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12 May 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Assistant Coach Media Availability (5/12/16)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith
Special Teams Coordinator Nate Kaczor
Linebackers Coach Mark Duffner
Defensive Line Coach Jay Hayes
Secondary Coach Jon Hoke
Defensive Backs Coach Brett Maxie
Assistant Defensive Line Coach Paul Spicer
(On rookie defensive end Noah Spence)
“Well, I think Noah Spence has some real traits you’re looking for in a pass rusher. He’s got a very good first step and has the ability to use his hands extremely well. In our mind, he was one of the best – if not the best – pass rusher in the draft.”
(On the possibility of Spence being an every-down defensive end)
“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to put together a defense that doesn’t have 11 starters. We’re trying to have somewhere between 15 and 16 guys that we consider starters on our defense. It’s a long season. You’re going to have guys playing in different packages and we’ve got a plan for Noah in terms of bringing him along. I was very impressed with his football intelligence in the rookie mini-camp and what he’s done this week.”
(On how Spence impressed with his football intelligence)
“Well, we’ve thrown a lot at him. Over the last seven or eight days, we’ve put about 70 percent of our defense in. We wanted to see what these guys could handle. The philosophy is to throw it at them – all of it – and see what they handle and then come back and kind of reconstruct it piece by piece.”
(On comparisons of Spence to Baltimore Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil)
“I think it’s very accurate. Usually when guys are successful in high school and they’re successful in college and they have the traits that you’re looking for – the height, weight and speed – they’re usually successful in the NFL. I know that he’s going to be ready to come in here and compete. Nobody has got a position on our team. We’re not saying, ‘These are our starters,’ we’re going to let the guys come in here and compete.”
(On which side of the line Spence will play)
“Again, flexibility is going to be the thing that is most important for us. He’s your prototypical – size-wise – right defensive end when you start talking about where he’s going to line up. With the schemes we’re talking about doing, he’s going to have the ability to line on both sides of the ball.”
(On the possibility of defensive ends shifting to defensive tackle)
“The game is really changing. It’s very interesting. I was looking back at some stuff about two weeks ago, looking, at what we did in 2000 in terms of the number of base snaps and the number of sub snaps and its completely changed. In 2000 in Baltimore we had about 30 percent of our plays were in sub defense and now its 65 percent. So, you got to have guys that can rush inside and a lot of our defensive ends – I think – in our sub package will be able to move down inside and that’s the thing that we’re looking for. We’re looking for as much flexibility that we possibly can. To be able to scheme against our opponents, to be able to be prepared for injuries because they are going to happen, so you have to have multiple guys prepared at different positions.”
(On which defensive ends could play inside)
“Well, I think KB can do it – Kourtnei Brown – I think he has the size and again – Ayers had very good success last year in New York in terms of his production at the defensive tackle position. We’ve got some linebackers – Daryl Smith is a guy that has played multiple positions, so we’re going to line these guys up at different spots and try to confuse the quarterback, keep it simple for us and make it complex for the offensive staffs.”
(On cornerback Brent Grimes)
“Grimes is an extremely good athlete. I like to say he’s short, but he plays big. This is a guy that’s been to multiple Pro Bowls, he’s a fantastic athlete, he’s got great jumping ability, he plays much bigger than his measured height and he’s very athletic. He’s quick out of his breaks and he’s one the fastest and quickest defensive backs I’ve ever been around.”
(On if he looks the same since he left Atlanta)
“Absolutely he does. I was out to dinner with him and his wife and he looks like a 20 year old. Someone thought he was my son, the way they were asking questions [laughs]. He is a guy that wears his years well.”
(On rookie cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III playing at the nickel)
“Well, I think we’ve got guys that can play both inside and outside and Vernon falls right into that category. We got him probably more snaps at the nickel position because he hadn’t done that in a couple of years. At Florida he was more of an outside guy, so we wanted to first expose him to the nickel position. As I said, we’re going to play more five defensive back and six defensive back schemes than we are when we’re lining up with four DBs, so we have to have these guys cross-trained and I do believe he has the football intelligence and the background to play both inside and outside.”
(On if the defensive backs will play more man coverage this season)
“Well, we’re going to mix it up. We’re going to ask these guys to be able to play off, to be able to get up and press and be as multiple as we possibly can. I think we don’t want to put ourselves in a situation – I tell the guys we don’t want to send a text message or an Instagram to the quarterback we’re playing against before the ball is snapped, so we want to make sure we have some flexibility. The guys have enjoyed it, they’ve taken it in. We’ve only had an opportunity to really play football for three days with the rookies and three days with the vets. This Phase Two is really more of a learning and teaching phase than what phase III will be.”
(On if Smith was surprised by Spence’s football intelligence)
“When we spoke at the combine and – our scouts do a lot of research on these guys – they had a very good grade on him in football intelligence. We got an opportunity – [defensive line coach Jay] Hayes got a chance to spend time with him at his pro day. We had him here on top-30 visit, so we’ve done our due diligence in terms of trying to understand what these guys are capable of doing both on the field and off the field and it didn’t surprise me a bit. The first time we sat down and talked with him was at the combine and he was very impressive in the short conversation we had there.”
(On laying the groundwork to reduce the amount of penalties this season)
“Well, I think Coach Koetter has laid the ground work. There’s no doubt about that. Penalties are probably the toughest thing to handle, especially the procedural penalties before the ball is snapped. Those are the things you want to eliminate. First-and-5 is a lot easier than first-and-10, or when you’re third and one and you jump offside and give them an automatic first down without them even running a play. So, those are the things that we’ve got to make sure we clean up. We can’t have the type of penalty production we had last year and it’s a big emphasis point. Our coaches are coaching it on the film, on the practice field and I think it’s going to be very important. The least penalized teams usually are the ones that win more games.”
(On linebacker Lavonte David)
“Lavonte – oh gosh – he’s been a pleasure to work with. He’s very smart. He’s a student of the games, he understands football, he understands schemes. It’s fun to have those types of conversations and he’s usually about three or four steps ahead of every one else in terms of looking at the playbook. He’s a football junkie, he wants to be great and I can see why. It’s not only what he does on the field but it’s what he does in the classroom, it what he does with his teammates.”
(On which rookies has impressed him the most)
“Well, Davonte [Lambert] came in and he did a very nice job. He’s a thicker guy than what he looks like on tape. I thought he did a very nice job and the free agent that we got – Cassanova McKinzy – both of those guys. And again – the backup linebackers – their opportunity to play is first going to come on special teams. You know working with [special teams coordinator] Coach [Nate] Kaczor. I tell those guys, ‘Hey, the first play you’re going to be able to play in the NFL is not going to be a defensive snap. You’re going to be either running down on kickoff coverage or you’re going to be on kickoff returns.’ So that’s the way you’re going to make your way early on in your career and those guys are run-and-hit guys and that’s what you have to have to be a good special team’s group.”
(On how working with Mike Nolan helped Smith as a defensive coordinator)
“We’ve been multiple through the years. Mike coming in – Mike and I worked together in Baltimore prior to him coming into Atlanta. Marvin Lewis, when we first started we were a 3-4 team, so we’ve kind of morphed back and forth. Really, a 4-3 and a 3-4 – it’s really the same defense. You line up in a 4-3 and you over shift, you’re in a 3-4. If you’re in a 3-4 and you over shift, you’re in a 4-3 – the big thing for us is we want to make it simple for one – meaning each player on our defense. We want it to be complex and complicated for the coaching staff and the quarterback we’re playing against and that’s our goal. We want to be as multiple as we can be and play to the strengths of our players. We’ve got some guys that have some unique skill sets and it’s our job as a coaching staff to put those guys in the best position to be successful.”
(On Lavonte David’s best position)
“Well, he’s a run-and-hit linebacker. He’s a guy that can step up and if he has to take on an offensive lineman, he can take him on. If he feels like he can run around him and keep leverage on the running back, he can run around him. In coverage, he’s a very good zone player and I think he’s not been asked to do it as much, but he can also play man-to-man coverage. He has the skill-set you’re looking for in this day and age. The days of having a 260-pound middle linebacker, they’re gone. This is a speed game, this is a spacing game. Offensive coordinators have such a great idea of spacing on the field and the timing of the quarterback is impeccable, so we’ve got to be able to play that.”
(On defensive line coach Jay Hayes)
“Jay works extremely hard with his guys. He holds them accountable and that’s important and of course he’s very knowledgeable. He’s been with what I think is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL – [Bengals Head Coach] Marvin Lewis there in Cincinnati. He brings a wealth of knowledge to that room and instant credibility with the players he’s been able to coach in his career of 16 or 17 years.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston)
“Boy, I’ll tell you what. This is a quarterback driven league and I’ve been very impressed with Jameis. He’s got great size and he’s cut us up a couple of times. You guys saw it in our veteran mini-camp. I’m enjoying competing with him and have actually had a couple conversations with him about, ‘Ok, what do you see in our defense? What does our defense look like?’ Because that’s going to help us because I want to know what the quarterback is thinking we’re doing.”
(On tight end Dan Vitale)
“Quite often when they go to a school like he went to school [Northwestern], off the bat you know you’re going to be dealing with a probably pretty aware, smart football player. Right off the bat working with him, he’s an intelligent football player and when you watch his tape – just like his offensive film – he’s a very versatile player as a bigger body, almost a linebacker body type. He runs well, make plays – made a couple of plays in the Senior Bowl when you’re comparing apples to apples so to speak and for me, on special teams, any time you get help on the special teams roster from the offensive side of the ball, whether it’s a fullback, the second tight end, the fifth receiver, the third and fourth running back – and you get that in the shape of a linebacker body, that’s really, really good. I’m happy to have him as a body-type and a smart football player that can move right now because you can’t have too many linebacker body-types on special teams.”
(On if there is a kicking specialist on staff)
“Well, there’s a big skill-set that goes along with being a special teams coach and you have to be able to work with players that cover kicks and use offensive and defensive principles – to run and cover, block, shed blocks, escape, play with leverage. There’s also obviously snapping, kicking and punting and obviously the longer you do it you’re subjected and exposed to kicking experts from time to time. Whether we go work these players at their college and their kicking coach is with them. I’ve never had the word ‘guru’ associated with my name, but I feel comfortable that we’ll be able to help Roberto out. Quite often these kickers in the summertime – when we can’t work with them in July – will have someone they may go get a tune up with. Similar to golfers – it’s not a lot like golfing, but it’s a little bit the same in the sense that it’s a finite motor skill that under pressure you have to be able to execute. So most of the time when these guys go work with someone in the summer and we get them back, we get in touch with what they’re talking about and then we train our eye and use film to kind of keep them in line with what they’re working on or with. So really, it’s kind of a village you create with myself and whoever he works with peripherally working together to help him out. But once that season gets going similar to a golfer – very seldom do you here of golfers making major swing changes in the middle of the season, so once that ship leave the port so to speak, it’s more about mentally keeping their confidence up and keeping them competing and those things.”
(On what he likes about the linebackers on the roster)
“Well, I really like them as people first. Lavonte [David], Kwon [Alexander] – these guys are really top-flight people to begin with and the other thing about them is they are guys that are very, very competitive. They want to be good players. They’re willing to do the extra, they’re willing to study, to prepare, so they’re quality people in addition to being pretty good players.”
(On Kwon Alexander translating his skills into a new defensive scheme)
“Well, there’s a lot of similarity actually to what we did last year and he did have a heck of a year, especially as a Mike linebacker. I feel like he’ll be able to make that transition. He’s a football player and actually he made that transition from an outside linebacker to playing Mike, so I think based on well he did that a year ago in in the scheme he was in that he’ll be able to continue to play Mike for us.”
(On having linebacker Daryl Smith)
“It’s been great. I got the privilege to coach Daryl for seven years in Jacksonville and he was our all-time leading tackler, so he’s kind of like a coach on the field, so he’s been very helpful as far as that’s concerned. He had three very productive years in Baltimore and we’re counting on him doing the same here in Tampa.”
(On what impressed him about defensive end Noah Spence)
“I’ve seen Noah, really since he was at Ohio State and I was in Cincinnati. The first time I got exposure to him, I was coaching at the Bengals and I watched the spring game at Ohio State. They played in Paul Brown Stadium and Noah had like, four sacks in the spring game, so that was my first exposure to him. He is a guy that can put pressure on the passer. He’s basically a guy that’s a specialist and that’s kind of where we saw him.”
(On the possibility of defensive ends playing defensive tackle)
“Until we start getting some pads on and things like that, that’s kind of hard to tell. We’re just going to have to mix and match the guys we have. My history has been we’re going to roll guys through, keep people fresh and just keep coming after people in waves and that’s kind of what I’ve always done and that’s what we’ll continue to do here.”
(On defensive tackle Clinton McDonald)
“You know, he was on the practice squad for us his first year [in Cincinnati] and then the next year he played and then the next year we just had so many guys in our room that we ended up trading him to Seattle and it was a great thing for him. He ends up going to the Super Bowl and winning a Super Bowl. He’s always been a very mature player, a guy that was serious about his craft and wants to get better. I’ll tell you guys a quick story about Clinton. When he was a rookie and he was on the practice squad, we would have an away game. He would show up at the stadium when we get off the bus from the airport, he would be there every game. No one told him to do it. That’s just the kind of guy he is and that’s why he’s had the kind of success he’s had throughout the league in Seattle and Cincinnati and here. He is a grown man and he’s carried himself that way since I’ve known him.”
(On the differences in defensive scheme from last season)
“The words are different. The terminology is different. That’s always going to be a part of it. Some of the techniques will be different than they’ve played in the past. Schematically there are some changes. There are only so many things you can do – you’re going to play split-safeties and you’re going to play single-high, so how you play those versions are always going to be a little different for the most part. There are some subtle differences, absolutely.”
(On the terminology of defensive backs coach and secondary coach)
“You never want to just say you’re locked into one position and sometimes a title will do that to you. We just felt it was in the best interest to have those titles the way they are because there are times when he’s going to interact with the whole group as I am, so there was no reason jus tto pigeon hole a person into one area.”
(On if he and Brett Maxie will have overlapping responsibilities)
“Depending on what we’re going through and what progression we have that day that can absolutely happen. Right now we have kind of separated where he’s handling the safeties and I’m handling the corners and the nickels, but we’re obviously working together quite a bit.”
(On the leaders in the defensive backs meeting room)
“I think they spread it around. Like I said, this group is kind of unique. It’s like that peer-to-peer accountability. Everyone is looking to challenge the next person. I think that’s what makes this group so unique, because there [is] a lot of veteran leadership in that secondary. When you talk about Chris Conte, Alterraun Verner, now Brent Grimes, Major Wright – I mean there are a lot of guys that have played a lot of football and there are no egos. The best teams win when everybody is on the same page and I get that feeling. Even if I’m the second guy, the second guy on the depth chart wants the first guy to do well and the first guy wants the guy behind him to do well and that’s how they challenge each other.”
(On how defenses have evolved)
“Like you said, because of the passing game you’re going to see more wide receiver sets, so you’re going to be playing a lot of sub defense and that third corner, which is your nickel, is a starter. You look around the league, you look in our division – Atlanta – they run a lot of three wide receiver sets. The second game of the season when we go to Arizona, they have four guys who can run. They’re going to come out in four and three wide receiver sets, so it’s important that everybody – especially the position coaches that coach the same position I coach – we’re all on the same page of what we’re looking for in an athlete.”
(On the players are picking up the new defensive system)
“I think they are taking it very well. It’s still early. We’re only talking about May. Right now the guys are taking it one day at a time. I mean, we’re giving them a lot, but when we go out on the practice field just by watching those guys – how they move, how they act, how they communicate – it speaks leaps and bounds about where we’re going to be when we get to August.”
(On defensive end Noah Spence)
“I think he’s a great kid. I think he’s going to bring another element to our defense. A guy with speed, strength – he’ll be able to get off the ball and make a lot of plays for our defense and we need that out of him right now. Some other guys we have on our D-line – with him in the rotation we’re going to be a better D-line.”

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