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20 October 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Tuesday, October 20, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Through Week Six, the Buccaneers are allowing 322.8 yards per game, the fifth-fewest in the NFL, and 202.4 passing yards per game, the fourth-fewest in the league.
Below is a brief selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Tackle Demar Dotson
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
Cornerback Alterraun Verner
(Opening statement)
It was great to be a football fan this weekend [during the bye week]; watched great games. Also made you want to get back out with your football team as soon as possible. We’re here for the long haul now. 1-0 the second quarter [of the season], excited about playing this week. We should get a few more guys back from injuries.”
(On the overall health of the team and how all but two players practiced today)
“That’s the position you want to be in. You start the football season off with the group of guys you feel comfortable going with. Injuries kind of derail that from time to time, but you’re always looking to get the full group, where you have all options available each week. Hopefully that will be the case. We pretty much have all of our options open this week. It’s always about the next guys stepping up when you do have injuries, and we’ve seen that. Our depth has been developed a lot more from having to play some guys, but, again, we feel like we’re ready to go. We’ve been in this stadium before, going there last year. I’ve kind of seen some of their comments about how it’s a must-[win] game. We’re saying the same thing down here in Tampa: it’s a must-[win] game for us. [We] have an opportunity to even up our record and all of that. But just to take another step from the last time we played is important.”
(On cornerback Johnthan Banks returning to practice)
“Johnthan was one of our guys before he got hurt. When our guys get healthy, we get them back in as soon as we can. I’ll go over the injury list a little bit later in the week, but he looked pretty good today. He’s had a little bit of time to heal up. I know even last time we played, he felt bad about not being able to play. But he looked pretty good today.”
(On having the opportunity to reach .500 with a win this week)
“It is good to have an opportunity for that. I’ve made the statement that we’re a good football team that hasn’t played that way each time. To get a chance to put two wins together and to just keep growing, see each one of our – and that’s what we’re talking about [with] our team. In the early part of the season, you’re working out a few different things to see exactly what type of football team we can be, this 2015 version. We can be a good football team. But you have to do that on the field. It’s not about polls or things like that. It’s decided there [on the field]. So we’re looking forward to playing a good group.”
(On issues with the secondary)
“Our football team hasn’t played as well as we need to at times. I’m just not going to single out [the secondary]. I was asked some questions about the secondary and that last game we didn’t play as well as we need to, but we feel good about our group as we go forward. Every group needs to make improvement; it’s as simple as that. [The] defensive line can help them to keep pressure on and when we get opportunities to make the plays back there, we will. So, again, just like the rest of the group, as far as what we’re able to see, you see the same things you see after every game. You identify the mistakes and start correcting them and we feel like we’ve done that.”
(On backup players stepping up to fill holes left by injured starters and whether Smith subscribes to the notion that a starter doesn’t lose his job through injury)
“I’ve heard that statement, ‘You can’t lose [your job due to injury].’ To me, you lose your job if you’re not the best available guy. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter how it happens. There’s no set formula that you go by, as far as how I’ve done it. If you have two healthy guys, you make a decision as a coach on who gives you the best chance to win. What has happened in the past comes into play a little bit, but not an awful lot. So that’s what we’ll do. As a coach, what you’d like is to have all options available for you. Hopefully that will be the case with quite a few positions for us.”
(On safety Chris Conte)
“Chris Conte is a good football player and Chris will tell you that he’s played a couple of games that he really played well and there’s a few that he can play better. But, yes. We haven’t peaked as a football team – no position, no player. There’s a lot better football that Chris will play going forward, like our team.”
(On Conte’s specific strengths)
“Seems to be around the ball. I think he can play the run well. He’s not afraid to come up and hit. He has range. He’s not your typical in-the-box-only-type safety; he can guard wide receivers on the outside. I just think all the skill sets you’re looking for at safety, for all we ask him to do, we feel like Chris can do that. What has hurt him in the past has been injuries. So if he can beat that injury bug a little bit, he’ll just keep doing that.”
(On having a top five defense but still struggling in certain categories such as points allowed)
“Your stats, your record, that’s who you are. You have to go on that. What else can you go by? For us, it is a little bit bigger than that. We haven’t played our best defense here. It’s as simple as that. If you look at total yards and some of those things – how everybody else judges the league a little bit – you can feel good about some of the things we’ve done and we do that, but the things we need to do better, yes, I’m going to go to the points, I’m going to go to takeaways, to third-down conversions. Those are the things that will really help us win football games. We have to get better at that and we will. We’re pointed in this direction and that’s what we would like to see. Right now, we’re just jockeying for position. We have a long ways to go and I think every defensive guy will tell you that.”
(On worrying about injuries to young quarterbacks)
“You can’t worry about that. You never know when an injury will happen. You do everything you can do safeguard against it, but beyond that it’s a contact sport. The object is to tackle, to get them down, to get the guy with the ball down on every play. Injuries are going to happen. You just hope you are lucky, but you can’t really think about that an awful lot. As far as protecting our quarterback, we do think about that. We want to protect him as much as we possibly can, limit the amount of times he runs and just limit the amount of times that he’s exposed to what those big bad defenses are doing, but you can only do that so much.”
(On if he has been impressed with quarterback Jameis Winston running the ball)
“Yes I have been. That’s why when you talk about mobile quarterbacks, what exactly are you trying to do? Are you talking about mobile to take off and run every other time? No, to me, when I talk about mobility in the pocket I’m talking about just moving and maneuvering to be able to get the pass off. Then if you have to run, get a few yards and get down. Jameis has done that well. [His 40-yard dash time] doesn’t really matter an awful lot. I think you’ve seen enough of Jameis to know that he’s plenty mobile to be able to do the things that an NFL quarterback needs to do.”
(On the importance of the Bye Week for rookies)
“It was very important and I mentioned Kwon [Alexander] because he’s [the] Mike linebacker. I’m sure Jameis [Winston] would say, Ali [Marpet], Donovan [Smith], all those guys that pretty much have played every snap, yeah they were pretty excited about putting on that college lettermen jacket on the sidelines this past weekend. You do look to the Bye Week to know that you can get rejuvenated, get refreshed and all that and our players did that. A lot of bounce for practice out there today and it has to help an awful lot. At the same times you get this Bye Week for our young players, guys we’re just in the second quarter. We have a lot of football left to go, but it was good to have the Bye Week when it came.”
(On the facing Washington)
“I think we all have lost tough games. It’s such a fine line between winning and losing in the NFL. Again as I mentioned earlier, we pay attention to our opponent and what’s being said and what they’re saying, like they do us. Every game is critical and you have to learn from your last game. No one is feeling really good about their football team right now. You’re feeling okay and you can’t wait to get to that next week to see improvements. I know that’s how they feel and I know that’s how we feel. We know that we’re going to have a team that is going to fight hard. They have some of our former players there and we know how they play. That’s what you expect each week and when you go on the road it’s tough duty. We understand that.”
(On how anxious he is to get back on the field)
"Yeah, it's been a long wait and I'm excited about it. I get a chance to practice for the first time and we'll see how it goes. But I'm excited man – just sitting back and watching these guys, I've been chomping at the bit."
(On how his knee feels)
"I don't think it's where I want it to be, but I've still got time, two more weeks before I can play. By the time we come around to there, I should be where I need to be."
(On how tough the recovery has been)
"It's been a grind, but the trainers and [Head Athletic Trainer] Bobby [Slater], they've been pushing me from Day One. They knew that I wanted to come back better than I was, so they've been doing everything they could and I appreciate those guys. It's been a long road, but it's not done yet."
(On how proud he is of the guys who have been playing on the offensive line)
"They've been competing and fighting and scratching and clawing. They've been doing everything they were asked to do, and you can't ask for a better job than what those guys have been doing. Kevin [Pamphile] stepped in and played well when Logan [Mankins] went down. We brought the center [Joe Hawley] in from Atlanta and he steps in when Evan [Smith] goes down and plays well. And Gos [Gosder Cherilus] over there at right tackle is playing extremely well. That's a guy who's been playing this game a long time, so we expect nothing but for him to go out there and play well."
(On the two rookies starting on the offensive line)
"The two rookies, you can't speak on them because they've done a phenomenal job. I think they're both ahead of their time. When you see a guy like Ali [Marpet] and the play he's been putting on the field, for a guy coming from a D-3 [school], you've just got to tip your hat off to him and just appreciate the guy's work ethic and what he brings to the game."
(On if he is fine physically)
“Yeah, physically I’m fine. No issues.”
(On his memories of his game against Washington last season)
“It was a great game for me. It showed my ability to be able to take over games and things like that and it showed my ability at the receiver position, but they’re a different defense this year – a lot of guys injured, they play different schemes and things like that. It will be a challenge for us, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”
(On what he needs to do to play at a high level)
“Just practicing hard and making the plays when the ball comes my way. There’s a couple times I’m not making the plays that I’m usually capable of, but there are 11 games left in the season. I’ve played three full games, so this will be my fourth full game I get to play and I’m excited about this opportunity.”
(On if his last performance against Washington made him realize he can be a top receiver in the NFL)
“Yeah, I always thought that, but I guess that showed it even more.”
(On what he did during the Bye Week)
“I went down to Houston. My little brother had a football game. It’s a freshman team. [I] saw my daughter for a little bit and then made a drive to College Station [to] check that Alabama, [Texas] A&M out.”
(On how he feels after the time off)
“I feel great. I’m ready to get my body back moving. I got extra rest so I feel real good.”
(On how much the Bye Week meant to him as a rookie)
“It meant a lot. After the Bye Week, that’s when I made my stretch of good games. Hopefully that could be the same this year. It’s big, that extra week off – gets your body right and things like that.”
(On how he feels about the offense being run-first and the possibility of not always getting a lot of targets)
“We’ll get it taken care of, whatever it is. If the ball comes our way, it doesn’t matter how many times you’re targeted, we just have to make the play when the ball comes. We’re going to establish the run first – we have great backs – and that will open up the passing game for us. That’s our identity.”
(On the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and receiver)
“I think it’s importance to a degree, but you just have to catch. We practice a lot. It’s not about the chemistry it’s about the players, I guess.”
(On his chemistry with quarterback Jameis Winston)
“It’s good. He’s putting the ball where it needs to be. I’ve been making plays and then a couple I haven’t been making, but I’ll start making them.”
(On if he is frustrated with his performance so far this season)
“I was frustrated in the Houston game, but other than that I’m fine.”
(On if he needs to be patient with his performance)
“As a receiver, yes, you never know what you are going to get. You’ve just got to be patient. I just I love playing the game of football, that’s about it. We have another opportunity to go 1-0 this week.”
(On what the offense is capable of with everyone healthy)
“Yes, when we get Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] back and ‘Dot’ [Demar Dotson] it will be fun to see what we can do. We’re making strides. We have 11 games left. By the end of this year I think people will be talking about our offense.”
(On the Bucs' defense being ranked fifth in yards but a lot lower in points)
"That's the big thing – we've got to limit the points. We've got to limit the big plays, and in key situations we've got to be good. When we're in the red zone, we're giving up touchdowns. Third downs, we've got to get off the field and get our offense back the ball, and we've got to take the ball away. Those are the things we need to worry about. The yardage sounds good and all of that, but at the end of the day it's wins, losses and points on the board."
(On giving up big plays)
"Yes, that's why we have to try to limit those. Teams, it's hard for them to drive, drive, drive all the way down the field without them making a mistake or us causing a turnover. So that's why we've got to improve in those areas. And even when they get down there, we've got to make sure that they don't score touchdowns. We're trying to make them kick field goals and trying to get a block."
(On how good it would feel to be 3-3)
"A win is going to be great no matter what the record is. We're going to take it one step at a time and make sure we just get a win. It's not necessarily being 3-3 or where we stand in the division, things like that. I think when you start worrying about those things you're overthinking and adding additional stress. Just prepare based on this game and try to get a win. Just getting a win is going to feel good for this team."

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