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07 September 2016

Transcript: Atlanta Falcons Conference Calls with Tampa Bay Media (9/7/16)

HEAD COACH DAN QUINN
 
(On Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston’s progression)
“I think the first thing that I think of when I see him play, I think the guy is a terrific competitor. And it just jumps out, his will to extend the play, keep battling, keep fighting. That part I just thought really captured the essence of how hard to play, all that goes into it. I know he has been a weapon when he gets on the move and he can create things on the run, that’s for sure there. It was there last year, you see it again. And then I think just his decision making of where to go with the ball, you can see there’s not much hesitancy. He’s been classically trained there, he knows where to go and how to deliver it. So those are kind of the three things: the competitiveness, his ability to create when a play does break down and then his decision making, about where to go with the ball and the mental quickness that goes along with that.”
 
(On starting the season against a divisional opponent)
“We were just talking this morning about when you get a chance to have a division matchup right off the bat, there’s some years that you do that and there’s some that you don’t, but for us we’re thrilled that we do get to do that right off the bat, as I’m sure they are as well. You know the team so well when you play against them twice a year, you have just great information and knowledge and it usually come down to who can execute the plan best. That’s usually the case [when] playing a division team. So that’s kind of what we expect, we know it’s going to be a hard fight, we know it’s going to be a battle all the way through. So who can execute all the way through better and do right longer, usually that’s what it comes down to in the division games.”
 
(On how he hopes the pass rush performs against Tampa Bay)
“Well we know against like any team, you better make sure the quarterback has to move. We’ve added some new players since last season. We’ve added an inside guy in Derrick Shelby and Courtney Upshaw. Courtney played outside [linebacker] in Baltimore, we’ve actually moved him to a nickel defensive end/defensive tackle - he’s got good quickness inside. We’ve added Dwight Freeney into our group and we’ll play him at some nickel end and nickel defensive tackle as well. And then past that, a lot of those groups some played together in the preseason, some not with that group. We haven’t shown all the way how we will play, but I like the group, I like the mindset that they’re working with and now as we get forward for the season, it’s time to put the whole thing together.”
 
(On what he sees from Buccaneers defensive ends Noah Spence and Robert Ayers)
“I think it’s significant because it’s the get-off that you see. And I certainly know – studying Robert and I’ve studied Noah through the draft – I know how explosive those two are and you add them to a good group of rushers already. I know they’re being trained well by [Defensive Line Coach] Jay [Hayes]. I think it’s a good group. They put it on tape that way and it certainly showed up in preseason as well. It’s a deep group.”
 
(On what he expects from running back Devonta Freeman)
“He’s such a factor for us. He brings a lot to our team, he really does. Not just his ability to run it, but he can honestly play receiver. He’s got that kind of ball skills, he’s got that kind of quickness when we use him as a weapon that way too, so we’re going to use him on all downs. Fortunately for us – much like Tampa, they have good running backs – we have two good ones as well and we’re going to use [Tevin] Coleman a good bit too, we’ve got a nice duo. I think it’s the ability of what he has to be a complete player - talking about Freeman - his ability to catch it out of the backfield and make things happen. And then his ability to make cuts. He’s a slasher and that’s really, when you get a guy in space he can break them off and slash. I think that’s probably the biggest attribute for him.”
 
(On Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter and Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith coming back to Atlanta, where they previously coached)
“We have a lot of respect for both Dirk and for Mike and I know that the players that played for those two do as well. But honestly, that’s right in between the white lines. It comes down to the guys and who can execute the plan the best. So it’s pretty common place when you see a guy from another team that you’ve coached or that you know well, whether it’s a player or a coach. That takes place pretty often and it’s no different this week. Those two guys will know a number of players here, a number of the players here will know them and then past that it kind of gets right back to ball. We did not make a big deal about it, only in the fact that honestly, in between the white lines, it still comes down to the guys.”
 
(On the impact Wide Receiver Coach and former Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris has had on the offense)
“The biggest impact ‘Rah’ has brought is really a defensive perspective into the offensive meeting room. Where he has such an expertise in coverage and the different techniques and the different styles, you can imagine how valuable that would be to an offensive group. For the receiver group in particular, he has real knowledge of, ‘This is how this guy is going to press,’ so in other words, looking at it from the other side of the line. That part has been even better than I expected. He’s a fantastic teacher. You guys know ‘Rah’ well just from covering the team through the years there. He still has the same energy, just like he did as a head coach there and on the defensive staff. He still brings that same juice and energy. We’ve got a very deep receiver group and they play with a lot of toughness and it’s no surprise that Raheem has a big part in that.”
 
QUARTERBACK MATT RYAN
 
(On how he thinks former Atlanta offensive coordinator and current Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter will do as a head coach in the NFL)
“I think Dirk will do a great job. He was obviously here in Atlanta for three years. I learned a ton from him. He helped me a ton in my career. I think he – you kind of always know how somebody would transition. He just had the qualities that you would think a good head coach would have. I think he’ll do a great job in Tampa and I’m happy for him.”
 
(On what this game means to former Atlanta head coach and current Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith)
“I don’t know how he’ll feel – I can’t speak for him. I know that I have great respect for Mike. Obviously, more so than anybody, had the biggest impact on my career. He’s a hell of a head coach. He’ll be a great defensive coordinator. He’s going to be tough to go against this weekend, that’s for sure. But as far as the emotions, he’s a professional. He understands how to get those guys right week-in and week-out. I’m sure he’ll be very well-prepared to go against us on Sunday.”
 
(On how it impacted him when Mike Smith was dismissed as the Atlanta head coach)
“Well it’s tough. Obviously, we came in together. Mike got hired here in 2008 and I got drafted a couple months later. We were kind of connected at the hip for a long time together. Had a lot of great wins, a lot of fun, a lot of success. Learned a ton about leadership, about what it means to be a professional. [He] has really shaped the way that I view football. He’s a really, really smart coach and really, really keen on X’s and O’s. I learned a ton from him. So that part’s tough. Any time you have transition and things change, that’s difficult to go through. I really enjoyed my time with Mike and luckily, we replaced him with a great head coach in Dan Quinn. I’ve been very fortunate to play for two unbelievable head coaches.”
 
(On Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes, who played with Ryan in Atlanta)
“I know Brent is a great player. When he was here – he’s probably one of the most athletic people I’ve ever been around. His ability to cut, change directions, jump – he’s got unbelievable ball skills. We know exactly how good he is because we got to see him every day in practice. He can make some unbelievable plays. We certainly have a lot of respect for him. It’s a system that he probably knows pretty well. I think it’s similar to what he was doing under [former Falcons defensive coordinator] Brian VanGorder and a little bit of [former Falcons defensive coordinator] Mike Nolan, during his time here with the Falcons. I think ‘Smitty’ [Mike Smith] had his fingerprint a little bit on those defenses. I’m sure he’s comfortable in that scheme. We’ve got to be aware of where he’s at, there’s no question about it. They’ve got a lot of really good players on their defensive side. You talk about two really good linebackers and Gerald McCoy in the front four, who has been tough to go against for his entire career. I think it’s a very good defense.”
 
(On the impact that assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Raheem Morris has had in his first season working on the offensive side of the ball)
“I think Raheem is a really good football coach. I think Dan [Quinn] showed a lot of confidence in him, moving him from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side of the ball. I think it shows just how versatile Raheem is, his ability to connect with the guys, understanding offensive and defensive football at a really high level and also giving us a little bit different perspective on the offensive side of the ball. For him having been on the defensive side for so long and understanding how they game plan and they see things, it’s a good perspective to have for us. So I think he’s done a great job.”
 
(On opening the season with an NFC South opponent)
“Opening games are always – there’s a little extra buzz to it, for whatever reason. In the stadiums – even players, it’s your first time out there for real, so there’s always something to that. In division, it’s always big because they know us really well, we know them really well and I think always in those kinds of games, those kinds of situations, it comes down to players making plays. I think everybody will have their minds right on both sides and we’ve got to go out there and make as many plays as we can make to help us win.”
                                                                                                                       
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