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01 November 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (11/1/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: The Buccaneers are averaging 376.6 yards per game, the fourth-highest mark in the NFL. The team has totaled 2,636 yards this season, the most in franchise history through seven games.
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith
(On how quarterback Jameis Winston looked in practice)
“He looked fine.”
(On if it is encouraging to see him practicing on a Wednesday since he was unable to do so the previous two weeks)
“Well, of course. As we’ve said all along, you’d always rather have your starting quarterback out there taking every rep, so yes.”
(On what it says about cornerback Vernon Hargreaves that he has been able to bounce back from a tough stretch of games)
“Well it says he is the right kind of guy because he had his role diminished and he owned it. He said to you guys in the locker room – he said the truth. When that’s the case, he is the one that needed to fix it and he did a good job of that. It says he’s the right kind of guy.”
(On if he still plans to focus on stopping the run even with Drew Brees at the quarterback position)
“Drew Brees is obviously one of the best to ever play the position, but New Orleans is definitely running the ball more. They’ve got the two real good backs. If you don’t go in there to stop the run, they’re going to keep running it at you. In the game where they beat us at their place last year, they ran it at us hard and we didn’t do a good enough job stopping it. Every offense in the NFL would love to be able to run it when they wanted to and pass it when they wanted to. If you’re a defensive team, you’ve got to stop something and it’s always easier if you can stop the run first.”
(On the difference between the home and away games against New Orleans last season)
“Number one, New Orleans made a lot more conscious effort to run the ball in that second game. They were running the power play, which is the oldest play in the book and normally the guy that controls the strong-side C gap for us is Will Gholston and, as you recall, he didn’t play that game. That’s one of our points of emphasis is you’ve got to control the C gap.”
(On who would get the most reps at slot receiver if Adam Humphries was unable to play)
“Yeah it would be a combination of everybody, but Chris Godwin, of course, and Bernard Reedy. I mean we only have five receivers, so those would be the two main guys.”
(On what he has seen out of wide receiver Chris Godwin’s progress)
“[He’s] just real steady – real solid across the board. [He’s] a major contributor on special teams and a guy that, because of our depth at wide receiver, he is not getting that many targets. He is down in the pecking order a little bit, but he is doing his best and he’s going to be a real good player in this league.”
(On how important it is for the offensive line to be playing at a high level)
“Everything starts at the line of scrimmage. We’ve all seen what happens when any team doesn’t play well up front. It all starts there and after that it goes to the guy that touches it every time – the quarterback, so that’s every offense in the league.”
(On if there is one specific thing that has led to a lack of sacks, or if it is a variety of things)
“It’s different. Sometimes we get blocked. Sometimes we are going to get home, but they have a guy open so they get the ball out on time. It’s different.”
(On his message to the team this week)
“Just that you’ve got to keep doing things right. We are playing good football in spurts, but we are not playing consistently enough in any area. If we are beating ourselves and the other team isn’t beating themselves than we’ve got to stop beating ourselves. We’ve got to play good football on a more consistent basis. Once we do that, the wins will come.”
(On facing Saints quarterback Drew Brees)
“Well he has definitely had a Hall of Fame career. He is in our division. I’ve had to play him as a division foe twice a year. I can’t say enough about his skillset – not only physically, but mentally too. He is a guy that can get them into the right plays, he has seen it all, there is not anything knew that you’re going to show him and he’s a heck of a player. He is having another great season. I think he’s doing it a little bit differently this year than he has in the past.”
(On one defining quality of Brees)
“I think it’s his toughness in the pocket. I think people don’t realize how tough of a football player he is. He will sit in the pocket and wait until the last minute before he gets the ball out. When you have a guy who will do that, it really puts stress on your entire defense.”
(On if the key to slowing down Brees it to try to get to him and take him out of his rhythm)
“Well I think anytime you’re playing a really good quarterback and he is able to stay in rhythm, it’s going to be a tough out for you. It’s going to be imperative that we try to get him flustered a little bit whether it’s by changing up the coverage, whether it’s by adding extra rushers – there are different ways you can do it, but you don’t want him to have a comfort level in the pocket. If he does, he will get it to the right guy.”
(On if New Orleans is a different type of team than they have been in the past)
“It is. They’re doing a real good job of getting the ball to the running backs, especially in the passing game. Both of the running backs (Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara) are very adept at catching the ball out of the backfield. I think they’ve got a very impressive screen game and then they’re committing to the run. They’ve had a number of times where they’ve added an extra lineman to help bolster their running attack. I think they’ve done a really good job of keeping people off balance. That’s one of the things, when you play Sean [Payton] in his offense, is they’re not an up-tempo offense in terms of no-huddling, but the changing of the personnel groupings from the sideline is about as fast as you’re going to get in this league. It’s going to be critical that we are able to match because he has shown more personnel groupings than any team that we have faced. There were 13 different personnel groupings that we identified in our breakdown.”
(On if this team is similar to the New Orleans team that went to the Super Bowl)
“They’re playing well and they are moving the ball both by throwing it and by passing it. I still think that’s it’s going to go through Drew [Brees]. Drew is the guy that leads that machine and drives that machine. He is a guy that, as mentioned, you’ve got to get to him, get him off his spot, give him something that he thinks is one thing and then give him something else.”
(On if they took anything from the team’s game in New Orleans last season)
“Yeah that game in New Orleans, when we played them a couple weeks earlier here and we went there, we did not defend the run very well in the game in New Orleans. They’re running the ball very efficiently right now. In terms of how they’re going to attack us, I anticipate they’re going to try to keep us off-balance in terms of what they’re doing in down-and-distance and by personnel groupings.”
(On what the Saints have done well to propel them to the division lead)
“I think they’ve done a nice job of playing complementary football. Their defense is playing at a pretty good clip and a pretty good level. I think the first two games they gave up a lot of points, but then they were able to get that under control. Again, he is going to take his shots. It’s a little bit different. I think it’s a little more [of an] underneath, controlled passing game. They’ve done a very good job of protecting him. I think they’re second in the league in terms of sacks per pass attempt, so they’ve done a nice job protecting the quarterback and he is getting it out of his hands very quickly.”
(On if a strong defensive performance against the Saints could be a spark to rally behind throughout the rest of the season)
“Well we’ve just got to go and play consistent football defensively. We have not done that. We have not done it well enough this first half of the season, especially on the road. We have not played very good defense on the road. We’ve got to change that this week in terms of how we approach it and how we go out and perform. We’ve not been a very good defensive football team on the road.”
(On if he was pleased by the effort defensively against Carolina)
“We’re a very inconsistent group and we’ve got to get that figured out. I was impressed with some individuals in terms of how they performed in the game against Carolina. But as a group, we’ve been very inconsistent. We were inconsistent in that game last week. They take the ball on that first drive and we are three-and-out and then they run it 19 plays before we get them stopped. There’s a lack of consistency. In this league, if you’re not consistent, it’s going to come back and bite you in the butt. That’s what we’ve really been dealing with is a lack of consistency across the board.”
(On what is beginning to click for cornerback Vernon Hargreaves)
“I thought that both Vernon [Hargreaves] and Ryan [Smith] did a nice job last week. They got up and challenged the receivers and they did a nice job of getting their hands on those big guys. Those were big, physical guys and they stepped up and accepted the challenge [of] trying to be disruptive at the line of scrimmage. We did a nice job of getting them just off the mark, and when they are just off the mark and they’re not clean and the quarterback is missing by six inches, then we’ve got a successful play.”
(On what has impressed him about linebacker Kendell Beckwith)
“I think the sky is the limit with him. This is a young man that has come in as a rookie [and] missed all of the offseason because of the injury. The injury occurred, I believe, last October and [he] had surgery in November. [He] wasn’t really involved in our offseason program. [The] first time we saw him was in training camp. He’s played MIKE, he’s played dime, he’s played backer, he’s played SAM. He’s played almost every position. We’ve asked him to do some things as we try to generate some pass rush and put him on the defensive front. This young man – he understands football, he is passionate about it and I think the sky is the limit. He’s a big plus for our defense thus far.”
(On if Beckwith is the best blitzer from the linebacker group)
“I won’t say he’s our best. When you don’t have the success that you’ve had in generating pressure on the quarterback, we’ve got to keep looking. When it’s [itching], you’ve got to keep [scratching] and that’s what we’re doing right now. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to stop the itch. But believe me, it’s not because of effort. Every time we go out we’ve tried to do something a little bit different. We haven’t been able to generate the pass rush that we need. Obviously, our numbers are what they are. You get what you earn in this league.”
(On if linebacker Lavonte David has been the most consistent defender)
“Absolutely. I wish that he didn’t miss a couple games. I think it would’ve been able to help us. He’s done a great job. I think Lavonte has got a very good feel now of what we’re trying to do schematically. I will still say this, I think that he was banged up last year. He wasn’t at 100 percent, but he’s hunting the ball. Those are the things that we have to do. We’ve got to create turnovers and we’ve got to get off the field on third down. I tell our guys all the time, ‘Sometimes yards are empty yards. They are like empty calories.’ We all eat empty calories – me a lot of them, by the way. Those yards are empty calories. The things that we’ve got to concern [ourselves with] is keeping them out of the end zone and getting off the field on third down. The numbers show it. We are not very good at either one of those things right now. We’ve been very inconsistent.”
(On the key to sticking together as a team and overcoming a slow start)
“You’ve got to stay together. There’s not going to be anybody [to] ride in here and fix it. We’ve got to fix it ourselves. You get what you earn. We’ve earned this thus far and we’ve got to dig out of it. It starts with going into the meeting rooms, communicating [and] taking that communication out onto the field. When you do that, you’re going to eliminate the big plays because that has been an Achilles heel of our defense as well. I think it starts with us getting together and communicating, not only in the meeting rooms, but on the field. It has to carry over with some consistency to the playing field on game day. That’s what is not happening. I tell the guys, ‘We’re playing in a league that is at the top of the elite level. Almost making plays [isn’t] going to get it. We’ve got to freaking make plays. That’s what we’ve got to do.’ When you almost make a play, you’re not going to get the result that you want and three or four of them are going to be the difference in the game.”
(On if he feels that the communication issues are starting to get resolved now)
“I certainly hope so. We did not communicate like we needed to on certain plays. Certain plays have been miscommunications. Certain plays have been physical. Other plays have been, ‘Man, I wish I had that call back.’ It’s all three. It’s the trifecta. When you have the trifecta, you’re not going to like the result. We’re not doing it and as I’ve mentioned, we need to be more consistent as a defensive group and do a lot more to help this team win.”
(On defending a play-action offense)
“They do a very good job with their play-action. They like to take their shots when they do the play-action and if it’s not there, it’s [a] deep ball [or] check-down. They do a very good job at it. It’s going to be very important for us to be disciplined with our eyes. You can’t be peeking in the backfield when you’ve got coverage. Once you recognize that it’s not a run, we’ve got to get some depth and get some underneath protection for those deep balls. Drew [Brees] can still throw the ball 55-60 yards down the field.”
(On if it is up to the leaders of the team to overcome adversity)
“I think it’s all of us. We are all in this together. We have to do the best we can in trying to put the guys in the best positions that they possibly can be in. Obviously, that’s one of the issues that we’ve had. We haven’t been able to put them in the best position possible. These guys, the effort is there – I’ve used the word inconsistent because that’s what we are. You can look at it and you can say, ‘What happened on drive A differently than on drive B?’ It could have been a bad call by Coach [Mike] Smith. It could’ve been [that] it was a missed tackle. It could’ve been [that] it was a missed assignment. You can’t have three of four of those in a game. We are playing at the elite level. We are playing against the greatest athletes in the world. When you make mistakes, they’re going to get you. I’ve got to get it across to our guys that hey, we’ve got to play perfect football. We’ve got to play perfect football to help play complementary football, so that we can win games. It’s all three phases that are going to win. We play good and shouldn’t feel good about it if we don’t win.”
(On his message to the team to keep players locked in on the team’s goals)
“We keep coaching. We keep communicating. We keep trying to figure out what’s going to make us a better team. We’ve got to do this together. Hey, we got in this position together. We are going to get out of it together.”
(On if defensive end William Gholston’s role has changed)
“No, not at all. We’ve got some areas that we feel like we’ve got to improve. We’ve got to put different guys in in different situations. Unfortunately for Will, as an individual, his snaps have gone down but we’ve been trying to generate some different things from the position that he plays.”

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