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26 November 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Since their bye in Week 7, the Buccaneers have been one of the top defenses in the NFL, ranking in the top five in yards allowed per game (302.0 – fourth) and passing yards allowed per game (201.2 – fifth), while sitting in the top half of the league in rushing yards allowed per game (100.8 – 14th) and points allowed per game (19.2 – 11th).
                            
Below is a brief selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
               
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
 
HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
 
(Opening statement)
“Injury list: Lavonte David; Evan Dietrich-Smith is sick so he wasn’t able to do anything today either; Clinton McDonald still nursing that hamstring – he wasn’t able to practice today; Brandon Myers with his calf injury; and Luke Stocker has some effects from the games with a concussion. Besides that, everybody that practiced on a limited basis is getting better. Don’t know – of course, we’re practicing a little bit early this week, so we assumed we’d have a couple more bruises and bumps. Hopefully by game time, some of the guys will be ready. Besides that, good day. We had our normal Wednesday and Thursday game plan in, so we’re a day ahead – which is good to get the game plan a little bit earlier. [We] realize how important this football game is. Have a lot, of course, to be thankful for with Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow.”
 
(On linebacker Lavonte David and his injured hamstring)
“Definitely getting better and having a chance [to play]. We take our time on hamstrings. He is doing some things on a limited basis, not necessarily with the practice, but just kind of getting back into [it].”
 
(On if the influx of hamstring injuries is unusual to him)
“No. It’s pretty normal for us. We ask the guys to run a lot more. And Lavonte, just taking him in, he hasn’t missed a rep. These lower leg injuries pop up. Hopefully they just – short period of time and get them back in. But it’s not anything major.”
 
(On what Thanksgiving means to him and how he spends the holiday)
“A lot of fond memories, of course, with family. Time for all of the family to come back – probably Thanksgiving as much as Christmas in our household growing up. Always about what’s kind of centered around football. And for me in Texas, of course, the Cowboys game. But just a time to take a deep breath and just acknowledge what all we do have to be thankful for: health, being able to enjoy it with family and all those things.”
 
(On the confidence he has in current players to take over return duties after the release of returner Marcus Thigpen)
“We wouldn’t have made the move if we didn’t feel comfortable in-house. We’re making progress. But we feel pretty good. Yes, we wouldn’t have made that move if we didn’t feel good in-house with our option that we have. We have a few guys that can do both [kick returns and punt returns], so we have some good options.”
 
(On if he is pleased with the production from linebacker Mason Foster)
“When I talk about taking a leap, making a lot of improvement defensively, it has to be centered around what the linebackers are doing. Mason, of course, a big part of that. We missed him when he was out. We do put an awful lot on our MIKE linebacker and just the position as a whole. He’s made plays. Last week, he made plays. So we’ve been pleased. We’re not there yet, but as long as we continue to make progress, we’re going to be in pretty good shape, led by him.”
 
(On the University of South Florida having a game on Friday at Raymond James Stadium near the team’s practice facility at the same time that the team will be practicing)
“We have [simulated] crowd noise. So this will – [we] won’t have to use it now. We’ll be able to use [crowd noise from the stadium] I guess. But it doesn’t affect us any at all. As an NFL player, there’s always things going on around you. You have to be focused in when it’s time to do your work out on the football field. Would be great if they are [loud in the stadium] and we have something besides just elevator music that we’re hearing.”
 
(On Cincinnati’s rushing attack)
“First off, strong commitment to the run. Marvin Lewis’ teams have always been built that way. So we realize that we – and all of the basic runs that you get. Last week, one of the basic runs [was] just a lead to the weak side, an isolation play to the weak side. We’ll get a big dose of it this coming week. We didn’t play it. That’s one thing we didn’t play as well as we needed to last week. But I’m just going to say a commitment to the run – doesn’t matter which running back is in there. And when you have a commitment to the run like that with a great receiver on the outside, it’s just tough duty. Do you gang up to stop the run with an extra guy in the box? Do you try to be a little bit safer with our Cover-Two? We’ll just try to keep mixing it up and see what we can do.”
 
(On Cincinnati’s secondary)
“There’s a lot of experience back there, starting off with Terence Newman. Just think about what he’s done. I can remember, I think I had just gone to St. Louis as a defensive coordinator when we brought him in for a visit, and that was a long time ago. But he’s been playing at a high level for a lot of years. You mentioned Pacman [Adam Jones], just not as a cornerback but also as a threat as a returner. So both of those guys you mentioned. And, of course, their safeties also. So we’ll have to contend with a lot of guys back there, but we feel like we have some scholarship guys on our side that will be challenging to them each play too.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
 
(Opening statement)
“Good afternoon everybody, I hope you guys are looking forward to a great Thanksgiving like we all are and if I don’t get a chance to say it to you, happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. Here we are looking forward to getting our first win at home. It’s a big game for us, a chance for us to get something going at home and we’re looking forward to it.”
 
(On why the defense has improved over the past five weeks)
“We’re definitely playing better. One of our statisticians gave me some numbers over the last five weeks coming out of the bye [week] on where we are and how much improvement we’ve made and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s pretty good.’ Part of it is guys having a better understanding for sure, we’ve been together longer now, they’ve heard these terms a lot more often at practice and they’re practicing their techniques a lot more at this point in the season, but I think also some of the changes. I think Jacquies Smith is giving us something at the left end position, he’s helped us with his pass rush ability and his ability to win one-on-ones. Gerald [McCoy] is Gerald, he’s always a big-play guy. Also seeing our secondary improve; I think Major Wright is definitely giving us a shot in the arm and we’re playing better on the backend. It hurt not having Lavonte [David], but Mason [Foster] has stepped up and he’s gotten better form early in the season and that’s made us better. I think Michael is getting a little bit healthier and his play has picked up some and it will continue trending forward. We’re a little bit healthier and I think we’ve been together a little bit longer and guys have a better feel of what we’re asking them to do and it’s showing on the field.”
 
(On what linebacker Mason Foster is doing better)
“I think he has a better command of the middle linebacker position in this system and what’s required of him. You really are the quarterback of the defense in this system and if you don’t have a good grasp of what other people’s roles are, then you’re not going to be what we need at the middle linebacker position. He’s become more aware of his responsibilities and the fact that he can’t just have tunnel vision and just think about the mike, but he has to be aware with what’s happening with the people in front of him and even the people behind him with some of the things that we do defensively and he’s grown in that area. I think it’s helped us to improve.”
 
(On the stats he was given about the defense since the bye week)
“Probably the biggest one was our third down percentage, I think we’re in the top five of the league over the last five weeks. That one had kind of been a thorn in our side and we’ve really gotten better there to hold the team that we played this past Sunday to 25 percent, that was a big deal for us. Then total yards, I think we were number two in the league over the last five weeks in total yards allowed. There were some other numbers as well, but those two kind of stick out.”
 
(On if Foster has had to adjust his play since he went down with shoulder injury earlier in the season)
“No question that was a part of it for sure, especially with all of the contact that he’s involved in. Even though he was on the field, I’m sure it was kind of rolling in his mind how much contact can I actually handle without having a setback and wearing the harness of course limits you to a degree, but he’s playing a lot freer now and it’s showing on the field. Yes, I would say that probably did have an effect.”
 
(On defensive tackle Clinton McDonald)
“Clinton has been pretty steady all season long, but he has gotten better. His leadership has been great for us, he’s coming off of a Super Bowl winning team and for him to stay as steady as he has, it’s kind of helped solidify some things with our other guys. To see his play to just continue to improve has made a difference. He seems to be around the ball a lot, whether he’s pushing the pocket and creating something for someone else or being around the ball like he was on Sunday and picking up the fumble. He’s one of those guys that kind of has a knack and you know what you’re going to get every week and every practice with Clinton. He’s been a good player for us.”
 
(On if they have a snap count for defensive end Jacquies Smith)
“It’s a little bit by situation, but we want him on the left side. Some of it depends on how Michael [Johnson] is doing health-wise and how he’s coming along and we want to try and make sure we have a rotation with our defensive line as best we can. We like to have four fresh guys out there and so some of it depends on where we are in a game and what the situation is, but for the most part we want him at the left end position.”
 
(On if cornerback Johnthan Banks has improved)
“I really think he has. He kind of mirrors the improvement on our defense. When you look at the way he has come along, I think it coincides with the rest of our defense and understanding what’s required in this system at the cornerback position and you can see the growth. He’s making more plays now and playing with more confidence. It’s been good for us and we’re going to need it this week. This is a really good offense with an outstanding wide receiver in Mr. [A.J.] Green. Johnthan has really come along for us.”
 
(On getting stops inside the red zone)
“We’ve got to be much better in sudden change situations and I think we had four opportunities and two of those sudden change situations we didn’t get done what we needed to get done, we needed to be able to hold them in field goal position as you mentioned. That’s the goal every time you’re in the red zone and they we’re 3-3 in the red zone and that was an area where we had been playing better we didn’t get it done on Sunday. We definitely addressed it and it’s always about points allowed, that’s the biggest stat and that’s something we’ll have to get better at.”
 
(On how linebackers played in the absence of Lavonte David)
“I thought that Orie [Lemon] stepped in and did a good job. It’s a big loss losing Lavonte; he’s not only a player for us, but he’s one of our leaders on defense. But I thought Orie stepped in and did a good job. Danny Lansanah was moved to a different position for him in a short week, I think those guys started practicing those positions on Thursday, I don’t think Lavonte had his injury on Wednesday and they did an exceptional job. I thought we did tackle better in the open field and it’s something that we’ll just have to keep working on and keep improving, but overall the guys that had to step in both Danny and Orie did a good job for us.”
 
(On if he believes Foster is good fit at middle linebacker in this system)
“I think he can definitely play the mike position in this system, he’s shown progress over the course of the season and I do think as I mentioned earlier, the shoulder did set him back a little bit, but he’s made positive steps over the last few weeks. He can play the position and has some areas he probably needs to improve in, but it’s just having the confidence in what he’s doing and then just believing in it and seeing what you see and just go for it, don’t hesitate in and wonder, just react, trust your instincts and make those plays that are there for you. He’s getting better at that and part of that is just playing and getting the snaps.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
 
(On what has spurred the team’s defensive improvement since the bye week)
“I don’t remember when I said [it] – I don’t remember if it was on my radio show or in an interview, after a game or up here, I can’t remember, but I talked about our attitude. I think our attitude’s been different. Washington, I talked to the defense about being consistent as a unit throughout the game and then we played well. Then I talked the same way and said ‘Hey, are we going to be a one-hit wonder or are we going to be consistent?’ The true measure of a man’s mental toughness is consistency. You want to work to be consistent. The greatest anything is consistent, whether it’s a restaurant, a person’s stats, your momma’s cooking – if it’s great, it’s consistent. I think we’re just working to be more consistent and our attitude has changed.”
 
(On changes in the team’s attitude)
“People want to talk about a swagger – that can be internal. You can have an internal swagger where it’s just like ‘I don’t care who’s in front of me, he can’t stop me.’ You just kind of got to think – start with thinking – then it goes to preparing and then you have to go play that way on Sunday.”
 
(On former Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp telling him it will take time to perfect the defense).
“That was echoed from all of the vets, the guys who played before us who were great in this defense or even just people who’ve played in this defense before. They said it’s going to take time. You heard it from every different place. Even when I saw Rondé [Barber] during camp, he said it will take time. I’ve seen Brooks, [he said] it will take time. Talked to 99 [Sapp] – it will take time. Guys who have been in this defense, they know it takes time. It really is an attitude that those guys had that changed everything.”
 
(On safety Major Wright’s experience in this defense and if he has helped teach the rest of the team)
“You’ve got to ask the secondary [about Wright’s influence]. He talks to those guys, he’s very vocal on the field, especially in practice. He’s very, very vocal. Not just talking about nothing, just football-wise, always makes you know what personnel they’re in and down-and-distance, what guys need to do. Keeping everybody focused on keeping the ball away – that’s the thing he does for the unit. What he does for the secondary, I can’t tell you, because I’m up front, but he has been helpful in that aspect with how vocal he is.”
 
(On defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and playing next to him)
“He’s great, man. I love Clint, man. When you get a guy next to you who, when you talk to him, you have a lot of the same beliefs and you play for a lot of the same reasons, it’s awesome. And then when you watch him perform, more than just on Sundays, but from the time he stepped in the building, when we first got in the weight room we were training to OTAs, mini-camp, camp and now the season, he’s been very consistent with his effort and working to get better. It’s awesome playing next to him because you know what you’re going to get when he lines up next to you.”
 
(On the team’s improved pass rush)
“Honestly, we just grew as a unit. Guys just started working together. We started meeting more outside of this. We meet as a unit, just us. We talk through things, we talk through ‘How are we going to rush this team, how are we going to rush individuals? What’s our plan, what are we thinking at certain situations?’ It’s made us grow as a unit. Really, that’s it, just rushing together. Guys are starting to understand who they’re next to. When certain personnel is in the game, you look to your right, you look to your left and you say ‘Ok, I know who’s in, I know what I can and can’t do.’ Even just talking while we are out there, ‘Hey, look, I’m doing this, I’m thinking this. When I’m doing this, you just go. I’m thinking this so be ready to cover me up.’ It’s helping us.”
 
(On if allowing points in the red zone was frustrating, considering the success the defense had in other aspects against Chicago)
“The NFL is a tough game and you’re going to be put in tough situations. The greatest defenses were able to hold teams in that situation to three points, so we have to be better in that aspect. Certain things that a team can do to where they can get you in bad situations, but after a while it just becomes who wants it more at that time, and we lost that battle twice – can’t allow that to happen. We’ve got to hold teams to field goals. When I ran on the field I said ‘Hey, this happened last week. Same thing happened with Washington.’ We got a stop, they got a penalty, we got two back-to-back sacks – field goal. We can do it, it’s not like we can’t – I’ve seen it done before. Last year – it’s a completely different defense – but I’ve been in situations [like that]. We played the Saints, they were on the two-yard line and we got four straight stops to hold them to a field goal I’ve seen it done before. In tough times, you’ve just got to stand up and that’s where we have to grow. In situations like that, as a unit, we have to grow and hold them to field goals in those times.”
 
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