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30 November 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (11/30/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, the Buccaneers have been one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL in goal-to-go situations, with the team scoring a touchdown on 13-of-15 goal-to-go drives (86.7 pct.), tied for the highest percentage in the NFL (Pittsburgh).
 
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
 
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
 
(On if the impact San Diego’s rookies are making is similar to the one Tampa Bay’s rookies are making)
“Looks like both teams drafted well. [Defensive end Joey] Bosa was out for a long time with the contract and whatnot, but that guy, you can see he why he was picked where he was. Same thing with the linebacker [Jatavis Brown], we did a lot of work on him as well, that’s a guy that we really liked. We liked both those guys in the draft, but the way it worked out, the Chargers got him and we’re real happy with the way our young guys are playing also.”
 
(On what he sees on film from San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers)
“Well we haven’t played the Chargers in a while, but what I see on film is a top-flight NFL quarterback. I don’t have anything to compare it to, but this guy’s a heck of a player, very accurate, great anticipation, full command of their system, gets them in the right play, a lot of calls at the line of scrimmage, incredible touch, tough as nails. That guy’s a really good player.”
 
(On what he sees from San Diego running back Melvin Gordon, who is having more success this year than last)
“Well again, I didn’t watch the Chargers at all last year, so I would have no idea about anything that happened a year ago, but right now, that guy’s playing really good football. His power, his ability to break tackles, to squeeze through cracks in the line and finish, we’re going to have our hands full getting him down.”
 
(On quarterback Jameis Winston giving a game ball from the win over Seattle to the fans)
“Jameis is ahead of his years, as far as the maturity and how natural leadership comes to him. He’s rare, in that respect.”
 
(On how well punter Bryan Anger has done what they have asked of him)
“Outstanding. A lot of guys don’t want to punt in that kind of a system because we’re always asking him to kick it to a certain spot on the field, not just go back there and showoff how strong of a leg he has – and he has a very strong leg – but he’s doing a great job of placing it. Just like on the one going that way the other day that they tried to block – they almost got the block, they gave us a little corner blitz and the fact that we had to keep all of our guys in to protect, that he kicked it right to where he was supposed to kick it in the left corner, that saved [cornerback] Josh [Robinson] an extra 12 yards of running. That could’ve been a huge return if that ball was in the middle of the field, but because it was out there on the numbers, it was perfect. And a big play by Josh, as well.”
 
(On Winston’s turnovers)
“When Jameis takes care of the football, we’re tough. We’ve got to take care of the football, that’s everybody. The main thing that we’re doing better in the last few weeks is we’re getting turnovers and we’re not turning it over as much, we’re in the positive. So, I think our defense is all the way up to number three in the league in takeaways. We’ve still given it away, we could’ve put that Seattle game away if don’t turn it over twice in the fourth quarter. They were ready to topple over for us if we could’ve just finished. So Jameis, that’s something that to be a championship quarterback in this league, you’ve got to take great care of the ball.”
 
(On if he can go to the NFL for clarification on why it took so long to spot the ball on the final play of the first half against Seattle)
“Yes, I could, no, I didn’t. So, there’s no need for them to respond.”
 
(On if he sees any similarities between wide receiver Mike Evans and Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones)
“Well tangible is size. They both have elite size. Julio has track speed to back that up, Mike is a little bit more of a build-to-speed guy. But now I think the thing that strikes me the most is, they both want to be great. There’s a lot of talented players in the league and I think that’s where Mike has made the biggest improvement this year. Mike has made a huge jump in my opinion, as wanting to be the best and it’s showing up.”
 
(On his confidence in safety Keith Tandy)
“Well you said it there in the introduction of your question, I’ve got confidence in every guy out there. If they’re up on Sunday, we’ve got confidence, or they wouldn’t be out there. Many times it’s just, a guy hasn’t gotten his opportunity, for one reason or another. If you folks could see the leadership that Keith puts forth on our special teams units, that’s usually a pretty good precursor to how they’re going to fit in on defense. Now, they’re asked to do more things more often, but I’ve found good football players are good football players. And if Keith’s a guy that we call on, then I expect he’ll do fine.”
 
(On if safety Major Wright looks like he retained most of the defense from when he was with the team in training camp)
“Yeah, Major’s been here one day, but there’s some advantage to bringing back veterans that are familiar with the system. At this point in the year – we’re very serious about player development, but it’s hard to bring a guy in cold off the street and start from scratch, unless he has some kind of a history with somebody, terminology-wise. Major not only was here, but he was with [Secondary] Coach [Jon] Hoke back in Chicago days and with the situation with Chris Conte that we’re in right now, it’s just good timing for Major to come back right now.”
 
(On how hard it is to have to go 85 yards to score)
“Yup, they’ve got percentages of course on all that stuff and it’s hard. We did do a really good job, our punt team [against Seattle]. Now, as an offensive-minded coach, that’s not my favorite play, but it was a big play for us on Sunday multiple times.”
 
(On if he sees the team is communicating better)
“Absolutely. That was the number one thing we talked about in the little mini-bye coming out of the Thursday night game, is that we had too many times when the offense would be at the line of scrimmage and guys were palms up. What do I do? And you can’t have, can’t be like that. They’ve got to be looking at the formation, playing their keys, knowing the tendencies by formation and we have done a way, way, way better job the last few weeks. And then like anything else, success and confidence seem to go together. It’s funny how that works and our D’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. But your confidence can be shaken quickly when you start watching San Diego’s offense on tape because they’ve got weapons, they’ve got a quarterback, they move the ball on everybody.”
 
(On what kind of problems San Diego tight end Antonio Gates presents)
“Well he’s scored 109 touchdowns in his career, so he presents a lot of touchdown issues. Size matchup, veteran, him and Rivers have great chemistry and then of course they’ve added [wide receiver Travis] Benjamin, [who] they brought over from Cleveland in the offseason that [has] great speed. A lot of people don’t realize [San Diego’s] top two receivers are on IR (Injured Reserve) and their second and fourth running backs are on IR, so it’s really impressive the numbers they’ve put up and they’ve been right in every game, won their share of games with as many guys as they have out.”
 
(On if the tight ends, wide receivers and running backs are willing to help in protection and if that has helped Winston get more time in the pocket)
“Well definitely, there’s no doubt that it helps. Everybody’s got their own philosophy and we believe in protection first. Trust me, I can draw as many pass routes as anybody out there on the chalk board, but if your quarterback’s getting hit, those routes are no good. We find that Jameis, like most quarterbacks, is going to play better with a clean pocket. The first third down of the game, we had third-and-seven, we got a penalty, took us back to third-and-11, that was a great example. We had awesome protection, Jameis was able to stand back there and throw that deep crossing route to Mike. If we’re punting the ball there, that game could be totally different.”
 
(On not being able to score after the first quarter against Seattle, and if that was a specific challenge he presented to the team)
“Well, it’s not a challenge, it’s the truth, it’s just the truth. We reviewed the game – part of coming off a victory Monday is on Wednesday, we spend our first hour and a half or so reviewing the last game and we put up our goal charts and our drive charts and our penalty reports from the last game. The numbers always tell the story and yeah, I’m still disappointed. I’m disappointed in myself, I’ve got to get us in better plays and we take a lot of pride in that. Those first two drives were exceptional and then as I said earlier, we had chances to put that game away and thank God our defense played lights out, or we’d all be a lot sadder today. At least I’d be sadder, you guys might not be, but I’d be a lot sadder.”
 
(On right tackle Demar Dotson’s hands to the face penalty against Seattle)
“It was a good call. We can cry about it all we want, but that was a good call. It’s unfortunate, but that was a good call.”
 
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR/WIDE RECEIVERS COACH TODD MONKEN
 
(On if Mike Evans is one of the best wide receivers in the league)
“Well, it’s difficult for me to evaluate everybody else. I just know what Mike is capable of and he’s just scratching the surface, I really believe that. We have a huge tendency and that is to throw it to a great player. I like that tendency, that’s what you should do. If you have a really good running back, you give him the ball, if you have a really good receiver, you find way to get him the ball. We’ve had to move him around a little bit, he’s embraced that role and he gets excited about going up against top-caliber competition. So, you can see that in warmups and you can see at the start of a game. I wouldn’t say every catch that he had was on [Seattle cornerback] Richard Sherman, there were some zone looks, there was some crossing routes that inverses zone. But again, we’re excited at the progression that Mike has made, not only as a player, but controlling his emotions and the way he is every day with his practice habits and then game day.”
 
(On what the ceiling is for Evans)
“Well, I think Mike would agree that at some point you’d like to be known for your route running and he’s getting there, as opposed to just a guy with great size and range.”
 
(On if Evans is finding a balance between playing physical and playing within the rules)
“Yes. And I think his consistency as a football player in doing things correctly and catching the ball eliminates some of the frustration that I think you can have as a game goes on. You get frustrated at your own play and then something else alienates you and you kind of take it a little bit too far. But Mike’s done a better job of his preparation, his play, catching the ball. It feels like his competitive spirit has turned into excitement and not frustration. You can see him, he’s kind of playing a little bit more than frustrated, which is a good sign. He’s enjoying every day, getting better, being coached and you’re seeing that product on the field.”
 
(On how frustrating it was to not have many scoring opportunities against Seattle after the two quick touchdowns in the first quarter)
“Well, we just self-inflicted. Our defense played great. It’s very difficult to not score after the first quarter and still win. But we had an opportunity, missed a field goal. Had an opportunity before the half, didn’t get an opportunity for a field goal. We had another opportunity and we fumbled, we had another opportunity and we threw an interception. So, the opportunities were there. Similar to the week before, we had a number of opportunities. We’ve got to continue to do the things that we’re doing well, but figure out a way to score touchdowns and finish drives and not turn it over.”
 
(On Evan’ second touchdown catch last week against Sherman and what it did to establish the tone and physicality for that matchup)
“I think what you see anymore – at least what I see – is I see a lot more hand-to-hand combat, pulling, jockying in the back end. It’s being taught that way. You have no choice but to make a decision that you’re going to play physical on the perimeter, otherwise you’re going to get grabbed and pulled and tugged at the hip. So, I think our guys have understood that. We got that earlier in the year and didn’t do as good a job as we’ve done the last few weeks and we’ve got to continue to improve in that area.”
 
(On what the plan will be at running back, when Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims III return from injury)
“Well we’re hopeful we’ll get ‘Quizz’ back this week and then eventually we can get Chuck back, that would help. Obviously, Peyton [Barber’s] done a nice job in their absence, but there’s nothing like experience. I think Peyton’s going to be a tremendous player, but getting Doug [Martin] was a huge boost and getting those other guys back to take some of the load off Doug will be critical down the stretch.”
 
(On Rodgers’ vision and patience to find holes)
“He’s got tremendous patience, a real feel for running the football. He’s pretty stout for his size and again, he finds a way to get into small areas and continue to get extra yards after contact.”
 
(On if he senses that quarterback Jameis Winston is doing better with his mechanics right now)
“I think we all are. I think the protection was really good the last few weeks, we’ve done a good job of chipping the edge and eliminating some of those guys. You saw the other night if you watched the Kansas City-Denver game, how disruptive certain players can be. So, you have to do a great job of trying to take them out of the game, they’re game wreckers. A number of teams have those guys and the more you can do that, the better we can play on the perimeter, the more we can every single day get reps with Jameis, in terms of him understanding where we’re going to be as a receiving core. A quarterback’s comfort level, in my opinion, isn’t solely based, but there’s a big part of his comfort in the pocket. If you get hit a lot, you’re not going to want to stand in there. Your feet are going to be active and you’re going to be looking to run around. I think he’s been doing a great job of his patience, his feet. He seems to be calmer in the pocket, part of that is protection, part of that is belief in the players around him.”
 
(On what he noticed change for the team after the loss to Atlanta)
“Well part of it is, we got healthy again, we got some pieces back, that helps. We went up against some really good offenses and really good quarterbacks and skill guys when we weren’t at our best. Played almost a five-quarter game and had to turn around and play a Thursday night. Really had every opportunity early in the game offensively, so that kind of fell into a perfect storm a little bit, where we didn’t finish the Raiders game and then playing that Thursday night where it kind of got away from us a little bit, they got on a little bit of a roll. And then obviously, confidence and getting your team back together is a powerful thing. And then beating the Bears and then going on the road, playing like we played, being opportunistic with turnovers and not turning it over will give you a chance to win.”
 
(On how the tight ends, running backs and wide receivers have been able to contribute in blocking)
“That’s one thing I always – go back to Jacksonville and I’ve always been impressed with [Head] Coach [Dirk Koetter], is that he understands protection beats coverage. That’s the number one thing, is if your quarterback’s on the ground, you have no chance. So, you’ll see us – maybe to a larger degree than a lot of teams – we’re going to make sure that we give ourselves a chance to throw it down the field. Does that compromise at times getting some guys down the field vertically? Yes, that does, but I think our guys have embraced that, they understand that. Jameis has done a better job of finding the check-downs with that. So, that’s the biggest thing, I’ve always enjoyed that part of it. When you’re a younger coach you don’t understand that, but once you see guys like the other night, disrupt the game and change it. And when we were in Jacksonville going against [former Indianapolis defensive ends Dwight] Freeney and [Robert] Mathis, you understand you’ve got to find a way to run the ball and neutralize those guys and not allow them to change the game.”
 
(On if any colleges have reached out to him about a potential head coaching position)
“Not that I know of. Would be exciting if they did, I’d be fired up [laughter]. I’m joking. I left that to come here. I love coaching and developing players against the best in the world, there’s something about that. I came back here for this reason: belief in the head coach, belief in the group of men that are selecting those players and the core group of men we’ve got moving forward. That’s why I wanted to be a part of it.”
 
(On Martin’s ability to find yards that don’t seem to be there)
“He does a great job of making the first guy miss. It’s a rarity that you see the first guy tackle Doug. So, we’ve got to continue to find ways to get Doug in space because that’s one thing he’s very good at because if you give him just a little bit of a crease, he’s outstanding at that. And he’s done a better job of getting it vertical, we’ve just got to continue to – and you’re right, [Seattle’s] a very tough front, but he kept plugging away. We’ve been close, there was that one run I think in the second quarter we almost broke. It was him and the safety, we were just a hair away from getting a couple explosive runs. Those will come.”
 
(On if Martin’s legs have come back, three games back from injury)
“It feels like that to me. I don’t study him every day, probably [Running Backs] Coach [Tim] Spencer will have a better idea with that.”
 
QUARTERBACK JAMEIS WINSTON
 
(Opening statement)
“I really just want to give this game ball to the fans. They did an amazing job and they really helped us out. So, this game ball goes to all the fans for doing an amazing job and I hope that’s in our future every Sunday at Ray Jay.”
 
(On if Sunday was the loudest he’s heard Raymond James Stadium)
“Since I’ve been here.”
 
(On what fan support at games does for his level of excitement)
“Just for everybody, when you’ve got your fans involved in the game – it definitely messed with the defenses and offenses that are out there. But it just gives the team an extra sort of boost.”
 
(On if he saw the standing ovation the crowd was giving the team at the end of the Seattle game)
“No, I didn’t see it, but that’s good. I just thank them for supporting us and being out there. It was a great experience at Ray Jay this past Sunday.”
 
(On if he heard fans doing the ‘tomahawk chop’ chant during Sunday’s game)
“I typically hear quite a few [Florida State] Seminoles in the stands after the game, but during the game I didn’t hear them. But it’s nice to get the tomahawk chop started at Ray Jay.”
 
(On what he’s doing better right now that he wasn’t doing earlier in the season)
“I think I’m just sticking to my goal and it’s simple and that’s just getting better every single day. [Quarterbacks] Coach [Mike] Bajakian and [Head] Coach [Dirk] Koetter do a great job of just the type of drills that we’re doing in individual, the amount of work, the amount of reps that we get to just work on our technique stuff. And it’s worked. Coach Bajakian is a hard worker and he stays on me about rhythm and accuracy, rhythm and precision, two hands in the pocket, and it’s worked.”
 
(On what has been the toughest thing for him to work on and change, mechanically)
“I haven’t thought about that since I came out for the Combine. My main thing is just to make sure I have the game plan down. Technique-wise, you can work on so many different things in practice, that’s what practice is for. You can work on your drops, you can work on your play-actions, you can work on touch balls. Everything that I get a chance to work on at practice, I try to make the most of it.”
 
(On if he feels he is a more ‘mechanically-sound’ quarterback now than he was when he entered the league)
“I feel like I’m just trying to get better every single day.”
 
(On how much max-protection can help a quarterback)
“We haven’t had many max-protections. It’s just those guys have been doing their job and I have been clean. And I don’t like being clean, I’m a player that likes to play dirty, but I don’t like being clean and I have been. But it feels great, my body feels good. Those guys, those offensive linemen, they work so hard and they deserve it, they’ve been playing amazing. And the people that come along, like [wide receiver] Adam Humphries chipping [Kansas City linebacker] Dee Ford against Kansas City, it was amazing. Everyone is buying in. We are a family, we’ve got each other’s backs, so we’ve just got to continue to play together.”
 
(On the offense not scoring after the first quarter against Seattle)
“Showing off how good our defense is. They played an amazing game, it’s good to have a defense that can allow you to score 14 points and win.”
 
(On if he watches the defense on the sidelines)
“I watch. I’m out there watching. I can’t just sit on the sideline and not watch the defense.”
 
(On what it does for him to see the defense having success)
“It’s amazing. Winning as a full team is amazing and defense wins championships. That’s what I always heard growing up and they are playing their tails off. It’s fun.”
 
(On what has been the key for the team on third down)
“Staying ahead of the chains. Having good first down efficiency can lead to better third down efficiency, so we’re doing good there. But we’ve just got to continue to get better. Every week we have a different plan and everyone has a different scheme, but we’ve been executing and that’s good.”
 
(On if he learned anything about West Coast trips during the team’s trip to San Francisco earlier in the season)
“Just trying to go out there and get a win. This week is our biggest game, biggest game of the year playing against the San Diego Chargers. They have a great team, so our main objective is to play Buccaneer football and bring a win back home to Tampa Bay.”
 
(On the cleats he will be wearing this week against San Diego, which are a part of the NFL’s ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ campaign)
“I’ll be wearing blue cleats for cause, [which] is juvenile diabetes. My grandmother has Type 2 Diabetes and numerous people in my family have high blood pressure and diabetes. So, I’m just a part of that cause. I support numerous JDRF (Type 1 Diabetes Research Funding and Advocacy) funds and I think it just means so much to me because of my grandmother. I have a true passion for her and I have a true passion for those kids that battle a disease that we haven’t found a cure for yet. But I want to be on that team to hopefully one day help get a cure.”
 
(On what the ceiling is for wide receiver Mike Evans)
“The sky’s the limit because Mike is so good at so many different things. He can run past you, he can go up and get a ball, he can make you miss when he catches a short pass. So, the sky’s definitely the limit. I’ve just got to continue to get him the ball and also the other guys around him, they’ve been playing good too. The better they play, the more we can get guys off Mike and the more they have opportunities to showcase what they can do. So, that’s been working for Mike as well.”
 
(On San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers)
“Alabama, baby. You grow up and hear about Philip Rivers – and he went to N.C. State, so I’m going to get that a lot from ‘Glizzy’ [Quarterback Mike Glennon] this week – but just a great gunslinger. Been one of the greats in this game for a very long time, I definitely look up to him. I can’t wait to talk to him before the game so I can hear a little bit of that country twain because I know San Diego hasn’t took it from him yet [laughter], so I’m looking forward to that.”
 
(On San Diego’s defense)
“They’re a great defense. They have a great team, so we have to be ready to play.”
 
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