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16 November 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (11/16/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Since Week 7, the Buccaneers offense has averaged 30.5 points per game, the fifth-highest in the NFL during that timeframe.
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach Todd Monken
Quarterback Jameis Winston
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
(On wide receiver Mike Evans’ decision to stand for the National Anthem going forward)
“I haven’t thought too much about it. I’m happy, I’m happy that he is. But also like we said the other day, these guys [have] the right to express their views and I think Mike’s statement said a lot.”
(On if he expects the running game to start improving with the return of Doug Martin)
“I sure hope so, we need to run the football better.”
(On if Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith is similar to Oakland quarterback Derek Carr)
“I would say they’re different styles of quarterbacks, but both very good in their own right. Alex Smith is more probably underneath, 20 yards or less and then more on the move. They run some option with him, run some nakeds, run a lot of screens. Where Derek Carr is a little bit more downfield, not going to so much hurt you with his legs, but going to throw more out of the pocket.”
(On the challenges of playing at Arrowhead Stadium)
“Yeah, we cranked up that crowd noise [at practice], maybe you could hear it in here, we had it cranking. I told the guys today, Arrowhead is one of the coolest venues to play at. For us down here, we don’t get too play fall football very often, but it’s going to be a great fall day and Arrowhead – that crowd is loud, grass field, 50 degrees, so shoot, what more can you ask for?”
(On Kansas City Head Coach Andy Reid being 16-2 coming off a Bye Week and often getting a winning streak going after)
“I hope they didn’t have a bye last week. They’ve got a good football team, I think they’ve won 17 of their last 19 games overall, so I think Andy Reid is one of the best football coaches I know and I was fortunate to work with him at three different schools. So, we know we have our hands full. He’s a good coach and they have some excellent football players on their team.”
(On what his first impression of Reid was when they coached together at San Francisco State in 1985)
“Andy’s just a terrific coach, father, husband. Just a first-class guy, I was fortunate to be with him in three different spots.”
(On defensive end Noah Spence’s progression)
“I think what even makes it more impressive is he’s playing with a harness on all the time since his shoulder came out and he never really had any injuries in college, so sometimes young guys that have to face stuff like that where they have to wear a harness or wear a brace of some sort, it has an adverse effect on their play. And something that we wanted [was] Noah to become a better player against the run, that’s one of the benefits maybe of our injuries that we’ve had at defensive end, is Noah has had to play more in run situations and I think he’s definitely gotten better against the run. You draft him where you draft him because of his pass rush ability, but I think he’s improving his overall game.”
(On cornerback Josh Robinson’s job as a gunner on special teams)
“Yeah, we feel like we have two of the best gunners, one of the best tandems there is. We actually gave Josh Robinson the game ball for special teams for the Chicago game and it’s pretty apropos because [Tyreek] Hill, [Kansas City’s] return man is the top return guy in the AFC in punt returns. Dangerous both as a punt returner and a kick returner. Our entire punt team has been fantastic all year, the way ‘Depo’ [long snapper Andrew DePaola] is snapping it, [punter] Bryan [Anger] is kicking it, the way we’re protecting it and our gunners cover it, but we’re going to have to cover with everybody this week. These guys like to double the gunners and even though our gunners have done well against double teams, it puts more pressure on your inside guys.”
(On Kansas City’s defense’s ability to create turnovers)
“When you watch the tape on these guys, especially their red zone tape, wow. Inside the 20, they really close it down on you. They’re very aggressive with their hands, they get a lot of balls that they get popped up in the air, somebody else might catch it. All four of their DBs, their one safety, 38 [Ron Parker], covers like a corner, used to be a corner. [Eric] Berry, the other safety, covers like a corner. Their corners cover like corners. [Marcus] Peters really makes plays on the football and it’s almost like they have four wide receivers back there that are also tough tacklers. So, these guys are impressive. What they did to get Carolina last week, to come from behind, not even score a touchdown on offense and really their defense – the pick-six by Berry and then the turnover at the end where Peters pulled it out of the hands, there’s a lot of impressive plays on their tape.”
(On if he anticipates defenses to double-cover Cameron Brate going forward)
“Usually it’s hard to double-cover more than one guy at a time and most teams if they’re going to double somebody against us, it’s usually Mike. Sometimes inside the 10, teams will double two guys and if that’s the case, a lot of times teams will double your ‘X’ and your ‘Y’ and in that case, Cam would probably be a candidate.”
(On if there are any thought of putting Evans back on defense against the Hail Mary)
“Yeah, we actually have that defense, we just weren’t in it on that play [at the end of the half against Chicago]. But, we practice that.”
(On wide receiver Mike Evans’ decision to sit during the National Anthem before last Sunday’s game)
“Well, it’s hard for me to put words in his mouth. I think in general, whenever we feel strongly about anything – to me, it’s what’s the cause? What’s your commitment to a cause? What’s the cost? And you have to – in anything we do – we have to take that all into account. And I think it’s been addressed, not only by [Head] Coach [Dirk] Koetter, [but also] the organization and Mike. So, from there I’ll leave it at that.”
(On if the team met this morning to talk about Evans’ decision)
“Not specifically. We always have a team meeting on Wednesday, getting ready for Kansas City.”
(On if he specifically has talked to Evans)
“I did not. Again, with all the players I’ve ever coached – Mike’s a grown man. Bottom line is, if he’d like to come talk to me about anything, or any of our players do, then I’m welcome to that.”
(On if anticipates this will have any effect on Evans’ play on the field)
“No, he was fine this morning.”
(On if one of the goals for running back Doug Martin last game against Chicago was to just get him out there and have him get a feel for things again)
“I think so. I think getting his confidence back, I think that’s the number one thing. A soft tissue injury, his ability to let it go, get out and run. And I think that was critical that we got him work Sunday, but didn’t overwork him and I think he’ll be able to build on that this week.”
(On if having Martin on the field lifts the team’s mood up)
“Sure it does. Having your best players out there and his leadership and he’s only going to be better moving forward.”
(On how offensive linemen Ben Gottschalk and Caleb Benenoch played against Chicago)
“I think was invaluable they got a chance to play. Do I think Ben was ready three or four plays into the game that he was up? No, probably not, but again, he’s one of the best in the world. Everbody that’s on our roster is one of the best in the world and the team’s going to count on them to do the job that gives us the chance to be successful and I though they did that.”
(On the challenges of playing at Arrowhead Stadium, one of the loudest in the league)
“It’s challenging, but every road game is challenging. It changes your routine and a lot these guys played big-time college football – they’ve been through it. I think you hit it on the head: it’s about communication, it’s about us being on the same page and stacking plays together with us doing the right stuff.”
(On what was going through his mind during quarterback Jameis Winston’s scramble and 39-yard pass to Evans against Chicago)
“Safety [laughter]. But that’s him. You talk about two plays that – Hail Mary at halftime, go into the locker room, are you kidding me? Come back out, makes that play, the next throw to [wide receiver] Freddie Martino and now you’ve stretched it back out to 14. What do you want to say? Those are the plays he can make and that’s what you love about him, his competitive spirit, his will to want to make every play. That’s what I talked about weeks ago, is okay, how do you harness that? Get him better progression in the pocket because he’s going to make those plays. We said it at the beginning of the year, our number one pass play is what? Scramble.”
(On how the team can get Winston to make those kind of scripted plays)
“Well, he’s good outside the pocket, so we’ve got to continue to do our part. Whether it’s sprint out nakeds, get him on the perimeter. Some of that is just protection, some of it is we’re covered, some of it is they’ve done a great job on the backend. So, he just has a real feel for that and is a guy that he’s a got a rare quality where he will run with it, but he’s always got his eyes down the field. A lot of times you find guys that don’t want to run it and you find guys that don’t want to throw it. He’s one of those guys that has a rare quality, he can do both.”
(On how important it is to get the running game going)
“Sure. You’re rarely going to get chunk plays in the league if you’re not able to run the football and put defenders in a run-pass conflict. That what you’re trying to do. If you can run it, it puts defenders in a run-pass conflict, gives you a chance to throw it over their head and get explosive plays. It keeps you from turning the ball over, it keeps you ahead of the chains, it keeps the ball away from your opponent. And this week obviously being on the road, try to take the crowd out of it.”
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy lining up as fullback on the goal-line against Chicago)
“Well, the first play, they ran a little out-charge and [Chicago defensive Akiem] Hicks got underneath his pads pretty good, which was different than the scout team look we got during the week, but we were fired up that Gerald was willing to go in there and again, each play he’s back there, he’ll continue to get better.”
(On Kansas City’s defense being so good at creating turnovers)
“Well I think you discuss that every week, of what wins. The number one way you win and lose is protecting the football. And we at one point were I think a minus-nine five weeks ago and now we’re even. I would’ve never guessed we’d gotten ourselves to even that fast. But, you can see how it flips the game. Last week, all the turnovers that we created, we didn’t turn it over and then the one time we did, we got it right back with a turnover. So, we’ve proven that – that if we don’t turn the ball over it gives us a chance to win. They’re really good at it because they’ve got really good defensive players, I think that’s first and foremost. They’re disruptive up front, which puts a quarterback at risk, not only in the pocket, but then throws down the field. And then they’ve got guys on the back end that really do a great job of taking the ball away, stripping it and challenging the receivers.”
(On how impressed he is with Winston’s ability to scramble away from sacks and if he knew of that ability before he coached him)
“No. Until you watch the tape and watch him move around and compete, I guess is probably the best way to say it. I think the interception we had, guess who made the tackle? That guy. So, that says everything you want about him trying to make every play and how competitive he is. And yet, comes back to the sideline, is the first guy to tell [wide receiver] Cecil [Shorts III], ‘Hey, I’m going to make a better throw next time.’ He’s not talking about, ‘Hey, what –,” no, he’s talking about, ‘I’ll do it better. How do I do better?’ It starts with him, that’s what makes him who he is.”
(On if he expects Kansas City to double-team Evans, the way Chicago did)
“I don’t know and at times Chicago did that early in the game it was a little bit frustrating I think early. Obviously, as we got a lead, didn’t put themselves in a position to do that. So, have they done that in the past, have they changed dramatically defensively for a given receiver? No. If you leave him by himself all the time, will there be more occasions where you’ll get clotted to him? Yes. So, we’ve got to do a great job of moving Mike around, we’ve got to do a great job of running the football to force their safeties because there’s no way to double him without using safeties. Well, if you’re running the football more effectively, then that doesn’t eliminate it, but it sure makes it a lot easier.”
(On how Kansas City fares against the run)
“They’re good against the run. Again, I think every team that we’ve played poses problems – be it, some teams a little bit more from the pass rush standpoint, some from a coverage standpoint, some from a run standpoint – but the bottom line is, how it affects us, our team’s health, who we have going forward and their health. But again, it’s going to be a great challenge for us, but we know. We brought it up earlier, we’ve got to be able to run the football better for us to continue to improve as a team moving forward.” 
(On who would be the fourth-string center if the team needs one)
“Well, we’ve got – Ali [Marpet] has worked at center a little bit, so we’d have to move him around. We’re hopeful to get Joe [Hawley] back this week. So, again, we’ve got some guys that are ready to go. There’s nothing like Ben [Gottschalk] getting his first game underneath himself and he’ll be better because of it.”
(On where tight end Cameron Brate has improved the most and how his role in the offense has grown)
“Well, I think it’s just through experience. Cam has always been a good athlete and you would see it. Again, I’ve only been here nine months, 10 months, but you saw it in shorts. And that’s how do you carry that over? And I think that he’s improved in his attention to detail, he’s improved in his blocking, he’s improved in his route running and that’s only going to come through experience, playing, having great practices being stacked together. That’s Cameron, that’s Jameis, that’s Mike, all these young players. Ali, that’s [left tackle] Donovan [Smith], it’s all these players that have been drafted, or haven’t been drafted, but have talent. Everyday approach and you expect them to continue to get better.”
(On what he was thinking when he re-watched his scramble and 39-yard pass to Evans against Chicago)
“When I looked at it, I was just thinking about all the funny things the coaches and the players were saying on the sideline. And even the fans.”
(On if he heard the coaches, players and fans during the play)
“[Laughter] No.”
(On if he realized how close that play was to being a safety)
“No, I was just trying to make a play.”
(On if he has had a chance to talk to wide receiver Mike Evans about his decision to sit during the National Anthem before last Sunday’s game)
“Yeah, I talked to him about it and I’m definitely on his side. I respect his beliefs.”
(On what he said to Evans)
“I’ve got his back.”
(On if it has been difficult to see some of the criticism Evans has faced)
“I’m just happy [with] what he’s doing on the field. Mike is a standup guy. One of the greatest guys on this football team and what he does on the field, what he does off the field, the type of man that he is speaks just for itself.”
(On the chemistry between himself and tight end Cameron Brate)
“That core thing, hard work pays off – I keep going back to that because Cam Brate is the epitome of that. He comes in every single day working hard. After practice, he’s always staying out there to get some balls. When you work that hard, only something good can happen.”
(On what he wants people to know about Evans)
“I just want people to know that he’s a standup guy. And what he does is strictly on him. And I know he’s a man of his word. He’s a grown man, so he’s accountable for anything his way, but Mike is an amazing dude and has tremendous respect for everyone in this world.”
(On his scramble plays)
“It’s just trying a way to make a play. When things break down, you’ve just got to try to find something positive out of it because if something bad happens, you’re going to get yelled at when you get to the sideline. If something good happens, you get a pat on the back. So, you’ve just got to keep plays alive and extending plays is a big thing in this league.”
(On what it means to have running back Doug Martin back)
“Just his presence being out there, seeing him in that huddle, it means a lot. And you can just tell by the way the guys carry themselves. Him [carrying] that ball in the backfield, it just seems like it’s all coming back together, we’ve got our running back back.”
(On Martin taking pressure off of him)
“Doug is just a great guy. I’m still going to have my pressure, just as far as checks and stuff, but the way that our offense works, we’re all one piece.”
(On trying to communicate on offense in loud stadiums, such as Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium)
“I think what helps us with that is the fact that I’ve had to communicate with so many different people and by me communicating with different people, that alone is adversity. So, that can help prepare us for the loud environment. But at the end of the day, we’re not playing against the noise, we’re playing against the Kansas City Chiefs.”
(On if he feels his game against Chicago was one of his better games of the season)
“I’m just happy we got a win for our home fans, that’s the main thing. That’s what I was out there to get. I don’t care if I have a terrible game, if we get a win, I’m happy.”
(On how much he is looking forward to playing at Arrowhead Stadium)
“I’m really looking forward to it. I wish it could be a night game and they would wear all red and it just be packed in there, but I’m looking forward to it. They’ve got a great fan base. It’s going to be a great game.”
(On Kansas City’s secondary)
“Every week, you’re playing against the best players in the world. Like I always say, every week my job is to get better. One of our main things is just protecting the football. They have great guys, but we have to execute. We’ve got to try to find a way to win.”
(On center Ben Gottschalk getting his first NFL snaps last game against Chicago)
“It was like riding a bike. He got out there and I’m very proud of him. He got out there and just executed. He didn’t panic, he just did his job and that’s what we expected from him. We didn’t think that it was going to be that quick [that he was going to get into the game], but I’m happy of how he played and Caleb [Benenoch] as well. Just them two being side-by-side, you’ve got to think that a lot of stuff is running through their mind, but the way that they were able to remain calm and have a very good day, it was impressive.”
(On if playing in colder weather bothers him at all)
“That’s football weather, baby and that’s what you’ve got to love.”
(On if there is anything the team does better preparing for a road game versus a home a game)
“No sir, we’re just trying to find a way each week to find a way to win.”
(On how the last 72 hours have been for him)
“It’s been good, I spent time with my family. It was good, got two days off, my body feels good.”
(On why he decided to apologize for sitting for the National Anthem before last Sunday’s game)
“I know it hit home for a lot of people and this city of Tampa, it’s big in the military. I know I hurt a lot of people for doing what I did, so I want to apologize again to the people that were really affected by what I did. And to the people that were disappointed in my decision to stand with my teammates from now on, don’t worry. I’m going to continue to use my voice and my platform for minorities’ rights and I’m going to continue to help the minorities.”
(On how he came to the decision to stand for the anthem for now on and if any coaches talked to him)
“On my own. I don’t want to bring that type of negative energy towards my teammates and it felt awkward when I sat. Seeing my teammates all stand up and I’m a team guy – and it just felt awkward. So, I’m going to use my voice and my platform to help the minority in different ways.”
(On the backlash he received after sitting)
“It was what I expected. Some people were saluting me, some people showed a lot of evil and a lot of hate. It’s what I expected. That’s the problem that I had and that’s the reason I did what I did. I can’t change it, but I apologize to the military. I know that hit home for a lot of people.”
(On what he wants the people that questioned his character to know about him)
“I just want people to understand that you can’t just hate somebody because they have different beliefs or different views than you. And that’s the problem, that’s why I did what I did. I want people to understand that you just can’t wish harm on anybody just because they have different beliefs than you. Not everybody grows up the same and everybody is exposed to different things growing up, so that’s why I did what I did.”
(On why he didn’t vote in the Presidential Election)
“I know people [saw] that I said I didn’t vote and I don’t do politics and things like that, but the funny thing is, I tried to vote and I realized I’m a voter in Texas, I’m registered in Texas. And it was too late when I tried to take the actions to do it, but that’s my fault and it won’t happen again.”
(On what he will do moving forward, on and off the field)
“On the field, I’m going to continue to do what I do – play hard. I’m playing hard because I’ve got this right, I’ve got the freedom because of the vets and things like that, but I’m going to reach out to organizations. The organizations I feel that [are] doing the best job to help the minority.”
(On what he means by minorities)
“Minorities: women, LGBT, African-Americans, Latinos – the people that are in fear of Donald Trump and his presidency.”
(On if his sentiments have not changed, just his ‘means of protest’)
“Yes, my means of protest are changing. But, I still will be fighting for what I just said, the minority.”
(On if he has ever been a victim of racism)
“Recently, yeah.”
(On if he has been a victim of racism since his decision to sit)
“Since then, a lot came out. I’m half-black and half-white. I’m multi-cultured and I don’t believe people should feel that way toward other people because we’re all human beings.”
(On if growing up in Texas helped shape his beliefs)
“Just the way people grow up, it shapes the way they think and the way they do certain things. And I grew up with a mixed population: white, Hispanic and black. I feel all people are equal.”
(On if he knew backlash would come when he decided to sit)
“I knew it would and it was the Salute To Service game. So, looking back on it, I probably would have done it a different way, but it’s done. It won’t happen again. I’ll be standing with my teammates, but I will be using my platform to help.”
(On if he got any flack in the locker room by his teammates)
“No, not at all. My teammates are great guys, they understand, they know what type of guy I am. They know I’ll do whatever I can to do for them on the field, so they showed me no emotions.”
(On if ownership or anybody in the front office talked to him)
“Nobody talked to me about it. This is all my decision.”
(On if has spoken with wide receiver Vincent Jackson)
“I haven’t talked to him, I haven’t seen him. I know he’s big on the military and this is a really sensitive topic, so I apologize again to the military and the people that were really affected. Some people were just reaching.”
(On what will go through his head this Sunday when the National Anthem plays in Kansas City)
“When I was a kid, I used to love standing for the National Anthem and I still do love standing for the National Anthem because I think about troops, but most important, I think about the American population and everybody as a whole. And I think about a leader, who our leader is. So, there’s going to be some foggy area there, but I will stand.”
(On if he will have a ‘different kind of protest’ this Sunday)
“Not on game days necessarily, but just me making donations and making statements in other ways.”
(On what he expects from the Kansas City secondary)
“They’re one of the best in the league. Marcus Peters is one of the best corners in the league, Eric Berry’s one of the best safeties and their defense as a whole. They’re going to create a lot of problems for us and we’re up for the challenge.”
(On if he would take the same actions if he had to do it all over again)
“I just said it earlier, I said I’d do it differently, but I would still use my voice and use my platform.”

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