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13 September 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017 Media Availability (9/13/17)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
(Opening Statement)
“Obviously, it’s great to get back to thinking a little bit about football. We know that a lot of people got it worse than we did and we were very fortunate here to have as little misfortune in this area as we did in some other parts of the state and the region. But, we’re thinking about those people. We are thinking about those still hurting [and] still inconvenienced, but at the same time it’s good to get back to football.”
(On his thoughts over the weekend with the hurricane looming and still thinking about getting the guys back together to resume football afterward)
“Well you have mixed emotions at that time because obviously we didn’t know what was going to happen here and happen with the hurricane in general. At the same time, there’s other games going on and you’re watching those games and your body is sort of telling you that you guys should be out there playing too. All that is stuff that we have no control over. We just have to worry about what we do control.”
(On the tempo at practice)
“It was all right.”
(On facing a quarterback who knows the team’s defense well)
“I think it probably does add a little bit of mystery on both sides. Mike is a very, very sharp guy. I’m sure he remembers a lot of stuff. Mike is a note taker – I’m sure he remembers a lot of stuff about our defense. At the same time, we know Mike and we know his strengths and weaknesses as well.”
(On the leadership of this team)
“I feel like we do have good leadership. Not only with the captains – the guys elected – the six captains, but also we have plenty of other good leaders on our team. We’ve got 63 players now with practice squad and everything, you’ve got coaches, you’ve got you folks – everybody’s situation is a little bit different coming out of what we just came out of. No two guys are going to be exactly alike. We are going to play the Bears on Sunday and both teams are going to be trying to win. [There is] no use in making any excuses about it.”
(On the relief of knowing they would play Sunday as scheduled at Raymond James Stadium)
“Well just like a lot of things over the last few weeks, there was a little bit of a waiting game there. Of course, we were hoping that because of a minor hurricane damage, that there wasn’t going to be much damage – that we would be able to A, have a game and B, have a home game. So of course, that is what we were hoping for. But, there were just a lot of unknowns until we saw what that hurricane – as you’re watching it come up through and you’re watching the damage it’s doing in other places, football sort of takes a back seat to that.”
(On the worry he had about is family with the uncertainty of the hurricane’s path)
“For all of us, and all of you folks to – first and foremost, everybody wants to know that their family is safe. I was certain that my family was safe and that made that part of it easier.”
(On if the coaching staff has made progress on knowing how ready safety T.J. Ward is to play in Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith’s defense on Sunday)
“Not really. Again, nothing has changed until today so nothing has really changed in that respect. We had T.J. for one day and then we broke for six days.”
(On what it will be like for guys who haven’t played in almost a month to return to game speed)
“What is it going to be like? I don’t know what it’s going to be like. There’s no right or wrong answer. We are playing a game on Sunday, so it doesn’t matter what it’s like. It’s probably going to be hard on them, but I don’t think anybody is going to be feeling sorry for us. I know the Bears aren’t going to be feeling sorry for us. If you look around the league, there are a lot of teams that have issues. I think there is one team in the league that has five starters in concussion protocol, if I’m not mistaken. There’s guys on every team going on IR (Injured Reserve). Jacksonville couldn’t get back from their game. Miami had to go to California a week early. There’s issues on every team. We have our issues. Chicago has their issues.”
(On if the team is healthy overall)
“Yeah, we are pretty healthy. You’ll see from the injury report. It will never be this clean again.”
(On if the team is doing anything they normally wouldn’t do on a Wednesday)
“We do a little bit of ‘good-on-good’ every Wednesday and we did that today. This early in the season we have never taken this many days off. I didn’t have a great feel for what it was going to look like out there today. We did have everybody back last night except for one guy. We had a nice walk-through. We had 64 plays that we got in last night in walk-through. I thought we got them at least talking about football again and thinking about football a little bit. Then, a normal Wednesday practice today – meeting this morning, walk-through, practice, we’re going back into meetings here in a few minutes and we will keep them here until about five o’clock tonight. We can’t buy more time and you can’t overwork them and not have their legs for Sunday. It’s going to be warm. It was back to being warm today. It is what it is and we are going to have to play.”
(On if he is more worried about being mentally focused or physically focused)
“No, neither one. We have to be ready in both areas.”
(On if it’s understandable for a young quarterback like Jameis Winston to struggle early in games, according to the numbers)
“Well, you can definitely build that case and obviously you already have. The past doesn’t have to equal the future, so I don’t think it has to be that way moving forward, no.”
(On how much of a tactical advantage it is to be able to see them have a full game on tape)
“It’s impossible to say. That’s an impossible question. Yeah, we saw them. They didn’t see us. In cliché talk, most people would say that teams improve the most between their first and second games, so it’s all talk. The game is going to happen on Sunday.”
(On if he has ever gotten something valuable at of a conversation with a current player who formerly played for the opponent)
“That’s a good question. Coaches have been trying to do that, ever since I came into the league. Coaches would tell me about certain teams that would cut a guy and bring another guy in off the street because he played for that team. Every time I have tried to do that, personally, if I have asked him 10 questions, about eight of [his] answers made no sense at all to me, one of them made a little bit of sense and one of them said, ‘Oh yeah, we watched the same film.’ A quarterback is maybe a little bit different animal. When Mike [Glennon] left, we had an oath that he was sworn to secrecy but we will see if he upholds it [laughs].”
(On his thoughts on Bears rookie running back Tarik Cohen)
“Very impressive – both of their backs. I know everybody is on the rookie’s bandwagon this week – and rightfully so – but let’s not forget [Jordan] Howard was the second leading rusher in the league. They’ve got a really nice one-two punch. We showed the team some clips on both guys and I think most teams in the NFL would like the one-two punch that they had last week.”
(On if he will have to make sure the guys aren’t too amped up on Sunday)
“If I knew how to make sure of that I would be living in Las Vegas instead of in Tampa because no one can do that. Hopefully we can give the crowd something to get excited about. I know the crowd will be excited for a game and I know we will be excited for a game. Hopefully, we will find that right balance. I don’t know how to tell you the right answer for that one.”
(On how anxious he is to just play a game after all the distractions)
“Yeah, let’s just play some football. That’s what we all came here for, right? To play some football.”
(On how the Hurricane Irma experience was for him personally)
“It started out like it was going to be a gunshot and it was a peashooter. I know it impacted a lot of people in Florida. We are praying for the people that it really impacted, but for us it wasn’t much of anything. It was just a couple of inconveniences and it’s what you make of it.”
(On how the team will try to return to a state of normalcy)
“Well you come to work and you come to practice. It’s great [that] we got them (the players) in here last night and we were able to have a walk-through, so we got an extra day of practice. We ended up our walk-through last night, which in a normal week we wouldn’t get – coming off a bye week, we would. We are back into our regular routine.”
(On how the community returns to normal)
“Different parts of the community were impacted differently. Again, there are services that are available and I hope that everybody gets back to normal as quickly as possible. That was our goal – to get back in here last night and the guys did a great job doing that. Dirk [Koetter] had a schedule and we went through it and we’re off and running.”
(On if the coaching staff had to alter its schedule on Tuesday)
“Not really. There were guys that were here working. There were guys that were working remotely. We have the ability – if you’ve got a laptop and you’ve got a connection, or even if you don’t have a connection, you can download everything that you need and we went to work.”
(On if it is an advantage for the Buccaneers to have a full game on film of the Bears)
“We are familiar with Mike [Glennon] and the offense. We played them last year – same offensive coordinator. For us offensively, there were some similarities. [Dolphins Head Coach] Adam Gase and [Bears Offensive Coordinator] Dowell Loggains worked together before, so there are some similarities in terms of our game planning. It feels like we’ve had a long time to get prepared for them in terms of the coaching staff. Now, we’ve just got to get our guys up to speed and have them ready to play on Sunday.”
(On how the coaching staff plans to get players ready physically after having some time off)
“Well I know the guys – they haven’t been out on the field, but I know the group of guys that we have – I’m sure they’ve been working their tails off, working on their conditioning. Every time you play the first game of the season, it’s going to stun your body. It doesn’t matter what kind of shape you’re in – it’s going to stun your body. Everybody gets through it and moves on to the next one.”
(On if it will be challenging to get ready for guys who sat out the final two preseason games)
“On our side of the ball we kept a lot of guys out, but these guys know what they have to do with their bodies. They’re going to be ready to go. You can’t make excuses. You can’t have distractions. They’re only excuses if you make them and they’re only distractions if you let them be. Every week in the NFL there’s going to be potential distractions. Somebody is going to be hurt, we don’t know if somebody is playing on our team, or not playing on their team so to me, it’s only what you make of it and I think our guys have done a great job in their attitude when they’ve come back. We had great meetings this morning on the defensive side and we just had a good walk-through.”
(On how helpful the extra week will be for safety T.J. Ward to get acclimated to his new system)
“It will help him. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get out on the field and get him snaps. He has had to take mental reps, but it will help him. He’s going to be more familiar with our scheme then he [would’ve been] if we played on Sunday.”
(On how many snaps he would like for defensive end Noah Spence to get vs. Chicago)
“Well, it’s going to really be based on the situations in the ball game. We think Noah can be a full-time player. We think we want to have a rotation up front and we want him to be fresh in the fourth quarter, especially if we are in a situation where we want to be rushing the passer. That’s what we want to be doing in the fourth quarter is we want to be playing the pass and not the run.”
(On if T.J. Ward is ready to play full-go or if he will only play in certain packages)
“Well, these next three days are going to be a big indicator for us in terms of what he really knows. In the meeting room he has done a great job watching tape and going through it. He has a very good understanding of football. There are some similarities – his first year in Denver he played for Jack Del Rio so there are some similarities in verbage from Jack’s system and what we do, so that is a plus.”
(On where he was during Hurricane Irma)
“I was here in Tampa for the entire time.”
(On how important an edge-rush is to any defense)
“Pressure on the quarterback is the number one thing and the one we are facing this week, we know very well and he knows us very well. As the backup quarterback, we had [Bears quarterback] Mike Glennon throwing against our defense all the time. There were days that I would come off the field and think, ‘Man, we aren’t going to be able to stop anybody – Mike just cut us up in practice today.’ Mike is a really fine thrower of the football. Back to your question about the pressure – the pressure is important. If the quarterback is comfortable by being able to stand back there in the pocket, he’s going to find open receivers – there is no doubt about it. Mike has a good understanding of our defense, so it’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be a fun little chess match because Mike was with us last year.”
(On if it’s uncomfortable from a coach’s perspective not knowing what to expect out of the guys on Sunday since they planned for their first game to be against the Miami Dolphins)
“Not really. You move on from week to week in this league. You’ve got to turn the page very quickly whether you win or whether you lose, or whether you played the game or didn’t play the game. You’ve got to move on to the next one and I think our guys have that mentality. I think when you get a chance to visit with the defensive guys, they are excited about going out and playing. It’s time for us to go do that.”
(On who has the bigger advantage between Bears quarterback Mike Glennon and the Buccaneers defense being that they know each other very well)
“I think it depends on who plays better that day. We know that he’s very capable of making plays. If we don’t get pressure on him, we don’t cover and we aren’t on top of our game – Mike Glennon could make it tough for our defense. There is no doubt about that.”
(On what can be expected out of defensive end Jacquies Smith)
“I’m not going to speak to that specific player. I’ll let Dirk [Koetter] deal with that. He was out participating and it’s been a haul for him in terms of the situation he’s been in. But, he’s done a good job rehabbing. He has been out there on the practice field being able to take reps.”
(On if the starters are eager to play with such a long gap since the third preseason game)
“I would think so. You would have to ask those guys, but I’m pretty sure I know what the answer is going to be.”
(On how he spent last Sunday)
“I was in the office. When games were on, we had the Chicago game on. Then we were fortunate, for us, to be able to watch Minnesota, so we got a jump on Minnesota. You’ve got to flip it to the way that you want it to be – and that’s to be positive. I look at it that, ‘Hey, if we would’ve been playing a game, we wouldn’t have had a chance to sit there and watch the Bears play or the opportunity to really watch Minnesota, who we’re going to be playing coming up here next week.”
(On how he felt the Bears played last week vs. Atlanta)
“Offensively, I thought they had a very good game plan in terms of attacking the Falcons. I thought Mike [Glennon] did a good job getting the ball out of his hand. They obviously wanted to get that rookie [running back Tarik Cohen] the ball as much as possible. By the way, he is a game wrecker. He is a guy that can really scoot. He has great speed, he is not very tall, he can create matchup issues for our linebackers, and they want to get him the ball. I think he was targeted 12 times and I think he had eight catches. He had two explosive runs – one he circled the defense and looking at it, you would’ve thought they had him leveraged. He is a talented guy.”
(On if Bears running back Tarik Cohen adds another dimension)
“Absolutely. They definitely were wanting to have him be an integral part of what they want to do offensively. I think that the offensive line is probably the strength with the running backs. The running back, Jordan [Howard], that we played last year had two runs over 10 yards that I can recall off the top of my head. He is strong. We’re going to have to tackle him. Coach [John] Fox is a defensive guy [and] I’m familiar with him, being in our division for so many years. It’s going to be a challenge for us because they are going to try and run the ball and get the ball out on the perimeter to their guys that have the speed and the quickness to do that.”
(On if there is a tactical advantage for the Buccaneers getting to watch the Bears game film)
“Well I think each week it’s a completely different animal in terms of what defense they’re defending. I think in terms of how they want to utilize their players – obviously, if it was Week One and we hadn’t seen [Tarik] Cohen that would have been an advantage for them in terms of being able to spring him on the team that they’re playing because he is a really challenging out so to speak, you know, to get him out. They definitely wanted to focus on him and get him the ball.”
(On what is appealing to the coaches about T.J. Ward)
“His physicality. He comes from a team that’s had a lot of success and I think that’s important for us. He’s a physical football player, he’s a football junkie, his dad was a football coach, his dad still coaches track, I think, in a big program out in California. He is the kind of guy that you want to have in your room. He’s going to be a physical player that is going to be able to say he’s a box player, but I think he can play in the box and play in the deep middle as well. It’s just what you’re going to ask him to do. He has got a very good understanding of football and I think he is going to be a good addition to our secondary and the mix that we want to play at the back end.”
(On what it was like not playing Sunday and watching what was going on in Florida with Hurricane Irma)
“Obviously, I made some comments about not playing. I mean if you love this sport you want to play. At the same time, I made plenty of comments about people being safe and praying for everybody and making sure everybody got to safety – that was my main concern. I didn’t stay here. I left and just prayed for the people who were traveling and the people who stayed. Anybody affected by Irma – I was just concerned about them period. It was a madhouse getting out of there. It was like Independence Day or something, you know, stuff you see on movies. It took me three hours to get gas at one point … It took me about an hour to find it. Once I found it, I sat in line to go half a mile for two hours. Two hours to go half a mile – that’s how backed up it was.”
(On his plans to help the community)
“I’m currently trying to put something together for all of those affected. I’m working on it right now, trying to figure out what the biggest need is and we’re going to make some moves. I love my city and I love people, so we are going to try to make something happen.”
(On if the return of football can help the city bounce back)
“Can a city rally around football? Yeah, we’re not us without our city. I think everybody is just excited to see football in Tampa again. We’re excited, fans are excited and it’s a getaway. I know for me, football is a getaway from my everyday life. It’s my escape, even though it’s stressful at times because you’ve got to focus [and] your body is hurting sometimes, mentally you know nobody cares what you’re dealing with, they just want to see you perform. When you’ve got all that on your mind it gets stressful, but it’s still my getaway. I think for everybody, fans, maybe people who were affected – we’ve got a game coming to town. I believe the power is on at the stadium. If it’s not, we’ve got smart phones – somebody can keep score on their phone.”
(On going up against Bears quarterback Mike Glennon)
“I’m really good friends with Mike Glennon. I shot him a message and told him, ‘I’m proud of you, man. You played well.’ I’m excited to compete against him. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m not looking forward to it because he is that good. We’ve just got to go out there and play. It starts with today [and] a good day of practice and we will see where it goes from there.”
(On the difference between going up against Glennon versus other quarterbacks in the division)
“Well it’s different. When you go against Mike in practice, you know what you are going against – you know the offense, you know the cadence, you know the players, you know all of that. Now, he’s in a completely different city. His mindset could be different. He’s in the starting role. Mike got some reps with the ‘one’s and two’s’ here. Well, he is the guy there, so everything changes. The difference between Mike and our division opponents is Mike was around us every day. He knows guys’ emotions, he knows what our weaknesses are – he knows all of that. He knows guys personally. He knows my family, he knows the other defensive linemen’s families. When you’re dealing with that, you’ve really got to be prepared. You can’t go in there with the same stuff you’ve been doing. Mike is a smart guy. Seven foot, seven [inches], can see everything in the defense – if you give him time, he will kill you. That’s why I love Mike. I am not going to love him Sunday, but I’m going to love him up until the national anthem and kickoff. Right before whoever is singing, sings, I love you Mike. But as soon as they start [the national anthem], I hate you. As soon as the clock ticks zero, I love you again.”
(On if this is the type of week where leadership is important)
“Absolutely. We’ve got to step up and just be ready to go. It is football. We had different circumstances. Everybody wants [to say], ‘Oh you’ve got 16 games. Oh, well you’ve been gone for this long.’ Hey listen, Chicago is coming and we better be ready because if we’re not, you’re all going to write about it. We are going to get it.”

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