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15 December 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (12/15/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: During the team’s five-game winning streak, the Buccaneers lead the league in takeaways (14) and points allowed per game (12.8), while allowing the third-fewest yards per game (299.0) and limiting opponents to 29.4 percent on third down, the third-lowest mark during that span.
 
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
 
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
 
(On if wide receiver Adam Humphries is out of the league’s concussion protocol)
“Yup, Adam’s out of the protocol, so it’s good to have him back. Adam’s a valuable member, so good to have him back out there.”
 
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy being back out at practice today)
“Gerald was limited today. Gerald’s been playing banged up the last few weeks. I wouldn’t read too much into that. Just at that point in the season where some guys need a couple extra days to get back.”
 
(On how big of a help defensive tackle Sealver Siliga can be in stopping Dallas’ rushing attack)
“Well, that’s going to be a huge part of this game, is stopping the run. They’re the first or second in the league in rushing, great back, great offensive line. We’ve been carrying four defensive tackles and we’ve been rotating those guys in, so everybody’s numbers really have been a little bit lower than normal because we’re rotating a lot of guys. But, Sealver is just one of everybody on the D-line that we’re counting on to help us in that run game.”
 
(On whether the number of offensive weapons that Dallas has is what makes them so difficult to stop)
“I’d say more like any other NFL team, they’ve got a lot of good players. They’ve got good players at every position. But, every team has something that they hang their hat on and theirs is the run game and then the play-action off of it. They’ve got a huge, big-play wide receiver that is sitting there with 38 catches, who is probably capable in some systems of having 100 catches. So, it’s really no different. Every team has tendencies and has go-to plays that in certain situations that we have to be ready to stop.”
 
(On challenges presented by Dallas’ slot receiver Cole Beasley)
“When you look at their personnel, you wouldn’t think that he’s their leading target guy, the slot one. They have a Hall of Fame tight end and a big-play wide receiver. They throw a lot to the back and he is having a really good year. He’s going to give us problems. He’s a matchup issue in the slot.”
 
(On what the Buccaneers ‘hang their hat on’)
“Right now, we’re hanging our hat on a defense and taking the ball away and that’s not a bad thing to do. We’re winning that turnover margin and no matter how you slice it, it’s still the most important thing. So, if we’re going to hang our hat on something, that’s a pretty good thing to be hanging it on.”
 
(On the play at the safety position this season)
“I think on this little run that we’re on, I think the safety play has been a big part of that. I think safety play has improved and all three of those guys are a big part of it. Chris [Conte] had two big plays, Bradley [McDougald’s] led us in tackles a couple of times and Keith [Tandy] had a phenomenal game last week. So, I would just say that our safety play was maybe being taken advantage of a little bit earlier in the season, but I think those guys have come on strong here the last few weeks.”
 
(On whether this week’s game will be two teams trying to control field position, as both are top in the league in time of possession)
“Yeah, they’re second in the league I think and we’re fourth in the league in time of possession. Now, I’m generally not a big fan of time of possession as a stat to hang your hat on. I’d much rather hang it on turnovers and explosive plays. We’re doing a decent job on defense of not allowing explosive plays, but we’re not creating enough explosive plays on offense and that’s one of the big reasons we’re not scoring more points. It’s hard in this league to drive the ball without making a mistake 75 yards, if you’ve got it on the 25-[yard line], without getting a penalty, maybe it’s second down and you overthrow a pass or maybe a drop, we haven’t been having many drops. But, it’s just hard to go all the way down without stopping yourself or the defense making a good play. Your scoring percentages go up as you get explosives in a drive and I think we only had five explosives last week. Our goal is eight in a game and if you look at the course of our drive chart this season, when we’ve got one or two in a drive, we’ve have a lot better chance of scoring a touchdown. So, we have to be more explosive.”
 
(On if there is a key to the team having success with their third-down defense, like they had last week against New Orleans)
“Well, one good thing, normally on those third and fourth-and-ones, normally those are runs, but we were ahead in a couple of those. New Orleans was in shotgun throwing the ball, so it makes your percentages go up. But, I think we’re third in the league in third-down percentage on defense and we’re seventh on offense. So, third-down, turnovers, explosives, sacks, third-down is number fourth on my list and that’s another area that we’re doing well in, on both sides.”
 
(On if it is a concern that the team hasn’t been having success on short yardage runs this season)
“It’s a concern. You should have a very high percentage converting those third-down runs. I probably should’ve called a third-down run on the time we threw it on the little bootleg last week, but unlike other people, I don’t usually go back and second guess that too often.”
 
(On if there are common threads he is seeing on the short yardage runs)
“Like almost anything that needs to be fixed, it rarely is one thing because if it is, it would be easy to fix. It might be the running back’s track off or it might be we didn’t crowd the line of scrimmage. It might be we just flat got beat on a point of attack block or they might’ve made a good play. But, that’s the one thing we need to do better.”
 
(On what the defense can do to keep Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott from catching a long swing pass, like he did against Pittsburgh earlier this season)
“Well, whether it’s a swing pass, a screen pass or a run up the middle, this guy – when you look at 59 explosive runs by Dallas this year, there’s runs where he looks like he’s stopped cold in his tracks and he breaks out of there. So, in any of those scenarios, you’ve got to get multiple bodies to the ball. We’ve got to get off blocks and we have to finish with more than one guy there. I thought we tackled really [well], maybe our best game of the year, tacking in space last week because we knew that we were going to get a lot of check-downs. This game, those tackle aren’t going to necessarily be in space. They might be confined in the middle of a run play, but we’ve got to get extra guys there because you can’t always count on one guy getting him down.”
 
(On how he feels wide receiver Josh Huff’s first game went last week)
“Well, I think Josh had probably been practicing better than it showed up in the game. He did have one of our five explosives. It was unfortunate on the muff [kickoff]. That made him and everybody feel bad about it, but it was a bad bounce. That kick was spinning sideways and he’s got to just make a little bit better play there. But Josh is an explosive guy. We’re going to try to incorporate him in there. He’s looked really good in practice and sometimes it just take a little time to get back in the groove.”
 
(On if he likes calling a quarterback sneak)
“Depending on the quarterback. At one point in Jacksonville, David Garrard had 38 in a row, conversions.”
 
(On if he likes calling a quarterback sneak with Jameis Winston)
“How many a row does Jameis have? [Laughter] I guess we’re not much of a sneak team then.”
 
(On why he doesn’t like quarterback sneaking it with Winston)
“That’s a hard play to practice because you really can’t practice it live. Some guys, just, they were good at it in college or they were good at it earlier in their career. Right now, we just prefer to let the professional runners run it and the professional passers pass it. That’s kind of how we’re looking at it right now.”
 
(On calling Winston not a professional runner)
“Well, Jameis makes some really good runs, just not on that play.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE SMITH
 
(On if Sunday Night Football is as big a stage you can play on in the NFL)
“I guess it has the most eyes watching it, but I always try to approach it as, that field’s 100 yards long, it’s 53 and a third yards wide and we’re going to go out and we’re going to play. We’re going to be on the road, so we know that when [the defense] is playing it’s going to be quiet and be should be able to communicate. But it’s the only game that’s going on at that time.”
 
(On if there is a way to prepare a young team, like the Buccaneers, to not get ‘too caught up in the moment’)
“Well, it’s hard to not hear all the things that are being said, but again, like I just was saying: guys, it’s a football field. They’re a football team and they’re going to have 11 guys out there when we have 11 guys out there and we’re going to have to go out and compete and by the way, they’re 11-2, so they’ve got a pretty good record and they’re playing as well as anybody in the National Football League for the entire season. So, I think that gets their attention more than when and where we’re playing.”
 
(On if he considers Sunday’s Night’s game a litmus test to see where the team is at)
“I think every week is a litmus test. We’re going to be challenged differently this week than we were last week. I think the big challenge for us is this is a big, strong offensive line. They run the ball as well as anybody in the NFL and I think that’s going to be a big challenge for us. They’re playing with a young quarterback that I think is playing as well as any rookie quarterback could play, to lead his team to the victories that he’s lead. So, each week we have different challenges and that’s the fun part of being a coach, trying to figure out what we have to do better than we did the previous week.”
 
(On how proud he is of the defense for continuing to play at a high level despite several injuries throughout the season)
“Well it’s really good to have depth and we’ve been able to show that we’ve had depth in different positions throughout the entire season. When you get this far along, there’s going to be guys that have started the season as a backup that are going to have to step up and make plays. And I’m really proud of the guys that are being great teammates and when their opportunity arises, they step in and play. I think I mentioned it one other time here earlier in the season about how important it is for your backups to understand that they’ve got the toughest job in all of the [National] Football League.”
 
(On if they have to mix and match across the defensive line to get the best possible run stopping combination when playing against Dallas)
“Well it’s going to be interesting how the game plays out. Obviously on first and second down and there’s certain situations by field position that they’re running the ball at a higher percentage than others. So, it’s going to be a challenge for us and we’re going to have to mix and match and we’re going to have to have different personnel groupings to match the personnel groupings that they have. They not only have a big offensive line, but they also have a big package in which they bring an extra offensive lineman in to play the tight end position. So that creates challenges.”
 
(On how defensive tackle Sealver Siliga has played so far and how he can help the team)
“Well he’s a big, strong man that is going to require four hands. He’s not a guy that you’re going to be able to single block and when we’re able to do that, then that’s going to give us an opportunity to get some other guys free to the football. He’s been limited, simply because of the type of teams that we’ve been playing, but we know in December, usually the teams that run the best and the teams that stop the run are the teams that have a lot of success. There’s cycles that are pretty consistent and it’s really interesting about running the ball in December and stopping the run in December.”
 
(On how much more they look at what the Giants did against the Cowboys in their two matchups versus other teams that didn’t have as much success)
“Well obviously, you look at what they did in game one, I think which was the first game of the season. And then of course they had another good showing last week. So you want to see what they’re doing and see if there’s things that you can take. There’s nothing original in coaching, that’s for sure. So, we’re going to beg, borrow and steal any time we can. Beg to get information, borrow guys’ game plan and if you can steal something, then do that too. It was fun to watch the Giants play last week, they held them to one touchdown, that’s impressive because this offense has been rolling throughout the season.”
 
(On if there are advantages to playing against a rookie quarterback, like Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott)
“I think that when you’re probably in the first half of the season, first quarter of the season, I think it’s a big advantage. I think once you get through that first cycle of the halfway mark of the season, he’s seen everything that is going be thrown at him. [Dallas Offensive Coordinator Scott] Linehan, [Head] Coach [Jason] Garrett, they’ve done a great job with him, he’s having a fantastic season. But I think once you get to this point – I don’t consider our guys, [cornerback] Vernon [Hargreaves] and [defensive end] Noah [Spence] rookies anymore. In fact we tell them that, ‘You’re not a rookie anymore. You’ve gotten enough experience, you’ve gotten enough snaps that it’s time to go play like a veteran.’”
 
(On how much Prescott’s mobility is a factor)
“It’s a big factor. And he’s a big, strong guy and when he does run, he’s running to run, he’s not running to throw. He does a very good job scrambling and he’s a tough out. What I mean by that is, getting him down. I’ve seen him stiff-arm guys and I’m talking about linebackers, not little defensive backs. So it’s going to be important for us to have very disciplined rush lanes and not let him extend plays because he has some weapons when he extends plays.”
 
(On how big of a role nickel cornerback Javien Elliot will play in stopping the Dallas passing game)
“[Dallas wide receiver Cole] Beasley’s one of the top slot receivers in the league, he’s got great quickness. It’s going to be very important for Javien to be very disciplined with his eyes. This guy has got very good quickness, he’s a great route-runner and if we don’t have good eye discipline in that matchup, then we’re not going to have the results that we want. And it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re very proud of the way that Javien has come in and played. What he’s been doing in practice – I know [Head Coach] Dirk [Koetter] talked about it earlier in the season – what he’s been doing in practice has carried over to the game field these last two weeks.”
 
(On what is causing the players to get more turnovers)
“We’re not only playing faster, but having a good understanding of the tips, based on formations, based on splits, based on who’s aligned on, who’s aligned off. We’re really having a pretty good understanding of that. When you attack the football, and we’re playing with more confidence when we’re attacking the football and we’re closer to the receivers, the ball is going to get knocked up in the air and that’s where some of these interceptions have come because we’ve had a pretty good idea, based on what they’re showing. And our guys are starting to really understand that.”
 
(On if he feels the defense has more ‘hustle’ recently)
“Well absolutely and playing defense is about getting one more than they’ve got to the ball and I think our guys have really seen the results and we can back it up and show these guys. We don’t have to show somebody else doing it, we can show our team doing it and them doing it. And they really have done a good job over the last five or six weeks in attacking the football and running to the football and taking great pursuit angles. It’s not just running happenstance that you’re to get these interceptions, it’s about taking good, proper pursuit angles and making sure that if we don’t make the tackle, we can get the ball turned back into the guys that are coming. I’ve been very impressed with the way that our defensive line has turned and run. And we’ve always said, the best compliment you can have as defensive coaches is that your guys play hard and that’s one thing that we’re doing.”
 
(On if the defense is getting a better pass rush from the front four and they have not having to blitz as much)
“It really depends on how we feel we have to go. Certain games we have certain game plans, but I will say this: our defensive line has done a very good job putting pressure on the quarterback and we work in tandem. We’ve got to have coverage, we’ve got to have tight coverage at times to allow the defensive line or the rushers to affect the quarterback. And then there’s other times that you’ve seen it, we’ve just beat the guys at the line of scrimmage and are running free to the quarterback and that helps your coverage. So, they go hand in hand.”
 
(On safety Keith Tandy)
“Well I think that it’s very obvious that Keith Tandy is a guy that takes the best opportunities and makes the most of them. That’s what he’s shown the last two weeks. Keith has probably got the best football intelligence on our defense. He’s got a really good understanding of how people are trying to attack us. He’s almost like a coach, in terms of the way that he prepares. I’ve been very impressed having conversations with him throughout the year and I’m not a bit surprised when he’s had his opportunity to go out and play, that’s been able to be productive. And it is a very good problem to have because we’ve had some good safety play over the last five or six weeks and it gives us lots of flexibility, in terms of what we want to do.”
 
(On defensive end Noah Spence having quieter games the last two weeks)
“I think that he’s getting some more resources put his way and that’s a compliment. Now the next step you take is okay, now that they may be turning the protection to you or giving more resources, now the great ones, the challenge is to come and make those plays. And we’ve got to do a better job and we’ve got to help him in some of the things that we can do schematically. But we’re very pleased with the progress that he’s made. That was a huge play on the pass deflection there [against New Orleans] when we had them backed up after we were able to punt them down and our special teams did such a great job getting us inside the 10-yard line.”
 
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
 
(On Dallas’ offensive line)
“I don’t think you really have to say much. I think it’s clear who they are on film. Very dominant group, probably the most dominant group. They’ve been that way for the past three years, so this is going to be a tough one for us, but it’s going to be fun. I love playing against the best and competing against the best, that’s why you work to get to the NFL. They’ve got a great group of guys and they well as a unit. They’re not just individually good, they well as a unit, so that’s what makes them scary, but it’s going to be fun.”
 
(On playing well defensively last season against Dallas)
“Well they’re a different team like you said, so it’s not the same element. You’ve just got to take it for what it is right now and live in the present and right now they are who they are. Still the number one, number two team – I don’t know, wherever they’ve got them ranked. They’ve got a great record, so tough team to play against, but it’s going to be a good one.”
 
(On Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott)
“He’s having a great rookie year, man. One of the top quarterbacks in the league this year and is very patient. Doesn’t let the rush affect him and he’s not really flustered that much. People are making such a big deal over two games, or one game, whatever. They said, ‘Oh, the past two games the Cowboys are struggling,’ I think people just need something to write about. They one game in that span, one. What are they, 11-2? Golly, man. You lose one game and now you’re not the same team anymore? So what? I hope people are not basing predictions on what’s going to happen off them having struggles. They’re still the same team, they’re still the dominant team they’ve been. So, if people think they’re going to come in Sunday and not be the same team, then they’ve got another thing coming. But we know, that’s what we’re preparing for and a big part of that is Dak. So, he’s having a big year, so we’ve got to prepare for him.”
 
(On how big of a game this week is)
“It’s the next one. So it’s a big one. We’re on a mission right now, the Cowboys are in the way. They’re on a mission right now and we’re in their way. Who’s going to move the other one out of the way? We’re going to see on Sunday. It’s going to be fun.”
 
(On if this Sunday’s game will be the biggest game he’s played in his NFL career)
“I’ve never played a Sunday Night game, so in that aspect, yeah. It’s a game and if you approach it like, oh, it’s the Super Bowl or it’s this, it’s that, you overthink things. It’s just a game, it’s still in-season. Regardless of what happens Sunday, we get two more. So, just prepare and play the game.”
 
(On if he pays attention to the playoff standings)
“I play for the Bucs, I don’t care what everybody else is doing. I play for the Bucs and I focus on the next opponent. Whatever’s going on outside of that is what’s going on and it is what it is, but we control our own destiny. If we do the things right and keep winning, then everything else will fall into place. We’re not worried about everybody else.”
 
(On how good the front four is doing in getting to the quarterback)
“It’s something we work on every day and we’re trying to learn how to play off each other more and feed off each other and know what each other’s doing. Help each other make plays because if we’re doing it up front, it makes it easier on the back end. So, we’re just trying to grow that comradery and that unison in the pass rush, rushing as one, four as one. I think it’s getting better, we have a long way to go.”
 
(On how much defensive tackle Sealver Siliga has helped in stopping the run)
“Well he’s like three people. You see him at practice or during the game, he just takes two grown men and holds them in place. It’s like, how can you do that? He just [doesn’t] get moved man, he’s always in place and he’s really intelligent. He picked up on the defense within a couple days and it took us – when did we play Atlanta? Thursday Night [Football]? He’s really intelligent man and he’s just a big help for us.”
 
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