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20 December 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (12/20/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: With a sack against Dallas on Sunday, LB Lavonte David brought his career total to 15.0. Per, David is one of only six players in NFL history to have at least 15.0 sacks and 10 interceptions in their first five seasons. David is the first to do so since William Thomas (1991-95).
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
(On whether he looks at the team’s playoff clinching scenarios)
“Not really. It’s everywhere, so you can’t miss it. Of course, it’s out there. We talked about it a little bit in the meeting, but if we don’t do what we’re supposed to do, it’s a waste of your time. If we don’t do what we’re supposed to do, then it’s just speculation, so we can’t spend too much time. We’ve got our hands full just worrying about the Saints this week, so the rest of it is all just a bunch of math problems that are over my head.”
(On the progression of defensive end Noah Spence and how prepared he will be if he has to fill in for the injured William Gholston)
“Well, if it works out that way, that loss would be absorbed throughout the defensive line, not just one guy is going to absorb it. We’re still going to rotate our D-linemen, no matter who’s up there. Noah’s a big part of that and yeah, I think he’s improved enough throughout the year that he’s ready to take on a bigger role. He’s had to do that in other games this year too, so there’s nothing necessarily unusual about that. If Will can’t go, we’ll miss him, but like other guys that are out, next guy has got to be ready to help us go.”
(On if Gholston’s snap count has been somewhat even between tackle and end)
“No, I would say it’s more end, far more in the end than it is at tackle. I can’t tell you right off the top of my head, but he has not done as much inside.”
(On right tackle Demar Dotson being back at practice today)
“Yeah, but still in the [league’s concussion] protocol.”
(On how much of playing a team for the second time in three weeks is a chess match of what worked and what didn’t work in the first meeting)
“There’s a lot of that, I’m sure. It’s unusual to say the least, to have it be this close together. That’s a little bit of the unknown is how much you’re going to change. Division teams, we know each other fairly well, both of us had to travel last week. They had a long trip as well, so both [teams] getting back late, both on a short week. That’s kind of the trick, is how much change are you going to make on both sides and it’s a little bit of a roll the dice and you only have so much time to get it done based on what worked and what didn’t work in the first game.”
(On how offensive lineman Leonard Wester performed late in the game against Dallas)
“Well, nobody on offense performed very good in that situation. So, Leonard was one of 11 that didn’t perform very well.”
(On whether he believes linebacker Kwon Alexander has performed at a steady level throughout the season)
“I would say more the latter, more the slow, steady climb. And I was one of the ones that said, I think that’s one of the things that hurt us a lot last year, even though I was in a different role. From my viewpoint – and I wasn’t an expert on it at that point, but from my viewpoint, that hurt our team a lot, when we didn’t have Kwon, the last four [games] last year. And I think Kwon has taken it upon himself, he’s wanted to be out front and be the leader of our defense, he’s put the time in. A lot of guys that go down that road, they’ll start down that road and find out there’s a lot of hard work and they’ll cool off. He’s been persistent and stuck with it as the season’s gone on and I think any player who puts in that kind of time and that kind of study and they have the talent to match, which he does, I think eventually it pays off.”
(On how much Alexander has been a part of the improved communication on defense)
“He’s a huge part of it. He’s the number one part of it because whatever Smitty [Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith] is saying in his ear – it’s funny because on the sideline, I can hear all the defensive coaches screaming and they’re all screaming stuff that those guys aren’t hearing a word they’re saying anyway. It’s making the coaches feel better that they’re doing it. The bottom line is that’s why they have those transmitters. Smitty’s talking to Kwon, Kwon’s talking to the defense and it’s something that when we weren’t playing as well on defense was definitely an issue and we have gotten much better in that area and our performance has matched.”
(On how well represented he thinks the team will be at the Pro Bowl)
“I have no idea.”
(On whether he is concerned with wide receiver Mike Evans not participating in practice today)
“No. We had a little different style of practice today based on the short week, based on the fact that we got back late, so I wouldn’t read too much into anybody who was or wasn’t out there today.”
(On whether this week is similar to having a Thursday Night game)
“No, not quite. You’re one day short. The fact – like we already talked about, we’re playing a team we just played two weeks ago, so the hardest thing is on the player’s bodies. Just on their rest and their recovery and it was a hard fought game in Dallas and ever guy’s different this time of year. Some guys were already carrying lingering injuries and then some guys got beat up a little bit more in the game. So, we’ve just got to get our legs back under us and that’s one thing they’ll be working on this afternoon. Guys will be getting a little extra treatment, some extra film work and we’ll be back at it rolling tomorrow.”
(On if the whole playbook is still on the table against New Orleans, having just played them two weeks ago)
“Well, that’s the whole chess match part of playing somebody this close together is both staffs have to decide what plays are you leaving in, what plays are you taking out and what are you replacing them with. There’s only so many things out there and then how much do you care about practicing at full speed and you never know how much they’re going to change either. You can’t just assume they’re going to go out and play exactly the same.”
(On what the dialogue was like on the sideline late in the game against Dallas)
“What the dialogue was like is what it always is like. You’re looking at your sheet and you’re deciding what you’re going to go to next. And just as an example of that was the one that I mentioned to you guys on the conference call whoever was on there about Jameis had suggested a play that we had run a play off of another play that Jameis thought we could get Mike over the top and we came back and tried that play on the third-and-long and we didn’t quite get it. But, that was a good suggestion by Jameis, none the less. And that’s what you’re doing in between every series is you’re looking at what you have up that week and based on the situation, which comes down to time and score and you’re asking about a specific time and score, there’s only so many things you can do. That stuff is preplanned, number one, but sometimes the preplanning based on what’s happened in the game to that point, you’re sometimes wondering if you should toss that plan out and go to something else.”
(On if the running game needs to have more success in order to have complementary football)
“Well, it’s hard to say and just pinpoint and say, ‘Okay, running the football will cure all of our issues.’ Do we have to be able to run the football to be a successful football team? Of course, most teams do. Do I think that your offense having the ability to turn around and hand the ball off comfortably to a running back [helps]? There’s a lot to that, I’ll give [Head] Coach [Dirk Koetter] a lot of credit, we’ve continued to try and run it when we haven’t been able to run it because again, that’s who we have to be in order to make our play-action game work. So, we’re constantly working to fix that. Receivers have to block better, we’ve got to do a better job of being able to throw it down the field to get some people off of us in the run game and give us better box numbers.”
(On what the dialogue was on the sidelines against Dallas when quarterback Jameis Winston was under pressure in the fourth quarter)
“Well, it seemed like the breakdowns occurred later in the game. Throughout most of the game it felt like – yeah, we didn’t have the ball a bunch in the first half. Didn’t really take advantage – we took advantage [of] the field position the first time we had it. But then we got kind of going in the third quarter, had a good flow, but then that kind of went away. Some of that was loss yardage plays that got us behind the sticks, so there’s a lot of things we could’ve done better. But we had every opportunity to win the game, we got the ball a number of times either tied or within one score and we just didn’t take advantage of it.”
(On if he likes facing a team twice in 13 days, as the team will do against New Orleans)
“I do on a short week, I do like that. When we played Atlanta again it was nice in a short week, you have some familiarity with [them], which I think the league tries – especially with those Thursday Night games – tries to have that happen, just allows you to prepare a little bit easier. But in the end, we still have to – whatever we decide to do offensively is execute it, practice it and give ourselves the best chance to win.”
(On if it is challenging to have to come up with a different game plan than what they showed New Orleans two weeks ago)
“Oh yeah, I think it’s always been interesting when you play somebody twice. No matter when you play them, whether it’s a couple weeks removed or you’re in a playoff system and you play another team that you played earlier in the year because common sense says, ‘Okay, what did we do well against them? Let’s do it again.’ You don’t know what their adjustments are going to be, based on what you did the first time around, that’s what makes it so difficult in any sport when you play back-to-back or play an opponent twice, to win both games just because there’s adjustments that take place on both sides. So, that’s the real challenges of it, trying to figure out what they’re going to do to change. I would guess that some of the things that both teams have success, they’re going to stress that as well, from the first meeting. So, that’s the big chess match.”
(On if he looks at the team’s playoff clinching scenarios)
“Well again, each person within this organization, starting with Coach and the assistant coaches and our players, I can’t speak for everybody. I think the consistent message has to be none of that matters if we don’t win. So I think first and foremost, we have a good football team. We’ve proven that against some of the top teams in this league, that’s the good part. And although the week will be shortened because we played on Sunday Night, that’s a reflection that this league thinks we’re a pretty good football team. And when you become big, you play on Sunday Night, you play Monday Nights, you play Thursday, that’s a good thing, it means you have a good football team. Now you’ve got to have the mental stamina to be able to bounce back and it doesn’t matter what the scenarios, spot the ball and let’s go play. So, that’s got to be our mentality, it’s got to be this week, the Saints. Because none of it will matter if we don’t win.”
(On how the team handled the crowd noise in Dallas and how much of a factor he thinks noise will be against New Orleans)
“It will be very similar. I thought our guys handled it very well, we went up-tempo a little bit, so I thought our guys handled that well and I thought our guys handled that pretty well when we obviously went to Kansas City, San Diego and then obviously a little step up playing Sunday Night in Dallas. So I thought our guys did a great job of communicating. Yeah, there’s always going to be a couple of times where you’re a little late off the ball, but I thought for the most part, our guys did a really good job of that.”
(On offensive lineman Leonard Wester’s play against Dallas when he came in late in the game)
“He did fine. Leonard’s going to be a good football player, he’s worked awfully hard to get where he’s at today. He’s earned the position that he’s in, being on this roster and he’s only going to continue to get better. Luckily the week before, we had him in some ‘jumbo’ sets, so that gave him a little bit of a taste, so his first taste wasn’t going to be lining up at right tackle.”
(On which offensive players he thinks are deserving of making the Pro Bowl)
“Oh, I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t really even view it that way. I think we’ve got a really good nucleus of players. You talked about [wide receiver] Mike [Evans] being one of them, [quarterback] Jameis [Winston] being one of them. And it’s a stats-driven league. Certain guys won’t get the recognition they deserve for how well they’ve played or they’ve elevated their play. Has Mike improved? Yes.”
(On where Evans has improved the most)
“I think he’s bending a little bit better in his routes. He’s learning certain things, route running, it’s going to come in small pieces. He’s got to continue to attack it every day. He’s more consistent with his hand placement and his eyes when he’s catching the football, you can see that. So, those are the things you continually work on with him and he’s eager to learn and eager to stay out there and work at it. That’s probably the most important thing, you have an unbelievable skill-set, he’s smart, now what are you willing to put in to be – you’re already one of the best in the world, now that shrinks down, do you want to be considered one of the elite to ever play this game? And he has that kind of skill-set.”
(On if the biggest challenge for him was to get Evans to stay focused on his play and not letting the emotions get to him)
“I think it’s ongoing with players that are competitive, prideful, high-strung. I think that’s always the challenge, not just him. I think that’s all players that are wired that way that want to be successful, want to win at everything they do, want to be a big part of why we win. Frustration sets in at times, so that’s always the challenge of where do you balance that. The frustration, the passion, the emotion and try to bottle that into his play on the field and move onto the next play.”
(On if Winston’s overthrown balls against Dallas were emotional throws or a mechanical issue)
“I don’t know. I know early in the game everybody was excited – who wasn’t excited to play on Sunday Night against one of the so-called best teams in the league? So, everybody’s eager to prove themselves as a player, but I can’t say exactly. All the above, I’m sure there was some mechanical things, some of it was pressure, some of it was depth of route, some of it was when you’re under duress, the margin for error of a throw here or there. So again, just continuing to not only protect better, rep it in practice and for us to get our right depth so we can be consistent.”
(On if he feels Winston is too emotional sometimes)
“He was locked in, I don’t think it [was] that he wasn’t locked in mentally. We didn’t have anything where there were calls that were something that we hadn’t worked on. Again, he gets excited. He’s a competitive player, so sometimes it’s hard to say with emotional players. That is what makes him who he is.”
(On if teams are starting to respect Evans and tight end Cameron Brate more, as it seemed like Dallas was)
“Well they’re a lot more of a zone team. [Dallas Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli] is a [former NFL Head Coaches] Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith disciple, so you’ve got a lot of back end guys that are playing zone with eyes on the quarterback. That’s when you escape and you’re looking for throws at times when they’re not matched up. The times when you get those throws down the field is when they’re matched up. And we did have a couple times [where] we had some scrambles. In those two drives in the third quarter we got some of those, but at the end when they’re playing off, they’re up and they’ve got eyes to the quarterback, it’s a little bit more difficult.”
(On running back Doug Martin looks the same now as he did in training camp and in Week One)
“Well again, it’s hard to say because like I said, I said it last week, the way we practice is different. Obviously we’re going to continue to work our rear-ends to be able to run the ball better, that we have to be able to do. We talked about that early on. Where is he at now compared to then? I don’t know. Are the lanes different, are we not doing as well as we can do it? I don’t know. But we need to do it better, that I do know, to be able to run the ball.”
(On if it is more critical this time of the season to be able to run it efficiently)
“I think so, I think especially going on the road. How do you take the crowd out of it and that’s shrink the game, be able to run the football. Not allow, with the crowd, their pass rushers get up the field and if you happen to be a little bit late on the snap count. So sure, being to run the football – especially for us, the way we’re built. So again, for us to keep moving forward, we’ve done a really good job of practicing the football, we’ve got to continue to be more explosive, which we haven’t been the last couple of weeks and part of that is getting explosive runs.”
(On if the reason the offense didn’t have more personnel in for run blocking support against Dallas was due to the early deficit or the matchups that they like)
“Some of it, some of it comes to that. Depends on the flow of the game. You start off maybe just in general, moving pieces around. And then in that third quarter you get going pretty good flow of who’s in there and you kind of stick with it. And then of course in the fourth quarter when you get down a little bit, we were trying to throw it to come back. So, we’d like to be multiple. Obviously give different looks and give us the best opportunity to run it and throw it down the field.”
(On how much attention the offense needs to give to New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan)
“He’s one of their game-wreckers. He’s a guy that you have to know where he’s at. He can jump around blocks, he gets edgy, he’s long, plays hard. Between him and [defensive tackle Nick] Fairley in the D-line, those two guys were very disruptive in our first game. So like any game, who are their game-wreckers, who are the guys you’ve got to take away if you can? It’s hard because they do move them around, so we’re going to have to do a great job no matter who’s playing right tackle this week.”
(On whether or not he was rooting for the Panthers last night against the Redskins, who the Buccaneers are chasing in the playoff race)
“I went to sleep in the third quarter.”
(On whether playing New Orleans for the second time in three weeks will be helpful)
“It’s another game for us, another game that we have to take seriously because we control our destiny now. It’s a game that we’ve got to win. So, this is definitely, now [the] playoffs [are] on our mind. So, we’ve got to play our best, no matter if we just played them a week ago.”
(On whether the fact that they only lost to Dallas by six points despite turning the ball over four times is a positive they can take going forward)
“Yeah, that game’s behind us. We’ve got to focus on this game. Obviously you’ve got to look at the stuff that you can improve on in games like that and stuff that we could’ve done to help us out. But now, it’s behind us. All we can do is hope that we get a chance at them again. But, we’ve got to focus on this week, a big, big week. The next two weeks are huge, but this is the biggest week right here.”
(On is one of the things he has to avoid the most is turnovers deep in their own territory)
“Absolutely. You can’t turn the football over on your side of the field. The way that our defense has been playing, it’s been playing so well, you just give the offense three points. And that’s basically what that did, the defense stopped them, they kicked three points. But that’s basically what it us, you just give them three points.”
(On whether he likes to look at the team’s playoff clinching scenarios)
“I love math, but I don’t trust the percentages and the probabilities. I trust our heart, this team’s heart and what we need to do to find a way to get in there.”
(On whether Cameron Brate has developed into an upper-echelon tight end this year)
“Yeah, absolutely. Cam Brate is a big-time tight end. One reason is because he’s very dependable and another reason is because he works his tail off. I keep saying he’s one of the hardest workers we have on this team. Always working after practice, always getting in extra reps. He’s just the epitome of hard work pays off.”
(On if Brate ever does anything in games that surprises him)
“No, he doesn’t because he does it at practice all the time. And if he doesn’t do it during practice, he does it after practice. That guy’s always working. It doesn’t surprise me at all. What will surprise me if he doesn’t make the Pro Bowl, that will really surprise me. He better make the Pro Bowl, I know my family has been voting for him [laughter].”
(On whether he believes teams are starting to notice Brate more and trying to shut him down on the field)
“Yeah, but they’ve got to make a choice, either Cam or [wide receiver] Mike [Evans] and they’re going to pick Mike most of the time. But, that’s what it is, when you have a great tight end, he creates matchup problems for defenses, so we’ve got to keep him going.”
(On how he has seen defensive end Noah Spence grow this season)
“It just shows how, with him, hard work. He just keeps putting in work, don’t listen to the hype, don’t get down on yourself. Sometimes rookies, when you’re not getting the production that you want when you first get there, you can fade away, but he didn’t do that. He has great teammates around him and him being on the defensive line with leaders like Gerald [McCoy], Robert Ayers helping him out a lot, Clinton McDonald, all of that defensive line. When we talk about family, he has at least four guys around him that he can look at to help him out and with [Defensive Line] Coach [Jay] Hayes, he does a great job of getting those defensive linemen where they need to be and making them play. So, him and [defensive end] Ryan Russell have helped us out tremendously.”
(On what he has seen from the team this season, from a heart standpoint and desire to win)
“Just never giving up. Playing against tough teams and believing that we can do it, expecting to win, not hoping. Not playing not to lose, but playing to win and that’s important because it’s a fine margin between a win and a loss. You see it, inches really do determine the game that we play, so when you go out there expecting to win instead of hoping to win is the difference.”
(On linebacker Kwon Alexander’s game against Dallas, where he had 21 tackles and a forced fumble)
“I thought he had 23, but that was a big game for him because he looks up to [Dallas linebacker] Sean Lee. Sean Lee helped him some this off-season. But man, the defense has just been playing so well and he’s the quarterback of that defense, like you said. He’s playing his tail off and I know that he’s going to continue to do that and he better be getting some Pro Bowl votes too at the ‘Mike.’”
(On if he considers this team a playoff-caliber team)
“Absolutely. Because we compete and we’ve shown that we can beat the best and battle with the best.”
(On if the team’s postseason starts now)
“Absolutely and we start on the road. We know that we’re going to be on the road in a tough environment against the Saints, so yeah, it starts now. We’ve got to start preparing for the show.”
(On what it would mean to him for other members of the team to make the Pro Bowl)
“It would mean a lot to me just so people around here can get the attention that we deserve. Mike Evans is having a phenomenal year, the guy has to make the Pro Bowl. Cam Brate is tied for tight ends for touchdowns, this guy has to make the Pro Bowl. Sometimes I know Pro Bowl can be names and stuff like that, but man, when you’ve got people working their tail off, give them some accolades.”
(On what the Pro Bowl experience did for him when he made it last season)
“It was an amazing experience. It allowed me to see what the best in this league do. And I want to be one of the best in this league for a long time and they just showed me how they carry themselves, how they prepare and how they approach a week of preparation.”
(On his thoughts of the Pro Bowl being in Orlando this year)
“I guess it’s better for the fans. You’re going to have a lot of fans there for travel. It’s a family event, so everyone brings their family to Orlando. Orlando has Disney down there, so it’s going to be a good event.”

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