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02 December 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Wednesday, December 2, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Since the 1970 NFL/AFL Merger, QB Jameis Winston ranks third in passing yards (2,650) and tied for fourth in passing touchdowns (16) by a rookie through the first 12 weeks of the season.
                                                                                       
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
 
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter
Quarterback Jameis Winston
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening Statement)
“Longer injury list today. I’ll go over the guys that didn’t practice. Bruce Carter is in the concussion protocol. Gosder Cherilus has a knee that was bothering him a little bit, we held him out. Vincent Jackson has a knee [injury]. George Johnson is getting better, but his calf injury is still there. Gerald McCoy has a hand injury. [Jacquies] Smith has a hamstring [injury]. Luke Stocker’s back is a little sore today. Those were the guys that weren’t able to practice at all. We had some other guys that were limited that are all getting better. Big game for us. Whenever you honor one of our all-time greats like we’re going to do this week with Doug Williams, it’s kind of special. We want to play well in front of him and of course in front of our fans too. It’s a big football game for us. We have an opportunity with the second go-round in the division. We played each other before, we know each other better. It was a tough game last time, of course we are expecting the same type of game, one that we both need. We need it. We feel like we need it more than they do. That’s a big deal for us. Talking about honors off the field too, I think the league announced each one of the team’s Man of the Year awards today. Vincent Jackson is ours. Vincent, as you all know, does a lot in the community. He’s visible, the type of guy you want representing your organization.”
 
(On if any of the players on the injury list are not likely to play Sunday)
“They’re all injuries that kept them out today. That’s about all I know today. Of course I don’t go over those types of things. Today those guys didn’t practice.”
 
(On guard Ali Marpet’s injury status)
“He’s getting better. [I] didn’t talk about him [on the injury list], that’s a good step in the right direction. He’s a good football player. You need all of your players during this stretch. He’s been close. He was close last week. He looked pretty good in practice today.”
 
(On rookies having already played the equivalent to a college season and if there is a physical or mental grind for young players at this point in the season)
“I’m just not part of the group of people that think that’s an issue. Jameis Winston – ‘Hey Jameis, are you getting tired?’ No, I don’t think that’s coming up with him. Kwon [Alexander], ‘Are you getting tired?’ Don’t think so. I’m going to say this about all our guys. Ali Marpet can’t wait to get back in there. I don’t put a whole lot into that. Maybe that’s the case but where we are with our football team right now where we’re counting on so many of our younger players, if it is they better keep it to themselves [laughs].”
 
(On the team’s confidence level after last week’s loss)
“We’ve put all those games together. You’re talking about this past game right? Philly, Indy, which one are you talking about? We put them all [together]. They are all the same to us. It’s in our rearview mirror and we are looking straight ahead. Today was a big day for us. Some things we need to clean up in order for us to start winning again. I think we took a step in the right direction on that.”
 
(On the importance of takeaways in their Week 8 game earlier this season)
“No, that’s how it’s supposed to be. I think we were plus-four. It would be a shame to lose a game when you are plus-four. Yards mean quite a bit, but the important things are scores, amount of takeaways you have and we did the things well that really allows you to win football games that last game. We need to do it again this week.”
 
(On the line between having the talent to win and feeling like you can win)
“I think it is mental. I think it goes a long with how you are playing. Guys are realists, I think, each week. As a football team you kind of know where you are, you know how you match up against the team that you are playing. I think that’s what gives you confidence and for us to make a stretch-run based on that. We’ve played a lot of football games. We see where the teams are that we’ve played and how we match up. We know that we are a good football team and we have as good of a chance as anybody else. Yeah, it’s mental and we’re just being realists too.”
 
(On if he would compare defensive end Howard Jones performance this season to what Jacquies Smith did last season)
“You can compare them. I think you can compare the guys a little bit too. [They are] similar guys. For some people they would say they’re ‘undersized ends.’ For us, that’s the type of athletes we are playing with at that position. If you have ability to come off the edge you can get some sacks in our system. Those are the type of guys we have had success with in the past. He will tell you, Howard is still green. He has some ability, but now he’s played a lot of football. A lot of guys like that, young players instead of talking about hitting that rookie wall, no it’s time for you to jump to that other side and really be somebody we can count on. We’re going to need those guys to do that. Playing against a passing attack [that we gave up 500 yards to last matchup], we need to be able to get some pressure on them this week.”
 
(On if he tells his team where they are in the division and in the playoff hunt)
“I assume they know it, but I don’t take that for granted. I want them to know, to be aware of what’s happening in the league. We’re not doing that. I let them know exactly where we stand in our division each week. I let them know exactly where we stand as far as the playoff race is concerned. I want them to be involved in the league and just know that gives you a better picture of what we need to do. Yes, we give them as much information as we possibly can. They can handle that.”
 
(On if the final three division games are going to set the tone for what this young core of players is capable of)
“Absolutely. Looking at what’s ahead if us, we know the overall schedule and who we play coming up. I see teams that we eventually need to get above, but it’s still about focusing on that next opponent and for us, next opponent, division opponent, we have a chance to sweep a division opponent. An opponent that really got after us last year. Yes, it is pretty important, That’s why this game, again, we’re not going to win the division this year, but we want to make strides in our division. One would be to sweep a couple teams.”
 
(On how the addition of running back Devonta Freeman and wide receiver Devin Hester could help Atlanta’s offense)
“That’s a boost. A healthy Devin Hester on the field, we’re going to take notice with him always. If he is out there, which we expect him to be, we’ll be ready. We have to be ready. To get Freeman back, that’s good football players they are adding to the mix. It’s going to make them a better football team.”
 
(On if he is game planning as if linebacker Kwon Alexander will be available to play Sunday)
“Yes, we are. For me, we’ve talked about the big picture, but it’s kind of that next game, this game and yes we expect him to be here this week. He practiced today. It is short-term from here on out. We’re excited about Kwon playing again. Last time Kwon played against Atlanta he had the game of a lifetime and we’re expecting him to have the same type this week.”
 
(On Doug Williams being inducted into the Ring of Honor)
“There are some guys that when you think Tampa Bay Buccaneers their picture, their name comes up. Doug Williams is one of those. Our first franchise quarterback and just a great ambassador for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for all of us that know Doug Williams too and know what he represents. In my two years here, we’ve honored some of the all-time great that we had. It’s a special time. Doug is definitely one that should get that type of recognition. We have another young franchise quarterback coming up. Doug has gone out of his way to be that mentor for [Jameis Winston]. It means a lot for us and against Atlanta and all the things that goes a long with this game, it’s a big deal for us this week.”
 
(On if Williams has helped Winston with his development)
“No doubt he has. Not only Jameis, Doug Williams helped a lot of quarterbacks coming through this league.”
 
(On how much of a trailblazer was Doug Williams and if he was an inspiration to Smith)
“No doubt, I realize that Doug is an African-American quarterback, was one of the first so he was a trailblazer for young guys coming up. For a guy like Jameis Winston it’s good for you to see someone that looks like you on the sidelines doing things that give you hope for things that you can do in later days. We all know what Doug means. Doug has a Super Bowl too. Right? Championship? He’s got the pedigree and a great quarterback like he was in college, one of the historical great colleges. It’s good that he is associated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as I see it.”
 
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR DIRK KOETTER
 
(On if it is easier when facing an opponent for the second time in a season)
“I don’t know if I would use the word easier. Familiar, you’re more familiar with a team when you play them a second time. Some teams change more than others, some teams game plan different the second time. We met on their personnel and stuff this morning. It comes back to you pretty fast, ‘Oh yeah, I remember how we did this, I remember how we did this, I remember how we did this.’ Some of that is things we need to do better. I’m sure they are saying the same thing. It’s not perfect on either side, so you’re making adjustments. Familiarity I guess would be the main term there.”
 
(On quarterback Jameis Winston being learning quickly from his mistakes)
“That was one thing, Jimbo Fisher told me is you’ll be amazed by this guy and I’m kind of thinking to myself, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard this before.’ Jameis is unbelievable how quick he can look at a game plan, take it out on the field and just in a walk-through – it really is impressive. That’s one thing that has amazed me and I’m not easily amazed. That has really amazed me about how fast he can pick things up. It’s not just lip service when he gets up there and talks about learning and getting better. He is really into it and he’s a fast learner.”
 
(On if Winston corrects his mistakes quickly)
“Oh yeah, absolutely. There are probably several [examples], but you’re putting me on the spot right now so I’m not good at that. I would just say that the main thing is this is just an overall thing [of] how much better job he is doing overall of taking care of the football.”
 
(On if he is surprised about how quickly Winston has developed)
“I don’t know if surprised is the right word. Happy is probably a better word. I’m very happy.”
 
(On tight end Cameron Brate’s development)
“We talked briefly about this last week. Jon Embree, our tight end coach – they had Cam, Cam played a little bit last year. When we were looking at the cut-ups in the offseason I was going, ‘Hey, I kind of like this guy coming from a smaller school and that sort of thing.’ We had the other tight ends we liked a lot too. He was kind of sitting in that number four spot, which is borderline if you are going to make the team. We also had Tim Wright, now we have five guys, it’s all kind of close. You see a lot of guys that are young and you sort of see that potential in them, but they are all missing a little something, so how quick do they develop that something they’re missing? They have some things they are really strong at, but some other things not so much. I mentioned this last week, I was worried sick when we had to put Cam on waivers and the Saints claimed him. I was very happy that we were able to get him back. Anytime one players suffers, in this case Austin [Seferian-Jenkins’] injury, another player has to step up. Cam is a great example of that. The more he’s played, the better he’s gotten. It’s now at the point where we’re just so thankful we got him back.”
 
(On the offense’s second half performance against Indianapolis)
“First off, in the first half we only had three possession and we scored on all three of them, but we probably should’ve had 21 points, we had 12. That’s a big gap, so even though we were moving the ball we weren’t scoring. What happened? Well penalties took us out of one. What we told our guys after we looked at the tape was it was a game of missed opportunities. We had so many opportunities. We felt pretty good coming out at halftime. Second half what happened? Those first two series we went back-to-back three-and-out. We had a holding on the first play, got behind the chains. Go back to the Philly game, same thing. Think of that first drive of the third quarter. We overcame all that stuff. All of a sudden we’re behind the chains – three-and-out, three-and-out, the Colts are scoring. I think, me included, we all got a little bit frustrated, maybe got away from what we should’ve been doing. I probably should’ve ran the ball more after those first two series. It wasn’t so much that they brought more pressure, although with that said, give the Colts credit. They hurt us with some single rushes. We did not handle it as well as we have been handling it and it wasn’t just one guy. It was crazy. When we had protection issues, we had guys wide open. When we had good protection we either missed a throw, dropped a throw – it was always something. We haven’t had a whole lot of that. We’ve been able to put it together pretty well and we just got out of whack. [We] got to start with giving the Colts some credit, but more than anything, missed opportunities by us.”
 
(On this week’s game being a must win game)
“It’s must. It’s must. You’d have to ask them. I’m not putting any words in. I told the guys my own emotion after a game – I wasn’t angry, I was disappointed because we had been playing so much better. I was just disappointed because the opportunities were there for us. I love coaching those guys. Those guys play hard for us, play hard for themselves, we’ve been executing at a pretty good level, we just didn’t play the way we’ve been playing. When you look back on film and see the opportunities we’ve missed – and it’s taking nothing away from the Colts, they beat us fair and square. We’ve been sort of ascending on offense and we definitely plateaued a little bit. Coach [Lovie Smith] made it crystal clear to the guys where we are at going into this game. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure it out. This is a big game.”
 
(On if center Joe Hawley has exceeded expectations)
“He hasn’t exceeded my expectations at all because obviously I had him in Atlanta and I’m a huge Joe Hawley fan. He got hurt in the Minnesota game last year – a nasty knee injury and coming off that, so Joe wasn’t 100 percent. Whatever happened there happened. We were kind of searching for a backup center is really what it came down to. When Joe became available, I went to Coach [Lovie Smith] and went to Jason [Licht] and said, ‘Look we have a chance to get this guy. He may not be quite healthy yet, but he is going to get better.’ I know what kind of player Joe is and he’s been a godsend to have him here. Like you said, he’s helped us through two injuries.”
 
(On tackle Donovan Smith’s performance against Indianapolis and his overall development)
“I think Donovan is just a reflection of a lot of guys on offense. You could’ve said any one of seven or eight guys and I’d give you the same answer. We’ve missed opportunities, Donovan had his moments, I had my moments. Go down the line, this guy, this guy, this guy, we all missed opportunities in that game. Donovan went up against a couple pretty good rushers. He actually did a pretty good job on [Robert Mathis], who has 125 sacks in his career [or] something like that. He struggled a little bit more against [Trent] Cole. Why? I don’t know the answer to that. I really wouldn’t say struggled, we just didn’t play the way we’ve been playing.”
 
(On continuing to improve and not plateau)
“We’re 11 games in and there was positives in that game. We only turned it over once and that was late in the game. Jameis [Winston] kind of forced it. We still were explosive. We had eight explosive [plays], that’s our goal. We still were good on third down – 46 percent, that’s our goal. As we said earlier, we did move the ball. Anytime you lose, you have your pluses and your minuses. We expect to win now. I say we plateaued, we didn’t win. We’d won two in a row, we wanted to win three in a row. Now we want to win one in a row. It’s really not much more complex than that.”
 
(On rookies having already played the equivalent to a college season and if there is a physical or mental grind for young players at this point in the season)
“I definitely think there’s something to that for young guys. [It’s] their first time through OTAs, training camp, preseason games, which oh by the way they still hit hard and now here we are 11 games [into the season]. I think there’s definitely something to that. What we talked to our guys about is, ‘Hey, you got five weeks left, five weeks left. Think about that in the big picture of football, let alone life. Five weeks is nothing. Don’t worry about five weeks right now, worry about one week. In five weeks what’s done is done. The record we have – we earn what we earn.’ I think there is a little to that. All the people in the building that help the guys take care of their bodies. Those guys are getting massages, they’re getting treatment, the trainers, all that stuff – we’re on top of that – nutrition, rest. We are on top of it, but that’s definitely there and every team has it.”
 
(On if wide receiver Mike Evans is having technique issues)
“Every player has things they have to work on. I know you folks aren’t always watching as much practice as maybe you’d like or maybe you’re glad you can’t watch practice. Mike has been working hard. Andrew Hayes-Stoker, our receivers coach, and Mike he’s out there throwing him wet balls, high balls, low balls, balls on his knees, balls on his back. Mike has struggled a little bit with balls that were underthrown and a little behind him for whatever reason. When you look at it on tape, maybe he’s not looking at it all the way in. I think that’s something that Mike can improve on and the other thing is on some of those balls he’s got the guy beat. If he just slows down the guy is going to run into him, we’re going to get [pass interference] anyway. Mike, by the nature of his size, draws a lot of pass interference penalties. I say that not being critical. When a guy drops passes I’m trying not to be the guy over the saying, ‘Catch the damn ball, catch the damn ball. Trust me, he knows he should catch the damn ball. That’s his job. Every player has things that they are working on.”
 
(On reducing the amount of penalties)
“You’re going to get penalties sometimes by playing hard. Playing hard penalties those are okay, we can live with those. We are trying to cut down on pre and post-snap penalties. Some of our penalties come on runs where guys are engaged with their guy and then Doug [Martin] makes a cut, the defender reacts and you just hold on a little bit too long. We’re trying to get them to understand when they have to let go. George Warhop was just talking about a couple of our runs today – couple certain types of runs, it may be a cut-back run, Doug starts one way. When he starts to cut it back, you might need to let go. In blocking, everybody is telling you to get your hands inside. The defense is telling their guys, ‘Get your hands inside.’ We’re telling our guys, ‘Get your hands inside.’ If you get your hands inside, you know what you are doing? You’re grabbing. You’re holding on to those breast plates and if your hands are inside you don’t get called. It’s when your hands get outside you get called. That’s pretty universal in the NFL. We had too many penalties. We have to cut it down. Coach [Lovie Smith] is talking about it, we’re talking about it. I don’t know what else I can say about that.”
 
(On if passer rating is an accurate measure of how good a quarterback is)
“Yeah, it is. In fact in ranks about number nine as far as most important things. It’s about number nine as far as winning and losing football. I wish I could explain why, but one of those guys that is way smarter than me figures out the order. It starts with turnovers, number one. Number two is explosive plays and I’m not going to go through them all, so don’t ask me. Three, four, five, six, seven, eight, number nine – passer rating. I tell our guys passer rating is a team thing. We drop a pass, it hurts our passer rating. We throw an interception, tipped ball, hurts our passer rating. [We] make a great catch did like [Charles Sims] in Philly for a touchdown, helps your passer rating. Yeah, it’s important. It’s number nine.”
 
(If there is another quarterback stat that is more important than passer rating)
“Turnovers. We can go through them all on another day when my time keepers over there aren’t clicking that watch on me.”
(On having wide receiver Jackson available for this game unlike in their Week 8 matchup)
“I wouldn’t say totally different. We are what we are. We are going to try to play to our strengths, hide our weaknesses. That was a good cliché right there. As I said last week, getting Vincent back helps everybody. Vincent is a top-notch player. We need him, we can do more things with him. He’s a playmaker, so we have every reason to believe we should be better on offense with Vince in there.”
 
QUARTERBACK JAMEIS WINSTON
 
(On if it helps playing a team for a second time in a season)
“It’s definitely good that we saw them once before, but that’s a defense that bends but doesn’t break. They try to limit the big plays and they do a good job at doing it.”
 
(On if he is accomplishing his personal goals for the season)
“Usually I go over my expectations after the season. During the season, my goal is just to try to put us in position to win. I really don’t focus on myself. I focus on this team and what we need to do to be the best we can possibly be.”
 
(On how he has done putting this team in a position to win)
“I believe I have done an okay job. You can always do better. It’s not my point to judge. I’m not really a judging person. I can’t really judge myself while the season is going on. That’s for after the season, to reflect and see everything. Right now I’m more focused on game plans and week after week and just the overall progress.”
 
(On what he has improved on since the beginning of the season)
“Taking care of the football. That’s the main thing. I’ve got to take care of the football week-in and week-out. I had one turnover last game. Just limiting those in critical situations.”
 
(On if the game has slowed down for him)
“I guess, but I just feel like when I’m out there I’m just playing football. I’m not realizing if the game is slowing down. I’m going off my game plan. I guess I think differently or whatever. Is stuff getting easier? I’m making it easier. Coach [Dirk] Koetter is making it easier. The run game, the offensive linemen protecting me is making it easier. The wide receivers catching the ball are making it easier. When everything is working around you [it makes it easier.] When people talk about has the game slowed down and stuff I’m just like, ‘I’m just out there playing football.’”
 
(On rookies having already played the equivalent to a college season and if there is a physical or mental grind for young players at this point in the season)
“[I’m going to approach the next five games] with the same mindset. Every game is very important. It’s just the next game. I can’t speak for the other rookies, but I believe we have done a good job with keeping our bodies well-rested and keeping our minds mentally from being exhausted, so we have done a good job with that. I’m excited. This is the time football matters. These next five games are very important to us, as were the other 11 before that, but these next five games are really big.”
 
(On preparing for a team for the second time in a season)
“It’s the same. Any team that’s lining up across form you, that is trying to beat you, you have to prepare the same. The main objective is to beat them.”
 
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