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28 September 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017 Media Availability (9/28/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: If QB Jameis Winston throws for 300 or more yards and two or more touchdowns against the Giants, it will mark only the fourth time in team history a player has done so in consecutive games (last: Josh Freeman, 10/14/12 vs. Kansas City-10/21/12 vs. New Orleans).
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
(On how anxious he is to see defensive end Jacquies Smith get back onto the field)
“It’s been a long road back for Jacquies. When you see these guys and they are in there doing their rehab day after day after day after day, surgery and then he starts to make it back and he gets banned from the building because he’s got the flu – you feel for these guys and that’s the life of an injured player. I think if you ask any injured player, they feel like they’re not part of it and they’re just waiting to get back. Every player I’ve ever been around, it’s the same thing. It’s been a long road back for ‘Jack’ and hopefully at some point he gets to get back out there. When he was at his best, he was a pretty darn good pass rusher.”
(On tight end Cameron Brate’s work ethic)
“We have a lot of guys that stay out after and then we have a lot of other guys that go out a half hour early. Cam Brate is actually one of the guys that does both. We have a lot of guys that work extra, above and beyond what is asked of them. Cam is a good story where he came from. My first year we let him go and we were crushed that we let him go and he went in our division to New Orleans. We were fortunate enough to get him back. He’s really developed into a nice player. Cam is always working on his game no matter how much success he has. He has made himself a much better blocker – really good body control. As I’ve said many times, excellent chemistry with Jameis, but also they work on it a lot.”
(On how important it will be Sunday to establish the running game)
“Well, it’s important every week because the hardest thing to defend on offense is balance. We weren’t able to do that last week at all. That’s always the hardest thing to defend. It’s a lot easier said than done.”
(On the running game against Minnesota)
“Our running game stunk last week. We only called eight runs. We called six out of our first 13 plays runs. We were down 21-3, we came out. We got the ball to start the second half. Now, we are down 28-3 [and] we are in the middle of the third quarter.”
(On what it will take to have a more effective running game)
“You need more reps. To have an effective running game, running backs all need touches.”
(On defensive end Noah Spence re-entering the game last week and what that says about him)
“He likes to play football. That’s what you want when you draft guys. Sometimes you don’t always [know] as a coach, [but] I mean Jason and those guys try to figure all that out with the intel they do on players. That’s what you are trying to get – a team football of guys that love to play football. Ultimately, these guys are all sore and beat up every week. You want guys that want to go back out there and compete and want to play. Noah has proven that.”
(On determining when he will stick to the run and when he will predominantly throw the ball)
“What did we do last year Monday Night Football vs. Carolina? [Ran it 30 times]. Maybe we could draw some parallels there, but when we ran it in that game, what happened? We ran it successfully. When you are running it successfully, you are probably going to run it more. If you’re not running it successfully, you are probably going to quit running it.”
(On if he expects quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver DeSean Jackson to become more in tune as they continue to play together)
“I think so. The more we work together, you are just hopeful that with each day that you put in the work that you’re going to find a way to hit those. Obviously, we are disappointed when we don’t hit every throw, but we’ve got to find a way to connect on those. You only get so many opportunities for shots down the field. It’s a fact.”
(On the running game)
“What did we rush for last week, like 26 yards? Obviously, that’s a little bit loaded this week – obviously not very well last week. We didn’t run the ball well enough early when we needed to. Later in the game – stats can be deceiving – you are winning a game, you are running the ball [like we did against] the Bears in the second half. Whereas, this game you are trying to get back in it. We’ve got to do a better job all around. Running the ball – irrespective of who is in the game – we’ve got to be able to run the ball better. We’re better – like most teams – when you can comfortably hand the ball off, gain yards and put yourself in front of the chains.”
(On if it is encouraging to see how well the Eagles ran the ball on the Giants defense last week)
“It’s week-to-week. It just is. I think they’re going to get one of their linebackers back, [who] I think was practicing yesterday. That’s going to be a help. It’s hard to replace good players. We’re playing at home [and] we’re going to be committed to running the football, so I would expect to see improvement.”
(On how important it is to him to maintain a balance in the offense)
“To me, balance is running it when you want to be able to run it. To me, that’s the most important thing and balance is utilizing all your skill players – your running backs, your tight ends, your slot receivers, both outside guys getting touches – that’s balance where they have to defend the field. I think that’s probably the most important thing. With that being said, we have to be able to run the football for our play-action, to work to get safeties down lower, to be able to throw over their heads, or give us the opportunity to be able to do that, so it all fits together. I wouldn’t say that it’s any particular, ‘Hey, we have to run for [this amount].’ I know we have our goals, but I know that we’re also talking about a certain yards per carry, which is important so that we are in front of the chains [and] we are not in third-and-longs, especially this week with what we expect to see.”
(On if he is surprised that Winston has more touchdowns and interceptions in his losses than he does in his wins)
“I would say that that is probably typical, I think, of most teams and quarterbacks when you’re losing it’s probably [because] you found a way to turn it over offensively. When you are down, you’re throwing it so you might have some touchdown passes that really are insignificant. Same thing happens when you are winning and your rush total yards – really you could have 40 or 50 yards at halftime and end up with 150, but it really came when the game was already in the balance. Those can be deceiving. The bottom line is we know if we protect the football it gives us a great chance to win. How we do that is not only up front protecting, receivers running precise routes, running backs holding on to it and Jameis making great decisions.”
(On the reason behind many of Winston’s interceptions coming early in the season)
“I don’t know. Last year in Atlanta he threw an interception and I think we had one and that was a busted route. It wasn’t really his fault. We had a couple things in Arizona a year ago, where there was a tipped ball on a screen. One of the last plays of the game [in Minnesota last week], probably the most dangerous pass he had wasn’t intercepted – it was to Cameron Brate when he was under duress. We talked about that the week before. How do you eliminate those things? Being able to run the football and protecting your quarterback so that he’s not under duress. One was an underthrown ball. I think it was a great decision, [he] just underthrew it – that happens. Sometimes we go up and the ball ends up on the ground, it’s not picked. We had another one where we were running a crossing route and DeSean [Jackson] ends up running into the backside corner who was running across the formation. Some of it we’ve got to do a better job of and some of it we are just a hair off.”
(On how the offensive line would change if guard J.R. Sweezy is unable to play)
“To talk about what-ifs – right now we expect J.R. to play. The good news is we have great depth with Evan [Smith] and Joe [Hawley] who hasn’t dressed yet. But, Joe Hawley is a viable player. He has been a starter in this league, so we have a lot of different options. Caleb [Benenoch] has played guard at times, so he could play guard. Leonard [Wester] could then be up if that happened. But right now, that’s speculation. I would anticipate [because of] who J.R. is that he will be ready to go.”
(On if they are committed to Ali Marpet at center even if guys are out around him on the line)
“I think when you have a number of guys that can play center, that is always a possibility if the right combination warranted us to do that. If we had an issue at tackle and Kevin [Pamphile] had to go out to tackle – I mean, there are a number of pieces that I think would have to fall. But the way Ali is progressing there, I would anticipate that we would want to keep him there.”
(On the Buccaneers being good on third down offensively in 2016 and struggling in those situations in Minnesota)
“I was thinking about that. We had just talked about that and then we went one for six. We hadn’t had a week where that had happened. I was talking about Peyton Barber and all of the sudden we weren’t running and I was thinking about if I had just shut up about what I shouldn’t anticipate. Obviously, we didn’t do as well on third downs, so we didn’t have as many opportunities because we had some big plays or we went three-and-out. I think we got one or two on penalties. But we’ve got to do a better job separating at times. Whether it’s protection, route, throw, it doesn’t matter – we’ve got to find a way to keep the ball on the field. There’s two ways you score: hitting explosive plays and not getting yourself in third downs, or you’ve got to convert on third downs to keep the drive going. That’s just the way it is.”
(On if he feels the offense hasn’t gotten into its rhythm quite yet)
“Yeah, I think that’s the NFL with the majority of the teams. I think you find when you’re going against really good people, your margin for error is small. It didn’t feel like when we are playing – I will say this – neither game felt like we couldn’t move it or we couldn’t score. I never felt that. I never felt like, ‘Wow, we are out-manned.’ I felt like, ‘Boy, we’ve got good players. We could turn this around.’ Really, when we got the ball back and we were across midfield with 12 minutes left, I thought, ‘We are going to go score here.’ That’s a great feeling to have. Obviously, we’ve got to find a way to finish drives, run the ball better, score touchdowns in the red zone, but I didn’t feel at any one given time that boy we were overmatched.”
(On if wide receiver Chris Godwin will continue to receive more opportunities in the games)
“Well, it’s hard to get him out there. We try to rotate him in there and he has come along. I thought he played faster on Sunday. I thought he had a really good week – the back end of the week. It just happened to present itself. The opportunities presented it to him and he has done a great job of developing. He’s really smart, physical [and] we use him in a number of ways, so I do think we feel comfortable should that role happen to change and him play more.”
(On the Giants defensive personnel)
“I think they would feel good about their defensive ends – their rush guys. And I think they would feel good about their perimeter guys. I mean they put some money into [Janoris] Jenkins and [Jason] Pierre-Paul and Olivier [Vernon] – all good players. And their [defensive backs] – Landon Collins, Eli Apple, who was a draft pick and their safety from Boise (Darian Thompson). They’ve got a good number of players, but so do we. I like our tackles. I like our protection schemes. I like our guys on the perimeter. I like our quarterback. So even though I think they’ve got good players, I think we’ve got good players.”
(On Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s ability to recover from his hand injury)
“Oh, it’s unbelievable. I mean what a good player, what a testament to being able to come back. I can’t imagine. And he’s still a really, really good football player – very disruptive, still gets to the quarterback, finds a way to get the ball out, so good for him.”
(On what the term ‘franchise quarterback’ means to him)
“I think what that would mean to me is that you think you’ve got someone that moving forward can lead you consistently to the playoffs and give you a chance to win the Super Bowl. I think that that’s the ultimate goal. I think you’re looking for someone that you can build your team around and you’re not really thinking in the draft, ‘Okay, we need to address this.’ We’ve got our guy. You may down the line in the draft, but you don’t initially. So, I see it as that and I think most organizations would be hopeful, if they took a quarterback, that hey, this could be a guy that could do this for us. With that being said, you’ve got to surround him with the right personnel on both sides of the ball. I think Drew Brees is a franchise quarterback and yet it’s not always an end all as you keep moving forward. There’s a lot of guys like that [who] are considered [to be franchise quarterbacks]. Matt Ryan is a franchise quarterback, but not until last year do I believe he got his due. There was other times when they thought, ‘I don’t know. Is Matt really?’ No, he’s a fantastic player. It’s not only you having the God-given skillset and you’ve worked at it, it’s also the pieces around you that allow you to not only succeed offensively, but then to do the things you want to do offensively you’ve got to complement it with a strong defense and get off the field and get you the ball back.”
(On if he feels the ‘franchise quarterback’ is given to players too early in their careers)
“I think things get slapped on players on both ends of that. I think that’s just human nature. I don’t think that’s anything to do with football. We do it in life. We just slap it, ‘He’s great. He’s terrible.’ We do it every team with our week and every team in the league, ‘We can win the Super Bowl. No, we’re going to drop football. Tampa Bay is going to move.’ I mean what the heck? It’s just the sky is falling mentality. It’s a week-to-week league. I think we do that with a lot of things. We do it as coaches. We are in the same boat. What you’re looking for is consistency of performance across the board – that gives you the best chance to win. But, I think you’re right it does. You’re hopeful that someone becomes that and when things don’t go as well then – he can’t. I think that’s two extremes, but it is. It’s even more because we’re talking about it. That’s part of it.”
(On if he felt his team got frenetic when they fell behind)
“Frenetic may be a little strong, but do I think that you’re surprised? When you think you’ve got a good team and you’ve got good coaches, you are never really ready to look up and say, ‘Wow, okay this is what the score is. But I didn’t feel that. Yeah, there was certain things that I think our players got frustrated with. I thought the things that our players got frustrated about, which I liked the most, was it was about winning. That’s what I like, especially with the guys that I have to deal with. I thought it was about winning and not about something else that they don’t control. I think it’s about wanting to be part of a championship-caliber team. Not only the respect as a player, which is first and foremost for those guys, but as being part of something special that is bigger than themselves. That is what I thought our frustration came from individually. From out end of it, I didn’t feel that from our coaches or our players, we just needed to do it better and we weren’t.”
(On how he manages to keep all of his receivers happy with their number of targets)
“Whoever is open has to get the ball. That’s why we emphasize five full-speed routes on every single play. I think we do a great job here, especially with Coach Koetter the way he calls, everyone touches the ball. It’s not just one guy getting most of the catches over and over and over again, unless you’re Mike Evans. He has a higher catch percentage than everyone else, but everyone else [gets] the ball. Like I say all the time, I don’t discriminate at all. I enjoy spreading the ball around. Coach Koetter does an amazing job getting the ball in everyone’s hands.”
(On the 2014 wide receiver class and how he will look back on it)
“Right now I can only focus on what’s going on right now. There’s a lot of great receivers out there, but one thing I’ve learned is, ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint.’ Mike [Evans] and Odell [Beckham Jr.] – both of them wear 13 – they have been playing their tails off since they entered this league. [They’re] very successful and I’m happy to have one of them, but I don’t know. I’m pretty sure they are going to continue to work hard and eventually they will be in the Hall of Fame. But at the end of the day, you know how life works. Somebody else is going to be up and they’re going to be talking about new people, but those two guys are very special guys – one in particular, it’s a privilege to play with him. I don’t know. I guess the fans can decide. I just know I have tremendous respect for both of them and both of them are amazing people and players.”
(On the trait in wide receiver Mike Evans that stands out the most)
“His competitiveness. [Someone] said something about him reacting off the field. He is a competitor. He is someone that pushes our team to the limit. That’s why he was elected captain this year. That’s just him. People don’t get to see it that much, but when you have a specific role as a leader on this team people are looking to you for your way, your action, how should I be right now. I was like Mike, ‘I love it. I love that passion.’ I have to work on controlling my emotions better, so I can’t really talk about Mike. I just see a guy who loves football, that hates losing and [who is] competing his tail off and wants to win and wants his team to feel the same way.”
(On how close he is to getting his chemistry down with wide receiver DeSean Jackson)
“It’s getting there. One of them was really on me and the guy was wide open. You’ve got to complete the pass. As an NFL quarterback, you’ve got to complete that pass whoever you are. But I am happy that we were able to get him one. That got his juices flowing a little bit, got his swagger back [and] got his swagger rolling. That’s the thing about guys like him, those players who just need to touch the ball once, to get that feeling. He just ends up getting four or five. He keeps going and that’s what we love from him. We’ve got Mike who’s my guy that I’m going to throw the ball to and we’ve got D. Jack, the guy that he’s going to get open so I have to throw the ball. We’ve just got to execute when it’s time to get him the ball, especially on those big-play opportunities.”
(On how his relationship has grown with tight end Cameron Brate)
“Every time we talk about Cam Brate, I’ve just got to go back to who is the hardest working guy who catches the ball. Who is that? It’s Cam Brate. He is the cream of the crop. This guy has been working hard his whole life. I just love him because he went to Harvard. He could be in politics right now or doing whatever he wants to do in his life, but he loves football and you can see it. He works at football like – it is our job. He gives all he has, he takes care of his body and he just continues to make play after play and the touchdowns are contagious for that guy. He just always finds a knack to catch the ball and get into the end zone.”
(On if there is ever a day where Brate doesn’t stay after practice)
“Never. There would never be a day. Cam Brate? No. That guy, he works his tail off and he is consistent in everything he does. He’s improving to get better every single day. Every quarterback, every teammate wants a teammate like Cameron Brate on his team.”
(On what stands out to him about the Giants secondary)
“They’re good. Their whole defense is very talented. Talking about Landon Collins, Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple and I think Darian Thompson – Darian being a rookie and Landon being one of the emerging superstar safeties in this league. Jackrabbit (Jenkins) – he’s lockdown. It’s fun to have great competition week in and week out and to play against some of the best in the league.”
(On his relationship with Giants quarterback Eli Manning)
“One of the greatest quarterback experiences of my life is getting the privilege to go to the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux. Getting a chance to meet the head, Archie, Peyton, Eli and you just think about their family and what their family has meant to the quarterback position in the NFL. [I have] tremendous respect for Eli. When I got picked to go to the Pro Bowl, I got a chance to see him work out there and see the way he carries himself. Seeing him around his family, man, it was amazing. I got a chance to witness him walking up on stage winning the Walter Peyton ‘Man of the Year’ award last year at the NFL Honors. Every time you talk about Eli, something good is coming up. I look up to him, especially to his whole family. The guy is amazing. He wins Super Bowls, he leads his team and he is a Manning. He was born to do it.”
(On what he needs to improve on this week)
“Protect the football – that’s the main thing. I come in and I say it all the time. When you look at last week’s game, that’s what it came down to – it came down to turnovers and we had more than them.”
(On if he is surprised that he has more touchdowns in his losses than he does in his wins, but he also has three times as many interceptions in the losses)
“I’m not surprised at all. That’s what controls this game – the turnover ratio. I will never forget when Coach [Lovie] Smith – one of the first PowerPoints Coach Lovie had put on the board was the turnover ratio. He was emphasizing how if we take the ball away and we don’t give them the ball, we’re going to win. There’s a high percentage that we are going to win. That’s something that I’ve got to continue to work at. I’ve got to continue to get better for this team’s sake.”
(On if he learns anything from watching Eli Manning’s tape)
“Every successful quarterback I try to take something from their game and add it to mine. He’s definitely a quarterback that I do look up to because he won two Super Bowls and he is a great QB. I think that’s just a growing process for me and it’s something that is consistently reminding me that, ‘Jameis, you cannot stop getting better. You’ve got to continue to improve.’ You look at the game that we did have – we were 70 percent completion and we lost. That hurt. You have an effective day in the air and you lose because of three turnovers and they were all results of me. It’s just something that sits in the back of my mind and eats me alive. At practice if I throw a pick, I get mad. I get frustrated. But, it’s just something that is that constant motivation that, ‘Hey, you’ve got to get better every day. You’ve got to get better.’ Like I said, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Obviously, I’ve got to get better quickly or there [are] some consequences I might have to face. For this team’s sake, I’ve just got to do a better job of giving us a chance to win.”
(On what the term ‘franchise quarterback’ means to him)
“Kind of like what I was touching on for the team’s sake – someone that the team [and] the whole organization trusts to run [everything]. Quarterbacks are basically the CEOs of their team – to run this business that we have in the NFL. Those three guys that you mentioned are all the best at it as far as wins and Super Bowls. I mean you are definitely judged off your Super Bowls. Stats are something, but stats aren’t everything. Winning, to me, statistically outweighs stats by far. You win [and] it doesn’t matter what your stats are. No one cares – you are a winner. I’d rather be considered a winner than a stat junkie.”
(On what he sees as the consequences if he continues turning the ball over)
“The consequences would be us running the ball 30 times a game. I like throwing the football. I want us to make decisions that [are] obviously going to help our team. I wouldn’t mind handing the ball off 30 times a game, but again that’s a luxury that we have. We have the diversity trait. It helps our team out being able to throw and run the football. I was having a conversation with my pops, ‘Man look, if you turn the ball over, they are going to run the football. You aren’t going to be able to throw the ball.’ For this team’s sake, I have to be able to be trusted. When the quarterback is able to be trusted a lot of teams go smoothly.”
(On how important it is to be able to run the football well)
“That’s one of our big factors is establishing a great running game. I don’t have [any] control over that. What I have control over is what we do in the passing game. My hand touches the ball every single play, so my job is to make sure we get in a good run situation and make sure I protect the ball.”
(On how many successful years he believes a quarterback should have before he can be deemed a ‘franchise quarterback’)
“You know what, I really just want to play football. If someone says that I’m a franchise quarterback, then thank you. If they don’t, then as long as I still have the privilege to play in this league with the great teammates that I have now, I’m going to be fine. Like I said, I don’t really care about the tags. I don’t care about all that. I just care about helping my team be successful and winning football games.”

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