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08 September 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (9/8/16)

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 he has been getting much sleep this week with the first game approaching)
“I’m pretty much the same until we get to the night before the game. I’m going to be a little shaky and as I’ve said, the worst part – I assume for players, but for a coach for sure – is from the time we come in from warmups to the time we kick it off. That’s like 18 minutes, it seems like 18 hours. I’ll be really nervous at that 18 minutes until we kick it off.”
(On what he thinks of wide receiver Cecil Shorts III after seeing him on the practice field)
“He’s doing well. Impressed with how he’s picking it up. As I said the other day, I’ve watched Cecil’s career since I was with him his rookie year. It’s been fun to watch and follow his progress, it’s great to have him on our team now. Definitely a guy that’s going to help our team.”
(On the decision to bring running back Peyton Barber up from the practice squad to the active roster)
“We’ve got to have a third running back. We’re thin from a number of standpoints, so when we decided to go with the extra tight end and then we wanted to get an extra linebacker for this game. Any time you’re getting an extra at one place, you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul somewhere else. And we robbed from the running backs, then it was the unfortunate injury with Mike [James]. Peyton’s the next man up. He’s a rookie, he runs the ball well. All rookie backs, I think their biggest issue is protection. He’s learning, but he’s our guy right now.”
(On if the team is carrying five or six linebackers)
“Carrying five right now.”
(On how he responds to people saying Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t very mobile)
“I wouldn’t say that all. He’s not [Carolina quarterback] Cam Newton, but who else is Cam Newton? Matt’s plenty mobile enough. He’s not going to run for a whole bunch of yards, but that’s not what they’re paying him to do.”
(On what fans will notice about Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith’s defense)
“I think just that we’re going to play a lot of guys. We’re going to rotate that front. We do feel like we’ve got some depth on the defensive line. I think the fact that we have improved in the secondary, I think we have a lot better ‘ball-hawkers’ in the secondary as far as getting after the football. And I think we’ll see an improved pass rush. I think you’ll see guys that will be multiple. We will not sit in one look, I think ‘Smitty’ will dial up several different looks. And a team that’s not afraid to play man-coverage, not afraid to play our two-deep stuff, or not afraid to play our single-high stuff. I think we’ve got a good variety, I know they’re giving us fits in practice right now even though we’ve tapered that off as we’ve kind of gotten into Atlanta week. But I just feel like the multiplicity will show up.”
(On trying to contain Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman)
“A lot of sleepless night. They’re very good. They’re three very outstanding football players and if they get going, they can make it be a long day for you. We’ve had an opportunity to put in our preparation and now we’re going to get an opportunity to go and play and see how we execute.”
(On the pass rush’s success in the preseason translating to the regular season)
“I don’t want to put a whole lot of stock [into] what happens in the preseason. I’m very pleased and we’re very pleased as a staff with the production that we had in the preseason. There were a number of guys that were able to contribute to the numbers that we were able to put up in the preseason. I think the rotation – I think [Defensive Line Coach] Jay Hayes does a great job with the rotation. We’ve got to keep our guys fresh. When you’re rushing a passer, it’s probably the most draining physical thing that you do on a football field.”
(On what has been the biggest obstacle with the players learning his defense)
“Just not enough time. The way that the CBA is set up, you don’t get the time that you used to. So you’ve got to try to put them in 65 miles an hour from the very beginning, try to stress them as much as you can and that’s what we’ll continue to do. We’re not going to make it easy for them. We want them to be put in those stressful situations in practice, so when it happens in the game we’re going to be able to handle it.”
(On only focusing on the defense as opposed to the whole team as head coach)
“I sleep better at night, that’s the first thing [laughter]. It’s been enjoyable. It’s been refreshing to be a little bit more hands-on and it’s a smaller group that you’re dealing with. And these guys have been great. Not only the players, but our coaches and our support staff. So it has been fun to get back to just worrying about X’s and O’s and not having to worry about things outside of that.”
(On what he likes about defensive end Noah Spence)
“Well I think he’s definitely going to be a very good designated pass rusher and grow into bring a guy that can play on every down. In certain packages, depending on what the offenses are presenting to us, he’s going to play more snaps. It’ll just depend on what our opponents are doing. I love his first step, he’s got great leverage and he’s a heavy-handed player. And when you’re heavy-handed, it helps. And what I mean by that is he’s got a good short punch and that helps get him separation off of the blocker.”
(On cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III going up against Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones in his first NFL game)
“Vernon is a very competitive guy and we’ve brought him along where he can play both inside and outside. So he’s going to get his opportunities to get matched up against Julio in this ball game. Julio is one of the top receivers and there’s no better way to measure where you’re at than going against one of the best receivers in the NFL.”
(On how helpful it has been to have two of his former players, linebacker Daryl Smith and cornerback Brent Grimes, helping other players learn the defense)
“They’ve been a big help because they’ve heard this multiple times through the years, in terms of what we’re trying to get done. And they can translate it. Sometimes they can step back and say, ‘Hey, this is what that gray-haired man really means [laughter].’ They’ve done a very good job of helping these young players and putting it in a player’s perspective. Oftentimes that’s what we try to do as coaches, but sometimes you’ve got to have mentors on your team that can really touch those guys and say, ‘Hey, I’ve done it. This is how we’ve done it in the past, and this is how you should look at it.’ Show it through a player’s eyes and not a coach’s eyes.”
(On if he sees similarities between his start in Atlanta with Matt Ryan and Head Coach Dirk Koetter’s start in Tampa with Jameis Winston)
“This is a quarterback-driven league, there’s no doubt about it. And I think Jameis is an outstanding quarterback. He’s got some great traits on the field, but he’s also a great leader. And when you have that, I think it puts you a step ahead of the other teams in the league. We’re all trying to have the best possible football teams and I think it starts with the quarterback position. So I do see some similarities, definitely”
(On how much of a benefit it has been that nobody has seen his defense yet in a real game)
“Well we haven’t seen what their offense really is going to be in a real game either, that’s the great thing about opening weekend in the NFL. There’s a lot of gamesmanship that goes on in the preseason, in terms of what you’re going to show and what you’re not going to show and I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of things that we’d call ‘unscouted looks’ in the first game and I’m sure that they’re going to see a lot of ‘unscouted looks’ as well. That’s why the opening of the season has so much significance to everyone, we find out really where we are because we’re playing the game for real now and we only get 16 opportunities to do it.”
(On what makes the Georgia Dome such a hard place to play for visiting teams)
“Well it’s very loud - it’s tough for offenses going into that environment to communicate. The fans, they’re really jacked up and they do a good job there. The acoustics in the building aren’t very good, so it makes it even tougher to communicate.”
(On if knowing some personnel on the Falcons from his time in Atlanta serves as any kind of advantage for the game)
“We’re familiar with a handful of guys. That roster has changed over over the last two years. I think there’s less than 15 guys that are on their roster that were there two years ago. So we know some of the players and I think it is somewhat of an advantage, but it can be a disadvantage because you know too much.”
(On if Will Gholston will continue to play inside and outside on the defensive line)
“We’re going to have lot of flexibility with our defensive line. I know that there’s only 11 spots on a starting lineup - the official depth chart. And it just so happens the package that we put in, Will Gholston is the starter. We like to think that we have 14 or 15 different starters based on what the offense is going to present to us or what we want to present to the offense. So Will has done a nice job in certain packages and if they present the right personnel groupings, he’s going to be out there quite a bit. But he’s a guy that can play inside and outside. And I think that you’re going to see - as we go through this season and we see different offensive schemes - that guys are going to line up in a lot of different places.”
(On why he thinks Dirk Koetter is the right person to turn the franchise around)
“Dirk is a great football coach. He’s got a lot of experience as a head coach in the college ranks. We’ve got an outstanding quarterback. He’s a great leader, he’s very dynamic, he’s very straight forward. You know where you stand with Dirk every single day and as a player and as an assistant coach, that puts you at ease. Everyone knows exactly what your expectations are and I think we’re going to see a great head coach lead a very young organization.”
(On if Koetter waited a long time for this opportunity)
“I don’t know that you wait for it, there’s so many different ways a football bounces and it’s the same way in the coaching profession. Dirk, he’s deserved an opportunity many, many years ago and this happens to be an opportunity where it lined up. There’s only 32 of these opportunities every year. But that locker room and that coaching staff, we’re got Dirk Koetter’s back. He’s a great leader.”
(On being in the press box during games)
“I love being in the press box [laughter]. That’s where I’ve spent most of my time as a coach. As a head coach you had to stand on the sideline, but the majority of my time has been up in the press box. You see so much more when you have that view. You don’t necessarily get the feel of the emotion of the football game, but you do get the feel of how people are trying to attack you and how you can attack them.”
(On if he still gets excited for the season)
“Absolutely. I still get excited, get butterflies before a game. Get the nerves and things like that, but I absolutely have been excited. It’s been exciting since we started back up, even when we started in the spring and the things we were doing in the offseason, OTAs. Even started coming back in during training camp. It’s always a thrill, no matter how many years it’s been.”
(On if the Georgia Dome is as loud as people say)
“Absolutely, I think they definitely have a twelfth man, you could say. Especially obviously being on the offensive side of the ball, I think defense probably doesn’t have much effect, for our defense at least. But we know when it’s third-and-short or we’re backed up in our own territory, things like that, it’s going to be quite loud. And we work on that, we do a lot of drills throughout practice, we’ve been doing it even through the offseason before we knew we’d be playing [certain] opponents in places like that. Every season you’re going to play on the road and have some really loud places, so you have to practice those operations where you can’t hear the quarterback.”
(On why he is confident heading into this season)
“I think any time you’re able to – we’re a pretty young team. And when you have young guys that are getting a lot of playing time and a lot of experience, another year under their belt is big. So we know we can see the maturity and the development of some of these young players that are very vital to us. And obviously on the offensive side of the ball, I can speak specifically. Knowing that [we did not have] to change systems, having [Head Coach] Dirk [Koetter] still here, him bringing in some of his coaches and we just continue to develop under that system. Another year for [quarterback] Jameis [Winston], he’s so much more confident in everything that he’s doing. You can definitely tell that everybody’s just getting more and more comfortable with the people in this building.”
(On how wide receiver Adam Humphries has grown since last year)
“Adam is a hard-working kid. He’s the type of guy that’s very coachable, he’s taking all the training that our assistant coaches are working with him on. Whatever we ask him to do, he’s able to do. He’s one of those guys [where] Jameis calls him ‘Mr. Reliable.’ He’s just that nice, safe, go-to guy [when] you need those crucial yards in the middle of the field. He just has been a great asset to us and obviously a great find. Hats off to our staff for finding such a talented player, kind of unknown coming out of college.”
(On how hungry he is to play meaningful games late in the season)
“There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like getting in that postseason tournament. Yeah, it’s been a few years since I’ve been there personally, but I really have enjoyed the experiences in the time that I’ve had here. And to kind of be on the tail end, the last five, six years of my career, to know that I’ve wanted to be part of a process that’s moving in the right direction. To leave a legacy with this organization, this locker room, impact these young players and say, ‘This is the way we work, this is the way we do things, this is how we turn it around.’ I was a part of that, I was a part of this. Making Tampa Bay a competitive playoff-contending team each and every year.”
(On Atlanta’s trio of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman)
“They’re as good as it gets. And I think ours are too. I feel like our three, four, five - however many we’ve got - people have to match that every week. Atlanta can match that, that’s the thing about them. When you look across the other side of the field, you take what we’ve got, in our Jameis [Winston] and our Doug [Martin] and our Mike [Evans] and our ‘VJax’ [Vincent Jackson] and then you look across the way and you’re like, ‘Dang, they’ve got a Matt Ryan, a Freeman, and a mutant over there’ – Julio that is. They can match us step for step, so yes, those three are as good as it gets. But I love competing against them. I say this: they’re all great guys off the field, great competitors on the field and I love competing against them. So it’s going to be fun.”
(On if the defense is more aggressive compared to past years)
“Overall, yes. For me, no. If they were going to bring in a defense where I couldn’t be aggressive, I might’ve not been here [laughter]. As a whole, yes. Definitely.”
(On if he is looking forward to defensive tackle Clinton McDonald being back healthy on the defensive line with him)
“Yeah, it’s going to be fun. I’m excited to play with everybody. I’m excited to see what the kid [Noah Spence] can do on the end. Robert Ayers is angry, really angry. I’m excited to see in-season angry because it’s ramped up this week, I’ll tell you that. I thought he was angry before, but now he’s angry.”
(On if he ever gets angry)
“I can get angry, but I don’t have to be angry to play hard. I don’t have to be angry to be me. I just love playing. I got interviewed this summer and they were asking me about other guys - I just love watching football. I just really love the game. I love to compete. I was telling my wife just yesterday, it’s crazy I’m from the south side of Oklahoma City and I’m about to play against the Atlanta Falcons in my seventh year in the NFL. You never want to take that for granted and that’s me. You never want to take that for granted and I just love to play for the Bucs. I really love the game, I love watching. I can’t wait for tonight, I really can’t. It’s going to be a good game and I can’t wait to watch it.”
(On if linebacker Daryl Smith has helped other players learn the defense, seeing how he played under Smith in Jacksonville)
“Yeah, he just knows what he expects. When he first put the defense in, everybody was like, ‘There’s no way we’re going to ever get this.’ And then Daryl said to everybody, ‘Relax. This happens every time he puts it in. But once you get it, you’re going to love it.’ And if you talk to everybody, we love the defense, so it’s good, yeah.”

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