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20 September 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017 Media Availability (9/20/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Buccaneers WR Mike Evans has caught a touchdown pass in each of his past three games and, with a touchdown reception at Minnesota, would tie the franchise record for consecutive games with a touchdown catch (also: Evans, 11/2/14-11/23/14; Antonio Bryant, 11/30/08-12/21/08; Joey Galloway, twice, 10/16/05-11/13/05, 12/5/04-12/26/04; Bruce Hill, 10/16/88-11/6/88; Mike Williams 12/19/10-9/11/11).
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 Mike Evans
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
(On using the indoor facility for the walk through this morning)
“It was fine. It was nice to get in there. It’s not done yet, but it was good to get us out of the heat for those 30 or 40 minutes. It’s going to be awesome. It’s not quite ready yet, but it’s going to be awesome when it is.”
(On if they will plan to use the practice facility for road games that will be played indoors or on turf)
“It’s possible. We aren’t going to pigeon hole anything right now, but today would’ve been a good day to go in there mainly because of the heat.”
(On if he knows when it will be fully finished)
“I really don’t. I’m not the guy to ask about that.”
(On the health status of linebacker Kwon Alexander and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy after sitting out practice today)
“We will be putting our injury report out. We are very strict about subscribing to that thing and we will be right to the letter on it. I promise you.”
(On the things that stand out about the Vikings)
“Okay, I’ll start on the defensive side. Five Pro Bowl guys, a defensive head coach, who is an exceptional coach, and they take after his personality. They are hard-nosed. They don’t beat themselves. You look over on the offensive side of the ball and even though they’ve had to play two different quarterbacks, they have some playmakers. They’ve got playmakers at wide receiver. They’ve got playmakers at running back. They’ve got a playmaker at tight end. They’re gelling as a new offensive line, but they are a very solid team across the board and they don’t beat themselves.”
(On Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and the explosive plays he had in college)
“He’s a really good player. He can run with power. He can run with speed. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and he has demonstrated all of that in the first two weeks of the season. [He’s a] really good football player.”
(On how much time he spent looking at Dalvin Cook throughout the draft process)
“A lot. I spent a lot.”
(On if running back Jacquizz Rodgers had the flu during last Sunday’s game)
“We have a little flu bug going through our team. We had a couple of guys out today with the flu, as well. It is going around and we are taking every precaution we can, but like anything else it’s one of things you’ve got to deal with.”
(On if the team brought in safety T.J. Ward to face physical teams such as the Vikings)
“Well, opportunities to use T.J. – as soon as he is ready to go, we are going to use him. We’re going to use all of our guys. You only have 46 of them. As far as looking at a game, I found out one day earlier than you did that we were getting T.J. Ward, so I wasn’t saying, ‘Man, I hope we get T.J. Ward for that Vikings game.’ I mean I had no idea. T.J. is a good player. Chris [Conte] and Keith [Tandy] are good players. Justin Evans is a good player. We’ve got to figure out ways to get all four of those guys on the field. We were able to do that a little bit last week. It went from a thin area to a deep area just like tight end, so we’ve got to figure it out.”
(On if the versatility of defensive end Noah Spence allows the team to play 3-4)
“Somewhat. Obviously, you’ve got to have guys. If you’re going to play 3-4, you’ve got to have some outside linebacker body types and Ryan Russell is another guy that fits in that mold and Devante Bond is another guy that fits in that mold. He’s been out a little bit, so Kendell Beckwith is a guy that possibly fits in that mold. Once again, that’s very much like what we were talking about with the safeties. We didn’t go into the draft knowing we were going to draft a guy like Kendell Beckwith that could play multiple positions. Once you get your guys and you figure out, ‘Hey, this guy is pretty sharp. Maybe we should move this guy around a little bit.’ There’s other guys that they’ve got to pretty much stick to one position just to hang on to know what they’re doing out there.”
(On if they have to devote more time preparing for both guys if the starting quarterback is in question, or does he just focus on the offensive scheme itself)
“I think that depends on the team and who that backup is. Now the guy who we are talking about this week, we probably shouldn’t be calling him a backup because he has beat us two years in a row. They might be better off with him playing. He seems to have our number. It looked like the Vikings ran their offense last week, but me peeking at two games fast, I probably wouldn’t be the best one to say that.”
(On how much better the team is at defending the deep ball now than they were at the start of last season)
“Well, I think our defense is better period than they were last season. If you think back, that first half of the year, what were our issues? We weren’t taking the ball away [and] we were giving up a ton of explosive plays. What’s different? Last week, three turnovers [and] zero explosive plays. If you get three turnovers and zero explosives, you are going to be in good shape.”
(On if he has come to terms with giving up a touchdown at the end of the game vs. Chicago)
“Oh gosh, you never get over touchdowns. It was a play that we had a chance to make and we didn’t make it.”
(On if he was pleased with the defensive effort)
“Yeah, for the most part. I thought we did some very good things. There are a couple of markers that we look at that we weren’t very efficient in, but for the most part we wanted to set the tone in terms of stopping the run. We were able to do that. We want to take the ball away – that’s number one – that’s the most important thing, to win the turnover battle and we were able to do that. Taking the ball away three times on defense and then adding that fourth one on special teams was huge. There were some markers that were good and you guys are probably aware of the ones that we weren’t as good at. Third downs – our third down efficiency wasn’t nearly what it needs to be. Then of course, we affected the quarterback, but everybody wants to talk about sacks in this league and we didn’t get the sacks that we wanted to. I want to make a point about that before we get going. Pressuring the quarterback is not always just about the guys up front. We’ve got to do a better job of understanding what we are defending. We’ve got to get bodies on bodies on receivers and force the quarterback to go to the second and third look. We hit them, we just weren’t in concert. We weren’t working together on some of the things and we will definitely improve on that. I think our guys are going to have a much better understanding of it as we go through it. Pre-snap we can’t send them an email and tell them what coverage we are in, especially [for] a good quarterback like Mike Glennon. If he is thinking after the ball is snapped, it is to our advantage. If he knows where he is going with it, it’s to their advantage.”
(On if he thought his defense was showing their coverages pre-snap)
“No, absolutely not. I do not think that at all. I just think that we have to have a better understanding of how the rush and the coverage work hand-in-hand. It’s not two independent units out there that are working. It’s both units as well – that includes the linebackers.”
(On if he is preparing for Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford who did not play last week)
“I think we have to prepare like Sam Bradford is going to play. They said he is day-to-day, so when we hear that we’ve got to plan like he is going to play. He’s a very efficient quarterback and we’ve got to plan like he’s going to play. If we don’t see him, the guy that is going to be playing, we played him last year and we didn’t perform as well as we needed to. There will be some motivation on our part in the defensive room. That was not the type of performance that we wanted to put out there and we did.”
(On what about his defense makes them so effective at generating turnovers)
“I think it’s a mindset first and foremost. We talk about having a toolbox in terms of what we want to do with our coverages and how we are attacking the ball and how we are leveraging the football. We talk about, ‘Hey, that ball is ours. They’ve got it, we’ve got to take it away.’ That carries over to third downs. When you don’t win on third down, they get another set of downs. You win on third down, it’s like a turnover. Those are really the two things that we focus on: taking the ball away – and I think our guys have a very good understanding of attacking it – and it’s a mindset. You have to make a conscious effort to go after the ball and there is different techniques that our guys have mastered and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that.”
(On the performance of linebacker Kendell Beckwith in his first career regular season game)
“For a guy playing in his first game that we thought was going to probably be on punt team and maybe 15 or 20 snaps in base, because that was a team that was going to be in sub the majority of the time. I thought that he handled it extremely well. We threw him in there and at the end of the game he was actually calling the defenses and had the communicator. We got some good play out of a young rookie in game one. And again, it’s game one. This is a long, long season and we’ve got a big challenge against this group coming in this week.”
(On the conditioning of the defensive players)
“I think any time you play your first game, it’s going to stun your body. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-year player or 10th-year player. You always want to forget how your body feels after that first game. I think it had an effect on us as the game wore on. We’ve got to have a little bit more of an attitude there to finish it out. It doesn’t matter who is out there – if it is a guy playing the last nine snaps or 10 snaps. We’ve got to have the attitude to finish it off and finish it off right. We didn’t feel like as a defense that we finished it off the way we are capable of doing.”
(On if he rotated players more due to the conditioning factor)
“We had a plan in terms of how many snaps we wanted these guys to get. There was a lot of unknowns going in. We can’t make them be excuses, but there were some unknowns in terms of how these guys were going to handle the heat. Early in the week, when we first came back, that heat index was smoking. We were looking at those guys and going, ‘Man, we’ve got to make sure we have a good plan and try to keep those guys fresh in the fourth quarter.”
(On the depth of this defense)
“I think we definitely have some depth, especially in certain positions. It’s nice to not see a fall down in terms of the play when we have the guys out there. I think we’ve said it many times, it’s 16 or 17 guys that are going to be our core guys who are going to go out there and play. I thought that they handled it well. We’ve got to figure out how we are going to rotate those guys based on who is playing well and who is not. There are some guys that are not listed as starters that have made some plays and have stepped up and done some good things.”
(On defensive end Will Gholston’s ability to stop the run)
“Last year I believe he led, according to Pro Football Focus, he led the league in stuffs behind the line of scrimmage. He is a big, strong man and he is a penetrating guy and when we get good knock-back and we get the linebackers coming downhill, we are going to have a chance to be successful and Will is an integral part of it. He should win that C gap for us the majority of the time and that’s what we are counting on. When he wins that C gap, it allows us to do some other things in terms of how we’re figuring our linebacker fits and our secondary fits.”
(On if facing Vikings running back Dalvin Cook presents a different kind of challenge than the defense faced last week with the Chicago Bears running backs)
“No disrespect to the Bears back that we played last week. I think he is a different type of back. He is a little bit bigger. I don’t know that he has the quicks that we faced last week, but he is a stronger running back. He runs well behind his pads. He has already had two runs of 30 yards or more. All you’ve got to do is show that clip to the team and they’ve got respect for him right away. He has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. They moved him out and put him out at the No. 1 position, similar to what we saw last week. We consider him a game-wrecker. It’s interesting, the first two weeks of the season we’ve had to face two good rookies that play the running back position.”
(On the reasoning behind the defense’s elevated level of play since the middle of last season)
“Well it starts with 93 (defensive tackle Gerald McCoy). There is no doubt about that. You win in this league by winning the line of scrimmage and he is a very disruptive player and he set the tone on the very first play of the ballgame last week. He is a pleasure to coach. You can’t just have one. Like you mentioned, you’ve got to have players at different levels that are going to play different roles. I didn’t do a good enough job in the first part of the season last year of making these guys understand. They have a good understanding of how we are fitting. When we fit the run and don’t get knocked out of gaps, people should think about going and doing something else in terms of how they are going to attack if we fit it right. If we don’t fit it right, there is going to be a soft spot and we are going to give up yards. But it was nice to see the way that the guys played in terms of their run fits in the game last week. It was much better than last year.”
(On how safety T.J. Ward is developing in the defense)
“T.J. is a football junkie. If you guys get a chance to really talk to him, he loves to play the game. He loves to talk about the game. He is a guy that has a pretty good understanding of it. As I mentioned, his time in Denver was with Jack Del Rio and Jack’s verbage is similar, so the transition is not as slow. It’s not like we’re talking Chines and he is talking Spanish. We are pretty much on the same page. We’ve got some little nuances that we’ve got to get him up to speed at. It’s just going to be going out and getting reps.”
(On if defensive end Noah Spence is his base left end)
“No. Who starts the game is going to be based on what offensive personnel grouping they put out. We don’t say, ‘This guy is the starter and he is going to play the very first snap of the game.’ They presented a personnel grouping in which they had three wide receivers and so we had our group that matches that. Again, we don’t have 11. I think we’ve got 14 or 15 based on what personnel groupings the offenses are going to present to us. That’s going to dictate sometimes how many snaps guys get.”
(On the importance of Noah Spence getting a sack-fumble in the first game of the year)
“It’s huge. Sacks are big, but sack, strip, fumble, recovery – those are even bigger. Those are game-changing, momentum-changing plays. Noah has a knack for doing that. When he is not there he understands how to reach. It’s one of the tools that we work on in terms of teaching these guys to reach. Each quarterback has a little different nuance in terms of where he holds the ball and Jay [Hayes] does a great job coaching the guys up each week. [Spence] is a natural at it thus far. He has done it in both seasons that he has been here.”
(On how Spence has been defending the run)
“Well, his stature is not the biggest guy on our defensive line – that’s for sure. He has heavy hands as I’ve said. He’s got the ability to stack and shed. We don’t ever ask him to do a whole lot when he is an inside-leverage player, but he’s an outside-leverage player – he handles it well. I don’t have any problem playing him. We have some other guys that are heavier and probably better suited. The thing we want to make sure is when we get them to third down – if we play good run defense on first and second down – he is fresh to rush that passer.”
(On if defensive tackle Chris Baker made contributions in the game on Sunday even though they didn’t show up in the stat sheet)
“Yes he did. Chris did a nice job. There were a number of times that both of our defensive tackles had four hands on them. What I mean by that is it’s a double team and they’ve got four hands in their zone-blocking schemes. When there [are] four hands on the three techniques and the one technique, that means our linebackers are going to have an opportunity to run free. I think that contributed to our number of minus yards plays. They were getting the resources from the offense where there were four hands on the defensive tackles. That’s the dirty work that guys have to do and people don’t realize it. You look at a stat sheet and you say, ‘Well, he didn’t make the stat sheet.’ Well, three of those tackle-for-losses were because he kept the offensive guard and center or the tackle and guard occupied so our linebacker was able to run through.”
(On if it surprised him how far Dalvin Cook slid in the draft)
“I TV scouted him. I don’t know where he was going to be drafted and all that. I was more focused on the defensive guys. But, TV scouting – and I enjoy watching our local colleges play – he is a heck of a football player. He likes to have the ball in his hand. You can tell that. As the year goes on, he is going to be a guy that they are probably going to feature more. We hope that this week it’s not that he is featured. If he is, then [we hope] we are able to do what we are supposed to do.”
(On if linebacker Lavonte David is picking up where he left off last season)
“Yes, I do see that. I thought that Lavonte probably from Game One to Game 16 improved. I said this earlier on that I don’t know that he was 100 percent healthy. He had some nagging injuries that he was dealing with. He looks much quicker [and] more decisive all through training camp and through the first game of the season. He has a good feel for playing defensive football and he’s done a good job for us. He is a guy that through the last quarter of the season last year probably led our team in splash plays and he did a nice job coming downhill the other day.”
(On the metrics that they set for their defense for individual games)
“The number one thing is that we want to take the ball away, defensively. We want to win. The ‘W’ is the most important thing, but we definitely want to take the ball away. We try to have a goal defensively that is going to put us on the plus side. We try to get one fumble recovery and two interceptions a game. That’s what we try to shoot for. We figure if you hold someone under four yards per carry in this league, you’re going to be in the top five. We look at these metrics and say, ‘What is going to put us in the top five in the NFL?’ We’re all striving to be a top five [defense]. We want to be number one, but we feel like if we’re a top five defense in different metrics – but for the most part we did. We did a very good job eliminating explosive plays. That was our Achilles heel last year. They had no explosive runs nor no explosive passes in the game last week by our metrics. I know the league might have something than what we deem an explosive run of 12 yards or more or a pass that goes over 20 yards.”
(On the reason for the drop-off offensively from the first half to the second half)
“I’m not sure. I guess they saw some things that they wanted to stop and I guess they did. We didn’t execute as good and we’ve got to do better.”
(On the biggest challenge that the Minnesota defense presents)
“It’s just a great defense. In all areas they cause problems for us – on the back end and up front.”
(On how the Bears defended the Buccaneers offense)
“It was more one-high this year, a lot more man coverage. That’s what we want. Coach Dirk [Koetter] is going to put us in a good position to get the one-on-one matchups, so we’ve just got to win.”
(On if the chemistry between quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver DeSean Jackson will grow throughout the season)
“Absolutely. It’s a game of inches – that really is true. [If] it’s off by a yard then it separates you from winning the game or getting blown out. We’ll make the adjustments moving forward.”
(On how much the offense feeds off of the defensive performance)
“Oh man, they were huge. They got a pick six, they got us close, they flipped the field for us a numerous amount of times so we weren’t able to be out there long. We hope we can do that every game. The defense – they are some savages, man. I love our defense.”
(On if it’s important for the offense to come out strong next week after the defense stood out this week)
“Yeah. I mean, they just played great so we didn’t have the opportunity to showcase a lot of things on offense. Like I said, hopefully they can do that all the time.”
(On the challenge of playing in a dome)
“For me, it doesn’t bother me at all. Just the lights – that’s the only thing. If it’s a deep ball the lights can probably get in the way a little bit. I’ve never played in that stadium. This will be a first. It’s going to be nice, so hopefully we can get the win.”
(On what is clicking on defense)
"I'd say it's a mix of a couple different things. It started last year after the bye week, our communication spiked way high. It just shot through the roof. Just being on the same page with the man next to you changes everything. Coach preached this offseason about our eyes, where are our eyes at? Keep your eyes on your keys, and we've done that. Stopping the run has been a big emphasis on us, so we focused on that. And then when you stop the run and take the ball away, your chances of winning go pretty high. We just have to keep focusing on those things and hopefully we can keep some success going."
(On if getting a lot of turnovers is a matter of attitude or studying)
"It's definitely a mindset, how you prepare throughout the week. You have to also know that you're not going to be perfect. Yes we are professionals, but nobody's perfect. All the mistakes and failures we have throughout the week is what makes us better on Sunday. It's okay to mess up. You'd rather mess up now than mess up on Sunday. It's just all about preparation, and then you go out there on Sunday and it's a mindset. Especially for us at home – best way to get in the playoffs is to win all your games at home and split on the road. You have to make sure you do what you've got to do at home. We're going up there on Sunday to play a playoff-caliber team, very solid defense, great players on offense. Those guys are rolling so we've got to be ready to go."
(On Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith calling Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook a "game-wrecker")
"He is a game-wrecker – destroyed New Orleans and had some big runs last week. He's not a ‘run-and-get-out-of-bounds’ guy. He's a ‘get-that-extra-couple-yards’ guy. Anybody like that, you've got to bring your big-boy pants with you. Bring an extra set of pads because it's going to be a physical day, and that's the type of style offense they have, very physical offense that gets downhill in the run. Even when they stretch the ball out, he looks for that hole and once he gets downhill he's getting downhill in a hurry. He's not getting downhill avoiding contact. Not just that, but he can catch. He can wreck your game, just like Coach said. He's a game-wrecker and we've got to be ready for him."
(On defensive tackle Chris Baker)
"What Bake does is he holds the fort down definitely in the run game, and he just knows where he's supposed to be in the pass game. Bake is who he is: He doesn't get moved in the run, pushes the pocket in the pass. That's what we brought him here to do and that's what he did. As long as he keeps doing that, we're going to have a lot of success."
(On if it is tougher to prepare not knowing which quarterback will start for the Vikings)
"Look, they're going to put one football down and they're going to say, 'Hut.' They might not go on that hut, they may go on the second hut, but once they hike that ball, the ball's going to the quarterback. Whoever's holding it, it's my job to get to him. I don't really care. We're going to prepare for the scheme, and whoever's holding that ball on Sunday it's my job to go get him. That's all I'm going to do."
(On Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum previously having success against the Buccaneers)
"He has, he has. We know that. Trust me, we've talked about it. [We] haven't beaten him the last two times we've played him. As a matter of fact, neither one of these guys I think I've ever beat, Case or Sam [Bradford]. I don't think we ever beat Sam. No, I haven't. I don't like that. We have to change that."
(On playing in Minnesota's new stadium)
"The goal is, this is the goal: Go up there, test out the field for when we go back [for the Super Bowl]. Everybody who plays Minnesota, I tell you, that's what their mindset is. Play in Minnesota and do everything in your power to try to get back to Minnesota. It starts with today. We've got to have a great day of practice, much better than last week. Last week's Wednesday was not good at all, so we've got to come out a lot faster today."

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