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23 November 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (11/23/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Since the start of Week 5, the Buccaneers have 15 takeaways, the most in the NFL. The team’s +10 turnover margin during that span is the tied for the best 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
Kicker Roberto Aguayo
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
(On if the team has an off-day tomorrow for Thanksgiving)
“Not an off-day. We’re going to start earlier, that’s all we’re doing.”
(On he expects Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman to match up with wide receiver Mike Evans the whole game)
“I would think so. He’s done that sometimes this year. I think that’s going to be one everybody wants to watch, two of the best players in the league at their position, should be a great matchup.”
(On if corners can take Evans out of the game, or if he will get open, just based on size)
“That probably depends on who you ask.”
(On Sherman being closer to Evans’ size than most corners)
“Yeah, he’s a big corner. Definitely proven as one of the top players in this league. It will be a big challenge for Mike, I know he’s probably looking forward to it.”
(On if his familiarity with Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham helps in game planning)
“Well to be honest with you, Seattle’s using him quite a bit different than New Orleans did and I think when you say we’ve had trouble with tight ends, I think everybody in the league’s had trouble with the tight ends you’re talking about. I don’t think teams have trouble with positions, I think every team has trouble with elite players and you’re talking about some really good guys. [Kansas City tight end Travis] Kelce’s the number one guy that Kansas City goes to and Graham isn’t the number targeted guy at Seattle, but some of the catches he’s made this year – we’ve all seen plenty of them when he was in New Orleans. They’re just keeping him in the core a little bit more than they used to in New Orleans, but it doesn’t diminish how dangerous the guy is.”
(On if there is a point in the season where he saw a change in kicker Roberto Aguayo’s approach and consistency)
“Yeah, I think we’ve said it in here, I think – I don’t know the exact date, but three or four weeks ago, I know I mentioned it in here, that he started making everything in practice. And before, he was pretty consistent all through training camp, five-out-of-seven in a day, something like that. But he’d have a couple kicks that were off and then three or four weeks ago he streamlined a few things and he’s been money in practice ever since. Now, doesn’t mean he’s never going to miss a kick again, but just look at the league last week, how many kicks were missed. But, he certainly came up big for us last Sunday.”
(On the job Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll has done with the Seahawks)
“Well they’ve been to the top of the mountain, they’ve been there. They’re a team, when you watch them on film, they play hard every game, no matter who they’re playing against, especially their defensive side of the ball and offense the same way. But this is a hard-playing football team that I think in the last three or four years, them, Denver, and New England have won the three most games in the league. They’re Super Bowl champs, they’ve been able to get up to the top, reload it and circle back, making their second run. A very well coached team, loaded with playmakers and we’ve got a lot of respect for them. We can tell how hard they play on tape, we know this is going to be a very physical game, but our guys are excited for the challenge. If you’re a competitor, that’s what you’re in the business for.”
(On what makes running backs Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers special to the team)
“Well, they’re just good football players, they’re good all-around players. They were on the [practice] field – now Charles Sims isn’t able to play yet, but he’s able to practice for a couple of weeks here. And Jacquizz made his first [debut] back at practice today. It was great to have those guys out there, we’ve been razor-thin at halfback here for a month and most of you guys were out there for warmups – that was the longest line in history, those guys weren’t even getting tired out there, there were so many halfbacks out there. So, we’re slowly getting healthier at halfback, but whoever’s up – we’ve already seen this movie – whoever’s up, we’re expecting them to play well.”
(On how it feels to have running back Doug Martin back)
“Well, Doug makes our offense go. All you’ve got to do is look at all the tape from last year. We spin a lot of stuff off of how Doug plays and it was great to have him out there, even though he wasn’t breaking as many long ones as maybe we’re used to seeing [from] him. I think that will come as he plays more and that makes everybody else around him better. I think Peyton Barber’s one of the most improved guys on our team right now. We’ve had to play more guys than we would’ve liked to this year, but as I said, we’re happy that we’re getting healthier.”
(On he felt a ‘playoff intensity’ from the team in practice this week)
“I want to feel a Seattle Seahawk type of intensity because it’s going to take the most intensity we’ve got to be with Seattle on Sunday, that’s all that really matters right now.”
(On if he has worked other players at center, in case they needed to play there)
“Of course. We’ve got four guys right now that are up on the O-line that could play center. You better have somebody that can snap the football, or you’re going to be in big trouble.”
(On there is anybody in the league like Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and what kind of challenges he presents)
“I’d say that our fans see the most [similar], probably [Carolina quarterback] Cam Newton is the closest and of course we didn’t have Cam when we played them this year. I think Russell Wilson maybe – we’re in one corner of the country and Seattle’s in the other corner of the country – he’s not talked about maybe like some of the elite quarterbacks in this league, but make no mistake: Russell Wilson makes Seattle go. This guy, he’s an unbelievable playmaker, almost impossible to sack him. It’s been well documented they’ve been through a lot of different offensive line combinations and this guy won’t go down. They’ve only turned it over six times all year, they’re one of the lowest sacked teams in the league and the other thing, not only can he break contain and get outside, but his accuracy with balls – running right, throwing left, running left, throwing right – incredible. It really is, when you watch the tape. If Jameis was making some of those throws, we’d be screaming at him.”
(On if Winston ‘drives the bus with the engine’ right now)
“Oh, absolutely. Sure. There’s no doubt about that.”
(On if he has ever been around a young quarterback that has an understanding of people and what it takes to motivate people, like Winston has and does)
“He does have a really good understanding of that and I’ve got to admit, I haven’t been around – you usually don’t think about that coming from somebody younger than you. I’m getting old, but Jameis is really young and he has a great feel for – Jameis motivates me. He has a great feel for what to say, when to say it and how to say it. He’s really good at that.”
(On if cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is a candidate to play the nickel position, or if they just want to keep him on the outside)
“Well the great thing is, we’ve cross-trained him to do that, so that gives us an option. We’ve also made a roster move, so it gives us some flexibility and I think we have a pretty good idea of how we want to approach it. I don’t want to tell [Seattle Head Coach Pete] Carroll, though [laughter]. We’re going to put a plan together that gives us the best opportunity to win.”
(On losing cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah for the next four games to a suspension)
“That’s part of the game. He’s injured in our mind and he can’t play and that’s how we have to approach it and it’s the next man up mentality. And I’m sure that whoever lines up in that position is going to be able to handle it and everybody’s expecting them to handle it.”
(On what he likes about cornerback Javien Elliot)
“He’s got very good quickness. He’s a very highly competitive player. He’s going against the best receivers on our team every day and he’s played a lot of snaps in practice and he’s seen a lot of good receivers. He’s a great story. I think we all know his story, a walk-on at Florida State and now he’s playing in the NFL and now he’s going to get an opportunity to be on a 53-man roster. So, it’s a great story.”
(On cornerback Alterraun Verner’s game against Kansas City, replacing the injured Brent Grimes)
“Yeah, we lost Brent early in the game with a leg injury. I thought Alterraun did a very nice job – had the two pass breakups, put his food in the ground. Alterraun’s played a lot in this league so again, it’s an opportunity for him to get back in there and play. And we anticipate when he gets in there that the level’s not going to drop too much because he’s been a very good player in this league.”
(On Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson’s unique abilities)
“Well, they’re not turning the ball over – he’s thrown two interceptions. He has been sacked, but he’s a guy that can get away from trouble and he can extend plays and I think that’s when they’ve had a lot of their success. He’s got an uncanny ability to move in one direction and throw in the opposite. You can see that he was a baseball player because he can throw on the move. It’s almost like he’s coming across second base and slinging the ball to first on a double play and he’s very accurate. I think he’s one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the National Football League, I really believe that. He makes plays when he improvises. He can do it with his feet and he can do it with his arm. So, he’s going to be a big challenge. I think he’s playing at a Pro Bowl level this year.”
(On if the entire defense has improved on not biting on play actions, like on safety Chris Conte’s interception against Kansas City)
“Well I think there are certain snaps that we’re recognizing a lot cleaner and a lot better. Chris has I think played two really good games, back-to-back. The red zone play I think, without a doubt, we have to say that was the game-changing play of the football game. He read his keys and his eyes were where they were supposed to be and I really think that the quarterback didn’t expect him to be there. It was nice that we got our hands up with our defensive line, so we were playing complementary defense on that specific play. I think our whole entire defense as the season goes on, this is a process that we’ve been going through since March of last year when we first got the opportunity to meet with these guys. It hasn’t gone as quickly as we would like, but I think that we see signs here and there of the type of defense that we can be.”
(On if the team had advance notice of Adjei-Barimah’s suspension)
“No. Again, those are matters that are higher than me and we became aware of it just at a short time before it became public. We just have to look at it as he’s an injured player and the next man up. And that’s how we have to approach it in the locker room.”
(On how much defensive end Noah Spence’s play has helped build his confidence to use him in all situations)
“As I said earlier in the year, I think he’s going to more than a DPR (designated pass rusher). And the situation arose in the game where he got an opportunity to play significant snaps. That was a heck of a play on that third down and one. Again, I think it shows his strength because that was basically a running back with him coming off a block, making the fit and knocking him back and then the rest of the guys came with him. I like – and we like as a coaching staff – where Noah is going. Again, we’d like to, in an ideal world, have a rotation where we’ve got guys not playing 85% of the snaps, but his snap count has gone up and it’s gone up because of his production on the field. I think all of our guys have a good understanding that you produce, you’re going opportunities to go out there and play.”
(On if his familiarity with Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham helps in game planning)
“Well we know he’s a good football player and we’re going to try to game plan and try to take him out as much as we possibly can. The issues that you have when you’re playing an offense like the Seahawks, is you’ve got [Doug] Baldwin that’s a wide receiver that you have to put resources on and you’ve also got to make sure that you can control the quarterback and keep him in check. Jimmy’s an outstanding athlete and when you start talking about upper echelon tight ends and unfortunately for us, we’ve not fared well against tight ends throughout the season. The two guys that you mentioned (Carolina’s Greg Olsen and Kansas City’s Travis Kelcie) had great games against us. So, it’s going to be important for us. We’ve got to continue to try to minimize his opportunities to catch the football because when he catches it, he can go the distance. We’re going to continue to try to give everybody an opportunity. I don’t think you can put one guy on him and say, ‘Shadow him all day,’ because of the position that he plays and where he lines up and the different formations.”
(On if the defense can still feel quarterback Jameis Winston’s leadership)
“Oh, absolutely. This is a quarterback-driven league and Jameis, he is the leader of the team, one of the leaders of the team. We’ve got other guys in the locker room as well, but we all feel it. You feel his passion for the game and I think it’s contagious and it’s contagious in a very good way because there’s nobody that works harder than Jameis on this football team. It’s amazing his work ethic.”
(On if the defense practices Hail Mary plays with wide receiver Mike Evans as a deep safety)
“We’ve practiced it live a couple of times, worked on it in the preseason and then we always work our last play sequence and Mike will be the guy that would be in there on a last play. We like to use his height and his ability to catch the football. I’ve done that in the past with other wide receivers. Of course, Mike was down there just tugging on [Head Coach] Dirk [Koetter], [saying], ‘Can I go? I want to play, can I go in, can I go in?’ We’ve got to wait for the right situation before we can put him in there, but he’s definitely an asset in those situations on last plays.”
(On what has been the cause of the increased number of forced turnovers the last couple of weeks)
“The guys, I think they’re doing a very good job attacking the ball. And as I said I think six weeks ago, I said they’re going to come in bunches. We saw the effort in practice, it just wasn’t translating to on the field, in terms of attacking the football and knock on wood, we hope it continues. This is a team, I may have mentioned earlier, has only thrown two interceptions. So, it’s going to be a big challenge for us to get some turnovers. But, we know if we get turnovers, it definitely enhances our chances of winning and playing complementary football.”
(On how he would describe Koetter’s growth as an NFL head coach)
“Outstanding. Dirk is a great leader, he’s got a great football mind. I think he reads the locker room extremely well and I think that’s – his leadership has really shown out over the course of this year. It’s up and down as a head coach and he handles it as well as anybody. I’m proud to be on his staff because he is a very good leader.”  
(On how he has improved after missing several kicks earlier in the year)
“Just relaxing, just going back and not thinking about it too much. This is what I do best. I’ve done it for a long time. Sometimes you’ve got to realize that. With the transition into the NFL, you don’t put an excuse on it, you try not to put an excuse on anything. You’ve just got to get through it. People can say, “Was it this? Was it that? Was it this?’ At the end of the day, you’ve got to grind through it. You’ve always got to look at the light at the end of the tunnel and keep working. I knew my opportunity one of these games was going to come, where I had to kick a lot. I’m glad we came out with the victory. And it’s just a process now. Just continue to work and be as consistent as I can be and finish out the season strong.”
(On if making a game-winning kick at Carolina in Week 5 helped his confidence)
“Definitely that game – highs and lows, I missed two that game, so I wasn’t really happy with my performance, but at the end of the day, I got the one that needed to go in. As you can see – I don’t know if it was that week or the next week when the Seahawks played the Cardinals [and both teams missed game-winning kicks]. At the end of the day, it makes you see those kicks as, ‘It went through.’ It’s huge. I definitely pat myself on the back on that. But still, I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t satisfied. I took that week off to just reevaluate where I was and what I wanted. I set some goals and committed to them and just keep on going and just take it as a week.”
(On ‘hand-fighting’ with cornerbacks like Seattle’s Richard Sherman)
“I play some of the best athletes in the world, going at it one-on-one. That’s great. Hopefully he’ll match me. I’m a big fan of his and I think it will be a fun day.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston throwing to other receivers when Evans is double covered)
“It’s giving our other playmakers an opportunity to get one-on-one chances and I’ll take our guys over anybody. Jameis has been doing a good job distributing the rock to everybody. We’re just playing good all-around football.”
(On making tough catches in traffic)
“As far as contested catches, I work on that all the time, so it’s just practice habits. I’m a bigger guy, so I’ve got a big catch radius. That’s one of my strong suits.”
(On if he feels that the Buccaneers can compete against any team)
“I think so. I think we’ve proven it and we’ve got to keep proving ourselves. We got a tough win in Arrowhead against one of the best teams in the AFC and now we’ve got one of the best teams in the league in the past few years coming to our house. So we’ve got to just keep proving ourselves.”

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