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27 October 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (10/27/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, the Buccaneers have held opponents to just a 58.3 percent completion percentage, the fourth-lowest mark in the NFL.
 
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
 
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
 
(On how big of a home field advantage the Buccaneers have)
“Every place is different. Every place you play on the road is different, as far as how hard it is to play there and how hard it is to hear there. We’re not fooling anybody that some teams travel a lot better than others. Players notice, coaches notice. That’s the truth. And I’m 1,000% aware that the more you win, the better it gets. But with that said, do we have a home field advantage? That’s our job to create it.”
 
(On if he feels the energy has been there in home games this season, despite they have yet to win at home)
“Oh yeah. The fans that are there, absolutely.”
 
(On one of his previous comments that Raymond James Stadium was loud in the final minutes in the Rams game)
“Just think about that for a minute: that was the loudest it was the whole game, just from noticing it. Now again, the whole [end of the] game was played basically in one little part of the field.”
 
(On if his comments after the San Francisco game that he ‘doesn’t want to see Raider jerseys in the lower bowl of the stadium’ was a reference to the number of Broncos jerseys at the Denver game)
“Go take a picture of any of them. Denver, Chicago, Giants. Take a picture, see what you get. We’ve got to take care of the stuff on the field, but some places are harder to play than others.”
 
(On if having a loud home crowd gives the home team an advantage)
“When you can’t hear, it’s rough. When you have to do everything silent cadence, everything hand signals, you can’t hear yourself think. Compared to if you’ve got to go to silent cadence in your own stadium.”
 
(On having the opportunity of having three consecutive home games to build a home field advantage)
“We can’t think of it that way. I can see why it looks like that, but we can’t for one second try to think that way. That’s crazy if we do that. We’ve got one thing only and we don’t want to think about anything else.”
 
(On wide receiver Cecil Shorts III not receiving any targets against San Francisco)
“We talked about this before – so they’re going to tick off, or however they do it, somebody’s going to get credit for a target every time the ball leaves the quarterback’s hand. That may or may not be who was really targeted, that might not be who the play was designed for, the coverage dictates that, maybe the quarterback had to scramble, run for his life. Like the touchdown to [wide receiver] Mike [Evans] last week – he wasn’t the initial target on the play. It worked out, he got the target, he got the touchdown, but Cecil was actually the number one read on that play. So, you’ve got to take those with a grain of salt. In the case that you’re talking about, Cecil really didn’t have any opportunities, didn’t have any balls thrown his way. He did some other things that helped us win. Everybody that played in the game did. And that’s sometimes luck of the draw. It’s coverage. You’re trying to throw him an out breaking route and they cloud the coverage that way, the quarterback’s going to get off it.”
 
(On how running back Jacquizz Rodgers benefits from a zone-based blocking scheme)
“Well that’s what he played in college, number one. I’m not sure if he played that in high school, but Jacquizz is really good at sinking the run into the hole and then he’s got really good vision and quickness to either bounce or cut back. Most inside-zone runs are three directional: you can cram it, you can bounce it, you can cut it back and he’s good at all three.”
 
(On how the team is handling the preparation for three games in 12 days)
“Again, we don’t talk too much about three in 12 days. We talk about one in three days. You just can’t think of it like that because everything changes. Who knows what’s going to happen after this game? This is a week-to-week league and shoot, it’s a day-to-day league sometimes, as far as people getting hurt. So you take next week when next week comes. And you have to – on Fridays, yeah we’ll take a little look ahead on the calendar, just for planning purposes, so the guys can see what they have coming up. Every team in the league is the same, we’re no different. Everything you have is into this game and Sunday at one o’clock.”
 
(On if he ever takes games quarter-by-quarter or play-by-play)
“That’s how you coach it for that game, but I’m assuming we’re talking about calendar and three-game stretches and four-game stretches. A lot of teams break it down, first quarter, second quarter, fourth quarter, four games. We have tried to not do that. Again, we have tried to take it week-to-week, just because that’s what we believe is the best way to do it. When I say we put up a little look ahead calendar in the team meetings on Friday – these guys have lives, they have to be able to plan. Not just for me to be talking about it, but after the Thursday Night game, you’ve got a little mini-bye, some of these guys will go out of town. They need to be able to plan. Some of these guys have wives, kids, they have to be able to plan for that stuff. But football-wise, we’re planning for Sunday at one o’clock.”
 
(On if cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III having played against Oakland wide receiver Amari Cooper in college helps him for Sunday’s game)
“I hadn’t thought about that, I’m not sure, that would be a good question for him. I’m going to ask him that. I don’t know. He’s gone against some pretty good guys so far this year, so there’s more to come. And he’s getting better every week, I think his confidence is growing. I think you’re going to see him play tighter and tighter. I think it’s pretty common that he would want to go out there and show well, especially when he was going back and forth between nickel and corner, doesn’t want to get beat over the top. But you could see last week and I think his confidence continues to grow.”
 
(On Hargreaves’ play against the run)
“There was a little two-play series last week where he actually missed a tackle in the open field and then the very next play was a run play where he was a force on that side and he came up and made a great tackle, tackled like a linebacker. So, he’s definitely got it in him.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE SMITH
 
(On Oakland wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree)
“Those two receivers, Cooper and Crabtree, are going to be a handful. They’ve done a very good job. [Quarterback Derek] Carr is a quarterback that get the ball out of his hands, he’s got a quick release. I think he does a very good job with his eyes moving the defender. It’s going to be a big challenge. They’re doing some really good things on offense. I think Coach [Bill] Musgrave, their offensive coordinator, does some really tough things, in terms of what they’re doing formationally. They’ll move people around, they have a game plan for each week and I think that’s why they’ve had the success that they’ve had.”
 
(On having to rely on several backup players due to injuries)
“It shows the resiliency of our guys. We’ve got some young guys that we weren’t expecting to have to contribute and they’ve come in and done a really good job, especially up front. Obviously, I think we’ve shown improvement and it is a process as we’re installing this defense and it’s something that I don’t think is going to really come to fruition until we get further down the road. We’re still in a very steep learning curve as a group, but I’m very proud of the way that these guys have played. In the game last week, there were a number of guys – it was probably the most difficult to pick who the game ball was going to go to because there were a lot of guys that made plays, there were a lot of guys deserving of getting the game ball.”
 
(On who ended up getting the game ball against San Francisco)
“[Defensive tackle] Gerald McCoy. Gerald not only makes plays, but he makes the guys around him better as well. We talk about being a good teammate and he’s a darn good teammate because not only will he make his plays, but he is going to demand resources from the offense, which allows other guys an opportunity to make some plays.”
 
(On if he learned things about some of the younger players on the defense that he didn’t know earlier in the season)
“Oh, absolutely. You learn a lot more when you play a real game. You liked what you saw in practice, but you’re not getting hit in the mouth like you get hit in the mouth in a real game. These guys have stood strong. We’ve made lots of mistakes, those guys have made lots of mistakes, but they’ve corrected them and they’ve gotten better every week. I’ve got to mention [that] I think [defensive lineman] Will Gholston has really played well over the last three weeks. He’s done a very nice job and it’s good to see Will starting to have the production that he’s had the last couple of weeks.”
 
(On if cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves III and Brent Grimes are starting to play with ‘swagger’)
“Both of those guys are starting to play with swagger. I think Brent always has had it. He’s a little more soft spoken, but I know Brent knows what he’s capable of doing. And I think Vernon is finding his way, in terms of where he needs line up, when he needs to line up there and I thought he did a really good job last week. Not only in the pass game, but he really did some nice things showing up in the run game as well.”
 
(On how Gholston has done as a pass rusher)
“We’ve had to lean on him a lot and with [defensive end] Robert [Ayers] out, he’s had to kind of play that role, so he’s playing some on the outside, then he moves to the inside. So he’s been our guy that has been very flexible for us, in terms of playing defensive end and defensive tackle. I think he’s gotten a lot better. Again, I contribute to his hard work, but I believe [Assistant Defensive Line Coach Paul] Spicer and [Defensive Line Coach Jay] Hayes specifically have been working with Will like they work with all the guys. We’re seeing improvement and that’s the thing. As well look back and try to determine where we are as a football team, we want to see progress every week. We know that there’s times individuals are going to take steps back, but we want to see, as a unit, we want to see us getting better. I think if you look at our numbers the last few weeks, they’ve been much better.”
 
(On how similar his style is to Oakland Head Coach Jack Del Rio’s)
“Very similar. They’re basing out of a 3-4 [defense] and again, 3-4, 4-3, it just depends on what body types you have. There’s some similarities. Jack and I were together in Baltimore and of course I was his coordinator there in Jacksonville. I learned a lot. I consider Jack a mentor to me and learned a lot, not only about football, but a lot about the psyche of NFL players. I just came into the league and he kind of gave me a lot of insight about what guys’ mindset is at different times of the year.”
 
(On how confident he is that as injured players start to become healthy, the defense will be better)
“Gosh, I certainly hope so. We thought we might have some rust on Gerald when he came back – there was no rust, not at all. He was rolling. We’re hoping that our guys continue to get back. As each day goes on, we feel like we’ve got a better chance of getting guys back that are going to help us win. It will help us on a rotation. We’ve been forced to play our defensive line and our guys up front way too many snaps. But it’s just been a function of the number of guys that we have dressed and who is healthy enough to go out and play.”
 
(On how much support from the home crowd would help the defense on Sunday against Oakland)
“When we’re at home, we’d love to have trouble communicating, that would be a real advantage for us. We’ve got to go out and we’ve got to do our job as a defense and that’s to get the offense off the field, get the ball back over to our offense and let them go. I know crowd noise is important, but I think when you’re focused on the game, you really don’t hear the noise, you don’t feel the noise, but I think the other side does.”
 
(On how he feels about the secondary)
“I think we’re improving, I think we still have a long way to go. I like the learning curve that we’ve gone through, in terms of from Week One, in terms of giving up explosive passes and being where we’re supposed to be. I think that’s a sign of them having a better understanding of what they’re supposed to be doing and I think that’s also a sign of a better understand that I understand what they’re capable of doing. Again, I really think this is a process that we go through. Would I have liked to see it being accelerated? Yes, but I do feel like that these guys are starting to understand what we’re trying to accomplish on the defensive side of the ball, based on what offenses are presenting to us.”
 
(On if safety Bradley McDougald is giving him what he’s expecting out of him)
“Oh, absolutely, Bradley has played very well. Had a great game [against San Francisco], he was one of the guys that was in the discussion about getting a game ball. He had the pick, it was a great pick, he had another opportunity and I think he had seven hits, he was in on seven tackles. When you have a safety that’s that active, that’s what you want. The defense, really at all three levels, I thought we did some good things. Obviously, the quarterback scrambles [were] an issue. That’s something that we definitely have to get corrected. I think our guys have a better understanding of what we need to do in our rush lanes. That’s really the first time that I think we’ve played an elite quarterback scrambler and [San Francisco quarterback] Colin Kaepernick is probably one of the best of this generation, there’s no doubt about it.”
 
(On how defensive end Noah Spence has played the last two weeks)
“He’s done well. Noah has had to play a lot more snaps than we had anticipated. We really felt like early on that he would be only a pass rush specialist, or what we call a ‘designated pass rusher’ in our defense. And his pitch count was up and snap count was up, close to 50. So, he had to play and be prepared to play in some of our base, in some of our big sub packages. Very pleased with what he is doing. It’s tough. For him to come back and not miss a game with the injury that he sustained, it says a lot about his toughness.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
 
(On Oakland’s offensive line)
“That’s a good group of guys man. Those guys are – I even talked to Donald Penn –  I texted him and told him, ‘Your group is legit. It’s going to be fun.’ There’s no weak points. I don’t care how many people they’ve had starting at right tackle. Whoever is in there is making it happen. Coach Mike Tice has got them rolling. I love playing against groups like that. I don’t know how most people in the league feel, but when you’ve got a dominant group of offensive linemen, it makes you up your game and really challenges you. I’m excited. It’s going to be fun.”
 
(On backup players having to step up due to injuries)
“Honestly, I just think guys are stepping up. I don’t necessarily know – like if you go down our list of names, you’re not going to go, ‘Oh, they have this person, that person, that person, that person.’ You’re not going to do that. Let’s be honest. But one thing about who we do have is they are going to go out there and play, do things the right way and do whatever it takes to win. Are we always successful? No, but the group we have here – that’s why I said earlier in the year, our young guys, that’s what’s going to make our team pan out. You’re seeing it. A lot of young guys stepping up and playing a lot of reps – and playing well. I don’t know if it’s necessarily just how deep we are more than guys just realizing, ‘This is my opportunity. I’ve got to take advantage of it.’”
 
RUNNING BACK JACQUIZZ RODGERS
 
(On what it has meant to him to have such a big impact in the last two games)
“It’s all about just trying to find a way to help your team win. I feel like I’m the starting running back at this point, so it’s my job to bring something to the table, to put my pieces to the puzzle to come away with a victory.”
 
(On running back Peyton Barber’s game against San Francisco)
“That guy, he worked at it. He got his opportunity towards the end of the game and took well advantage of it, got a long touchdown. So, for us as a running back group, we’ve just got to keep climbing, week after week.”
 
(On his brother’s reaction to his recent success on the field and the attention he is receiving)
“His mindset’s the same, he’s just [telling me], ‘Don’t relax. Just keep building off of this and don’t take the backseat. Just keep climbing each and every week and just try to get better.’”
 
(On if it will be a letdown if he does not rush for a new personal best for the third week in a row)
“No, for the most part. Getting a victory is the number one thing every week. But for me, I set my goals high and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
 
(On what’s changed for him since being released by Chicago earlier this season)
“A lot has changed, different team. But I love it here, it’s a great team to be a part of. The spirits are high around here, everybody wants to work during the week. It makes practice fun when guys come out with a lot of excitement during the week.”
                                  
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