Below is the transcript of Head Coach Dirk Koetter’s media availability earlier.
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
(On any new observations after watching Thursday's game on tape)
"Well, [there's] probably more that's not good than good, obviously, when you've had two losses in 10 days. We're not playing like we need to and [there are] plenty of things we need to get better at."
(On why the defense is struggling)
"We're not communicating good enough. Not everybody's able to just line up and read their keys and play fast. That's what you want to do with every position and we're just not doing that right now. It could be different reasons on different plays. We're talking about communicating all time and making sure everybody's on the same page, and we're not doing a good enough job of that right now."
(On if defensive issues played into his decision not to take a penalty before an Atlanta field goal in the second quarter)
"No, no. If I had that to do over again, we should have taken that penalty and that's on me. No, that didn't [factor into it]. I don't want anyone to read in that I don't have confidence in the defense or anything like that. That was just a bad decision by me."
(On people assuming a lack of confidence in the defense regardless)
"That's fine. If you're going to read into it, you're going to read into it, but I just told you. That's a bad decision by me."
(On what can be done to make the team play up to its potential)
"Well, we've got to coach them better, number one. We've got to coach them better. That's what a coach's job is, that's what my job is, to try to get your team to achieve up to the talent level that they have. Everybody can argue whatever your talent level is and every team in the NFL has injuries. That's just me saying that. I'm saying I think we have a higher ceiling than we're playing to right now. Our record is what our record is; we have to own that, just like I said last night. But I think we can play to a higher level across the board. That starts with me, first and foremost. I have to figure out how to reach these guys, how to motivate them, how to get them on the same page, get them to play together, to play up to the talent level that I think we have. That all starts with me."
(On if he's seeing progress in the play of cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves)
"I don't know if it's because we're at the halfway point – as a coach, I don't usually look at it is ‘progress,’ I look at it as week-to-week. Did we do enough that week to win, at every position? We're talking in this case about the secondary [and] the last two weeks we didn’t do enough to win. Anything I say is an excuse. We played two really good offenses, two hot quarterbacks that don't miss very many throws and two really good receiving corps. The two cornerbacks that you mentioned, Brent and Vernon, that we added, I think are two really good football players that didn't have their two best games in these two games. I think when we get to the end of 16 games, that's when we really evaluate that. We've got a little bit of a breather right here over the weekend. It hasn't even been 24 hours since that game's over. We talk about the 24-hour rule – I'm still hurting a little bit today and sometimes I'll be a little bit too emotional in the 24 hours after the game about how you look at stuff. I'll be thinking about that a lot and I know the defensive coaches will. That's what I asked the players to do, too, over this little break that we have. We have to play better at a lot of different spots. We have to coach better. We have to coach better to enable our guys to play better. And one of those spots is corner."
(On if he could go back would he keep quarterback Jameis Winston in for the entire game again)
"I didn't keep him in the entire game."
(On if he would still keep Winston in until the last couple minutes of the game)
"Yes, I would."
(On how Winston is feeling physically)
"Jameis is fine."
(On wide receiver Mike Evans' health status)
"Mike's in the concussion protocol, as is Kevin Pamphile. Both of those guys are in the concussion protocol. I don't even really know what all of that entails. I do know that Mike will be able to practice on Monday. We’re having a very light practice. I don't think Kevin will be. I don't think Kevin will be – I don't think he's that far along, but that's really all I know."
(On other injured players)
"Unfortunately, Antone [Smith] suffered a significant injury and I think that would probably be a season-ending injury, it looks like. That would be the same for Howard Jones, a season-ending injury. Joe [Hawley's injury] is not as significant. Anything on Joe would be short-term."
(On Evans's one-handed catch)
"That was two plays right in a row why people watch the NFL. The catch was fantastic and that was some kind of hit. That was some kind of hit. As a coach, I wish Jameis would throw the ball further outside and Mike didn't have to make the catch like that, catches it going out of bounds and doesn't take that hit. What's really amazing about that, not only the catch itself but Mike came back and played. I'm not sure if that's where Mike got his concussion. It's hard to tell on the angle of our film. It looks like on our tape like the contact is more in the upper chest, but his head definitely – definitely some flexion in his body. The fact that Mike came back and made a couple big plays after that, that's pretty amazing. That's why you've got the biggest, fastest, strongest athletes in the world out there. That was just two 'wow' plays right on the same play."
(On having trouble finding an identity)
“I think every team finds its own identity sooner or later. Sometimes what you think you’re going to be when you start the year, it doesn’t work out that way, for one reason or another. I think that might be a fair assessment, that maybe we haven’t really found what we can consistently hang our hat on. There’s different reasons for that. All that is, that’s our job as coaches. That’s my job, to help us get to that point.”
(On if he has ever seen a team lose four running backs)
“I haven’t seen it. Again, we’ve hit on this before, but for whatever reason, we’re being hit hard at two positions – running back and defensive end have been the positions that we’ve been hit really hard on. Other teams in the league have their issues at different positions, but I’ve never seen where we’re a one-back team and we have four running backs go in one year. I’ve never seen that.”
(On the situation that defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and his family went through yesterday)
“We were aware of that situation before the game and our security people, when they told me about it, assured me that everything was fine. I talked briefly to Gerald before the game, just to make sure he was ok. He seemed fine at that point. I just think anything else from that you should probably talk to Gerald about that next week.”
(On potentially activating wide receiver Louis Murphy from the Physically Unable to Perform list, with his 21-day practice window ending on Monday)
“I’m not sure on that. You’re correct on the 21-day window. I’m not really sure if he’s healthy enough to practice starting Monday. I’m not sure on that.”
(On why Winston was still in the game later into the fourth quarter)
“Because players play in the NFL. Players play. This isn’t a participation trophy. The players play in the NFL. Jameis played every single snap last year. Hopefully we’re not in a lot of games where we’re way behind, but I think there was still eight minutes to go in the game when that happened. We ran on the play – that was a good hit that Jameis took. Jameis – it was a two-point play – was trying to go to score. If I had my way, Jameis would have thrown that ball away and not taken that hit, but Jameis isn’t going to do that. That’s the competitive side of him that sometimes can be a detriment. You love it and you hate it at the same time. You only have 46 guys up. We do have a second quarterback up and when Mike [Glennon] came in, he did a good job. We’re not going to be taking Jameis out of games. Those guys are paid to play, they want to play and we’re going to play them.”
(On Winston taking a hit when he was on the ground and if he was trying to get back up)
“He didn’t really try to get back up. I couldn’t really see that play in the game. It looked like, in the game, what I thought happened – from the worst seat in the house, where I’m at – it looked like 44 tried to trip him. Then he would have been down. He had his back to the line of scrimmage and then the other guy hit him. I was talking to the officials about that. The official told me he didn’t see it clearly. Ok, that’s a good explanation. When I saw it on tape today, it appears that Jameis might have tripped over ‘Dot’ [Demar Dotson], so maybe he wasn’t down by contact. There was no whistle that I could hear, so that’s how that play – I think Jameis though he was down. He wasn’t trying to get back up. He thought the play was over. I think he took a couple of hits more so than that one was.”
(On the third down reception by Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones that was reviewed)
“The explanation I got was that there was not enough evidence to overturn it and that they thought his wrist stayed under the ball. So that’s what I got.”
(On linebacker Adarius Glanton)
“Adarius, he’s been a really solid player on special teams for us. I think the numbers – he had 14 plays he was in the game and had five tackles. We had him for five. I think the official stats might have had him for six. He did a nice job when he went in there, he did.”
(On the effort and energy from wide receiver Mike Evans)
“I kind of got sidetracked there when I was asked about Mike before, but I think that’s Mike’s biggest improvement this year. We talked in the offseason how Mike’s his own worst critic. Mike has really got his temper under control. Mike is really locked in to what he needs to do, whether it’s a penalty called on him or a penalty that he thinks should have been called on them or Jameis overthrows him or Mike going over the middle. Mike has really learned to move on and play the next play. You can see it in how he’s running his routes. He’s getting off the line. Sometimes last year it would look like, when he got tired, like he wasn’t running hard. We only went with four wideouts last night, with ‘Shep’ [Russell Shepard] being down. Mike and Adam [Humphries] – especially – and Cecil [Shorts] had to play a lot of plays. I think that’s Mike’s biggest area of improvement. For as good of a game as he had, I’m sure Mike will be the first to admit that should have had a couple of more.”
(On if defensive coordinator Mike Smith’s defense has changed linebacker Lavonte David’s role and if it is limiting David’s production)
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that. In the previous scheme, the way that defense is set up, your weakside linebacker is going to make a lot of tackles because he’s almost always protected by the three-technique. Lavonte is sometimes in that position in our [defense] and sometimes not. Both those guys should be in our top two or three tackles and I think they will probably finish that way if they stay healthy.”
(On if David is adjusting to Smith’s defense)
“We kind of already talked about that. I think maybe everybody is. When I say that, maybe going back to – maybe we just haven’t found our identity yet and that’s something that as coaches, mostly me and ‘Smitty,’ [Mike Smith] we have to help them do that.”
(On if the team needs to blitz more if they are not generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks with four-man pass rush)
“That’s what the math would tell you to do, but every time we pressured last night, every time we took away coverage – our zone pressures, there were big holes and Matt Ryan found them. The man pressures, they beat us one-on-one and we gave up too many big plays. Right now, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t so we’re right back to that same thing. We’ve got to find what it is that we are good at and do that more.”