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01 December 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (12/1/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, the Buccaneers have 20 takeaways, tied for the third-most in the NFL. The team’s defense has also limited opponents to converting only 45-of-134 third downs (33.6 pct.), the third-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
Defensive End Noah Spence
(On why San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has had such a successful career)
“Why is because he’s a hell of player. A tremendous talent, unbelievable anticipation, a coach on the field, tough, underrated as a pocket movement guy. He’s one of the best players in this league, year-in, year-out. He doesn’t maybe get as much credit as some guys that are a little bit more publicized, but ask anybody that plays or coaches and he’s one of the best.”
(On his observations on defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, now that he is coaching him as opposed to coaching against him)
“I’ve said it many times, Gerald makes everybody else around him better because he commands double teams most of the time. As a three-technique, they almost every double him. When he’s the nose – a couple times last week in the game, they brought the tight end to cross in motion, so we slid the front, so he went from the three to a nose and Clinton [Mcdonald] kicked out. And when he gets on a center, in between a guard and a center in the ‘A’ gap, he’s really tough. On 96’s sack, on Ryan [Russell’s] sack, he was in a game with Gerald and Gerald went up the field, they doubled Gerald, 96 wrapped underneath, got the sack. So he gets the sack, it’s an assist for Gerald. He makes everybody around him better and now that we’re a little healthier and we’re playing with such confidence – [defensive ends] Noah [Spence] is on a roll, Robert Ayers had something like seven quarterback hits last week. They still have got to account for Gerald because [if] they try to single-block him, he’s going to cause problems.”
(On defensive end Noah Spence being named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November)
“Yeah, that’s good, that’s good for everybody. When your team does well, there’s plenty of credit to go around. We’ve said in here multiple times, Noah’s improving and that’s why he was picked where he was picked, he’s a good football player.”
(On how much having cornerback Brent Grimes has helped in defending the pass)
“I think Brent’s been to four Pro Bowls and people, sometimes because of his size, mistake that for they can go at him, especially with bigger receivers. And Brent, he’s going to take risks at times and he’s going to try to get the football, which we like. He’s really good at reading routes. He’s seen everything, he knows how to bait the quarterback. Now, that won’t probably be the case so much with Philip Rivers, but he can bait some quarterbacks that are throwing it, thinking they have it. Brent to me, when he’s at practice out there, he’s bored half the time because he knows he can cover it, he’s trying to save his body some too, a lot of veteran players do that. But I think he’s been good for [cornerback] Vernon [Hargreaves III] to see him, Vernon to have a guy like Brent around and learn some of the tricks of the trade from. We’ve said all along, we like our corners. Right now, Vernon Hargreaves is having to bounce inside and out and testing our depth, but having an experienced guy like Alterraun [Verner] to go in there, that’s why he’s here as well.”
(On players embracing the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats campaign)
“The players are always good about supporting their charities just throughout the year. We actually do a little presentation in team meetings every Wednesday and Darrell [Taylor], our in-house guy, puts together a little PowerPoint that shows the guys what everybody did in the community. Now, you couple that with these guys getting a chance to design their own shoes and that’s like kids in a candy store right there. I was in the training room at lunch looking at all the different ones today and it’s really a great idea. Whoever thought of it should probably get a raise.”
(On whose cleats who likes the best for this weekend)
“I haven’t seen them all, but I think [linebacker] Kwon [Alexander’s] are pretty sharp. I mean, the Tampa skyline, that’s pretty cool.”
(On whether he agrees with Gerald McCoy’s comments on the NFL allowing players to express themselves)
“Good try, nice try for a Thursday [laughs]. I would have no opinion on that, but Gerald can speak for himself. He’s a big boy.”
(On possibly having running back Jacquizz Rodgers back and able to play)
“That’s going to be a little bit tricky working that out as we get healthier at running back. We went from dire straits to an abundance of guys we like and that’s even going to get better next week, knock on wood, if we can stay healthy this week because we are going to get [running back] Charles Sims back next week. So, there will be a little trick to that. We’ll tag some plays, we also see how the game does. [Running Backs Coach] Tim Spencer does a really good job of handling that and the other thing is it’s Quizz’s first game back. We’ll see, we’re just going through practice right now, see how he adjusts this week. [Running back] Peyton [Barber] is improving every day. [Running back] Doug [Martin] has been getting better since his layoff. That’s going to turn into a positive for us and not sure exactly how that’s going to work out today.”
(On wide receiver Josh Huff recovering from setback)
“I don’t know for sure, nice try again.”
(On Jacquizz Rodgers and Doug Martin’s similarities and differences)
“For the first part of Quizz’s career in Atlanta, he was primarily a third-down back. He was always the third-down guy that came in for [former Atlanta running backs] Michael Turner or came in for Steven Jackson, where that’s not really Doug’s forte. Doug’s always been a feature back, so Quizz has a lot of experience in protection, in the screen game, so he’d never really been the feature back until this year when we used him that way and he did a really nice job there. So, the fact that he showed that he can do that and showed that side of his game, I think that just makes us stronger for the long run.”
(On what he has observed from defensive tackle Gerald McCoy from coaching him, versus when he was coaching against him)
“Well when you’re on the other side of the ball watching, trying to have to block him, you have a lot of respect for him, simply because he’s such an explosive player and he can wreck a game. Having an opportunity to work with him, I’ve even more impressed. He’s a great teammate, he’s a good leader and he is a passionate football player. He is as passionate as any player I’ve ever coached. We all have different personalities, but when he walks between those lines, he wants to play football and he plays it the way it’s supposed to be played. It’s been a joy to coach him. I think his athleticism and his strength shows up every time he goes out there on the field and I can’t speak to why not everybody has that same opinion because I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I see it that he’s a very passionate and elite player in this league.”
(On if he sees McCoy often take the time to work with younger players)
“I have and again, that goes back to being a good teammate. There’s guys that are just leaders and then there’s guys that are leaders and good teammates and I think that Gerald fits into that category. He’s a mentor to a lot of guys on our football team – not only on the field, but off the field. And he does that quite a bit. He spends time with the young guys and he’s going to impart some of his wisdom that he’s gathered through his years in the NFL. And it doesn’t really matter if it’s an offensive guy or a defensive guy. In the trenches, he’s got a lot of knowledge and I think he’s able to talk to the players and let them know what’s expected.”
(On the tone McCoy sets on the defensive line)
“Well his explosiveness is what sets the tone. He’s a guy that can get in the backfield and wreck a play, whether it’s a run play or a pass play. And he has a very good understanding of defensive line play, he understands leverage. He’s a big strong guy, but he’s also a guy that can flip his hips and he can – what I call ‘be slinky’ – as he gets to the quarterback. So, he’s got a number of ways that he can be disruptive.”
(On what has been the biggest catalyst for the defense’s success the last three weeks)
“I think that these guys have done a very good job over the last three weeks in improving their communication. And when we communicate and we have an idea that we’re all on the same page, then we have an opportunity to be successful. They’ve done a very good job. That’s one of the things that we’ve tried to focus on, is being communicative to one another, not only on the field, but in the meeting rooms. We’ve changed some things up, in terms of how we’ve been doing things and to this point, it’s been a good mix. I’m really proud of the way that the guys played, but again, this is a week-to-week business. And really what we’ve done the last three weeks is going to have no bearing on what we accomplish this week and we’ve got to go out and play our best football. And we’ve committed to one another that we’re going to try to be better today than we were yesterday and if we take that mindset, we think we’re going to improve.”
(On what the defense has changed schematically and if he is able to share any of those changes)
“No and when I say schematically, we changed up how we meet, the order of things that we were doing, just to try to take some input from the players and the coaches and see if we can change some things up because obviously, in that little stretch there it wasn’t working. And you can’t just say, ‘Hey, it’s the way we do things and this is how we’re going to do it,’ you’ve got to be able to adjust.”
(On if he asks players for their input on how they can fix things)
“Absolutely. When things aren’t going well, you’ve got to take information in from everybody. And when I said soul searching, it was not just me, it’s everybody that’s involved. When you do that, you have to be able to communicate to one another about what we think we can do a little bit differently and take that information and try to put it into actions and I think our guys have done a good job. But again, it’s really going to be about what we do this week and I think when we take the mindset that it’s a situation where we want to be better today than we were yesterday, we’re going to show some improvement. Will we have some steps back? Absolutely.”
(On San Diego tight end Antonio Gates)
“Well, he’s going to be a Hall of Fame player, there’s no doubt about it. He’s, I think, two touchdown catches away from setting the all-time record. We certainly hope that he doesn’t do it this week. It’s going to happen at some point in time. The tight end position has really changed in the NFL, I’ve said this many times. It’s like playing chess and that tight end position is like the Queen. He can move in every direction, you can put him in different spots and it’s difficult to come up with plans sometimes to eliminate the tight end. I think we’ve done a better job, we’ve had tighter coverage on the tight end. We’ve put different people on them and I think that you have to change it up, but it’s very difficult because they’re going to hide them the way that they put their formations together.”
(On linebacker Lavonte David’s effectiveness, despite his statistical numbers not being where they have been in past years)
“Yeah, sometimes you can’t go strictly on statistics, the number of tackles, the number of assists. Sometimes you have to be in a – what we call and [Head Coach] Dirk [Koetter] uses the term – you’ve got to be an ‘assist man’ on the play. You’ve got to be in your gap and you may not be able to make the play, but you’re going to put someone else in position to make it. And he’s made some, what I call, ‘game-changing plays.’ That was a game-changing play in the ball game last week, in terms of knocking the ball out, picking it up and running. Of course, we’d all like to see him score. He took a little ribbing there, but I think that’s natural, but those are the things that he’s been able to do for us and he’s like anybody. This time of the year, we’re all banged up and earlier in the season he was playing banged up and playing with some injuries, but he’s an integral part of what we’re trying to get done and will be for a long time.”
(On if he is confident in safety Keith Tandy if he needs to play in place of Chris Conte this week)
“Well I think our safety play has been improved, just like the rest of our defense. We certainly hope that our have our starters every week, but if we don’t, it’s the next man up mentality and Keith Tandy’s opportunity could come this week and if it does, we expect him to go in and play the role that we’re asking him to do. He’s done a nice job on special teams, I think he’s got very good football intelligence and if he’s called upon, I believe he’ll do a very good job for us this week.”
(On defensive end Noah Spence being named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November)
“Well, I just heard about it just walking off the field. That’s a great honor, to be named the Defensive Rookie of the Month and it’s well deserving. He’s had some solid games over the last four weeks and we anticipate that the arrow is pointing up and will continue to go in that direction. As we’ve said, he surprised us – and me personally – in his ability to play all three downs. We were anticipating he was going to be a DPR, a designated pass rusher, at the beginning of the season and his pitch count is way up and it says a lot about his desire to be a successful football player. I think Gerald McCoy has done a good job mentoring him. [Defensive end] Robert Ayers, there’s some guys in that room that have really helped him and I think [Defensive Line] Coach [Jay] Hayes and [Assistant Defensive Line] Coach [Paul] Spicer have done a very good job and I look forward to seeing him finish off this season with the arrow continuing to go up.”
(On defensive end Ryan Russell’s increased playing time against Seattle)
“Well, Ryan’s been doing a very good job for us. When he was on the practice squad, he was showing spurts and plays out there on the practice field, like gosh, this guy’s got some talent. And the way that the roster shaked out, we’ve got him up on our 53-man roster and he’s earned that playing time. In terms of the game last week, a lot of it has to do with the formations and the personnel grouping, more the personnel groupings that they present. But he’s a guy that can play both to the close side and the open side, so it does give us some flexibility. It was great to see him get his first sack. When you watch the tape, you always think you can have more and I think those guys did a really good job of putting pressure on the quarterback last week. And I thought our coverage worked in tandem with it and our pass coverage helped the sacks, and the sacks helped the pass coverage. So, we worked hand-in-hand.”
(On what has been the biggest difference in the pass rush)
“Well, we’ve gotten healthy. This was a group that was missing some parts through a certain stretch of the season and they’ve done a very good job staying together. When other guys had to step up, we weren’t able to get the pressure that we’d like and sometimes it’s a function of the quarterback getting the ball out of his hands before we can get there. There’s certain games that we know we’re going to go in and it’s going to be hard to get sacks, simply because of the quarterback play. But these guys have worked extremely hard and I say it all the time, Jay Hayes and Paul Spicer have done a very good job. Robert Ayers is getting healthy. And we’ve said it before, I think sacks and turnovers, they come in bunches and knock on wood, we want that to keep happening. And those guys have done a very good job when we’ve done four-man rush, when we’ve done five-man rush and when we’ve done-six man rush. So, we’ve been able to have some production both ways and when you do that, you’ve got to have coverage and our coverage guys have done a nice job on the back end. So, complementary football is what we’re talking about, not only as a full team, but we’re talking about it on the defensive side. When we have tight coverage and the quarterback’s got to go to a second look, we’re going to get an opportunity to push the pocket and get after the quarterback.”
(On if the defense is going to try to recreate what they did in the pass rush last week, this week against San Diego)
“No, it’s a new week. We’ve got to bring something all new to the table. [San Diego quarterback] Philip Rivers is a future Hall of Famer, so a good pass rush, it’s not like he hasn’t seen it before. So, were just going to have to do our part. Back end, we know they’re going to do their part. We’re just trying to make sure we put as much pressure on them as possible.”
(On what has changed with how the defense is communicating)
“Guys just being on the same page, actual communication. There was a lack of actual talking. There’s non-verbal communication and then there’s verbal communication. We were actually not talking enough, like saying out loud what you thought the check was, or what we were in. It was causing guys to make mistakes because they thought somebody was doing one thing and they were thinking another. So, by speaking up in meetings, now we can address the issues and guys are not on the same page.”
(On what it meant when Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith asked the defense what he could do better)
“I said at the beginning of the year, a guy who has energy like him, who loves the game as much as he does, you want to do your best to go out there and perform. And him being who he is, he was just doing everything in his power to try to get this thing right. We’re on the up and up right now and we’ve got to keep it going. A couple games are behind us, we’ve got to get some consistency going.”
(On winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November)
“It shows that God is good and it’s a blessing. Just keep working hard and try to get more.”
(On what he has seen from himself the past four weeks)
“More confidence out on the playing field and just trying to get better every week.”
(On what it means to have San Diego defensive end and former college teammate Joey Bosa say that he ‘is a testament to turning your life around’)
“That’s my boy, he knows the type of person I am. I went though some things and just had to get back focused. He’s seen everything from start to finish, so yeah.”
(On how much he compares himself to other rookies and if that motivates him)
“It’s a big motivation, to try to get the lead [in sacks among] rookies. But I don’t even attention to that, I’m just trying to help my team get wins and everything.”
(On how much veterans on the team have helped him)
“They’ve helped me a lot, on and off the field. Just teaching me everyday stuff, like how to get my routine down with football and anything off the field, they’ve just helped me a lot.”
(On if he thrives through the pain of his shoulder injury)
“I feel like it keeps me focused on having good technique, so I won’t do anything to hurt myself or anything like that.”

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