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20 October 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (10/20/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, the Buccaneers have held opponents to just a 31.1 percent third down conversion rate, the second-lowest mark in the NFL, while also limiting opponents to 3.27 yards per carry, the seventh-lowest mark in the league.
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
Running Back Jacquizz Rodgers
(On defensive tackle Clinton McDonald being present in practice today)
“Injury report will be coming out right after practice.”
(On having players like tight ends Cameron Brate and Luke Stocker help the team with wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s absence)
“Yeah, sure. Everybody has to pick up the slack. Everyone has to pick up that slack; running backs, tight ends, other wide outs. Like we said yesterday, that’s going to be a work in progress. We’re just going to have to see how it settles in. Mainly the hardest thing on that is just because the other wide outs coming back haven’t been playing very much with the exception of [wide receiver] Adam [Humphries] and Shep [wide receiver Russell Shepard] a little bit.”
(On him mentioning on his radio show Monday that he liked what he has seen out of guard Kevin Pamphile)
“What we were talking on that was when we did the player evaluations at the end of five games, Kevin had the highest overall grade, a five game average in the offensive line. So, what I like about his play is - what we like about his play - is he’s getting consistent movement in the run game and he’s doing a solid job in the passing game, but movement at the point of attack is what gets your run game started and Kevin’s doing a really good job of that.”
(On what he remembers about San Francisco from his time there as a college coach)
“San Francisco State Gators, they don’t even have football anymore, the Golden Gators. What a unique experience for me coming from a small town in Idaho, Vic Rowen was a legend in Division II football, a three-man staff, Vic Rowen, Andy Reid and myself. We had several former players that helped, so, it was quite an experience. We sold hot dogs on the quad every Thursday to raise money for our trips. A big recruiting trip was us deciding if we were going to pay for a guy’s lunch when he came on campus. San Francisco State at that time had the students, there was a big student union in the middle of campus, when we’d be out there selling hot dogs, an alarm would go off and the students would do an Apartheid demonstration and they’d all go down on the ground. It was a wild place and I’m a young guy from Pocatello, Idaho, my eyes were wide open, quite a learning experience, teaching classes, coaching Division II football. Interesting experience.”
(On him teaching classes at San Francisco State)
“I did. I was one heck of a volleyball, tennis and weight lifting instructor.”
(On what he likes about the way the secondary has played over the last couple of weeks)
“I think I was the one that was saying all along, I think our secondary is all right. Now we’ve had our issues. We’ve had a couple balls thrown over our head back in the Arizona game, but the main thing in my opinion that has been hurting our secondary is our offense putting our secondary in bad position. Then in the Carolina game, we’ve been lacking in pass rush, not lacking effort, just lacking getting home. My hats off to our guys that are playing up front. We are playing a lot of young guys up front. Some of our pass rushers that we were counting on are out. We said many times in [training] camp that a secondary’s best friend is a good pass rush, but I think that we can cover. I think our corners can cover. I think we can make plays on the ball. I think our safeties have played their best two games the last two weeks, [safety Bradley] McDougald and [safety] Chris Conte and getting [cornerback] Vernon [Hargreaves III] solidified outside, [cornerback] Jude [Adjei-Barimah] in the slot and nickel. We know [linebacker] Lavonte [David] can cover and [linebacker] Kwon [Alexander] could cover guys in linebacker, so I think if we were in a shoot-out-type game where we had to rely on our secondary, I think our secondary will do fine.”
(On if defensive lineman DaVonte Lambert has been one of the bigger surprises for him on defense)
“Yeah, a surprise in that no one knew his name. Him and [defensive lineman] Channing Ward, those are two of those guys are filling out the roster back when you have 90-something guys and you’re bringing in free agents that I didn’t know those guys’ names and they were here, they were filling out the roster, they hung in there, they made the 53 and then we talk to our guys all the time, “If you’re in the room, you’ve got to be ready to play,” and they were kind of on that sit back, they were on the bottom of the roster and then all of a sudden, we need them and they’re playing, both Channing and DaVonte, playing more than was ever expected and you couldn’t be happier about the effort they’re giving. Now, they’re learning. They’re going against professional offensive lineman and they’re learning some good lessons, but you coach the guys you’ve got and all you can ask is that they try to do it the way they’re coached and that they give great effort and they’re doing that.”
(On what he remembers about the games against the 49ers when he was with the Falcons)
“Well, that’s easy. That last one, we were three yards from the Super Bowl and it was a heck of a game. They were rolling, we were rolling, we were 13-2 I think and they came into our house. Disappointing the way it ended. We had a big lead and in the second half they came back. Some unfortunate plays, crazy string of events on that last drive, I could go into detail if we had more time. But man, to be that close to the Super Bowl and not make it – coaches always remember losses more than wins and that’s one. To be that close and not make it, it was hard to watch them play in the Super Bowl, but they did have a really good football team.”
(On if the heat has affected the Buccaneers more so than other teams, having to use IVs during games)
“Well just in that one game, in the Rams game, we did have a lot of IVs, but that was one of the most incredibly humid days I’ve ever seen in my life. But we’ve actually been doing a lot of studying on that with our training staff and our strength staff. You’re always trying to figure out what’s the cause of soft tissue injuries and when I talk to other coaches around the league, there’s so many theories about teams that do, teams that don’t. We’re working on it. We’ve got a database of stuff on all these injuries, but I’m not exactly sure on why.”
(On long plane flights possibly contributing to injuries, like in Arizona where the team suffered multiple injuries)
“Well that’s one of the reasons we go on Friday, to try and take the three-hour flight part out of the equation. But if you really watch the two plays where [wide receiver] Cecil [Shorts III] and [running back] Doug [Martin] got hurt – on Cecil’s, it was a crossing route out in front of him. And that was one of those ones, if you were watching it on T.V. [you would say], ‘Oh, that guy just [hurt] his hamstring,’ because he really had to stretch for it. On Doug’s, it was a little toss play to the right and it wasn’t even a violent cut. I was shocked that Doug hurt his hamstring like that because he was not even going 40 percent speed. My P.E degree from Idaho State is not helping me right now on these kinds of questions.”  
(On if wide receiver Louis Murphy was at practice today)
“He was out there. He just wasn’t out there when [the media] was out there. He was out there.”
(On the secondary’s performance against Carolina)
“I thought we did a very good job in the game – I guess it was a long time ago now, seems like it was. We weren’t able to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. I think the guys up front they fought and they battled, but we weren’t able to get any effect, really. But I thought that we did a good job in the secondary. The guys back there had a pretty good understanding of the route progressions and we did a nice job. And then of course when you get the turnovers, that’s critical in any football game. Our defensive line created the one on the strip-fumble recovery and of course [cornerback] Brent [Grimes’] interception there in the end zone was outstanding. But the guys are starting to gel, I thought that that was probably their best game, as a collective group.”
(On if it was the secondary’s best game or the best game for the defense)
“I thought it was the secondary’s best game. We had some issues and we always will. We weren’t able to play the run as efficiently as we needed to, especially in the second half of the football game.”
(On what he has seen from San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick so far this season)
“He’s a threat every time he drops back to run the football and that’s what really he does so well. He sees a hole and he can take it. I still think he’s got good speed. He rushed for 66 yards in the ball game and they weren’t option plays, they were drop back and scramble, I think about two-thirds of them in the game against Buffalo. It was not conducive to throw the football, if you guys happened to see any of the highlights and watched the game. It was a very windy game, so I don’t know that you could really judge his throwing of the football in those windy conditions. He’s a guy that’s had a lot of success in the NFL, as you’ve mentioned. He’s got one game under his belt [this season]. I think we’ll see much improvement from week one to week two.”
(On figuring out how to stop Kaepernick)
“I think you’ve got to go back to the old tape. He’s still playing in the NFL, so he’s still a darn good player and a very good athlete, you saw it in the game against Buffalo when he tucked the ball down. He has a very good knack of reading the rush lanes up front and once he sees it, he takes it and goes – he had I think a 22-yard scramble. But what we have to do is we’ve got to look at what he has done in the past. He played a little bit in the preseason, but he’s been banged up. He’s been through a lot in the offseason, in terms of surgeries and getting healthy. He looks like he’s getting healthier.”
(On Carolina tight end Greg Olsen’s big game against Tampa Bay)
“We did not do a very good job defending the tight end, obviously, and it was more about us than them. He’s an outstanding tight end that is going to get his catches, but he shouldn’t have gotten the catches and the runs that he got in the game last week. So we did not play very good pass defense, in terms of defending the tight end. And we went into the game knowing that he was going to be a favorite target of the quarterback.”
(On if he feels the defense has fully figured out his scheme by now)
“Well we’re getting better. It’s really funny, when you spend your Bye Week, you spend it watching tape and when you watch the game and you’re moving onto the next game in a normal week, sometimes you don’t always see it. When you really get a chance to study it, you go, ‘Wow, I didn’t call a very good game,’ or, ‘We didn’t execute very well.’ You get to really drill down and see what is happening and I think that we’re making strides as a defense. I’m very pleased with the way that the guys have stepped up because we’ve had a lot of guys that have had to come in roles that we didn’t anticipate they’d be playing this early in the season, or at this time of the season. And they’ve done a nice job, they’ve grown up quick. There’s a couple guys up in the defensive line that have grown up very, very quickly.”
(On what kind of strides the defense has made)
“I think as a group, we do have a better understanding. I think our production on third down is continuing to improve and we feel like when we play good on third down, it’s like a turnover, we’re giving the ball back to the offense. But I think the young guys up front have really learned about hand placement, about the tempo of a football game and how physical it really is in the NFL, it’s a little bit different.”
(On defensive lineman DaVonte Lambert)
“I’d say he would have to be right up there as the biggest surprise, maybe is the biggest surprise. I really liked his attitude in training camp, he was very focused and he’s learned how to be a defensive lineman in the NFL very, very quickly. I think [Defensive Line Coach] Jay [Hayes] and [Assistant Defensive Line Coach] Paul [Spicer] have done a very good job brining him along. He’s cross-trained, he can play inside or outside for us, that gives us a lot of flexibility and believe me, we’ve had to be very flexible over the last couple of weeks. But everybody in the league this time of the year, this is the time of the year where guys are going to start to go down and nobody’s feeling sorry for anybody. It’s next man up, everybody team think they’ve been hit and decimated in one area, you look across the league and everybody has the same situation.”
(On how difficult San Francisco’s up-tempo offense can be to go against)
“It is and our depth is going to be tested. We’re going to have to try to get them off the field as quickly as possible and get the ball to our offense. That’s the way that you stop that up-tempo offense that they run. They’re still trying to get a lot of plays, they no-huddle, they keep you at the line of scrimmage and it is fatiguing. Not only physically, but mentally. We’ve done a good job, we started on Monday really working the techniques that we need to have, in terms of how we’re going to communicate. The great thing is, is that the noise isn’t going to be a factor out there for us anyway, so we should be able to communicate. We’d much rather be playing here in Tampa, I can assure you that, but we will be able to communicate.”
(On if he worries about ‘mental fatigue’ after the players had a week off)
“No, I think they come back refreshed. The comments from the guys from getting back here on Monday, we got a chance to basically knock the rust off, both mentally and physically. And then we took our normal Tuesday off, as [Head Coach] Dirk [Koetter] had it scheduled and we’re back into our regular week. It’s important for us to come out and start fast on the defensive side of the ball. We’ve got to stop the long drives, we’ve got to force them to get off the field and give the ball to our offense. We don’t want to be looking up at the end of the game and seeing us out there for 75-80 plays, that’s not going to be a good recipe for us.”
(On how important it is for the defense to complement the offense and vice-versa)
“Yeah, I think it’s important that you complement one another and each week it’s a completely different dynamic and I really felt, for us, we knew what we had to do against Carolina in the last ball game. We needed to try to make sure that we didn’t give up the big plays and created some turnovers. And when you’re on the plus side of the turnover margin – and that’s all that we can control – you’re going to help yourself in winning the ball game. But I think it’s very important. Each week we go in and game plan, knowing this is what we’ve got to do to help our team win. I think we know this week, we’ve got to get off the field and not have the long drives. We need to get off the field and sit over there and drink some Gatorade and let our offense go.”
(On if he was surprised that Carolina didn’t target their receivers more in the game)
“Well, the way the tight end was running wide open, that was where the quarterback was going to go. And we knew going in, in the two prior games that [Derek Anderson] quarterbacked in, he targeted Olsen quite a bit, so we knew going in that he was going to target him. The best plans didn’t work out – we had a plan to think we were going to slow him down and obviously we didn’t. But I thought that our corners played well on their big receivers. I [think] Grimes is progressing very, very well. He doesn’t get as many targets as [cornerback] Vernon [Hargreaves III], just because of his experience. But I thought Vernon did a nice job – week two playing strictly out on the outside – he did a good job. And it’s a learning curve for him. Again, yes he played corner in the SEC, but it’s not like playing it in the NFL and I think he’s done a nice job. And I think we’ve had a good opportunity as a coaching staff on the defensive side, to go through and create cutups for our guys to watch on things that they have to get better at and that’s what we did on our off week. We spent the majority of the time looking at what we can do better, as coaches to help our guys be better prepared and go out and play.”
(On how defensive end Noah Spence is adjusting to playing on the left side of the line)
“To get Noah out last week was a big, big surprise. If you were to tell me on Monday or Tuesday that he was going to line up – it talks about his toughness. We’re playing him both on the left and right side. It depends on what the huddle call is and depends on who else is in the ball game – if you guys notice, we’re flipping our defensive ends. It is a big difference, you get to go against different types of tackles when you’re rushing. You get to go against some right tackles and you get to go against some left tackles and there is a difference in this league, we all know that. I like his toughness. For him to come back from that injury says a whole lot about his ability to put things behind him, from a physical standpoint. Because that thing was not down and our first report was not good, so he’s been able to overcome that. And we’re looking forward to seeing him get more and more snaps, as long as he stays healthy.”
(On what makes San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick different than other quarterbacks)
“His athleticism, he has rare athleticism. There’s a lot of athletes in the league at quarterback, but not a lot like him. He can gain ground in a hurry and he’s not a quarterback who wastes time making a decision. If he’s going to go, he’s gone. And when he goes, you better get on your horse because he can get downfield quick, so we definitely have to be in our rush lanes for him.”
(On defending against an up-tempo offense like San Francisco’s)
“You’ve just got to prepare for it in different ways. In practice, you have to simulate the no-huddle. And then as a player, you have to overrun in practice. That’s why taking care of your body and recovery is huge, especially with a week like this because you have to do extra during the week to try and simulate what you’re going to face. That’s how you kind of build your conditioning up. So when you used to turn and run into a screen, if you run – Coach says break five, ten yards, you’ve got to go 20 to try to simulate that. Then if you do that, then you have to jog all the way back to get ready for the next play. There’s different ways to get ready for it, that’s an individual thing. I don’t know how everybody else does it, but that’s how I do it.”
(On what stands out about defensive lineman DaVonte Lambert)
“One thing I noticed about ‘Lambo’ when he first got here is he was really explosive, he had really good feet. I think it was Kourtnei Brown that said, ‘Man, he’s got Gerald McCoy feet [laughter],’ I was like, ‘That’s cool. I love that, ‘Gerald feet’.’ But he’s really explosive and he’s always taking notes, studying, studying, studying. So when he got called upon, it was more of not being nervous, more just being ready. He told me, ‘I knew I was about to play in the game, but when I got out there, I was just like, ‘Man, I’m out here’.’ Yeah, you are out there. We can’t have you thinking you’re out here, you’ve got to go. Once he got past that, he’s just been doing his thing. I like what I see. He’s a rookie, he does rookie things, the same things I was doing. So it’s just, work with him and try and point some things out to him to help him when he sees certain looks and different things to look at. More so right now, he’s just trying to not mess up his assignment. But if you study enough tape and the game plan, not messing up your assignment should be the easy part. Now you have to start looking at formations, you could start looking at the linemen, how their feet are set, the stances, eyes, quarterback’s feet – I look at everything, that’s how I get off the ball like that. I just study all type of different little things, so just try and help him with those kinds of things.”
(On whether or not it feels different knowing he will get more of the workload this week with running back Doug Martin out)
“It doesn’t feel different. For me, the approach is the same; go in there and just try to find a way to help my team win and also as a team, we are just trying to build off the win we had against Carolina and just trying to get things rolling and try to get these wins to make them come in bunches.”
(On how he felt physically on Monday)
“That was the first time in my career I had that many carries. I was a little sore, but it was a good thing we had a Bye Week following. I ended up getting like three massages during the Bye Week, so it was well needed.”
(On how taxing it was to get so many carries on the opening drive against Carolina)
“That was the first time ever I was hoping a pass play was called in because I was a little blown.”
(On whether or not it has been a surprise to him that he has suddenly become the primary ball carrier)
“I wasn’t surprised, but the NFL is a next-man-up mentality. My first game [with Tampa Bay], I actually ended up getting thrown in on offense and it was crazy from there. The good thing, I am familiar with this offense, so it helped make my transition a lot easier.”
(On whether or not he believes his shot at the number one running back spot is prolonging his NFL career)
“The NFL is yet again, [there are] good people that are not playing right now. So, you just have to do what you’ve got to do; make plays and when you get that opportunity, just take advantage of it.”
(On if he feared his time was limited coming in as a third-string running back)
“No, because I feel like I help out on special teams and I do other things that benefit me down the line.”
(On whether or not watching San Francisco’s defense on film makes him more anxious for this game because of their issue stopping the run)
“It’s crazy because by watching on film, their defense is actually pretty good. The NFL is always week to week, so you have to approach each and every week with a new mindset. We’re going out there, we’re not going to take them lightly go out there and execute our game plan.”
(On how his rush lanes differ going up against a 3-4 defense versus a 4-3)
“3-4, most of the time they can get different looks – exotic - they just don’t line up in a certain look. 3-4, you can do many things with it. So as for us, our communication has to be on point and we have to make sure we communicate on all levels, from O-line to quarterback to running back to make sure we’re on the same page.”

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