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30 December 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Wednesday, December 30, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston has passed for 3,717 yards and 22 touchdowns. His 3,717 yards are the fourth-most by a rookie in NFL history and his 22 touchdowns are fourth-most in league history. With 283 passing yards at Carolina, Winston will become only the third rookie in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards (Andrew Luck: 4,374; Cam Newton: 4,051). With one more passing touchdown, he can tie Andrew Luck for the third-most by a rookie in league history (t1st: Peyton Manning & Russell Wilson, 26).
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
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
(Opening Statement)
“Evidently we’ve done this a few times. Injury report: Logan Mankins and Sterling Moore. Sterling has an ankle [injury], should be okay. Logan has knee [injury], should be okay, so we are in pretty good shape injury-wise. [It’s our] last Wednesday, last opportunity to make an impression for our football team. We talked about leaving a good taste in our mouths. For the players and all of us, coaches put our signature, our name behind our performance this week. Carolina of course has had a great season, getting ready to go to the playoffs, what better way to make a statement?”
(On if Carolina, a few years ago, was similar to this season’s Bccaneers)
“Yes, they were [a lot like this team a few years ago] and that’s what gives us hope too. It seems like you have to be really down and get an opportunity to get a couple of players. Getting of course Cam Newton sends you in the right direction. Getting Luke Kuechly sends you in the right direction and they have done a great job with their personnel. Just kind of stayed the course of who they were. We’ve seen them get better and better, unfortunately for the rest of us in the NFC South – but it is a model of what we’re going to do. We’ve made progress, but we’re not quite there yet, but in time we will be. Again, in order for us to get up on top, we have to be able to compete and beat teams like that.”
(On Carolina not having major acquisitions this season but still being able to double their win total from a year ago)
“I haven’t seen a whole lot different. I can talk an awful lot more about our team, but what they’ve done, they’re committed to their approach on how they win football games. I’m talking about believing strongly in the running game, but I think they’re a little different than all teams in the league. It’s a running game plus one. I’m talking about Cam Newton and the amount of yards he gets running the football each week. Of course, Ted Ginn [Jr.] has had a great year, great speed. When you commit to the run, you have openings outside. Greg Olsen, Pro Bowl tight end. Look at their roster, they have quite a few guys going to the Pro Bowl. On the other side too, they’re leading the league in takeaways. You have an offense like that and you give them more and more opportunities, you have a season like that.”
(On if he feels there is an uneven amount of improvement between his offense and defense)
“I think we’ve improved in the areas that we really should have improved. We have had a commitment. We brought in a lot of young players on the offensive side of the ball that are very good football players and they’ve played about the way that they should. It does take a little bit of time. I’m going to go to the defense. You judge a defense based on yards. We need to be judged that same way too. There has been progress in that area, you’re right. Scoring defense, third down, takeaways, we have to improve in those areas. We’ve made progress in some areas too, but it’s not a finished product right now. Just like the Panthers have done, we’re going to continue to get better, keep coaching hard and coaching better and playing better and eventually we’ll get on top too.”
(On if he is concerned about running back Doug Martin’s fumbles)
“He hasn’t had big problems with it in past years so you have to kind of take it. We’re not [concerned]. We can’t fumble the ball. It’s about the turnover ratio, it’s about ball security on the offensive side of the football, so that will never be acceptable for us. That’s just something we have to clean up, it’s as simple as that. Doug realizes that. You see what fumbles can do to you –not what they can what they do do to you. That’s a part of our game that we need to clean up. Simple as that.”
(On how to improve on penalties)
“You just have to keep addressing it. How is how. You keep talking about it. You keep preaching it. Players see the results that penalties cause. I think that goes along with where we are as a football team right now. There’s some things that once we clean all this up we won’t be in this situations that we are in. It’s as simple as that. You don’t normally think of penalties that way, but we’ve had critical penalties that have cost us an awful lot. Again, we have only had a couple takeaways here lately, but penalties have taken back both of those. I’ve talked a lot about pre-snap, post-snap penalties. We’ll keep working on it, that’s my answer.”
(On if quarterback Jameis Winston has exceeded expectations)
“You’re coming in as the top pick in the draft. There are high expectations of you coming in. I think I’ve been pretty consistent with my answers as far as Jameis Winston is concerned. He’s been outstanding, about as much as you can ask for from a rookie quarterback coming into the league – a guy whose arrow is definitely pointing [up]. We’re going to win a lot of football games for him. Exceed? No, I had high goals, hopes for him coming in and I would definitely say he has met them. He would say, ‘Maybe I’ve met them.’ He’s not going to talk an awful lot about that. He expected to come into the league and play pretty good. He has done that.”
(On promoting safety Kimario McFadden, running back Mike James, tight end Tevin Westbrook and wide receiver Evan Spencer from the practice squad over the past week)
“Except for Kimario, all the other players – Evan Spencer, Tevin Westbrook and who was the third one? Mike James. Of course Mike James has been around here a long time. I kind of consider him and he’s been active quite a bit. You can only have 53 guys, but we look at it as a 63-man roster and eventually we move those guys up – guys we think have a future, that will eventually play football for us. They’ve made plays throughout the year. We’ve noticed them on the practice field. They’ve done everything that you asked players that are on the practice squad ready to move up, that you asked them to do. They have talent. Evan Spencer [has] good size, can catch the football, can run. Tevin Westbrook, think about him. I was talking with him yesterday and I didn’t know the whole background that he was an O-lineman, a D-lineman, moved to tight end, lost a lot of weight and he’s gotten better and better every day out there. He has a future here. Of course, Mike James is just in a situation all of our running backs have been healthy and he’s number four.”
(On what gives him confidence in his team going forward)
“We’re making progress going forward. I try not to live in the past too much, but we have a history of ‘We’re doing this.’ That’s what gives me hope. We have good, young players coming up and again, I’ve made the statement that we’re not a finished product, but we’re headed in the right direction and believe in what we’re doing with all three phases. We’re going to eventually get there. That’s what history told me.”
(On losing three consecutive games)
“We’re not satisfied with the three losses. Right now though, we would like to finish it up with that one big win to end up the season. Even with that, I’m talking about on what we’ve done, we’re a better football team than we were last year. There is progress, period. Whether it’s three losses right now or three mixed in, we’re not satisfied with that and that’s not good enough. We realize that.”
(On wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s future with Tampa Bay)
“I think he has a future. We had a few guys that missed more games than we would like. I think as you look at a 32-year-old player, you look at how he played when he was out on the football field and healthy. I think we would all say Vincent played pretty good football. I assume he’ll be healthy going forward. It’s disappointing this year that he missed a lot of time. We could have used him. As I talk about us getting better, there are some key players that we have missed. I’m going to go to a guy, Clinton McDonald, that we haven’t talked about in a long time. He’s kind of the glue to our football team. Back to Vince. Vincent has a lot of good football left. That’s what I see.”
(On motivating quarterback Jameis Winston to finish plays in practice carrying over to games)
“As far as the practice thing goes, most of your plays in practice are set up – defenses are going off cards, most of your plays are set up to be successful. All of a sudden the receiver slips and falls down – you get a limited number of reps at practice. If a play breaks down in practice everybody just stops and stands there. It’s just common sense to practice your scramble rules. If a play breaks down, hey let’s make everybody play. That’s a hard thing because of just the way your mentality is in practice, so we are always trying to push that. One of the things that we chart every week is how many first downs are the result of the quarterback scramble, whether he is running it or whether he throws it. That’s one of the things that is down the road a little bit, but is one of the keys to winning in the NFL. Jameis’ ability to scramble has – I don’t know if improved is the right word – I’ve been impressed by the way Jameis has scrambled this year. He’s made some pretty good decisions, he’s made some nice throws, he’s missed a couple throws, he’s made a couple nice runs. I think we got more than maybe we initially bargained for. When everybody is doing the research on Jameis – pocket passer, pocket passer, pocket passer, but for a guy that isn’t a noted athletic-type quarterback, I think he has shown up this year bigger than most would’ve expected, including myself.”
(On what has impressed him the most about Winston)
“The list to work on, we’ll leave that for another day because that’s something we really have to drill down on and when we go back and look at the cut-ups that will be something to maybe talk about when we come back. What’s impressed me about Jameis, number one, is his resiliency. This guy [has had] ups and downs, some incredible downs, where you would think he would be really in the tank. He’s got a really unique ability, we’ve said it many times, to put the last play behind him, put the last game behind him and move on to the next play. That is a huge characteristic to have. Then his toughness. Even though our sack numbers are good, Jameis has taken a lot of hits and he gets up. He’s scared me a few times on the sideline. I’d say, ‘Hey, are you okay?’ and he is tough as nails. That is also something you need in this league. His resiliency and his toughness are probably the things that have impressed me the most.”
(On how the offense can reduce hits on the quarterback)
“That’s one of those things that is kind of a project for the offseason. We’ll do a study on where did all of those hits occur, how many were [Winston’s] own fault, because as you said sometimes – we call it ‘take what you need’ – sometimes in the pocket you step one way or the other or you step up to avoid an edge rusher or you avoid that first rusher, but if you step too far, the right guard might be thinking he’s doing a great job blocking his job over here, all of a sudden the quarterback moves and the right guard doesn’t know he’s right there so now he’s in trouble with the three-technique [defensive tackle] for example. We do need to cut down the hits on Jameis. How we do it, that is something that will be an offseason project, I can’t give you a good answer on that today.”
(On how Carolina has become so successful)
“They’ve been patient with their coaches, they’ve drafted good players, they’ve acquired good players and they are very-well coached on both sides of the ball. Like you said, I primarily study their defense. I think Sean McDermott does a heck of a job, of course Coach [Ron] Rivera was a defensive player. I worked with Mike Shula in Jacksonville. I know what kind of coach Mike Shula is. I mentioned this I think last week. Here we sit today with two Pro Bowl players, they have 10 Pro Bowl players so they have good talent, they’ve developed that talent, that talent has grown within that system and they’re reaping the rewards of that right now. We talked to our guys this morning, [if] you want to compete for a division title we got to go through Carolina. They’re the team to beat right now.”
(On Carolina being a good example of a team who is successful because of patience)
“I’ll let you guys answer that one on your own.”
(On why quarterback Jameis Winston should win Offensive Rookie of the Year)
“Let me preface that by saying to those other candidates how extremely biased I am. With that said, I’ll do my politicking right now, when you have a guy that touches the ball every single offensive snap of the season, that guy is going to be really tough to beat. Not one other guy that you mentioned has touched the ball every snap of the season. You look at everything Jameis has done, his numbers for a rookie quarterback are pretty darn good. Obviously, he has had his ups and downs. Like I said, the three other guys you mentioned [Marcus Mariota, Amari Cooper, Todd Gurley], I have a ton of respect for all three of them, but for a guy to play every snap in his rookie season and to do the things that Jameis has done, to me that’s a no-brainer.”
(On Winston’s interception in the red zone against Chicago)
“That was actually a very similar play to the [touchdown] in the Philly game with one exception. The one in the Philly game was a four-man rush and it was a corner that overlapped so the coverage was a little bit different than we had prepared for. The one in the Chicago game was zero coverage. We were short. We were in empty protection meaning five-man protection and they were bringing more than we could block. That’s a play were you definitely have to cut your losses. We aren’t in position. It’s not like we have enough guys to protect. When we’re throwing deep balls and there’s several examples in the game the other night, when we do throw deep balls our coaching point to the quarterbacks is give him a chance, give our guys a chance to make a play. It’s tough to throw it 40-plus yards down field and put it on a dime. That’s not easy to do. They get paid to do it and I think Jameis will continue to get better at that, but the first thing, how many times Jameis or any quarterback [do you have] the deep route and you got the guy, Mike Evans has a step and we overthrow it by five yards. That’s not giving our a guy a chance or we throw it two yards out of bounds. You have to give him a chance and then it becomes the receiver’s job to make a play. On the play we’re talking about, on the interception, that was a really bad three plays. [Cameron Brate] great catch, gave him a chance on the long one. We had to burn a timeout because we were screwed up in the formation on first down. We had a negative running play. They went zero on second down and we had an issue with the cadence, we weren’t on the same page, we had our hot [route] open, we didn’t get him the ball. Now we get to that third down, we’re in empty protection gain, they went zero again, back to back, so we’re short on protection. I got to give Jameis a better play call at that point. All he could do was cut our losses and kick the field goal. They got us, you can’t make it worse and we made it worse. Bad play call to start with, they caught us in zero and bad decision by Jameis.”
(On not having a lot of offensive snaps in the second game against New Orleans and against Chicago)
“We’re sitting there at 6-6 three weeks ago and then we go New Orleans, St. Louis and the last week [against] Chicago. He we go into analytics again. It’s really pretty simple. In those three games, we’ve turned it over five times. We’ve had five turnovers, we haven’t gotten many the other way, which offensively we don’t control that, but five in three games, too many. The second part of that is in that little stretch there in the middle of the season when we were rolling a little bit I think there was some stat that one of you guys fired at me that for a while there, over a six or seven week period, we were leading the NFL in third-down conversions. Well the last three weeks we’ve been 36, 30 and 25 percent. In the last three games you combine five turnovers with not converting your third downs, there’s your answer. I think we had 10 possession in the game the other day against Chicago. One of them was a one-play possession on the blocked punt. We had three turnovers, so that’s four of your 10 possessions. We had another third-down we converted and got a penalty, there’s five of your 10 that you’re not giving yourself a chance. That’s beating yourself. That’s the number one thing that’s hurting us right now, we talk about it all the time, is turnovers and third downs.”
(On the Tampa Bay’s defense not allowing the offense to get more snaps)
“Again, that’s not my job to worry about that. I have my own problems. Any offense can solve that. If you’re an offensive coach, how do you get more plays? Convert more third downs and that starts with winning on first down, getting in more third-and-manageables, which we didn’t do quite as good a job of that here against Chicago. It’s a team game. It’s the greatest team game in the world and the puzzle all fits together. We got to do our part.”
(On tight end Cameron Brate having more offensive snaps than Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. Chicago)
“I think it was pretty close if I’m not mistaking. I think he did have more. I‘m going to say it was like 17 to 15 or something like that. We got three tight ends, we only had 54 plays in the game. Some plays you have one tight end, some plays you have two, some plays you have three. Let me just say Cameron Brate has definitely earned his playing time this season. He has probably earned more than he is getting. Austin has had a difficult season because of the injury and he is trying to still play through it. To this day he is still not 100 percent healthy. He’s trying to play through it. We have to get more plays for everybody. That would help us. As far as that specifically, part of that is just the way the game flowed and not getting enough plays.”
(On what the next level for this offense is)
“That’s very simple. You’ve got to win games. You got to find ways to win. We talked about it before, numbers are nice, numbers look good on those pieces of paper we talk about, but all that anyone [cares] about in this league is Ws, alright. You got to win games. I’m sorry. Excuse my language. I was forget about this I’m just thinking I’m amongst friends here. I forget that this is going world-wide. Come on, give me a break. This is hitting Pocatello, Idaho, man. This is my hometown. My mom doesn’t even know I know that word.”
(On why the offense has plateaued the last three weeks)
“I don’t know if plateaued is the right word, but we are definitely not playing as well as we played a few weeks ago. The main things I can point to right now is again going back to the turnovers and third downs. There’s probably more to it than that. That will be something we did into hard after the season.”
(On wide receiver Vincent Jackson going on the Injured Reserve and what he means to the team)
“We miss him a lot. We miss Vincent a lot. Vincent is the glue of our passing game. He can play all the positions, he always knows what to do, he’s one of the hardest workers on the field, he’s always in the right spot. When I came here a year ago, I though Vincent was very similar to Roddy White when I first went to Atlanta – a do-everything receiver. [He] can go deep, can go across the middle, can go inside and block, you can move him around. My experience with Vincent, I think he told me, I believe, this is the most he has ever missed in his career. He’s had a heck of a career. I hope it’s not over. Vincent did not disappoint me in any way. I think the guy has plenty of ball left in him. It’s hurt us as an offense that he hasn’t been at full strength this year.”
(On how hard will he try to make sure running back Doug Martin is on the team in 2016 and beyond)
“I’ll lobby hard. The guys that make that decision, they’ll make the decision that’s best for the Bucs. I mean heck, as a coach you want all your guys back. It’s hard to say goodbye to anybody. Reality is after next Monday it’s never going to be the same. There’s going to be turnover, that’s just reality. It’s hard, but I told the guys the other day, coming off a hard loss to Chicago, I can never get mad at the guys in our room. I can get mad at them in the short term, but those guys have given us effort this year. They have played hard, they’ve play physical every game. There isn’t one game that we didn’t play physical enough or we didn’t play hard enough. We made plenty of other mistakes that have hurt our football team and have hurt our chances to win, but when your guys are playing hard and playing physical, it’s hard to stay mad at them for too long. Even though some of the faces are going to change, I would lobby for all those guys. That’s the coach in you. People with higher titles than me have to make harder decisions about personnel.”
(On running back Charles Sims)
“He’s done a fantastic job. Your whole team – Cam Brate – that’s what football is, it’s role players. It’s everybody playing their role and had Doug [Martin] not had the season he had, I think Chuck could’ve done more if given the chance. He wasn’t. He had limited opportunities. You have Vincent [Jackson] and Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] over here, their season were disappointing from an injury standpoint – I’m talking they weren’t with us all the time. You have two young guys over here in Cam Brate and Charles Sims who you’re going, ‘Man, those guys got more to give. They got more for us.’ Adam Humphries fits in there. You’ve got your three rookies that we drafted. They’re all over here. They have more to give. That’s football coaching. That’s the mixture of your team, offense, defense, special teams. That’s what it is. It changes every week based on injuries, based on who’s playing well, not playing well, based on your opponent, based on your game plan.”
(On fixing penalties and how much responsibility falls on the coaching staff)
“That’s a good question. I’ve actually been thinking about that a lot lately. When I came last year and looked at the procedure penalties – I’m going to talk about the procedural penalties on offense – I was thinking to myself, ‘Ah, that’s not going to be a problem. We’re not going to have that problem.’ But we have had that problem. Lovie [ Smith] talks to the team, there’s playing hard penalties – on the one I mentioned before, we got that third down Donovan’s [Smith] hand got caught in the guy’s facemask. He wasn’t trying to get his hand in the guy’s facemask. That’s going to happen sometimes and unfortunately it did and that was a good call. Procedural penalties, we had a couple procedural penalties. Those are inexcusable. I’m speaking about the offensive side of the football. That starts with me. I’ve got to figure out a way in the offseason to be more demanding on our guys to eliminate senseless penalties that contribute to getting you beat. That’s on my list. You asked how much falls on those kinds of penalties, I’d say that should fall on me and our staff.
(On learning from Dirk Koetter the importance of finishing plays during practice)
“It’s just something I had to learn, playing for Coach Koetter. I always made plays with my feet and scrambled to throw the ball down field, but actually practicing that – [in] practice, I never really did that, much. But with Coach Koetter, he expects so much from me and just one day at practice, I forget what the play was but I fumbled the snap and I dropped back and I just threw it up and I threw an interception to the scout team and Coach Koetter just ripped me. He’s like, ‘No, finish the play,’ and ever since then, even if something bad happens I still run around and I go and make a play and you see what happened last game.”
(On when that specific practice occurred)
“I don’t know, earlier in the season. I don’t remember the exact date but I learned from it and I won’t ever do it again thanks to Coach Koetter.”
(On how much he likes playing for a coordinator who pushes him and has high expectations)
“It makes me a better player. He and [quarterbacks coach] Bajakian have been so good to me because I was blessed having Coach [Jimbo] Fisher and Coach [Randy] Sanders at Florida State. But those two guys have basically made my game way better just expecting so much from me and requiring me to do a lot in this offense.”
(On how he’s grown to be more resilient and tough as an NFL quarterback)
“Playing in the NFL, period, you’ve got to be resilient because it’s such an up-and-down game and you’re going to have some plays where guys just outright are better than you and you’re going to have some plays where you make some bonehead decisions. But, in any case, you have to overcome that, persevere. My whole life, my dad taught me to always persevere and never let anything hold you back. Toughness – that’s just me. That’s just who I am. I’m a tough guy.”
(On if he’s absorbed a lot of hits and if that’s something he’d like to try to change)
“I have, but those guys in front of me, they protect me well. I put most of the hits on myself, so it isn’t because the people around me aren’t protecting me, it’s because I’m the one trying to enforce the hits. I love football and I’m trying to get in the action.”
(On if there will be a moment on Sunday when he thinks of how proud he is of his teammates)
“Every day I go out there on that field I’m just proud of our team and the way that we grew as a whole. When you look at the situation that we’re in now compared to last year, now we have two guys who started on the same team last year as offensive linemen. We have Doug [Martin] and Charles [Sims], receivers we only have Mike [Evans] who played last year for us. Tight ends, we didn’t have Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] for the majority of the season, Cameron Brate played like one game last year and Luke [Stocker] battled injuries so when you look at this offense, this is our first year together. And I know in the NFL you always say a third of those guys are going to be gone next year, but the way that those guys fought, the way that we overcame things, I look at the tough wins that we had. Atlanta, that overtime win. Atlanta here – that win. You just think about how our mentality has changed as a group and the only thing you can do is sit back and smile because you know those guys, they’ve got my back every single time and they know I’ve got theirs as well.”
(On what he sees when he looks at the Carolina Panthers)
“I see a great team, in the same situation Cam Newton was in four years ago. The way that he just changed that whole mentality of the program, brought that high spirit, that true love for football to that organization and you see how they just took off – three straight division titles. One thing I always know: To be the best, you have to beat the best. Right now, they are the best. As a Buccaneer, as the quarterback of this team, one day – and I know everyone, we want to be the best, so we know we have to play against those guys, but we fear no one. We’re going to go out there and we’re going to fight them to the end. That’s the great thing about this game, it’s our last game of the season, but we know those guys are going to be out there playing for something because they still have things on their goal list that they have to complete. It’s going to be a great game.”
(On if he sees his career having a similar arc to that of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton)
“It’s easy to say ‘Yeah, I see those [similarities],’ but the one thing about that guy that you’ve got to love – he’s a winner. And that’s what I want to be. I want to be a winner. What comes with being a winner is getting the other guys to want to be winners with you. I believe that’s what he did. To answer your question, yes, I can be like Cam, but right now, I’m not. That’s something that I would love to be in the future, but one thing I want someone to always say about me – and what you can say about him right now, especially while he’s growing – he’s a winner. This is a winning business, so that’s pretty good.”
(On if the Tampa Bay community has embraced him since being drafted this year)
“Absolutely. I think we’ve definitely expanded the fan base, especially for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I take that in. We’ve got a lot to keep fighting for, just for those fans, for them supporting us and for them actually believing in us, we can’t let them down. I don’t plan on letting them down any time soon.”
(On if he has proven his character)
“Absolutely. That’s just me. Sometimes it takes people to get to know who you are first. I can’t blame them for thinking bad about me, but what I can do is continue with my actions and continue doing what I’m doing.”
(On running back Doug Martin)
“I wouldn’t trade in Doug Martin for anything in the world. He’s definitely the best back that I’ve seen in a long time – other than Devonta Freeman and Dalvin Cook (laughs) – but I love Doug. I won a championship with Devonta and Dalvin, he’s a great guy – I’m Florida State-biased. If he would have gone to FSU, he would have been the best. But Doug is an amazing guy. The way that he sticks one foot in the ground and gets vertical, and the amount of tackles that he has broken this year and the amount of weight that he’s taken off of my shoulders for my rookie season, I couldn’t be more thankful for Doug than anything in the world. I love Doug and I thank him. My family thanks him for what he’s done for me this season.”
(On maintaining his excitement for every game)
“This is what football is all about. I was kind of down because we missed out on the playoffs and that’s one thing that I wanted to do – that was one of my main goals. I don’t have individual goals, but winning, is always going to be in my goals. This is going to be a playoff atmosphere. I was kind of pumped when they said that the game go moved back to 4:25, so there are going to be a lot of people watching us. It’s exciting. I couldn’t be happier that they have something to play for. I know that they’re going to come out there and play their best game. I just know we’ve got to bring it, because those guys are good.”
(On how involved he has been in the gameplan and in the offense)
“Sometimes, but I trust Coach Koetter with everything that I’ve got, that he’s going to put us in the right situation. Right now, as a rookie, my job is to go out there an execute what he tells me to do. Sometimes during the game, Coach Koetter might ask for a little feedback – what I might think, what I might like. Obviously on third downs, I have the opportunity to rank my plays. I guess my input would be – I’ll be able to get more input when I get older.”
(On if the Week 4 game against Carolina was a turning point for him this season)
“I think it was just a turning point for this whole season. That first quarter, we went 1-3 and we had, I think eight turnovers. That was against Lovie’s thing – we want to win the turnover ratio. I had to change that for myself, because we had a running back that was getting a least 100 yards a game, we were protecting up front and I was turning the ball over. You bet [it was a turning point] – that [was a] reality check, ‘Bro, you need to take care of the football and let your team work for you.’”
(On if wide receiver Vincent Jackson taught Winston anything)
“Just how to be a pro. When you see Vincent come to work every day, you see not only a great man, but a man that loves his job and a man that knows how to do his job the right way. And Vincent Jackson, when it comes to taking care of his body, his stature, how he talks to another man, how he addresses his teammates – I learned a lot. That helped me, especially talking to defensive guys or guys that don’t really know my personality as much, trying to have a serious conversation with them. It’s hard to talk to somebody on the other side of the ball because I might not see eye-to-eye all the time. But Vincent has definitely helped me, especially addressing teammates and just being a great teammate and being a great overall professional, in this league.”
(On the upcoming game and what it means to end the year against Carolina)
“For us, we just want to finish strong. It’s a great opportunity. The game has been flexed. [Carolina is] the best team in the NFL. An opportunity to finish strong, playing the best team in the NFL. You kind of have to smile about that one – I’m excited about it.”
(On Carolina’s success and whether Tampa Bay wants to be like Carolina)
“Every team [wants to be like Carolina]. It just so happens that they are in our division. They are the division champs three years running. Until somebody takes them down, that’s who they are.”
(On how much credit for Carolina’s success belongs to quarterback Cam Newton)
“He’s very talented, obviously, being the first overall pick. He’s had a strong career – he started his career fast and has just kept that going. It’s been a collective effort up there. Everybody just understands that what needs to be done, needs to be done, and that’s what they’ve been doing all season. They have been blowing people out, but they also have been pulling out tight games and just finishing, whether it may be on defense or offense. He’s definitely the leader and in my opinion [he is] the MVP.”
(On the unpredictability of games against division opponents)
“When it’s a division opponent, man, you just bring it. Any given Sunday, any team can lose. Atlanta showed that. We understand that. So we have to be ready. We aren’t a pushover by any means, but we have to go show that.”
(On what Carolina has done that has allowed them to be successful)
“Defensively, they are incredible. I think they’re No. 1 in the league right now at taking the ball away, which is what we’re working toward trying to be. Offensively, they’ve been very dominant. They’ve run the ball and then they finish games. Regardless of who is on the field, they make the plays necessary to win and that’s what we have to do. One thing that they have done that I’ve seen in my few years is that they have matured. They have grown up and they play like seasoned vets, regardless of their ages.”
(On how Tampa Bay can get its young players to mature)
“Just our leaders on the team, we have to be better with how we lead, different things we do. And then just get guys and bring them with us with how we prepare for games, what we do in the offseason, and then just how we perform. Then I think things will turn around.”
(On whether playing a spoiler provides motivation this week)
“I don’t know if there’s motivation to be a spoiler more than just winning the game. We have one more opportunity to go play this game that we love. When you play this game, you don’t play to lose. With a win, that just would happen. We just want to go up there and win – bottom line. Like Oklahoma is going to do tomorrow.”
(On whether being 1.5 sacks away from having a double-digit total on the season concerns him)
“I want to win. I’m not worried about that. What I am concerned about is how bad my teammates are going to feel when [Oklahoma] beats Clemson (laughter).”

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