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11 March 2017

Transcript: DeSean Jackson & Chris Baker Introductory Press Conference (3/11/17)

Jason Licht: “Well, good afternoon or good morning. I don’t even know what day it is right now. Today, this is a special day for us here. We’re a long ways from the kickoff of the regular season, but we’ve taken some big steps to where we want to be. Sitting here with us represents two big steps that I’m talking about with the signing of DeSean (Jackson) and Chris (Baker). Any time that you can quickly, when free agency bell rings, upgrade both sides of the ball, make it better on both sides of the ball and execute the plan we had in place, then it’s a win. With DeSean, getting a playmaker, explosive guy who’s among the elite receivers-in the last nine years having the production that he’s had-it’s a huge get and that’s an understatement. With Chris, having a big guy who can get in the backfield and is also amongst some elite defensive interior players in the last couple years in terms of making plays in the backfield, it just makes for even more of an exciting day. That along with the signings that we’ve done, re-signing our own players, we’re very excited about the direction that we’re going. With that, I’m going to turn it over to Dirk (Koetter).”
Dirk Koetter: “All right, thank you Jason. Welcome everybody. You know, one thing we’re big on around here is family. Before I get to DeSean and Chris, I want to introduce DeSean’s brother William, came with him. Chris’ wife Jamila and their daughter Aria are also here with them this morning. That’s great that they could be here for this day. I’m just going to echo some of the stuff Jason said. It was very quick after the season, Jason and his guys do a great job of identifying guys that we’re going to go after early. I mean, it was like, right after the season when Jason talked to me and talked to the coaches about these two guys.
I’m going to start with DeSean, I was on record as saying we needed a guy. The guy that I was describing is sitting right next to me right now. I didn’t know it at the time that he was going to be the guy, but I’m real happy that he is. His production over his nine years in the league is unparalleled. Six 1,000-yard seasons, another [two] over 900. Everyone thinks of DeSean as just a deep threat, but that’s not the case at all. DeSean can run them all, can run every route, can play every position, he can be the return man. First time I saw him up close was Arizona State versus Cal, and he was running an 80-yard punt return, blurring right by our bench as he went on to score a touchdown. His run after the catch is something that’s big, his versatility, plays all the spots, runs all the routes. He’s explosive but he can do everything we ask him to. The experience that he’s going to bring to our team, we’re a young football team. We need veteran experienced guys. He’s seen it all, I mean, he’s seen every type of defense. I went back and watched it for about the fifth time this morning, I was watching him again. Got a great feel for zone coverage, this guy has got tremendous moves against man coverage. His body control, his hands, his competitive toughness-all things are going to help us get better.
“Moving on to defense, we want to get bigger in the middle of our defensive line. Not just get bigger but you want guys that can make plays. Chris has explosive quickness, he can get off blocks and make plays down the line. He brings rush ability, he brings versatility. Washington played a 3-4, so Chris has played defensive end in a 3-4. In the sub-package he’s lined up as a three-technique, he’s lined up as a nose. He’s going to be playing both spots for us, he’s going to fit in great. D-linemen don’t play 100 percent of the plays, d-linemen are almost always in a rotation. You can see we’re really building great depth on our defensive line. Our inside three, joining Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald, what we’ve got coming back on the outside with Robert Ayers, signing Will Gholston back, Noah Spence, Jacquies Smith coming back off an injury. We’re really excited about the group we’re putting together. These two guys are a really nice start to what we’re doing this offseason. Now, it’s just we can’t wait to get them back here full-time and get started.”
DeSean Jackson: “First off, I want to tell everybody thanks. I’m excited about the opportunity, new beginnings. It’s been a long process, long period but it’s been intriguing to myself to be able to finally hit the open market. Going back to the end of last season and not really knowing where I was going to be and where it was going to lead to, something about Tampa Bay that I always loved. Beautiful weather, I’m a California guy and I’ve been in Philadelphia for six years, been in Washington for three years. Coming from Cali, you guys could imagine that cold weather, catching the balls, hitting the ground hurt my body. To find out that I’m coming to Tampa Bay was a great honor for myself. I just want to first off, the Glazers, let them know how appreciative of the opportunity I am. Jason (Licht), Coach Dirk (Koetter). It’s a great opportunity, I’m very excited to say that I’m a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. I’m ready to do whatever it is to help this team win. I think there’s a lot of upside, Jameis (Winston) and obviously Mike Evans one of the best receivers in the NFL that I look at. So much to go up from, from here. So, I just want to let them know I’m appreciative of the opportunity, I’m going to come in here and be ready to work. Hopefully we can bring another championship to this city.”
Chris Baker: “Well, he kind of said everything. I’m definitely excited to be here. You know, my journey in the NFL has been a lot different from a lot of guys being that I was undrafted. I had high hopes for getting drafted but that didn’t happen. But I always was determined to just make myself into a great player and just continue to work as hard as I can to prove everyone wrong. It’s weird that I’m back here, because during the whole [pre-draft] process my only visit from a team was to Tampa. It’s a good feeling to be back here. I remember during the draft process, probably one of the hardest times of my life because I felt like no one wanted me. Turn around eight, nine years, you know, I’m here as a Buccaneer. It can’t be a better feeling. I can’t wait to get to work here, we have a great group on the defensive line, great organization. Happy to get the ball rolling here and can’t wait to get started.”
(On what specifically attracted him to the Buccaneers organization)
DJ: “I think going back to last year, watching the playoffs and watching the runs. The Buccaneers and us (Washington Redskins), was kind of like, they would lose and we would lose, we would win and they would win. Seeing and keeping up with the playoff race as a Redskin last year, and Baker can tell you this, we were trying to do everything and anything we could to kind of get ahead of these dudes. They kept kind of, we would lose one day, they would win. We were like, ‘Damn,’ kept putting ourselves behind the eight ball. Just really keeping up with them and seeing what they’ve started last year, what they’re building here. Obviously with Jameis (Winston) coming in, I’ve been watching him since he’s been at Florida State. He’s young, talented, he has a lot of upside. Physicality, I think he’s a big guy at quarterback and he’s making some good decisions. Just the direction the team is going in since he’s gotten here, seeing that dramatic change. Being in the NFL it’s hard to focus on any other teams, you try to focus on what you have and what’s going on with your team. But you’re still aware, you go home on Sundays, you watch games, you watch NFL Network. To be able to see the Buccaneers, they’ve obviously made a drastic turn in where they’re going and where they’re heading to. To have my addition along with my fellow teammate Baker, you know, that’s Swaggy (Baker) and I call myself Jackpot, they call me Jackpot. So, to have these two personalities come to a team like this and continue what we started and what they’re doing, I think it’s a plus-plus win for everybody.”
CB: “Being in a 4-3 man, I’ve always been in a 3-4 my whole career. Haven’t really played in a 4-3 since I left Penn State. Just an opportunity play with, you know, an elite defensive tackle. [Gerald]McCoy is very rare, he’s one of the best in the league. Never really had that opportunity to play with an elite defensive tackle. I’m licking my chops because it’s like, ‘Who are you guys going to pick to double,’ you know what I mean? It’s a great opportunity here, can’t wait to get to work with those guys and just get out there and dominate.”
(On how he would describe Jackson as a teammate)
CB: “Oh, he’s a great teammate. Probably one of the fastest guys, little cocky but you need that. All the best players are always highly confident in their ability, DeSean is no different. He believes in himself, he goes out there and competes each and every day at practice. In a game, it just looks easy. I’m glad to still be his teammate and not have to hold my breath when he catches the ball being on the opposite side.”
(On if there is a specific wide receiver spot he feels he plays the best in)
DJ: “I feel like I’ve made a great living on the outside. I definitely go inside, I like to have the ability to go inside and you know, throw the defense off guard sometimes. For a guy that’s under six feet in this league, to be able to master the outside receiver position, I’m 5’10” playing at a 6’2”-6’3” frame. Doesn’t really matter where I’m comfortable at, I can go out and do it all.”
(On people questioning his ability due to his age)
DJ: “I’m 26 man, what are you talking about? I don’t feel 30 and I’m definitely not running like I’m 30. You can question it all you want, like I said the past couple years, still going out there and making electrifying plays. Being able to strike the score for my team, that’s all that really matters to me. I don’t really care, I mean the numbers are what they are. I’m 30, I’ll be 31 in December. I still feel like I can play this game at a high level for another four, five years.”
(On how previous receiving teammates have helped him improve and what lining up opposite wide receiver Mike Evans will do for the team and opposing defenses)
DJ: “As far as receivers I’ve played with in the past, I feel like I’ve played with some pretty good receivers. Jeremy Maclin for five, six years when I was in Philly, Pierre Garcon is definitely a physical, durable receiver. I give them guys credit, they’ve done some great things. Fast forward now, Mike Evans. I don’t think I’ve ever played with a Mike Evans. I’m just intrigued man, to go out on the field, to have a quarterback like Jameis (Winston) that wants to throw deep. To have another guy like Mike on the other side, he’s what, 6’5”? I’m 5’10”. You’ve got a big guy who’s kind of fast, you’ve got a smaller guy that’s very fast. This guy right here, (points to Koetter) I know he’s licking his chops to get it going. I am too, though.”
(On the leadership qualities he can bring and what it will mean to the locker room)
CB: “I feel like I’ve really gotten the opportunity to learn from a lot of good veterans coming up in the league, learning how to do things the right way. I always felt like I always did things the right way. I’ve always been a hardworking guy, especially being undrafted. You only have one way to do it so you had to do it the right way. I look forward to showing the younger guys how to be able to sustain this long. Always lead by example, by the way I play by, by the way I practice. I’m a spiritual guy, always talk to guys about God and how I keep God first, and how he works everything out in my life. Hopefully guys will take note and copycat it, I guess.”
(On what he remembers of the Buccaneers’ interest during the pre-draft process)
DJ: “Nine years ago, that’s a long time ago. I have slight memory of it, when I came out, obviously coming from Cal, I actually took a trip here as well too. As far as what I remember, it was a process where my mind was racing everywhere. I couldn’t, I didn’t know what the heck was going to go on, where I was going to land. I didn’t know where I was going to end up at. Just remembering the process, that was a very exciting time in my life being able to live out your dream. You put in so much hard work to set yourself up to be in the best position to get drafted the highest. You want to do all the stuff at the combine, you want to run fast, you want to run routes. You want to do everything that you can to put yourself in a great position. I felt I put my best foot forward coming to the combine. Leading up to that process, I remember Jon Gruden spending time with him because his brother was my coach in Washington, he used to come out, talk to us, ‘Man I don’t know like how the heck I let you slip.’ He’s like, ‘I got the wrong Jackson,’ because they ended up drafting Dexter Jackson. ‘Man, I got the wrong Jackson.’ So I was like, ‘I don’t know what you was doing.’ It’s crazy how the world turns, how life turns. It comes full circle and I end up coming back here and hopefully finish my career here.”
(On if he’ll pay Gruden a visit while he’s in Tampa)
DJ: “I mean, that’s still if he likes me. I think he’s a busy man, I’m going to be a busy man but I’m sure if we cross paths we’ll definitely chat and mess around a little bit.”
 (On the leadership Jackson brings to the team)
DJ: “I think being [through] nine years in the NFL, going through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of winning seasons, a lot of losing seasons – majority more winning than losing, but I think you’re able to learn a lot more from losing than winning because you build so much camaraderie with your team. My first year in Philadelphia, we made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game. We lost to the Arizona Cardinals. But I can remember being a rookie and Donovan McNabb throwing this long pass to me. I tipped it up – [Dominique] Rodgers-Cromartie almost knocks it out – I end up catching it. We’re up I want to say maybe [25-24]. I’m sitting back, there’s like a minute left and here they go. [Tim Hightower] catches a ball and they win. But just sitting on that sideline like ‘Man, I just put my team in the greatest position, we’re about to go the Super Bowl.’ I’m just thinking about all of the great things out of this play. Being that close, I was able to witness at an early age all the things that it takes to make it, to get to the playoffs. The regular season is good, it’s very competitive, but once you get to the playoffs, every week, from the first week, to the second week, to the third week, the game speeds up so fast. If you’re not really able to put yourself in a position to know how to react off of these times, I think that’s something that you’re missing. A lot of guys, a lot of teams don’t really have that camaraderie where they get to the playoffs and they know what it takes. You’ve got to step your game up to another level. Throughout the period of my career, I felt I’ve been in some great games. Playing in the NFC East, from playing versus the Cowboys, the Eagles, the Redskins, the Giants. You don’t miss a big game. You have big games throughout every game of the season. I think just knowing when the lights come on, when it’s time to get out there and get it going, I feel like I have that dog in me to rub off on my teammates, to be a winner. Just really go out there and expect nothing but the greatest. I don’t like to slip off, I don’t like to lose. I have that anger in me that whatever it takes, we’ve got to do to win. As long as you collectively have a group of guys that go out and understand what it’s going to take to do that, I think the sky’s the limit.
(On where Jackson ranks at catching touchdowns)
DJ: “Put the ball in my hands, I’m going to get it done. I’m not going to judge that, I’m not going to rank that, but I feel very confident that when the ball is in my hands, what I’m able to do with the ball – we could be on [our] one-yard line, we could be on the [opponents’] 15-yard line, wherever we’re at, put the ball in my hands, I feel like I’m going to get the job done.”
(On if Jackson will return kicks)
DJ: “Whatever this man (Coach Koetter) calls me to do, I’m going to do it. I have no problem with it. I love that electrifying part that I add to the football field, to the dynamics of this game. Now we’re in this era when you have the Tyreek Hills, you have all of these fast guys that are making these huge, big plays. That’s what the NFL needs. You’ve got the big guys doing it, you’ve got the small guys doing it. Whatever it is [Koetter] is going to ask me to do, I’m going to do it.”
DK: “A guy that’s done it like he has in the past, I think he’s a guy you probably pick your spots with. It’s a long season. He already told you that he’s 47-years old (laughs), so we’re going to have to pick our spots. He’s proven in the past that when the time is right, he’s a guy you can count on to make plays. We’ve got time to decide that, but you’re never going to have enough guys that can do that and you never know when you’re going to need it.”
(On if the front office used any of the Next Gen State when it came to evaluating Jackson’s speed)
JL: “Well, you know, there’s guys that run fast every year – like at the combine – and time very fast. You usually see the guys that are the fastest players to ever work out at the combine, it’s a list that a lot of people don’t know the names. There are guys that don’t play as fast on the field. Then there’s guys that play fast on the field but don’t necessarily time as fast as you were thinking they were going to. In DeSean’s case, it’s a perfect marriage because he does both. I don’t know when the last time he was timed [was], but he was timed very fast coming out [of college]. I actually think he may be a little faster now, if you believe in the Next Gen State. But I guess one stat, now that you mention this – we keep everything close to the vest. What we’re planning on doing – or hoping to do – and on Thursday morning, my oldest son, eight years old, was up wanting to see me before I took off and got here to work. He said, ‘What are you doing today, what do you plan on doing today?’ I said, ‘Well, I hope to sign DeSean Jackson, but we don’t know yet. I hope.” He gave me that Kevin from Home Alone look. He goes, ‘What?! He’s like a 95 speed ranking in Madden.’ I said, ‘I think Madden is a little low.’ Chris wasn’t as high, (laughs). It’s mostly film work. His production, the proof is in the pudding. You look up playmaker, you look up speed, you look up those things and DeSean Jackson shows up.”
(On how much the presence of quarterback James Winston influenced Jackson’s decision to sign with Tampa Bay)
DJ: “I found out, for one, he’s a winner. You know, he won a national championship. That starts something huge. I mean, I can remember myself in college, trying to win a national championship. To get that accomplished, that’s a start. As far as him being a winner, you definitely have the intangibles in that. A hard worker, a determined, dedicated winner. That’s really all I can say about him. I don’t know him to the utmost [like] I will in the next couple of months, but as far as the history and what I’ve seen – it’s hard to really get to know someone, not being around them. You can watch from TV, you can look, ‘He might be this, he might be that,’ but to really get the opportunity that I’m going to get now, is going to be able to set the bar straight. As far as what I saw, I think he has everything that it takes to get to the Super Bowl and win a championship. As long as you have the intangibles, that’s what you look for. I can remember going through the process, talking to Adam Schefter and he was asking ‘What’s going to be the decision maker on my next decision. I said, ‘I want to play with a great quarterback.’ I definitely think he has the intangibles to be that.”
(On what Jackson likes about Dirk Koetter’s offense)
DJ: “As far as before I signed here, I got a text from Andy Reid. He’s like, ‘If everything is right, I think you’re going to Tampa Bay.’ I didn’t reply back to the text message because it wasn’t official yet. From that text message, he said ‘[Koetter] is a great guy. You’re going to love his offense. I really haven’t gotten a chance to dissect it and look at it to that extent yet. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun. He’s got a lot of tools to go at. He can press any button he wants at any given time. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun.”
(On if Andy Reid shared stories about working with Dirk Koetter at San Francisco State)
DJ: “No, he didn’t tell me about that.”
(On if there was a specific number of free agents that the team was looking to add this offseason)
JL: “Not a specific number. We look at the players. There are specific players that we would definitely want to go after if we could, if the value was right. These two were our top two targets and we were able to get them. That’s rare these days to get those on the first day. But in terms of the number of guys, I’m sure Coach will mirror my same thoughts, this is still a process. Free agency lasts for a while. We’ll continue to look to see what’s out there. There’s some good players that can add depth, or they’re a role player, or they add competition. That’s what we’ll continue to do. I think these two additions are going to make us a much better football team.”
(On if Washington letting Baker leave in free agency motivates him)
CB: “I’m always motivated. I understand that the NFL is a business. I’m happy to be here and really get rolling. I’m excited about the future here. I’ve been able to play with an elite defense, so it’s something that I really look forward to. It’s been fun. Really looking forward to being back together with my homie Robert Ayers. We were together my rookie year in Denver. I’m just looking forward to the future and getting started here.”
(On what Baker remembers from facing Tampa Bay’s offensive line in 2015)
CB: “It was a pretty good offensive line. I’ve always felt confident in myself. I was never worried about any offensive line. I think it was a couple of years ago, we had the biggest comeback in Redskins history.
DK: “Ugh! We’re not going to talk about that, are we?
JL: “Did you sign your contract already?”
CB: (Laughs) “I did. But I’m just looking forward to the future here. I’m glad to be a Buc. My favorite player, Warren Sapp, was a Buc, so I’m happy to be here.”

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