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27 September 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017 Media Availability (9/27/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Since the start of last season, TE Cameron Brate’s nine touchdown receptions are the most among NFL tight ends.
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
(On the game against the New England Patriots next Thursday)
“If we are going to play [this] Thursday night then I’ve got a lot of issues. Let’s talk about this week before we start talking about next week. Let’s worry about this week.”
(On if he will take the Patriots game into consideration prior to the game against the Giants this Sunday)
“No. We’ve got a game this week on Sunday at 4:05 I think is kickoff, so we’ve got our hands full worrying about the New York Football Giants.”
(On the challenge of facing Giants quarterback Eli Manning)
“Two Super Bowl rings – that’s what stands out. He is a tremendous player. He always has his team in contention. [He is] like a coach on the field.”
(On what the term ‘franchise quarterback’ means to him)
“I got Matt Ryan in year five, I think, of his career and Jameis [Winston] from his rookie year. In my opinion franchise quarterback is tossed around a lot. But, a franchise quarterback is probably considered widely the guy that is the face of your franchise and that most people would say is going to be your quarterback for 10 years plus.”
(On why the Giants have haven’t been able to get their running game going)
“I’m not sure about that. They haven’t attempted very many runs. They were behind most of the game last week against Philly. They were down 14-0 going into the second half and they made a really good comeback. They were down in the Dallas game and they were down in the Detroit game, so that could be. I’m not real sure on their play calling.”
(On if he feels good about how the team has recovered physically from last Sunday’s game)
“I think under the circumstances, we are about as good as we could hope to be. You’ll see the injury report coming out. I think if you just look around the league on a Wednesday practice, there are teams all over the league that have guys that don’t practice for one reason or another on Wednesdays and we are no different. It could’ve been worse.”
(On the improvements that he has seen since Sunday’s game)
“That’s a hard one. Today is the first day we practiced, so when you come back out, the first thing you are doing is getting your game plan ready on offense, defense [and] special teams for the Giants. Most of the time when you get to the season in the NFL, you are making your corrections off of the last game, but then you have a new set of problems coming into the next game. Progress measured where we could really see it a lot of times isn’t going to show until Sunday. It’s hard because in practice you’re working on different things. There was a deep ball thrown in practice today and Vernon Hargreaves made a nice interception. Is that progress? I’ve seen Vernon Hargreaves make a lot of interceptions in practice. Everybody is trying to fix the things they need to work on from last week, but like I said, the Giants create a different set of issues for us.”
(On if the Giants 0-3 record is misleading)
“It’s early in the year. I think everybody has a tendency – with us, with the Giants – I mean we’ve got these power rankings where teams drop 20 spots based on one game. Some teams have played three games. We’ve played two games. The players watch the tape. When you say fans go by 0-3, I don’t think most fans watch the tape. When you’re a player and you look at the Giants and you see Eli Manning, Sterling Shepherd, all their receivers – they’ve got [Odell] Beckham back this week – and then you look on the defensive side and you see [Jason] Pierre-Paul, you see [Olivier] Vernon. I think they’ve got three first-round picks in their secondary. As a player and as a coach you’re looking at good football players. If you really look at the end of that game last week, they made a great comeback. It was 24-24. I was kind of crazy how they lost that game at the end. They had the ball and then all of the sudden they had to punt and [it was] kind of a crazy play there. Players have a tendency to respect other teams more than maybe the fans do. We’ve got Robert Ayers, who used to be a Giant, on our team. We have DeSean Jackson, who played in the same division as the Giants – same with Chris Baker. I think the players talk and they know, ‘Hey, they’ve got some pretty good players over there.”
(On how much of a step it is for linebacker Kendell Beckwith to take over the communicator this week)
“Well, he had to do it last week. Let’s hope he doesn’t have to do it every week, but he did have to do it at the end of the game last week and he handled it fine. I would say nothing really surprises me about Kendell Beckwith at this point – the physical part that he did, the mental part of learning multiple positions and he has been asked to do a little bit more every week so far, not only in training camp and preseason, but through our first two games. I would say nothing really surprises me about that.”
(On if it is tougher to get a team to regroup after a blowout loss or after a close loss)
“I think a loss is a loss. They all hurt the same. That knife is in there deep and you’re bleeding. Nothing gets it out until you get that taste out of your mouth. I think most of the best teams in the league, they are doing their best not to lose two games in a row. It’s one thing to lose, but to lose and play the way we did – if you play your best and you’re executing – there are a lot of other good players and good teams in this league. If you play your best and you come up short, that’s one thing. But to play like we played last week, I know it leaves a really bad taste in my mouth and I think I speak for pretty much every man in the room in there that says we’ve got a bad taste in our mouth right now.”
(On what makes Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. such a special player)
“The main thing that is imposing about him is that he has great speed. He can make crazy catches, but his run after the catch – when he catches that ball in the open field, you kind of hold your breath. They run a lot of slant routes [and] in-breaking routes where he is running full speed. If you don’t get him on the ground pretty quick, he can make you miss and then he can out-run pretty much anybody on the field.”
(On what needs to happen on offense to get the team playing more consistently well)
“I think we just need to get in, and stay in, a rhythm. Offense is a rhythm. Sometimes you’ve got to get a break or you’ve got to get an exceptional play – and we’ve got some exceptional players who are capable of doing that – but a consistent offense is in a rhythm, everybody is going their job. There are going to be a couple of plays that don’t go your way, but for the most part you’re moving the football and you should be able to score 21 points a game. That’s what we need to do. We haven’t done it yet and obviously, that starts with me.
(On how cornerback Ryan Smith has responded to learning things on tape)
“I think players bounce back quicker than everybody else, including coaches. I think players bounce back the fastest. These guys are young men. I think they see what their mistakes are, they get corrected and I think for the most part they move on and try to do better. Ryan, he played a lot in the preseason, [but] that was his first time out there in real football. Let’s face it, they went at him a few times and for him to play in this league and to play consistently, he is going to have to play better than that.”
(On the play of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves last Sunday)
“Vernon wasn’t the only player in that book, so to single him out would be unfair to him. I’m surprised that as a team we didn’t play better. Again, that starts with me. I’ve got to get them ready to play better.”
(On his response to fans that say they are going to boycott the NFL)
“I hope you don’t do that. I hope you can find it to support your local team, and I hope your local team is the Bucs. I still hope we have all Bucs jerseys in the lower bowl – nothing has changed. This is uncharted territory as far as what is happening with the whole scene. It’s still changing. It’s changing every single day. There’s not a lot of people that are coming out with the right answer right now. There really aren’t any cut and dry answers. Everybody has their belief on what they think they believe, but our country is also built on respecting the other man’s opinion – the other man or woman’s opinion. That’s where we are. It’s uncharted water. I’d much rather be talking about football, but this is where we are at.”
(On how much slack he is willing to give his players given the injuries that the defense was dealing with last Sunday)
“You’ve got to play the guys that are healthy. Unfortunately, we’ve got some guys that are down, but nobody is going to feel sorry for us – that’s for sure. We didn’t perform at the level that we needed to – that’s obvious in terms of explosive plays. When you give up close to 190 yards in four plays it really doesn’t matter what happens the rest of the game, you’re probably pulling and running uphill because you just can’t do that. We did it and we own it from the top down. We made the corrections and we move on.”
 (On if the absence of some players affected the defensive game plan)
“The defensive game plan changes every week and it’s based on who is available. The only thing we can do as coaches is coach the guys who are available. You can’t concern yourself about the guys that aren’t there. If you start worrying about that then you aren’t doing justice to the guys that are out there playing and trying to win the football game.”
(On where the breakdowns occurred on the Vikings’ explosive plays)
“You look at a play – and it’s a three-level play when you throw the ball down the field – and coverage and rush have to work together and we also have to have some play in between it. There were a couple of them that were close plays, but hey, close plays they don’t help us. We just did not finish the way we needed to. Did I make the right calls? Obviously, when they complete it in my mind it’s not the right call, so I’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we put our guys in the most advantageous situations that they can be in. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to coach better. We’ve got to own it because it’s out there.”
(On the struggle to slow opponents down in third-down situations)
“It’s at all distances. Third down and long is probably the one that is probably the most irritating. You should win about 90 percent of the third down and 10 pluses [situations] and we’ve had conversions on third and 10 plus I believe three times thus far in the season. It is a concern. It has to do with what we are doing schematically. We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got our guys in the best position – the guys that are out there. We’ve got to get pressure and we’ve got to get bodies on receivers. In the NFL you can’t let receivers run free. If they’re not bodied up in the paint, like in basketball, they’re going to have an opportunity to make it. We’ve got to be more physical with our play across the board.”
(On if playing without cornerback Brent Grimes is a big loss for the defense)
“When you have a guy who has been to a Pro Bowl, he is a great player, but when he is not there it’s somebody else’s opportunity to step up and make plays. You might have to change what you’re doing in terms of how you’re calling the game. I probably didn’t adjust well enough in that matter. Of course you always miss guys, but you can’t worry about that. Nobody in this league – there are 31 other teams – they don’t [care] about what is happening in Tampa. They just want to beat our butt when they play us. We are doing the same thing, so there isn’t no sympathy – I can assure you that.”
(On if cornerback Vernon Hargreaves took a step back with his play last week)
“Vernon was close on a couple of plays. We’ve got to finish and use our tools and finish through the pocket. We can help him in terms of what we’re asking him to do. We can help him with more pressure on the quarterback. You can’t let the quarterback in this league – it doesn’t matter if it’s a backup quarterback – if the quarterback is comfortable then he is going to have an opportunity to put the ball on the money. If he puts it on the money, it makes it much more difficult. Again, I’m not going to point a finger at anybody but myself in terms of what we did. Ultimately there’s one guy that’s responsible for what happens on the defensive side and that’s me. It doesn’t matter who is out there, we’ve got to go do it.”
(On the Buccaneers being 0-5 without linebacker Kwon Alexander)
“Kwon is a good player. There is no doubt about it. The pundits and all that talk about [how] he’s one of the top linebackers in the league, but there’s going to be injuries and two weeks from now nobody is going to know who was playing and who was not playing on our defense. It’s our defense and it’s our job as coaches and as players to go out there and to execute and we didn’t do that across the board.”
(On the type of challenge that Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. presents)
“A big challenge. I think we’ve gone a step up each week in terms of the level of wide receivers. He is obviously one of the top three receivers in the NFL. He was completely healthy this past week. It’s going to be a huge challenge for our defense. I don’t just say the secondary because we all take part in shutting him down.”
(On how much of a challenge it is to possibly be without both Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David)
“Each week it is a challenge. When you’ve got all your pieces, you’re worrying about who are we going to put on their pieces? Now, it’s just a little different situation. We’re concerned a level below that about who we are going to put out there. We don’t know that. We are confident that whoever we put out there is going to be as prepared as they can possibly be. They’re the guys we’ve got. We’ve got to coach their butts up and we’ve got to coach better. We’ve got to get them ready to play.”
(On if Kwon Alexander has been trained at weak-side linebacker)
“Those positions are interchangeable. They are very similar and often times based on how they present a formation or how they motion, the backer becomes the dime and the dime becomes the backer, so they are interchangeable. That’s one of the things that you have to do in this league. You have to have guys that can play in different spots because you’re going to have injuries. You hope that you don’t have them at the level that we’ve had at one position thus far, but all of our guys are cross-trained.”
(On the strength of the Giants passing attack and if it’s important for the secondary to play well this Sunday)
“We need to get things fixed on defense. Everybody wants to point a finger at one group – it’s the entire defense. It’s all of us. The level we played at was unacceptable last week. We’ve got to get it fixed. They are a very good passing team. They have not run the ball very well. They are going to create some problems. Eli Manning, at the quarterback position, 90 percent of the time he was in no-huddle calling in at the line, so it’s going to be a little bit of a chess match in terms of us trying to hold our shell and hold our intentions in what we are trying to do. They definitely want to get into the best play and most offenses do. He’s going to stand over and look at what you’re in and if you send them an email, you’re going to get cut up. It’s going to be important for us, like always, to work on our disguises. We’ve got to be able to communicate. We’re hoping it’s going to be loud and they’re going to have a hard time communicating. When they’re having a hard time communicating, we’ve got to make sure that we’re all doing the same thing in terms of what coverages that we are in. We can’t give up the explosive plays like we did last week – can’t happen.”
(On having only one sack this season)
“It’s a concern. If you look at the game last week, there were a lot of seven-man protections. I probably could’ve done a better job in terms of what I wanted to present against those seven-man protections, but it is a concern. This is about affecting the quarterback and sacks aren’t the only number – it’s getting him off of his spot and it’s hitting him. Obviously, we have not had the sack numbers that we would like. These are the guys that we’ve got to coach up and we’ve got to get them going. We’ve got to do a better job schematically putting them in positions where they can put pressure on the quarterback.”
(On which defensive players showed up well on film)
“That was a tough one. Will Gholston made some splash plays in the ball game. We were okay against the run. We were a little soft and we were out of our gap and had too many explosive runs in the ball game. I thought the young linebacker (Kendell Beckwith) continues to play well. He is seeing things for the first time and they may get him the first time, but when they do it again he has been in the right place. He’s been very impressive and he is going to be the guy that we’re going to count on for this week. He’s got a bigger role potentially. He’s got the communicator and he’ll have it the entire game. That communication is going to be paramount with the no-huddle that we are anticipating seeing from the Giants.”
(On what defines a franchise quaterback)
“We are at the highest level so from 1-32 there is not a big drop off. There [are] only 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL. I think there are a handful that have established over a long period of time how great they are. The ones that you mentioned are definitely in that category (Eli Manning, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan). We’ve got this week, I think, an elite quarterback. He’s got two Super Bowl rings. He’s very smart. It’s going to be fun to compete against him and I like the opportunity that we have. Guys are going to be excited about going and playing against him.”
(On who had the communicator on defense last week)
Well, Lavonte David until he was injured and Kendell [Beckwith] went in and finished the game. We were able to change the helmet out because of the injury. If the other two guys can’t go then Kendell’s role steps up immensely. He becomes the voice of getting us set and getting everybody in the right place.”
(On how safety T.J. Ward is progressing within the defense)
“I think you saw by the number of snaps that he played that he is starting to really grasp what we are trying to do. I think he’ll continue to do that. We’ve got an interesting problem I think in terms of that position. Keith Tandy is a very good football player and T.J. Ward is as well. T.J.’s got a lot more snaps in this league and a lot more experience and I think it will show as he becomes more comfortable in our defensive scheme.”
(On the five-game home winning streak and if he takes comfort in the fact that the next two games are at home)
“You guys talk about home and away. To me, it’s on a football field. When it’s on a football field, anything can happen and we’ve got to be prepared. It’s great that we’re playing at home in front of a friendly environment. [A sellout] – that’s even greater. I’m certainly hoping that we’re going to make it hard for Eli [Manning] to communicate when they have the football this week. That would be a big plus for us.”
(On if he is looking forward to this game being that Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will be on the other sideline)
“I’m excited for this matchup because we lost last week and we get an opportunity to bounce back. Odell is a great player. He is a friend of mine, same class [and] he is a great player, so I’m looking forward to seeing him.”
(On how misleading the Giants 0-3 record is)
“Very misleading. They have a great team and it’s early in the season. We can’t take them lightly at all. They are probably in a must-win situation, but we are as well.”
(On if there is extra motivation when he goes against other receivers from his draft class)
“No extra motivation. I’m happy that I am a part of such an amazing draft class. I hope that we can continue the success that we’ve been having. It’s just cool to be a part of a great class of great guys.”
(On the kind of atmosphere that he expects this Sunday with the sell-out crowd)
“It’s going to be electric. For some reason, down here there [are] a lot of Giants fans. When I walk around, there are a lot of New York people here [and] they’re Giants fans. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great game and a great atmosphere.”
(On the similarities and differences between himself and Beckham Jr.)
“I think we are both great players. I’m a bit bigger. He’s a bit faster. He’s better after the catch. I’m a bigger guy – better at jump balls, probably. He plays with a lot of passion as well as I [do]. I think we play with a lot of swag in different areas. He’s more of a dancer, I’m more of a tough guy.”
(On the Giants’ secondary)
“They have a really good secondary. Janoris [Jenkins] is a beast. Landon Collins, [Dominique Rodgers] Cromartie, [Eli] Apple – all of those guys. They’ve got really good pass rushers. Their defense is loaded. They were really good last year. They are off to a bit of a slow start, but they’ve got a lot of really good players.”

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