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15 September 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (9/15/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Tampa Bay’s defense limited the Falcons to 3-of-13 on third downs (23.1 pct.). That is tied for the fourth-lowest conversion rate of any opposing offense in Week 1.
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith
Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
(On if anything surprised him about his first game as an NFL head coach)
“It’s three hours of, you’ve got to be paying attention of what’s going on and when the defense is out there we’re trying to make adjustments on offense and I’m listening to the coaches talk, looking at the Surface [tablet], looking at the pictures, talking to [quarterback] Jameis [Winston], hearing ‘Smitty’ [Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith] make the defensive calls. Really the main [different] thing is just being up there, paying attention for timeouts. Like at the end of the first half there, before they kicked that field goal they were going to run that 45 seconds off. Before [as Offensive Coordinator] I would have been just thinking about what we were going to do on offense. There’ll be more, there’ll be stuff every week. [Assistant Wide Receivers/Game Management Coach] Andrew [Weidinger] upstairs did a great job of being on top of the situations and keeping me clued in.”
(On the advantage of having so much coaching experience before becoming an NFL head coach, much like Arizona Head Coach Bruce Arians)
“Bruce has been around longer than me, especially in the NFL. But one thing that was a big change for me, coming from college to the NFL, is all the clock, all the game-ending situations. In college, you practice all that stuff, rarely does it come up – no offense to Oklahoma State. But in the NFL they come up, every week there’s unbelievable situations that come up and you just have to be on top of it because the clock’s not stopping and you just don’t have that time to get the players up there. I enjoy that part of it, it’s challenging, but yet there’s certain guys that I’ve talked to about it that I think are way better at it than me and they’re always giving me scenarios. We’ve got guys upstairs that are putting situations together, that sort of thing.”
(On if it helps that he played Arizona each of his three seasons as Offensive Coordinator in Atlanta)
“A little bit, somewhat. But both teams have changeover. Like okay, we’ve gone against [cornerback] Patrick Peterson in all those games, [defensive tackle] Calais Campbell in all those games, you’re going, ‘Okay, those guys are pretty good.’ But when they’re out of your division and you play them maybe every other year, it’s just harder to keep track.”
(On what would be the biggest thing that concerns him about cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III if he was an offensive coordinator going against him)
“Definitely his close on the ball. That kid can close. He had an interception in practice today where it looked like it was going to be open and he closed it, came underneath the receiver and picked it. He’s got a burst and then he’s got good ball skills on top of it. A really good burst.”
(On if Arizona puts Peterson on the number one receiver)
“They did a lot last year. This year in that first game against New England, they did not. I would anticipate that we would see that more this week. But in the past they have. When we played them in Atlanta a couple of years ago, he matched up with [Atlanta wide receiver] Julio Jones the whole game.”
(On how often Arizona blitzes)
“They blitz a lot. They did a little bit less blitzing with their [defensive backs] last week, but when we watched a ton of their stuff from last year, we did not watch the Patriots game from 2015, but we did watch a lot of games in which they did bring their safeties.”
(On what he has seen from defensive linemen Howard Jones and DaVonte Lambert]
“Howard – what did he have 5.5 sacks last year? – Howard’s a good pass rusher. Howard’s got speed off the edge, he played just a couple plays last week, but played on special teams. And Lambert obviously is a guy that we were excited enough about him to keep him here on the 53 [man roster]. His versatility, again a guy that can play inside or outside, kind of in the Robert Ayers mold, even though he’s a young guy. You have to develop your guys in the NFL, you’re just not going to stay healthy. You’ve got to keep developing your guys. You’re going to get lucky sometimes bringing in those veteran guys that you can afford, but you’re not going to get lucky [all the time] and there’s not an endless supply of them.”
(On if he is happy with the amount of touches running back Charles Sims III got against Atlanta)
“The whole touches thing, that’s a very delicate balance all the time because [wide receivers] Mike [Evans] needs touches, Vincent [Jackson] needs touches, [running back] Doug [Martin] and Charles both need touches. Kind of the odd men out in the touches game are [wide receiver] Adam [Humphries] and the tight ends, they get leftovers all the time. I did say the other day at halftime, it was just obvious, to me at least, that Mike didn’t get enough opportunities. The way we look at it is we game plan to attack a defense. Now the running backs are the easiest to get touches because you can turn around and hand it to them. Chuck gets his touches in different ways. It depends on how much we’re running the football, how much they’re letting us run the football, how productive we’re being in the run game. But we’ll take points over touches all the time and it worked out good that way. The lack of touches thing, you know when that usually shows up? Is when you lose. When you win, nobody says too much about touches.”
(On if having so many players you want to get the ball to is a good problem to have)
“Well everybody has guys [that you want to get the ball to] in this league, everybody has good guys. Trust me, they all want more touches. Just coming from practice out there, you can see when the defense lines up on a certain play, based on the coverage, this guys over here thinks, ‘Hey, I might be getting it,’ this guy over here thinks, ‘I might be getting it.’ I always watch their body language and Jameis throws it over here, this guy’s kind of like, ‘Wait, what’s up man? You don’t like me anymore?’ [laughter]. It’s a delicate balance, it’s ongoing. We can control it to a certain extent, but we can’t totally control that. Touches, other than handing the ball off, you can’t totally control it.”
(On how he balances the offense)
“Again, it’s back to the balance. What’s the defense doing, it’s not just five across, man-on-man every play. If they want to double a guy, they double him. A lot of teams that we play, double Mike in the red zone. The old school sitting a guy back there in the middle on the five-yard line and letting you throw fades, you just don’t see many teams that do that anymore. Again, it’s just a balance and I think, to be honest with you, that’s one of the tricks of having a good offense, is how you teach your quarterback to read stuff and when you teach your quarterback to do what. There’s a lot of stuff in there I can’t tell you because we do it different than other people. I’m not saying better or worse, but we have our way of doing it and we believe in it.” 
(On how big of a concern Arizona linebacker Chandler Jones is)
“He’s a really big concern. Any time a guy comes up [with] double digit sacks like that. He’s quick, he’s long, he’s powerful and they move him around. It’s always better for us when we know exactly where a guy is because we can get an extra guy over there, but they flip him. Both him and 44 [linebacker Markus Golden], 44’s also a really good rusher with an unbelievable motor. They ‘spinner’ him, meaning they’ll line him up in the middle of the defense sometimes, we call that a ‘spinner.’ So when they move him around it makes it tougher.”
(On what the problem was for the Cardinals in their Week One loss to New England)
“I think they didn’t have the production of course that they’d want to have, but that is a very explosive offensive football team. They’ve got three wide receivers that are very difficult to defend. If you put all three of their stats together, they had over 3,000 yards in receptions [last season]. [David] Johnson, the running back, he’s a man now. He’s kind of busted onto the scene. He’s a guy that can run that ball very violently and also catch the ball out of the backfield, I’ve been very impressed. And of course it goes with what their quarterback does and Carson Palmer, he’s definitely an upper-echelon, top-10 quarterback in this league and has done it for a long time.”
(On if it helps that he saw Arizona in each of his last three years as head coach in Atlanta)
“There is some familiarity and of course [Head] Coach [Bruce] Arians and his staff, I think they do a great job. We’ve had some good battles through the years when he was at Pittsburgh as the offensive coordinator and when I was at Jacksonville. He’s very aggressive, he likes to keep the foot on the gas pedal, so to speak. And he does it both running the football and throwing the football. It’s pretty simple, this is going to be kind of a straight ahead no-fare dodging football game for us, in terms of what they’re going to try to do in their run game.”
(On the resiliency of the defense against Atlanta)
“I was very impressed. Disappointed in the way that we gave up some of those big plays, we had way too many explosive plays in the ball game. But when we did, we were able to bow our neck, bow our back and stop them. All those red zone stops are huge and we wouldn’t have been able to do that if we didn’t have the hustle and the effort that we had. Both times, [safety] Chris [Conte] was a guy that got them on the ground, but as you watch the tape, the effort was outstanding. We knew we were going to make mistakes, those were the first game mistakes that you think are going to pop up, but we were able to overcome them with our red zone defense and our hustle.”
(On the communication on defense against Atlanta)
“I was impressed with the ability to communicate. On one of the touchdown passes, we had a miscommunication on a formation adjustment and those are things that are going to be a learning process for us as a defense. But I was pleased. I was really pleased with the way that we stopped the run. That was one of the things that we felt we had to do. That’s a team that wants to run and play play-action. We just had too many explosive plays and it was really not about them, it was about us. And those are things that we’ve addressed and ultimately, it’s not one player, it’s on me and on the coaching staff. We’ve got to make sure that the guys understand when we put a game plan together, that they can go out and execute.”
(On how good linebacker Kwon Alexander can be)
“Kwon is an exceptional athlete and he plays the game so hard. We had guys that were running to the football, but when you compare them to Kwon, sometimes they don’t look like they’re going as fast as they need to because he was all over the football field. Reminiscent of some of the great linebackers, to have 17 hits and a sack, a tackle for a loss. He has a will and a desire and when you have that will and desire on the football field, it’s going to show up. He’s a very good athlete and he also has a great desire off the field because he’s not only coming in and sitting down with me every morning, but he’s also getting extra time with [Linebackers] Coach [Mark] Duffner. He just is a sponge right now and he wants to take as much as he can in and we’ve got to go through baby steps. I think he wants it to happen a lot quicker than it’s probably going to happen, in terms of understanding the defense, but he has a pretty good understanding of playing football and getting to the football.”
(On if linebacker Daryl Smith has helped Alexander)
“Absolutely, Daryl’s been a mentor to him and so has Lavonte [David]. Both those guys are giving him some very good insight, in terms of what it is to be a linebacker. Daryl’s been doing it a long time, he understands the system that we’re trying to implement here. And as you can see, it’s a linebacker friendly system, it really is.”
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy having a strong game against Atlanta)
“Absolutely and the reason that [the defense] becomes linebacker friendly is you’ve got those guys in front of them that are going to demand four hands. When I say four hands, they’re not going to single- block them, they’re going to try and put four hands on them and he did a great job. To say who was the defensive player of the week, it was a debate, a big debate, because both of those guys [McCoy and Alexander] had big games. Gerald’s pressure in the passing game was evident, with the sack and with his two ball deflections, he’s got a very good knack. When he’s not getting to the ball, he’s getting his hand up. The quarterback hand comes off, his hand goes up and those are huge plays because we don’t have to defend it past the line of scrimmage.”
(On how cornerback Vernon Hargeaves III played in his NFL debut against Atlanta)
“Vernon probably of any rookie player, probably had the toughest draw in the NFL this week. And he played every snap in the ball game for us, both inside and outside. It says a lot about his football knowledge, his football intelligence. I felt like all of us, including me, we’d like to have a couple plays back, but overall I thought it was a very good start. That was a very good wide receiver that they tried to put on his side quite a bit and at the end of the day, we like what we were able to do, in terms of stopping what we call their ‘game wreckers.’ We wanted to stop [Atlanta wide receiver] Julio Jones, we wanted to stop [Atlanta running back] Devonta Freeman in the run game and we were able to accomplish that. Although it wasn’t perfect, I think Vernon is going to be a very, very good football player in the National Football League.”
(On how going up against wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson in practice helps prepare Hargreaves for other big receivers around the league)
“It helps him a lot. He’s got a lot of body-time on those big guys. We’re going to face [Arizona wide receiver] Larry [Fitzgerald] this week and Larry’s going to be a Hall of Fame player. So first two weeks in the NFL it’s, ‘Hey, welcome,’ [laughter] we’ve put it out for him. And to have a guy, rookie corner, playing both nickel and corner every snap in the first game, I think it says a whole lot about what kind of football players he’s going to be long-term.”
(On what Hargreaves did against Atlanta that he liked)
“I love his attitude about next play. Whatever happens - and especially when you’re a corner - because when it’s a situation where you’ve got to move on to the next play, sometimes guys can’t put it behind them and you’ve got to have that mentality. He had a couple of really good plays in the ball game because he’s got a short memory. As a corner in the NFL, you have to have it because everyone can identify what probably is going on out on the outside, not necessarily what’s going on on the inside.”
(On the guys that will have to step up after defensive end Jacquies Smith’s season-ending injury)
“It’s going to allow some young guys to get some opportunities to play. We’re down two defensive ends, through training camp and through the first ball game. [DaVonte] Lambert is going to get an opportunity. Here’s a young man that made our football team, he’s going to get an opportunity to get some snaps. Because of the injury last week, we did not really get the rotation that we would have like to have gotten in the ball game, so we’ve got to do a better job as a coaching staff, spreading those snaps out. That wasn’t the actual way that we wanted it to go, but never does a game go that way, so we’ve got to a better job. But we’re going to have some young guys that are going to get an opportunity to go in there and play.”
(On how driven McCoy is)
“He’s very driven. He’s a great teammate too. Everybody talks about his leadership abilities, but he’s a great teammate. He’s very focused from day one and he’s wanted to learn our system and have the ability to understand it, so he can help the other guys on the defensive line and he’s done a very good job. Let me make this perfectly clear though: I was very aware of Gerald McCoy over the last seven years, playing him two times a year. Sleepless nights figuring out how we’re going to keep him out of our backfield.”
(On the pass rush against Atlanta)
“I thought that we had some opportunities to get a little bit more pressure. We didn’t necessarily pressure a whole lot in the ball game, we were doing other things, we were trying to put resources to stop other players. When we did our four-man rushes, I thought that they did a nice job. We’ve got to do some work on our rush lanes, simply because we can open up some windows and when you open up those windows, a good quarterback and a good receiver with time, they’re going to find those holes.”
(On if defensive lineman Howard Jones will get more snaps due to Smith’s injury)
“Absolutely, Howard’s going to get more snaps. Howard’s had some production in this league. People like to designate him as a ‘DPR’ [Designated Pass Rusher], he’s going to get an opportunity to rush the passer. For us, the big thing that we’ve got do to each and every week is we’ve to get our opponents in those third-and-5 pluses, where it’s advantage defense. We can’t be in third-and-2s and thirds-and-3s because when we’re in those situations, we’re not going to get an opportunity to put our pass rush players out there or we’re not going to be able to do the schemes that we like to do in those down and distances.”
(On how Hargreaves has grown since he’s been drafted)
“He had a lot of knowledge of the game when you start comparing him to other rookies. He’s got good knowledge, but I think he’s really starting to understand our system. We’re going to have bumps in the road, all the way across, from me all the way down to the last guy on the defensive side of the football because it’s a learning process that we’re going through together. And we did make a lot of mistakes and we can’t continue to do that and give up big plays, they’re going to come back and haunt us. Those are the things that we’ve got to fix. But Vernon specifically, I think he’s grown as a player. I think [Secondary] Coach [Jon] Hoke has done a great job with him, he was in the building this morning a little after 7:00 [a.m.] for a one-on-one meeting. And those one-on-one meetings are those guys asking for help and as a coaching staff on the defensive side, we’re here to serve our players. That’s what a coach does. Our players have been very, very receptive up until this point. They handled Victory Monday I thought very, very well. They were all getting video watched, getting the grade sheets, so they had an opportunity when we came in Wednesday, we could move on to the Arizona Cardinals.”
(On how often he has one-on-one meetings with Alexander)
“Every day. It’s a routine that we’ve set in place. Sometimes it’s not as long, based on the what the schedule is, but we try to get together every day. When we get in-season, our talk is more about the game plan, what’s going in today. Kwon, he’s a sponge, he wants to know it before everybody else. When you’re the Mike linebacker and you’re standing in front of the huddle, you really want to have an idea of what’s being called and it’s not the first time you’ve heard it. So we kind of spend a little bit of time together early in the morning and then he has a second meeting with Coach Duffner with some of the veteran linebackers. You wouldn’t believe what these guys are doing. They’re committed to being a good defense. And when you have that commitment starting out, it helps you a bunch because these younger guys are seeing what these older guys are doing. Guys like Gerald, Kwon, Lavonte, Daryl, [cornerback] Brent Grimes, and it’s going to help us. But we’ve got a lot of mistakes that we’ve got to get corrected over the next 48 hours. The hay’s never in the barn [laughter], you’re always sweeping up and that’s what we’re doing every day.”      
(On what he does to get himself ready for back-to-back road games)
“I think that’s kind of what preseason’s for. Getting used to the travel schedule, getting the routine under your belt, but it’s no different. Preparations are the same, have the same amount of time here in the building, same amount of time on the field. So all that stuff that’s football related is the same, so we’ll just have to adjust. Little bit longer trip for us, but I think our coaches will do a good job.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston improving on his deep pass)
“He’s doing a good job, even last year. He throws a great ball, he can make every throw. So I think just another year under our belt [in the] system, working together, getting more reps out there on the practice field and in games, you’re going to see those connections happen more often.”
(On Arizona’s defensive backs)
“They’re good. They’re a team that likes to do a lot of line of scrimmage press man across the board, so we’ve got a lot of faith in those guys back there. They will bring some pressure, but for the most part it’s going to be some opportunities for us to have some one-on-one matchups.”
(On four different players getting receiving touchdowns last week against Atlanta)
“It just shows the balance. I’ve been saying that since training camp, the fact that we have so many different weapons, with running backs and tight ends and wide receivers. We’re going to spread the ball around and Jameis is very unbiased. He’s going to go out there and he’s going to make his reads and go through his progressions and he’s going to usually make the right decision and give somebody a chance.”
(On what has impressed him about cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III)
“The guy’s obviously a physical talent. He has all the ability there, as far as making breaks and playing the ball. He has obviously shown that he has great ball skills, but for being a young player, a lot of teams I think sometimes think that, ‘Oh, we can give the guys different looks and kind of make him think a little bit and slow him down.’ But the guy’s very cerebral. That’s what has impressed me about him is the fact that he picks things up quickly. If he makes a mistake one time or something, usually you don’t see him make that mistake again. So that’s very, very encouraging.”
(On Arizona’s offensive line)
“Well one, they work together. You can go down the line from guys who this is their first year and you take a guy like A.Q. Shipley, who was the extra lineman last year and now he’s the starting center. So obviously they’ve got a good group of guys that work together. What makes [quarterback] Carson [Palmer] so good is his O-line and the time they give him. [David] Johnson, their running back, he’s a very dynamic player, but those holes they open for him, it gives him a chance to be patient because the things they do as a scheme, they do it well. And obviously they have been very successful because of how good they’ve been in the past couple of years. So we have a tough road ahead of us and we know that, but we’re putting the work in.”
(On cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III’s game against Atlanta)
“He’s a ball hawk; he’s always around the ball and has the ability to make every play. As a rookie, opening day, Georgia Dome, it happens. You’re going to make some mistakes, everybody makes mistakes opening day. I had a play where I just completely lost my head and just ran out of – anyway, it wasn’t good. So it happens, it’s opening day and he’s a rookie, but overall, he’s just a ball hawk, he’s a playmaker. He’s going to make a lot of plays for us.”
(On the excitement around the town growing about the team)
“Well, we haven’t won an opening day game since 2012 and I remember how they felt then. It’s one game though. It’s great to be excited, it’s great to feel like we’re turning that corner, but I will wait until we [have] about 10 wins before we start getting excited. It’s just Week 1 and if you look at our schedule coming up, we’ve got a lot to prove and our tests are coming, starting with Arizona. Here’s what I have to say about moving forward: Arizona just lost opening day at home, after being in the NFC Championship. Head coaches and GMs don’t typically speak out about the whole team, they talk internally. They spoke out in the media about their team. If you think that arguably the best team in the league is going to go 0-2 at home and go lightly, we’ve got another thing coming. So this is going to be a real test for us. Atlanta is a great team and it’s tough to win in the Georgia Dome, but now we’ve got to see if we can be consistent.”
(On the growing confidence on the team)
“I think it’s just because the unity and the comradery we have; guys just really have each other’s back. And regardless of who it is, offense or defense – in camp we go against each other, but on game days it’s like, ‘Listen, we’ve got to stick together.’ We’ve got a franchise quarterback, we love our head coach, love the defensive scheme. We’ve seen what [Head] Coach [Dirk] Koetter did on offense last year and that’s just building off that. I think the biggest thing for us is our young guys, we have very mature young guys and they don’t play like rookies or second or third-year guys, they have vet mindsets. So I think that’s why everybody is so excited.”
(On how much it would mean to him to get to the postseason for the first time)
“That’s really all I concern myself with. It’s not about what I do. The only reason I concern myself with what the D-line does is because when we play well, our team plays well. I really just concern myself with whatever it takes to win. When [Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith] first got here, they were asking me to do something I wasn’t used to. I went and talked to Coach Smith about and he said, ‘Just try it.’ I tried it and I love it. Whatever it takes to win and that’s my only focus. Whatever we’ve got to do to win and I feel like if we keep going the way we’re going, we have a pretty good shot to win a lot of games this season.”

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