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14 November 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Day-After-Game Media Availability (11/14/16)

HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
 
(On his reaction to wide receiver Mike Evans choosing to sit during yesterday’s National Anthem and if it is the same as his comments in August regarding the National Anthem)
“Yeah and I’m exactly the same today, I’m exactly the same as what I said in August, exactly when the [San Francisco 49er quarterback] Colin Kaepernick stuff started. Exactly the same and I stand by that and I certainly stand by the statement released by the organization. I think that sums it up pretty well.”
 
(On if he knew Evans was going to sit before the game)
“No.”
 
(On if he has spoken with Evans)
“I was texting with Mike last night, yes. And I’ll talk to Mike – players are off today and I will speak with Mike on Wednesday, but of course that conversation will be between me and him.”
 
(On if there is any concern that this will become a distraction for the team)
“I hope it doesn’t affect our team and that’s something that I’ll take whatever measures necessary that I think are necessary to try to minimize what effect it has on our team. I’m really not sure. This is uncharted water for me and I’m not sure about any of that.”
 
(On what he would say to Evans about the negative fan reaction to his protest)
“Well, I’m not going to speak for Mike in any form at all and I’m not going to get into any advice that I would give Mike. But as far as me talking to the fans, I think the organization put out a great statement and we really want the fans to come out. Heck, I’m dying to get the fans out there and fill Ray Jay up. We’ve got to play better football, the better football we play I think the more they’ll come. I think we took a good step in that direction yesterday and that’s my statement on that.”
 
(On what he would say to fans that may boycott games because of the protest)
“I don’t have control over that. This is all stuff you’re telling me, I’m not out there, I’m not having – this is all news to me. I’ve been working on getting ready for Kansas City all day, so I don’t really have a reaction. I’d be disappointed because I want to fill that place up, but that’s Dirk Koetter talking, that’s my personal opinion.”
 
(On if Evans’ protest will hurt the team’s efforts to get fans to games)
“I’m not sure, I’m not sure if it will or it won’t. I don’t know.”
 
(On if he knows whether or not any other players will join Evans in his protest)
“I have not talked to any other players. Like I said, I didn’t know about this until after the game. It didn’t come up in front of me in the locker room. By the time I was aware of this, most of the players were showered and mostly gone. And again, the players are off today, so I’ve only talked to maybe two players today and it wasn’t about this.”
 
(On Evans protesting on Military Appreciation Day at Raymond James Stadium)
“Again, I didn’t have anything to do with the timing, so I’m not the right person to ask about that. Maybe you [will] get a chance to talk to Mike on Wednesday. I’m not the right person to ask, but I thought – let me say this: Military Appreciation Day at the stadium yesterday, I thought was awesome. I personally took pictures with a ton of military personnel on the field. I shook a ton of hands on the field, I saw other players doing the same thing. I though the display by the military and the way the flyover, the choir that sang before the game, I thought that was awesome. Right when the National Anthem [is sung], Jameis [Winston] stands by me and that choir sang, that military choir sang, when that was over, that flyover, I turned and looked at Jameis and said, ‘If that doesn’t get you fired up, I don’t know what will.’”
 
(On if he can reiterate the comments he made in August on Kapernick’s protest)
“I can read it to you. I don’t have it memorized, but they’ve got it for me in very small print. Okay, I said, ‘We, believe it or not, have practiced how to lineup for the National Anthem, we’ve worked on it. I don’t know if our organization has the right to tell a guy that he needs to do that. I would be disappointed if any of our players didn’t stand up for the National Anthem, personally. I look at that as a salute to the people who have paved the way for us, but at the same time this is a free country and I think freedom of speech is something that we all believe in and freedom of expression. That’s an individual’s choice, that’s a fine line there. I would personally be disappointed, but I think it would be hard to enforce that rule.’ If you remember, the question was, at that point, [Los Angeles Rams Head] Coach Jeff Fischer said that they were going to have some kind of a team rule requiring players to stand for the Nation Anthem, which I don’t think that ever materialized.”
 
(On if he is disappointed with Evans’ decision to sit for the National Anthem)
“Yeah, I’m disappointed for that, but again, I also respect Mike’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression.”
 
(On if there was or was not a lot of political discussion in the locker room following the Presidential Election, keeping in mind that companies around the country have asked employees not to discuss the election in the workplace)
“I wouldn’t want to work at one of those companies, would you? How was it at your company? I’m sure there’s discussions about a lot of topics in our locker room, some of which I know about, some of which I don’t. So, I’m not sure.”
 
(On what he would tell the fans)
“Let’s fill Ray Jay up. We’ve got to play better football and we need all the help we can get. I appreciate our fans. There’s so many great fans out there that we talk to every week and we’ll do our part, continue to do yours. We need you.”
 
(On how the offensive line held up yesterday after losing three starters)
“We consider Evan Smith a starter, so in essence after six plays we were down three starters on the O-line. So, first off, Ben Gottschalk, he came up off the practice squad earlier in the week, so he got very little time with the first offense and to go out there, play 69 plays like he did, I thought Ben filled in very admirably. Caleb [Benenoch], that was his first start as a rookie and it was well-documented that Caleb missed most of OTAs because of the school thing at UCLA, the semester rule. And then he was hurt for a part of preseason. Caleb had kind of a rocky debut. He’s going to look back on this some day. We have very high hopes and high expectations for Caleb, but that wasn’t one of his better days.”
 
(On if yesterday was one of Winston’s better games)
“Oh, absolutely. Yeah, Jameis had a heck of a game. We didn’t have much going in the run game, they were doubling Mike and we were down three starters on the O-line, so we needed Jameis to play big yesterday and he did. And the other guy that he had a great connection going with yesterday was [tight end] Cameron Brate. Seven catches, all first downs or touchdowns. So, Jameis showed all sides of his game yesterday. He showed his mobility, showed his toughness, showed his arm strength, showed his ability to read defense – that first touchdown to Cam. Showed his ability to see the field. The touchdown to [wide receiver] Freddie Martino, that wasn’t where that ball should’ve gone at all, but he saw Freddie get behind the safety in the corner on the backside there, that was a great, unscripted play by Jameis.”
 
(On how many times he went back and re-watched Winston’s scramble and 39-yard pass to Evans)
“[Laugher] Well, it takes too long, it takes too long. I think that was just one of those crazy plays. That really kind of offsets the Hail Mary before the end of the half, those plays sort of offset each other. There’s a little bit of luck involved there and it was dangerous at times, I was screaming for Jameis to throw the ball away and he pulled his Houdini act multiple times. 22 yards back, all the way back in our end zone and then to throw it that far down the field and a great catch by Mike.”
 
(On how good it felt to win yesterday at home)
“Well, wins are great, no matter what. No matter where or when, wins are great and the fact that we hadn’t won at home and it was Military Appreciation Day, the crowd was great. Just think back to last year, the number of Bears fans that were in that lower bowl, compared to yesterday. I remember very vividly what it was like at the end of that game a year ago, with the Bears fans in that lower bowl and it was a lot sweeter yesterday.”
 
(On the defense’s performance yesterday)
“That was great to see because so many of the things that the coaching staff identified and [Defensive Coordinator] Mike Smith and his staff worked into the game plan, to see the players carry it out like that, to see them playing fast, playing downhill and getting after the ball, really tightening up the coverage, the pass rush, hitting the quarterback, disrupting the quarterback. Fun to see, fun to see those guys have that kind of success.”
 
(On what was the different between the Chicago game and the Atlanta game in the third quarter)
“That’s hard to say because every game’s different, but I would just say the main thing is we weren’t able to affect [Atlanta quarterback] Matt Ryan the way we were able to affect [Chicago quarterback Jay] Cutler. I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that the coverage will be better when the rush is better and when we’re not getting a good enough rush and we’re not getting pressure, guys like Matt Ryan, like [Oakland quarterback Derek] Carr, like some other quarterback that we’re going to see, they’re going to make it tough on you. But when you can knock that guy down, when you can get in his face, when you can get him off his spot, then things are going to work out better for the coverage.”
 
(On if he and the coaching staff asked the cornerbacks to be more aggressive after the Atlanta game)
“Across the board, the entire defense that we felt like we needed to – yeah, we needed to tighten up. The word we used was suffocating, we needed to be more suffocating with our coverage and I’ve got some really good film clips to show them on Wednesday of them doing that.”
 
(On if the communication of defense was better yesterday)
“It was much better. We still had a couple issues, we still – when we were going over the grades today, there was still a few things that didn’t get communicated properly. But that’s going to be really important this week in Kansas City because it’s such a loud place to play.”
 
(On if Winston’s ability to throw the ball on the run has improved)
“Yeah, I really think he’s better than I thought he was, just coming in. And that’s something that he works on a lot with [Quarterbacks Coach] Mike Bajakian, they do work on that in-between fields, in-between drills, they’re working on that all the time and I think Jameis has improved. Maybe he was a lot better than I thought he was coming in, but I do think he’s improved in that area.”
 
(On how long the team has been working on putting defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in at fullback)
“Yeah, that was an accumulation of two days’ work. Evan Smith had been our jumbo fullback the last few weeks, with him starting on the line Gerald’s been bugging us the last few weeks about doing it and we thought it was going to be a relatively simple – from a scheme standpoint – week to do it and then sure enough, the first play that Gerald’s in there, they run a stunt that we’d only seen them do one time. Actually one of the linemen missed their blocks, so Gerald was supposed to be leaning on the linebacker and it was him and [Chicago defensive lineman] Akiem Hicks head-to-head or shoulder pad to shoulder pad right there, that was quite a collision.”
 
(On if he can give any update on injured guard J.R. Sweezy, who the team has to make a decision on this week about bringing up to the active roster)
“I can’t. I would say that’s probably doubtful, but I’m really doubtful that he would be back out there practicing. I’ve been given no indication that that’s forthcoming.”
 
(On what he said to safety Chris Conte after he knocked his glassed off and head-butted him after his touchdown yesterday)
“[Laugher] I told him he must not have scored many touchdowns in his life, as you’ve got to head-butt a guy with no helmet on.”
 
(On if he will wear a helmet on the sideline after Conte’s incidental head-butt)  
“I don’t think so. But I told him, he can do it again next week if he gets another pick-six [laughter].”

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