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12 October 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017 Media Availability (10/12/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: QB Jameis Winston has thrown for 1,198 yards this season, the most ever by a Buccaneers quarterback through four games. Winston has also thrown for 300 yards in each of the past three games. With 300 or more passing yards at Arizona, he would set a franchise record for consecutive 300-yard games.
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
Running Back Doug Martin
(On how linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander have looked so far in practice this week)
“Good to have those guys out there getting some work. Anytime you’ve been out for a while there’s a transition period, but it’s certainly good to have those guys back at practice.”
(On who will pay fewer snaps when all the linebackers are healthy)
“I still haven’t been on that team yet. I’m still waiting to be on that team that has too many good players. I hope I get a chance in my career, but I still haven’t been on it yet. I think we will figure something out – maybe we will be playing 3-4 the whole time. We will have to see.”
(On wide receiver Adam Humphries)
“Very consistent – that is his number one thing. Since that first year when he got here and came out of nowhere and made our team, Adam is going to be a hard guy to ever get out of there just because he is a good player. He doesn’t get the most pub or the most kudos however you want to say it, but he is a really good football player. He is good for what he does for us. He plays his role really well.”
(On if one could draw parallels this week coming off a mini-bye and when the team did so last year)
“I’m sure you could, but I don’t think that’s how anybody is looking at it. I’m sure there are some parallels there.”
(On if there is a sense that the team can string some wins together)
“Well, we need to play better as a team. We need to play complementary football where it can’t just be one side or the other – all three, and special teams, we’ve got to work off each other. I just think that we haven’t hit our stride yet and there is really no good excuse for that. I mean I guess that starts with me. We’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to come out of the gates faster and we’ve got to play better football. Everybody in this league is good. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to coach better.”
(On where he thinks they are the most improved from the team they had in Arizona last season)
“You’ve got to remember that was game two of the season last year. When you really go back and look at that game, with three-and-a-half minutes to go in the second quarter it was ten-nothing and we had the ball on the 29-yard line going in. We tried to run an RPO (run-pass option) and we had an exchange issue and we turned it over for the third time – the third time in the first half on that play. Then it was just all downhill. They scored two quick touchdowns – 24-0 at half. I guess you tend to forget that that was game two last year. They beat us, they beat us good and we remember. It stings – we talked about that earlier. I don’t think defensively we are anywhere close to the same team we were last year and the statistics or all the indicators bear that out. Our defense played terrific after we got out of the bye week. I just think we are a much more confident defense and that we’ve got some different pieces on offense. You’ve got to also remember, I think it was our first or second carry of the game at Arizona is when Doug [Martin] pulled his hamstring last year. Knock on wood, Doug is back at full strength so hopefully we keep him.”
(On if he can tell if Martin is ready for a full workload)
“I think it will show itself in the game. Doug got 25 plays last week. Again, playing football is different than training for football and I’m sure he will catch up fast because he has played. He is a veteran player. I think that will present itself and we have no problem with any of our other backs. Every back I’ve ever been around thought he could take the ball 65 times a game. It’s just easier said than done.”
(On if wide receiver Mike Evans is a different guy from last season going up against Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson)
“I wouldn’t say different. I would just say Mike has continued to get better and that particular matchup – if it plays out that way [where] they match Patrick Peterson up on Mike – if it plays out that way that is two of the best at their position in the NFL going head-to-head. It will be a good matchup to watch. I think Mike has continued to get better and Patrick Peterson – his track record speaks for itself.”
(On if he expects to be more balanced on run-pass play selection)
“Usually how that works is if you’re winning some games that number comes down. If you’re losing games, you’re throwing. With the whole second half in Minnesota – when you are only four games in that is going to really distort it – when you only had six runs. That will tend to even itself out over the course of the season as long as you are winning some games. If you look at teams that are always winning, in the fourth quarter they are usually running the football trying to kill the clock.”
(On if Martin coming back contributes to this)
“That’s a good statement there. We shoot for 50-50 on first-and-10 and second-and-one-to-six. No one in the NFL is running the football too much on third-and-two-plus. That’s a very, very, very small number. We keep track of that stuff and we try to stay balanced because we still believe that is the hardest thing to defend. Hopefully that number does come down.”
(On how important it is this week in practice to ensure kicker Patrick Murray, punter Bryan Anger and long snapper Garrison Sanborn are all on the same page)
“Yep, the operation of the three specialists – that is the main thing. [Patrick Murray] knows how to kick, Bryan [Anger] knows how to hold and Garrison [Sanborn] knows how to snap, but putting it all together – the kicker likes the ball tilted a certain way and all that kind of stuff. That is the biggest thing in basically a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – three kicking days – that’s what it will be to get to the first game.”
(On if there is anything he has learned from previous West Coast trips to adjust the itinerary)
“We didn’t fare well on our first West Coast trip, but we were 3-0 after that. We won three out of four and we followed the same itinerary. We have an itinerary that we believe in – three times zones, we are going to go on Fridays, which we are going to do this time. We are going to practice here, fly late, get in there late. Basically, get there, get something to eat and go to bed. Have our normal Saturday as if we were at home and then body-clock wise we will have our meetings Saturday night and we will go to bed a little bit earlier. We will try to basically stay on East Coast time. That’s a system that’s worked. I learned it from Smitty (Mike Smith), who learned it from Brian Billick in his day. We believe in it. We were 3-1 with it, but as I said the other day, it’s not the system that does it. It’s the players that are going to determine what works and what doesn’t.”
(On if he agrees with offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s comments that quarterback Jameis Winston seems to play better when the game is on the line)
“I think we need to have Jameis be good all the time. The game, from my opinion, is on the line right off the bat. I don’t know the stats behind that. I don’t agree or disagree. I just think that the best quarterbacks in the NFL are always good.”
(On the strength of the NFC South division)
“We think this is a real tough division. Obviously, when we start playing more division games – ours are all back-end loaded – I know there has been a couple other ones already, but ours are back-end loaded. That’s when they have a double whammy because one team is going to win and the other team is going to lose in your division. The last two [NFC] Super Bowl teams have come out [of the NFC South]. The last two MVPs have come out of our division. We’ve known that all along. Every team in our division tries to keep pace. We don’t have our first division game for three more weeks until we play Carolina in three games, so we will worry about that one when it comes. But it’s a tough division. All you can do right now is handle your games as you go. This is an NFC game, so slightly more important than [AFC] games.”
(On Carolina bouncing back from last season)
“I didn’t have any reason to think they wouldn’t.”
(On how much running back Doug Martin adds to the offense)
“I think any time you add a talented player like Doug or any of the guys you’ve got, [on] either side of the ball, it changes your team. There [are] certain individual players that have the ability to make plays that others can’t. Doug has that ability – the ability to see things and to jump cut. That’s why he’s been to a Pro Bowl before and that’s why he’s had over 1,000 yards. Having him back obviously gives us a lift. We obviously have some other talented guys there, but everybody knows what Doug can do when he is right.”
(On if things have changed in terms of how they try to attack their opponents and if the playmakers added this year have been a factor in that)
“I think so. I think the more weapons you have, I think the more readily capable you are of designing things for others. When you add in O.J. Howard to the mix, you get Doug back, you add DeSean [Jackson], so you’re not constantly designing where can we put Mike [Evans]. In the past that’s what you did. You said, ‘Okay, we need to move Mike over here and Mike here.’ We don’t have to do that nearly as much.”
(On splitting reps between guards Kevin Pamphile and Evan Smith)
“Both [are] good football players. It’s a benefit to have a couple guys that you feel good about going in the game and so I think – as long as they keep playing at a high level and you’re capable of rotating them, eventually down the road you’re going to need them all. You’d like to be able to find a way, if you’re the next offensive lineman [or] you have a seventh lineman you could get him some snaps. Caleb [Benenoch] is not as far along, but whenever we have a chance to get Evan in and get him some more reps – it’s tough during the week because you don’t have a ton of reps. Your practice reps are very limited. Luckily they played at a very high level in the games.”
(On what the Cardinals do well defensively)
“Very disruptive. You go from one week where you’re playing the Patriots [who are] more of a coverage team and a one-on-one matchup team – the Cardinals are certainly capable of playing you in man coverage as the Patriots were, even though we saw a little bit more zone with them. They’re a lot more on the edge of trying to get you into third-and-extra-long with their blitzes early and down-and-distance, trying to get edgy. That hasn’t changed. Philosophically they haven’t changed in terms of trying to be aggressive early in the downs and continue that. They’re a very aggressive defense. They get edgy, so you’ve got to do a great job of identifying from a protection standpoint and then making sure you have enough numbers in the run game, or you will get behind the chains and then there you are stuck with third-and-long or third-and-extra-long. That’s where you get in trouble when you’re not getting explosives [and] trying to keep drives alive on third downs.”
(On where ‘long’ becomes ‘extra long’ in terms of yardage)
“10 yards – somewhere around there. Everybody has a little bit different thought of where that is, but when you’re not very good on third downs ‘extra long’ feels like maybe it’s six. But usually it’s 10-plus.”
(On if he is seeing a jump in quarterback Jameis Winston’s play from year two to year three)
“I think first and foremost he is not turning the ball over.  Now, take the Vikings game out of it, but in terms of what we ask him to do first is not turn the ball over. You don’t have to make every play. What helps that [is] being able to run the football – we’ve talked about that. Being able to be in the game because he is a highly competitive player. We’ve said that from the get-go. He’s going to want to make a play. But if you look at the last two weeks, when he is really at his best is when the game is on the line. Here we play the Giants, we score to take the lead. Then they come back to take the lead and we score again to win the game – pretty good. Last week for whatever we had done throughout the game, [he] drove us down there again, [we] missed a field goal. [We] drove down again [and] scored. [We] drove down again and [he] gave us a chance to win the game. That’s kind of who he is and I think he’s gotten better and better in terms of his comfort in the pocket [and] his accuracy. It’s always a work in practice with anybody, but we didn’t do him any favors on the perimeter of making contested catches when we had the opportunities for him. Again, putting us in a position to win, making some of the plays that he does with his feet that we’ve had the last couple of weeks – some of the explosive plays we’ve had. I see that in practice in terms of taking care of the football, in terms of his accuracy and it’s going to continue to carry over as we continue to protect as we’ve done, run the football [and] be in the right spots from a perimeter standpoint.”
(On if they want Winston to continue to utilize the check-down receiver and get the ball out of his hand quicker)
“I think a little bit. I think with a number of quarterbacks – you want him to make quicker decisions, you want him to make plays with his feet, you want him to be accurate on the deep ball, you want him to not turn it over – there is so many things that we want him to do. We want him to continue to evolve that way, but those are things that we can do a better job of: continuing to rep the same routes, the consistency of what we do over and over and over, because it is about reps and embedding that, ‘Okay, how many reps does it take until we have it?’ From a receiver standpoint, from a protection standpoint, from a decision-making [standpoint].”
(On what is going wrong for them on third down)
“We played the Giants and from a protection standpoint they did a nice job with it. Sometimes with drops and also with contested catches – you know you start to play teams that play more man and it’s going to be tight coverage. You’re not just going to sit down in windows, so you’re going to have to create some separation and they did a good job at times of covering us. We’ve got to do a better job coaching it. We’ve got to do a better job of executing it. That’s the way it always is on both ends – got to coach it better, got to play it better.”
(On what Winston does differently in game-on-the-line situations that he tends to perform better)
“I don’t know. It’s hard to put a finger on it because it feels like that’s what he was in college. It feels like that was when he was at his best. It’s just some guys have that in them. I don’t know if you’ve got ‘gamers,’ but the moment doesn’t get to big for him. I don’t think he ever doubts his ability. I think that’s part of it. I think he always believes if he plays well, we will win. He owns it – that’s one thing I like about it is that he believes he can make a play. He is not afraid to stand in there and take hits and make throws [and plays] with his feet, so I think that’s what happens sometimes when you get down in games and you’re trying to come back. I think he’s always capable of making another play for us.”
(On what challenges Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu presents)
“You’ve got to know where he’s at. They are using him a little different this year. They lost [Tony] Jefferson from last year, so they are using him a little bit more to cover your [third] receiver. I think he is probably – I don’t know, they haven’t mentioned it – but he looks a little more healthy, coming a year even further down the line from the surgery that he had. Again, he is a capable player blitzing. He is a capable player in coverage. He’s not afraid to take chances and make plays – a lot of times that is what separates good players from great players is their ability to make plays in moments, take risks, jump routes, blitz and be aggressive – that’s who he is.”
(On if Winston plays better in the no-huddle offense)
“It’s hard to say. We’ve gone no-huddle early in games and it seems to have worked and we have been fine there. I can’t tell you if he is – early in the game – being a little more protective of the ball, trying to make sure that we do. There is, later in the game, some of that risk-reward that you’ve got to be more aggressive. I don’t know. I know that he has improved in those areas early in the game in terms of decision making. The Vikings game was kind of a rarity, but there [were] a couple things there that you get down [and] you get frustrated. But in general, he has made very good decisions. There has been a number of times where he [might have been] a little bit off, but it hasn’t been where okay, those were dangerous decisions and throws.’
(On if the mindset is any different going into this game because of what happened last season in Arizona)
“I don’t think so. I mean you’d have to ask the players their mindset in the locker room because I am not in there with them. But it’s a new year, it’s a new week. We didn’t play our best football. We deserved that beatdown. We turned it over. The game was still, early in that first quarter, in the balance and we did everything we could to just basically give them the game. Obviously, at some point in that game we lost Doug [Martin] to a soft tissue injury. We didn’t have him as the game went on and we turned it over. That’s just the way it is. We’ve got to do a better job on the road running the football. We had our opportunities we just didn’t take advantage of it. Once we got behind it was tough sledding.”
(On what he thought of the team’s ability to get wide receiver DeSean Jackson the ball against the Patriots)
“Dealing with receivers as much as I have, I think he has played well. Sometimes the ball gets in his hands. The one slant he took, it’s not very often you get that look where the WILL linebacker kind of sucked up and there is all that space to really showcase his burst. Then we had, at the end of the game, a couple of opportunities where he made some big catches for us. We’ve had those same opportunities, it just hasn’t come to fruition. I think he’s played well. I think with each week that he continues to practice with Jameis and I just think they continue to get on the same page. It’s one of those things. There is only one ball. That’s probably the hardest thing. You talked about earlier, the more weapons you get and the more guys you want to get the ball, so it’s how many touches can you get Doug? How many can you get some of your tight ends? That’s hard, but he is a special talent. We need to continue to find ways to keep him involved where he can run after catch – that’s one thing he has shown is that burst when he gets in space.”
(On the challenge that the Cardinals defense presents with the man coverage that they play)
“That’s the main part – they’re going to play how they play. They are going to man you up. They’re going to try and pressure the quarterback.”
(On what running back Doug Martin adds to the offense)
“Doug is definitely a huge part [of] our team because that’s one of the things we focus on – dominating in the running game [and] dominating the line of scrimmage. What he brings to the table is amazing. When he really gets going you see that our offense can open up all different types of ways.”
(On if he feels the difference when the offense is running hurry-up as opposed to a regular pace)
“Just playing fast. I don’t really feel a difference, but just getting in a rhythm and playing fast.”
(On if it is more about getting the offense into a rhythm or denying the defense a chance to substitute)
“It’s just about our team. That is one of the advantages we have playing fast and executing.”
(On the mindset entering Sunday’s game)
“Go there and play our tails off. Go in there and compete and execute and have a very clean game. Last year was unfortunate for us, but in the beginning of the game we were in it. Turnovers kind of put us out of it. Heading into Arizona, we just have to go there and be ready to execute and be ready to play. We are playing in someone else’s home field and [we’ve got to] come with it.”
(On if there is anything specific that he learned from the Arizona game last season)
“I think just turning the ball over was the biggest part.”
(On his conversation with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady following the game last week)
“It was [Buccaneers Vice President of Communications] Nelson [Luis]. Nelson set that up for me and I am very thankful for him. It was a blessing. It was a privilege. It was cool, but that was all Nelson.”
(On if Tom Brady sought out to talk to him before the game)
“No, he didn’t.”
(On if they talked before the game)
“Yeah, we did.”
(On if there are any moments from earlier in the season that he wishes he had back)
“I’ve just got to play better. I’m very hard on myself, but just overall I’ve got to play better [and] put our team in a better situation to win football games.”
(On if connecting on a deep ball with wide receiver DeSean Jackson last game made him feel like things are starting to click between the two of them)
“Again, we’ve just got to get better. Every game is different. You’ve got to continue to make those plays. I’ll tell you, when you get him in a rhythm it’s going to be special.”
(On if he felt relieved when they made that connection or if he was just worried about the next play)
“It’s really just next play when you’re in the heat of battle. When you look back at it, it was good. But in the heat of battle, you’re just trying to play fast and keep the positive things coming.”
(On how he manages all of his playmakers who consistently want the ball)
“You listen to the guy and you keep playing you. I’m the type of quarterback, I say it all the time, ‘I don’t discriminate. I’m going to get the open guy the ball.’ We don’t really have [any] problems like that. Obviously when you have targets like D-Jack (DeSean Jackson) and Mike [Evans] they’re always going to be guys that you know, ‘Okay, I’ve got a chance with this guy getting open.’ When you have the other guys that have the same percentage chance of getting open too, it kind of makes my job -- as far as dispersing the ball to everybody – easier because everyone has ultimate respect for each other and we have a lot of selfless players in our locker room, so it makes it easy.”
(On his connection with wide receiver Adam Humphries)
“He shows up every game. If you watch the game, you’re going to see Adam Humphries show up and have a long run or break a tackle or make a fantastic catch. That’s just who he is. He’s a baller. [He’s] similar to Cam [Brate] – guys that just work hard as far as taking care of their body [and] as far as getting extra reps after practice. Guys that are true professionals like Adam Humphries – you just love having them as a teammate. The guy gets open. You can’t expect nothing less.”
(On if the Buccaneers have changed the way they attack other teams)
“Not at all. I’ve just got to play better. If I start playing better everything is going to start looking better. When it starts looking better we are going to have Ws. The more Ws we have the better off it is for everybody.”
(On what has enabled him to protect the ball over the course of the past few games)
“I’ve just got to keep that in the back of my mind all of the time. That’s the main goal is to protect that football. That’s why I said I’ve just got to play better. I know [there was] one game where I turned the ball over a lot, but I’ve just got to play better. Overall, precision, decisions, progressions – I feel great out there, but I’ve just got to play cleaner.”
(On if he feels he and his receivers can adjust to surprises in defensive coverages)
“Yeah. The key to those adjustments is it really just falls on me just going through my progressions and taking what they give. That’s another thing what I mean [by] ‘playing better.’ They show you [their] hand. Okay, you showed them your hand, but just complete the football somewhere.”
(On what the Cardinals cornerbacks does well)
“I think it all starts with their rush. They’ve got some good guys up front. They get a good rush on you. Patrick Peterson [is] arguably one of the best corners in the league and [Justin] Bethel, he is a great corner too, but I think we match up well with those guys. As far as matchups with anyone in the league, I believe we match up pretty well. I look at it as they’re our competition for this week. Yes, they’re good, but everybody in the NFL is good. It’s a week-to-week league. We just have to be better than them on Sunday.”
(On if there is an extra incentive for this game because of the way the team played last year in Arizona)
“I’m not really worried about last year. I’m just focused on [the fact that] we lost at home and we definitely want to bounce back. You never want to lose two games in a row, no matter who they are to. We’ve just got to head to Arizona with that in our mind, knowing that what happened last year did happen and [we’ve got to] bring it. Bring it even more because they’re going to be ready and they’re coming off of a loss too, so they are going to be prepared to play at home.”
(On his performance during his first game back against New England)
“First off, it felt really good going back in there. I was surprised how quickly some of the stuff came back. In the middle of the game, I kind of did feel like I had not played ball in four weeks, but it did feel good to get out there and help the team in the beginning.”
(On his mindset going into the game against Arizona this Sunday after losing there last year)
“I feel great. I feel really great. Last year, it’s when I had my hamstring [injury]. I’m doing whatever I can to prevent that. I am going to be drinking tons of water on the plane, tons of water when I get there, stretch and do all things of that nature to get ready for them.”
(On running behind an improved offensive line from last season)
“It’s good. I had a little taste of it this past week. They did a good job of moving guys and staying on guys and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do this upcoming game. I have my hats off to all those guys.”
(On the hardest part of his injury last season)
“The hardest part was the setback. I was trying to get back out there for the team. We were down running backs, so I was trying to probably rush it a little bit. But, that was last year. This year I am healthy and I am going in healthy.”
(On whether this team is still run-centric)
“Yeah, definitely. It always starts with the guys up front. Our O-linemen are a big part of our offense and if we can’t control the line of scrimmage, then I’m going uphill. So, our emphasis is to beat them at the line of scrimmage, get the running game going, get the play action going and get everybody else involved.”
(On whether he believes he can take on a bigger workload this game)
“I feel like I can handle anything that the coaches ask me to. I’m prepared to do that.”
(On whether he expected to be so productive last game)
“I just wanted to go out there and show everybody that I’m back. I have fresh legs. Like I said, I was actually surprised how quickly the reads came and how the quick twitch was there as well. It was a good feeling to have.”

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