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07 September 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (9/7/16)

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
Wide Receiver Cecil Shorts III
 
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
 
(On waiving injured running back Mike James)
“That’s one of the very, very, very unfortunate parts of this business. You really only get one chance to go into a game with 53 guys healthy and it’s your first game. After that, you’re always going to be juggling guys and unfortunately the fact that we only planned to keep three running backs on the 53 active [roster], it didn’t look like Mike would be ready to go this week, so we’re going to have to make a move there. Hard part of the business, feel horrible for Mike. But we’ve got to have 53 healthy guys ready for this week.”
 
(On if they are going to wait until Saturday to fill the roster spot)
“I think that’s what [General Manager] Jason [Licht’s] plan is, yeah.”
 
(On how important it is to have a quarterback who played a pro-style offense in college)
“I think [quarterback] Jameis [Winston] is probably only going to be here a couple years because after that coaching job he did the other night at Florida State, I think [Florida State Head Coach] Jimbo [Fisher] is going to bring him back. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to pay him enough to keep him. But it is hard for guys to transition from spread to pro football and I hope Jameis is here 12-14 years and I doubt I’m here in 12-14 years. But just look at the rookie class coming in this year, it remains to be seen if they’re going to be able to do what Jameis did last year. Those guys are hard to find.”
 
(On how much momentum he has seen from the offensive line in continuing the progress they’ve made last year)
“They’re doing fine. We’ve had a few injuries in the preseason, so I think one of the biggest things to help your line play better is continuity. If you can stay with the same lineup for a series of real NFL games, I think that will help a lot. We feel great about the guys that we have. We want to keep them all out there playing together and if we do that, I would expect that we’ll get good results.”
 
(On what he is looking for in Mike James’ replacement)
“We value versatility in all of our players, we value versatility across the board. When you’re only carrying three running backs, they have to be able to do everything. They have to be able to run the ball, they’ve got to be able to catch, they’ve got to be able to protect. Those are three things and the one that gets a lot of guys is protection. Your halfbacks - especially on third down in this league - every team is going to see if your halfback can protect.”
 
(On if playing in an indoor stadium this week will impact the in-game rotations on the defensive line)
“We’re going to rotate guys. I just think that’s the norm in the NFL right now. Atlanta is doing the same thing with their defensive line. It’s just tough. If you have the depth to rotate and you’re rotating fresh D-linemen against O-linemen, that’s definitely the way to go. That was always a hallmark of what [Defensive Line Coach] Jay Hayes did in Cincinnati and that’s something we’ll try to do here.”
 
(On if he would slide linebacker Darly Smith to the middle if something happened to Kwon Alexander)
“Yeah, Daryl Smith will be the backup ‘Mike’.”
 
(On wide receiver Cecil Shorts III)
“I had Cecil his rookie year in Jacksonville and I followed him because of that, because of the fact that we were together that year. So I’ve watched him throughout his Jacksonville career and then last year in Houston. Cecil is only 28 years old and is already in his sixth year. He’s been a really steady player. When he’s been healthy, he’s been a very productive player in this league. He’s smooth, he’s explosive, he can return kicks. We definitely upgraded. Everybody’s been complaining about the backend of our receiver group and that was a definite upgrade there. The hard thing is the timing of it, just getting him up to speed. But when you get a guy that – I think he told me he went through three systems in Jacksonville, plus one in Houston. Just meeting with him a little bit last night, you can tell that the guy’s a vet and he’ll pick it up fast, but we’re going to get him out there and have him ready to go, he’ll be on the field this week.”
 
(On if Shorts could be the team’s kick returner)
“Maybe.”
 
(On he and Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith having coached several players on Atlanta and if that could serve as an advantage by knowing their tendencies)
“Tendencies I think are more scheme-oriented. They’ve had some changes to their coaching staff, Kyle Shanahan offense and of course [Head] Coach [Dan] Quinn brought the Seattle defensive scheme with him from Seattle. They’ve changed out some other members of their coaching staff, so I don’t think so. We know some of the personnel, but they’ve changed a lot of the personnel since Mike and I were there. So we know a few guys on both sides of the ball. I think that’s overplayed a little bit.”
 
(On what the difference is between Winston Week One this year and Week One last year)
“I feel a lot more confident because Jameis is practicing better. With every player, not just Jameis, I go off what I see in practice. Last year we were still in that phase where Jameis was turning it over three or four times every day. He’s not doing that now. That doesn’t mean we’re never going to have a turnover, but I’m confident that Jameis can go out there and instead of playing defensive, I think we can be on the attack mode a little bit more.”
 
(On what Cecil Shorts brings that they didn’t have before)
“212 career catches. Which his 210 more than our fourth and fifth guys have right now, something like that [laughter]. Cecil’s been a number two in this league on almost every team he’s been on. We’re asking him to sort of fill in the four slot right now, if you believe in slotting guys. Players make plays on game day, whether they’re the one, two, three, four or five, players make plays. If they’re out there for us, we’re expecting them to make plays.”
 
(On how important it is for Winston to have such tall receivers)
“We like big receivers, but like you just said, we like receivers who can get open and they come in all shapes and sizes. I prefer big guys, but there are other guys that are playing great in this league that aren’t 6’5” or 6’6”. That’s what we’ve got, that’s the guys we’ve got, so heck yeah we’re fired up about them and we’re going to coach them and try to get them in good spots.”
 
(On wide receiver Adam Humphries)
“He’s a little guy. He’s not 6’5”, but he finds a way to get open. Again, we’re going to try and use Adam – all of our players, we try to put them in positions where they can play to their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. That’s just the chess match of both offense and defensive football, moving your guys around to get them to play to your strengths.”
 
(On the change in wide receiver Mike Evans from last year to this year)
“I just say that Mike is very conscious of his own performance. Mike wants to be great, I’ve said that before. No one’s harder on him than him and that’s how it should be, with every player and every coach, you should be hardest on yourself. Mike, he gets disappointed in himself when he doesn’t perform like he knows he’s capable of. I still don’t think we’re exactly where we need to be with our passing game in general - Jameis and Mike - but we’re working on it. And that kind of stuff doesn’t just come over night, you don’t just flip the switch on and it happens. But you can rest assured, we’re going to throwing balls to him.”
 
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR/WIDE RECEIVERS COACH TODD MONKEN
 
(On what he likes about wide receiver Cecil Shorts III)
“He definitely adds experience to the room. We’ve had a couple injuries as of late in the preseason and we looked to get a veteran guy in here that really solidifies our receiving core, a guy that’s played a lot of football and made plays in the past.”
 
(On how wide receiver Mike Evans has been doing with the mental aspect of not dropping balls)
“I think he’s been doing great, I really do. We haven’t played a regular season game yet so we’ll see, but I think he’s had a great approach to his practice habits. He’s done a better job with his off the field habits in terms of taking care of his body and preparing every day. Sometimes that’s the start of it, is taking care of yourself and then routine. And the next part is, it’s a drop, move on, next play. Coach preaches that all the time, next play. So I think he’s done a better job of that. Coaches, players, human beings, we’re going to make mistakes, let’s not let it lead to multiple mistakes, multiple drops. That’s counterproductive to moving the football.”
 
(On if Evans was thinking about the drops too much last season)
“There’s no question. He’s very competitive, very prideful. And so I think that there’s things that weigh on him. He gets frustrated very easily and he’s gotten better at that, of staying even-keeled. Frustrated with drops, frustrated when his body breaks down, frustrated with a number of things in his life. He wants it to go perfect; life’s not perfect. There’s things in your life like drops, things in your personal life – your body not feeling right. You’ve got to be able to move on.”
 
(On if Evans and quarterback Jameis Winston’s chemistry has been growing and if it is due to more reps)
“I think that’s part of it. I think making a commitment to come back here in the summer, I think that was a start. Making a commitment each day, eating right, taking care of your body, making sure you’re hydrating, making sure you can practice. The number one way to get better is to practice and when you can’t practice and you’re not on the field, you’re not going to develop as fast as you can develop. And I think that’s probably been the biggest thing is he’s been on the field. You guys have been out there, you’ve seen Mike out there, that’s huge for us.”
 
(On if he had to tweak anything with Evans as far as fundamentals)
“I think with every player - it’s not just Mike it’s every player - that they should be sharpening their skills and developing it. Taking from whoever coaches them, whoever gives them an opportunity to develop - this is their window. Mike has in a lot of ways developed and he still has a ways to go, he’s still a young player in this league and I think there’s still different levels he should get to.”
 
(On if Evans’ biggest issues were mostly mental)
“I don’t know if I’d go that far, there are some technical things in terms of hand placement, in terms of getting his eyes to the level of the ball that you’re trying to work on. But he’s got good enough ball skills. When you watch last year, [the drops] came in bunches, usually that’s a sign of mental [errors], in terms of putting too much pressure on yourself, the frustration.”
 
(On if he has seen Winston’s offseason conditioning translate to the field)
“It’s hard for me to say, just because I wasn’t here last year. Getting his body in shape and all those things - I think he’s a really committed young man. He’s very passionate about his teammates, he’s very passionate about playing this game. So whatever he sees as an obstacle that keeps him from being the best player he can be, he attacks that. Whether it’s his body, whether it’s his accuracy, whether it’s knowledge of our offense, he’s the guy you want leading your team because no one’s going to work harder, no one’s going to approach the day with the kind of energy, attitude, enthusiasm that you want than he will.”
 
(On how he feels about the offensive line going into the season)
“I feel good. There’s a lot of experience there, guys that have played a lot of football here, so I don’t think that’s an issue. I think every team goes through bumps and bruises in training camp and you try to hold certain guys out because you’ve got to get them to the season. So I think [Offensive Line Coach George Warhop] has done a great job with that in terms of making sure - it’s allowed us to get some valuable reps for our backup guys and so we feel really good about our depth and the guys that are going to take the field on Sunday.”
 
(On if he has had an influence on opening the offense up more)
“I don’t know about that, [Head Coach] Dirk [Koetter] like to throw it deep, I didn’t need to influence that at all, I get a lot of that from him. The game is about being able to get first downs, being able to get explosive plays, not turning it over and that’s what we’ve been about. They were about last year. So how can we get better at it? There were opportunities last year that we missed on, either by drop, either by throw. You’re not going to change, good or bad, a team dramatically by 30-40 percent. You’re just trying to find the smallest things you can improve on. It may be one or two plays a game and that makes a difference. You hit an explosive play you didn’t hit the year before and it changes momentum. So that’s all you’re trying to do. We’ve certainly worked on it, we’ve certainly worked on throwing the ball down the field. Obviously there’s going to be a comfort level with Jameis in the system. We have improved in that area, but the proof is going to be in the next 17 weeks.”
 
(On how wide receiver Adam Humphries has progressed from last year)
“Well first, you’re giving me way too much [credit]. Any part of what I have to do with it, that’s on Adam. Adam, he’s a hard worker. I think we have really high expectations that whoever puts on the uniform, they ought to immediately be able to perform at a high level and that’s not true. Here’s a young guy that’s a good football player, that’s talented, that over time is going to continue to develop and he has. And I think we’ve played him more frequently - I tried to play him more frequently at ‘F’ a lot, just so he got comfortable there knowing that’s where he was going to play. Not that he can’t play outside because he certainly is capable there. But that’s a credit to Adam and how hard he’s worked, he can play all the positions and just experience. Just playing and realizing that I belong here. Half the battle is believing that you belong, that you have a certain swagger, a confidence about you that, ‘I’m good enough.’ And he is good enough, he’s proven that.”
 
(On what has impressed him about the offensive line)
“I think first and foremost with the guys is how they’ve overcome all of the moving pieces, just referring back to the other question. Guys have been able to move around, getting valuable reps. We’ve got some guys that are capable of playing multiple positions, Coach has done a good job with that. Obviously having the flexibility with Evan [Smith] or Joe [Hawley] at center, you’re not always sure who would play center if you lost a guy, but we have two capable centers and we’ve got three capable tackles with Kevin [Pamphile] coming on at guard. So we’re excited about those guys.”
 
(On having five tight ends on the roster)
“I think you’ve got to combine the two positions. We don’t have any fullbacks, so you’re really talking about two positions. Five is not extreme when you don’t have any fullbacks.”
 
QUARTERBACK JAMEIS WINSTON
 
(On his halftime speech to the Florida State football team on Monday night)
“I just didn’t want those kids to be looking like that on national TV. Coach [Jimbo] Fisher, he’s a great coach and I know they had it in them, [I] just had to light some fire. And I’ll tell you about that No. 12 [quarterback Deondre Francois] for Florida State, baby. That’s all I’m going to say. He’s a baller.”
 
(On if people should expect to hear about a similar speech from Winston this upcoming weekend)
“Whatever the team needs, I’m there.”
 
(On if people are making t-shirts about his speech)
“If they do, they need to be giving me a cut [laughs].”
 
(On if the Buccaneers’ culture has changed from last season to where he wants it to be this season)
“I think the best thing about that statement is the culture, it’s always going. We’re always getting better. There’s never just a set like, ‘Oh, we finally made it,’ you know? We never will arrive. I think as a team, yes – I believe we gelled closer together. We have a lot of different guys that are stepping up but we have to get better every day.”
 
(On if the team is at the point where it should be confident regardless of the opponent or location)
“It shouldn’t matter. The main goal is to go there, play our best game and get a win. Teams are judged off wins and losses, ultimately. No matter what happens throughout the game, if you get a win people seem to ignore everything else.”
 
(On how his confidence and comfort level compare from this year to the beginning of last season)
“I think it’s just more of being comfortable than confidence, because I always have got confidence. Being able to know the offense and being able to execute and apply it on the field instead of every week trying to learn what I have to do, so I guess that’s a plus for me and this team – that I actually know the offense and am very comfortable in it.”
 
(On what he takes from their two wins versus Atlanta last season)
“When you beat somebody like that, you’ve got to know that they’re coming with it. And the Falcons were a great team; before we played them, I believe they were [6-1] so they are not a slack at all. And I know they’ve got it out for us so we have to be ready. We have to match their intensity and we have to come ready to play.”
 
(On what new Buccaneers wide receiver Cecil Shorts III can bring to the offense)
“A lot. He’s a dynamic guy, he’s a vet and I think just having more vets on this offensive side of the ball where we are very young is good. Hopefully, we’ll see how he is out there. I heard him talk a couple times but we’ll see how he is. I know he’s a great player, I know he’s worked with a couple of our guys on this team – I know he was in Jacksonville, I think, with Coach Koetter – but he’s a good guy.”
 
(On what he will do to try to bond with a new addition to the team like Shorts)
“Any way that you can make them feel comfortable – I mean, this is his first day here so we’ve got to make him feel comfortable, make him play like he’s already been in this offense. That’s the main thing, when guys go out there and they play with their head cut off it’s hard to tone it down. So making him be comfortable, because if you know what you’re doing it’s going to be easier for you to execute it on the field.”
 
(On where he is ‘mentally’ with the offense after another year)
“Well you know, Coach Koetter threw the whole playbook at me day one, so I guess it’s just me being more comfortable with the playbook. Like I said, being able to actually see things more clear because I know what situation we’re looking at, I know what coverage we’re expecting depending on the concept we might have.”
 
(On if he was comfortable with or able to address his Buccaneers teammates in the locker room last season, similar to what he did Monday night with Florida State)
“Yeah, I was able to do that some. I think, like I said, it happens when it needs to happen, like you needed to wear that garnet and gold shirt today to make me feel good, you know? To match the FSU stuff [directed to ESPN.com reporter Jenna Laine (laughs)]. So I think whatever the team needs, I’m willing to do it and that’s what I did at Florida State. I don’t plan on stopping doing that, so I’m just an ultimate team guy.”
 
(On what he remembers about last year’s season opener and how important is this week’s game)
“Like you said it best, that was last year. I got amnesia over that. The main thing is just improving on this year and focusing on this year and how we can get better week to week.”
 
(On if there is a sense within the team that no one thinks the team is as good as it is)
“Well the thing is, it really doesn’t matter what’s going on outside, who’s doubting us or who’s even for us. What matters is the 63 guys that we have in that locker room, even you guys [the media] – the support from our fans – because we are really in this together. Like I say, you’re judged by wins and losses. The more wins we can put out there, obviously the more confident we can be and we just can see where this thing can go.”
 
(On how wide receiver Mike Evans has improved from last year)
“Well he’s just a superstar, you know? But when you’re a superstar, you have to work like a superstar every single day and I feel like he has been doing that. It’s just at that point where Mike is either going to catch for 12,000 yards or he’s going to catch for 18,000 yards. It just depends – he’s going to have a great year every time, but, like with everybody, it’s just being consistent. Like with me, from week to week, I have to be able to create opportunities for Mike. I missed Mike so many times last year. If you count all the times that I missed Mike last year, he probably would’ve led the NFL in yardage. That’s just how talented he is.”
 
(On what Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receiver Coach Todd Monken has brought to him and to the receivers group)
“Just brought that work ethic. Coach Monken, he cares about no feelings, no emotion – he cares about execution and doing your job, and that’s what you need. It sounds very blunt, but that’s what you need. We are grown men – some of us are young grown men – and sometimes you’ve just got to be like that with us. Tell us what we need to do and expect greatness from us.”
 
(On where his halftime speech with Florida State on Monday would rank amongst his team speeches)
“I couldn’t even give you a summary of what I said, it’s truly just from the heart because I really love those guys in there. I knew how hard Coach Fisher worked and how hard he did [work] to prepare those guys. And then Coach Randy Sanders, he’s typically on the sideline with me and I knew when he wasn’t on the sideline, I was like, ‘I know I’ve got to get right,’ because Coach Sanders, he’s usually the mellow guy. He keeps everything cool on the sideline. It was fun, it was a great, great experience to see them get a big win.”
 
(On if he watched the first episode of ‘A Season With Florida State Football’)
“I did, I got a chance to watch it. You know, every time I can see some Seminoles on TV, I try to get to it.”
 
(On if Coach Fisher had asked him to say anything to his team at halftime)
“That’s what I felt was needed. I tried to be quiet when I first got there, but I felt we needed that. I really don’t think they needed it – I knew Coach Fisher was going to get in their tail, like he could barely talk but he still was getting on them. I just felt like I needed to say that, but again, 12 [Francios] just led that comeback, man, and that defense looked good. They’ve got to keep doing it, but this is about the Bucs. We’ve got to focus on us. We’ve got our first game week, excited for that. I’m just ready.”
 
(On how having a healthy Vincent Jackson at wide receiver changes the offense)
“It changes everything just because [we have] another veteran on that football field. Vince helps everyone out when he’s out there on the field because he’s been there and done that. He’s been in experiences and situations that I’ve never even seen, so him out there playing it’s more calm and he just does amazing things. Age can do that for you.”
 
(On if there have been some things they were holding back during the preseason that they’re looking forward to doing on Sunday)
“The only thing we’ve been holding back is the amount of time we’ve been playing, so we’re just excited to play for four quarters. I think that’s big. I’m just ready to be able to hold up those ‘fours’ in the fourth quarter and actually get in the game, so I’m excited.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER CECIL SHORTS III
 
(On how much he hopes to contribute in Week 1 after being signed only a few days before the game)
“You never know. I’m optimistic about everything. Like I said, I’m going to get down to studying, see how fast I can pick things up. How many plays I’m playing this week, that will be up to the coaches. As time goes on, I’ve just got to absorb as much as I can.”
 
(On how much he learned from Dirk Koetter after playing for him in Jacksonville as a rookie)
“I learned a lot. Some of the terms and things are similar to here, so that kind of helps a little bit. You see an old term from five, six years ago. But I learned a lot from his offense then, the coaching staff then. I’m excited to work with them now, kind of reunite with them. It’s cool.”
 
(On how he changed his training regimen this offseason)
“This offseason I took a lot of time, did some things differently. Attacking this year, I switched my diet up, switched my training up a little bit, so I’m feeling great coming into this year. I have no issues so far. Let’s just hope [knocks on wood] it stays like that.”
 
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