in this system now, understanding where other people are going to be, what my responsibility is, playing with a little more confidence. Those plays were difficult plays that he made. We’d love to see him come up with a catch on one or two of them, but to be in the position that he was in, those were drive stoppers. They could have been explosive plays for the offense, just kudos to him. Actually, I told him about it this morning. I patted him on the back and I said, ‘man, those were great plays.’ They kind of get lost when you look at the stats but they were very, very important – those drops and getting his hands on the football.”
 
(On if not maintaining responsibilities was part of the reason why the defense struggled in Week 1 and last season)
“Yeah, probably so, when you’re new to the system like [Lavonte David] was and so many were, now you see the dividends being paid and we just hope we can just keep getting better and better with some of the young guys that we do have playing for us that are part of the system for the first time. For guys like Lavonte, Gerald [McCoy] and others that have been here a year now, you kind of hope those plays will begin to show up on tape and they did on Sunday.”
 
(On keeping the same defensive ends on the field more)
“Like I said, we’ll take it game-to-game and just see how we are playing, how we are doing, how are we health-wise, but you’re right, those guys did some good things for us on the outside. We have some depth now. That’s a good thing in our league. You just never know from week to week how quickly things can change, so you want to make sure guys are confident in what they are doing. The way we are doing it now, if we were to lose a guy I think we have confidence that that next could stand up and get the job done.”
 
(On the importance of keeping the Houston offense from gaining confidence early in the game)
“You always want to get off to a good start. I think every team talks about doing that on offense, defense, and special teams. In our league, you have to be able to weather the storm. If things don’t get off to a good start early in the ballgame that should not be enough to give you a defeated attitude. You just have to play through it. We’d love to get off to a great start on the road, but if we don’t for whatever reason, we just have to play through it and play the game for four quarters and have enough confidence to know you are going got get it done at the end. We would like to get off to a good start, but [it] should not be the end of the world if it doesn’t happen.”
 
(On if Houston running back Arian Foster is unable to play)
“Well, the other backs are good backs. We think Alfred Blue is a good player. He showed some things a year ago toward the end of the season that showed he’s capable of getting it done. Even though they have some injuries on the offensive line, they still got some guys more than capable. We talked to our guys this morning about the fact that, ‘this is the NFL, so whoever lines up for the Texans, you better make sure you are paying the respect that they deserve.’ That’s just they was it is in our league. They’ve got good backs. They’ve got a good offensive line. They got a young quarterback who is itching to show he is more than capable of holding down the starting job. They’ve got good receivers, so we have to play our best game of the season on Sunday in order to be successful.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER VINCENT JACKSON
 
(On how the team can improve offensively)
“Obviously, for us a big focus is getting the team to improve on third down. Obviously, keep ourselves out of third-and-long, you don’t want to see a lot of third-and-over-10s, but when you do have them, we do have some playmakers, some matchups that we like. Jameis [Winston] is going to do a good job of reading the defense and taking what’s there. We don’t have specific things where we have to go to one guy every time, but he’s doing a great job of putting the ball where it needs to go and hopefully we can pick up the first down. But yeah, just continuing the growth on that part and of course the red zone, we want to continue to get more touchdowns. We were down there, I think we were like two out of five [touchdowns]. Our goal is definitely to be more around four out of five, five out of five down there.”
 
(On what it would mean to be 2-1 and be 2-0 on the road)
“It would be huge. Obviously, getting this season off – we kind of break the season up into quarters and being 2-1 in this first quarter would be great for us. Obviously, they’re a tough team that’s going to have a lot of energy, playing at home. They’re 0-2 right now, so we know that we’re going to get their best shot. We’re going to be prepared for it. Again, one [game] at a time is kind of what the message has been, consistent throughout all of our meetings. Just focus on doing your job, doing it the right way, one game at time and we can be just fine.”
 
(On how helpful it will be to have wide receiver Mike Evans playing at full strength)
“We want to keep as many guys healthy as we can on that side of the ball. It’s going to be huge for us and as you see around the league, each and every week, guys going down and [earlier], preseason, training camp – it really can affect your team moving throughout the season. Having Mike out there – we obviously are doing the best we can to make sure that he’s going to stay healthy for the long run. But anytime he’s out there on the field, he’s a threat, he’s going to get the respect of the defenses and he’s going to open up things for other guys on the field. We want him to be out there, obviously making plays like we all know that he can make. I think he’s ready to make that turn.”
 
(On what it says about the team that they were able to bounce back after losing in Week 1)
“It was huge, especially playing in a tough environment like that on the road [against] a division opponent, that was a big win for us, especially being a lot of new faces in this locker room. We saw a lot of character of a lot of guys, saw the character of our coaches and we may not have made it easy on ourselves, with some of the penalties and mistakes that we made, ball security issues late in the game, but we stuck together. There was nobody pointing fingers on that sideline, losing their temper or anything like that. Guys really rallied together and showed a lot of maturity, so that was nice to see.”
 
(On what improvements he saw from quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I think as an entire offense, we did a better job of getting him in a rhythm early in the game, getting the ball out of his hands, putting him in situations where he can make quick reads and make good decisions. I think that as an offense, as long as we do things right, everybody else is doing a little bit better around him, he’s going to be just fine. He just, again, has been super consistent. He comes in the huddle with a great attitude, great energy, no matter what has happened, and that’s what you want from your leader.”
 
(On what he looks for in a young quarterback)
“Just that composure. A lot of times guys can get rattled. Things get loud or you’re backed up in your own end zone, things like that. That stuff doesn’t affect Jameis. I haven’t seen him show any signs of ‘hot feet’ or whatever you want to call it – getting in the pocket and starting to get antsy or anything like that, he sits in there. He’s a confident guy, he’s a big, strong kid that wants to win. I couldn’t be happier to have him calling our plays.”
 
(On if Winston making quick decisions will be a key to limiting Houston’s pass rush)
“It will be huge for us. We know the big guys they’ve got up front. Their front seven is really tough and we’ve got respect for their secondary as well. Their defense, I think, is going to be pulling some new tricks out of the bag this week and picking it up. I think they’ve got some heat over there as far as how they’ve played in the first couple of games. We’re going to expect their best shot and we’re definitely going to have to get the ball out of his hands, but we’re going to have to protect Jameis as well, up front. As receivers, we’ve got to do the best we can to be in the positions and spots that he needs us, so he can get the ball away.”
 
(On if he has ever seen a rookie with the poise and leadership like Winston)
“Not a rookie, especially at that position. He comes in there and he’s been that way since he showed up back in May. It’s not a cockiness, it’s not an arrogance it’s just a simple, ‘Hey, we work really hard at this, I put a lot of time in, I’m confident in what I’m doing. I’m going to lead you guys.’ That’s what you want. He makes everybody else around him better. He’s just continuing to improve each and every week. It’s a lot of fun playing with a guy like that.”
 
(On putting together a winning streak)
“We come into this season with a fresh slate. Whatever’s happened in the past, we don’t want to sit there and rely on the trends that have happened in the past. This is a brand new opportunity for us. We’re sitting at 1-1 with a win in our division, it’s great for us. There’s nothing that says that we shouldn’t be able to go on a streak and win a lot more football games, despite what the history has been here. That’s the way that we approach it”
 
(On if it is hard to move on from last year)
“It’s not hard at all. When you’ve got so many new faces, you’re doing new things, you’ve got a new offensive system – last year seems like [an] eternity ago. When you have so many things going in the right direction right now, it’s really easy to think positive.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
                         
(On if he expects Houston running back Arian Foster to play this week)
“I don’t know. We are preparing for the Houston Texans. They are going to do what they do regardless of whether he plays or not. If you are asking me what I think about him, I think he is one of the best running backs in the NFL and has been since he hit the scene. I don’t know if he is going to play or not.”
 
(On the inside-out pass rush)
“It’s four as one, so you got guys that can rush on the edge if you get push up the middle then the quarterback has nowhere to go. The goal is to make him throw from a well, meaning you got four guys surrounding him making him make the tough throws. We just have to keep it going. It’s one game. We have to be consistent with it though.”
 
(On if they will approach Houston quarterback Ryan Mallet differently than New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees)
“No, it’s the NFL. You underestimate somebody and that’s the Sunday you get your head beat in. You just got to approach everyone the same.”
 
(On if he is looking forward to facing a quarterback who will try to stay in the pocket)
“It don’t matter, whether we chase somebody or somebody is standing in the pocket. It’s a quarterback, it’s a quarterback, go after all of them.”
 
(On if it is more difficult to prepare for an offense that has a lot of moving pieces especially on the offensive line)
“I don’t care. If you are across from me you have to deal with the three guys that are with me. That’s kind of on them. We are going to bring our guys in. We rotate to so I don’t really care who’s over there.”
 
(On Houston defensive end J.J. Watt)
“He’s done something that you haven’t seen in this league with first person to have 20 sacks twice, four years [in the league] and been the Defensive Player of the Year twice. You can’t help but have respect for a guy like that. You just respect him and let him be him. He’s a great player.”
 
(On what Watt does in his game that McCoy admires)
“He plays hard, but I have to deal with Houston’s offense, so I’d prefer not to talk about the defense.”
 
(On why the defense played so much better in Week 2 than Week 1)
“We just made a decision that Week 1 wasn’t us and we have to cover each other up. We have to play more as a unit and it’s just everybody individually focusing on their job and doing their job the best they can. All focus on one goal and that’s for us to get a win. It works, but it’s one game. We just have to keep it going and try to build off of that momentum.”
 
(On if Jacquies Smith has staying power)
“With 10.5 sacks in 11 games? You tell me? I think so. You get 10 sacks in 11 games, I think I would want to keep that person around.”
 
(On the importance of winning two games in a row and how the Buccaneers do it)
“Finish, we got to finish. That was our issue last year was not finishing games. We had an opportunity last year, but we didn’t finish, whether it was at the end of the half or at the end of the game. We just know going into a hostile territory – you all watched ‘Hard Knocks’ just like me – you know what type of mentality they want to have. They want to physically impose their will on anybody they face, definitely being 0-2 and having somebody coming into their home. Coach [Bill] O’Brien said that they kind of pulled back on them at practice this week. I know the strategy behind that. That means Sunday they are going got come out humming. We got to be ready for it.”
 
(On if having a winning record is in the back of his mind)
“That’s just reality. That’s not something we are thinking about. We have to win first, before you even think about that. That will happen regardless. If we win, that’s what happens – you are on the right side of .500. We have to win first.”
 
CORNERBACK ALTERRAUN VERNER
                         
(On the challenges of facing bigger receivers)
“It’s very tough. They’re physical guys. They’re shifty. Sometimes you feel like you need a little advantage by – I wouldn’t say holding – but just being a little bit more physical. It’s definitely tough now, especially when you have those big guys and they kind of get away with it a little more than we do. It’s the way the game is evolving. We have to learn how to deal with it. That’s the name of the game. It’s more challenging but we can still get the job done.”
 
(On the coverage and rush working together against New Orleans)
“No question. Those guys up front were definitely instrumental in this past win. The sacks we got, and even the times they weren’t sacking them but they were making them move the spot, making them adjust his read or he couldn’t go to his first one because they got there so quick, it was definitely better in that end. What was good about it was that we were able to finally get those takeaways and those turnovers to complement what they were doing with Chris’s [Conte] interception and some of the fumbles. It definitely worked hand-in-hand this game.”
 
(On getting a win and if it takes weight off the team’s shoulders)
“I think so, definitely any time you can get a win, especially against that quality of an opponent with Drew Brees and company, a feat that this team hasn’t done in awhile, especially on the road. It’s huge. It was a huge win. It was a division game, something we haven’t been able to win at either. It’s big, but it’s not anything that anybody’s taking to heart because we know as high as you can go is how far you can fall, too, so we still have a lot of work to do. We’ve got to find a way to get another one. That’s one thing we definitely didn’t do last year. We couldn’t get two in a row. We couldn’t repeat off of a good performance with Pittsburgh and with the Redskins last year. This week is probably even bigger than last week, in my opinion, to see how we come off of a win. We have to learn how to do that. We have to learn how to win, and when we do win, we have to learn how to stack them up.”
 
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