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05 December 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Day-After-Game Media Availability (12/5/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Tampa Bay has five road wins this season, tied for the third-most in a single season in team history, trailing only 2010 & 2002 (each six road wins).
Below is the transcript of Head Coach Dirk Koetter’s media availability earlier.
(On how concerned he is with the injuries at wide receiver)
“Well Adam [Humphries] is in the concussion protocol, so that obviously is out of our hands and that goes through the proper channels. And Cecil [Shorts] of course is out [for the season], so yeah, we’re concerned. We finished the game with three wide receivers. I feel like we still have two guys on our practice squad that are ready to come up and help us at any time and that’s Josh Huff and Dontaee Dye, who played a lot of ball for us last year. So, I don’t think we’re in dire straits, but we’ve got to have roster spots too and that’s all a delicate balance that [General Manager] Jason [Licht] is working on all the time. But I think we’ll be okay and [I am] proud of the way Freddie [Martino] and Russell [Shepard] stepped up yesterday. Their roles both went way through the roof. ‘Shep’ had to play 55 plays, when he’s been playing about 30 and Freddie played about 30, when he’s been playing about five. Freddie got a chance to make some plays and he did.”
(On how much the team is rallying behind quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I think a lot. I think there’s definitely something to that and there’s different styles – I’m sure [New England quarterback] Tom Brady and [Green Bay quarterback] Aaron Rodgers and [Pittsburgh quarterback] Ben Roethlisberger and we’re seeing one of the best in [New Orleans quarterback] Drew Brees this week, they all have their own style. As you said, leadership can take on many forms, but you also have to be able to back it up with your play and Jameis has done that. He’s got a unique style I would say, to pro football. That’s part of his youth. We’ve got to keep reminding ourselves he should be a senior in college right now. But it’s refreshing – I’ve said it many times, if you didn’t know better, it could come across almost as corny sometimes, but when Jameis does it, it’s not. I’m saying, it doesn’t come across as corny at all when he does it. If I said some of the stuff he did, or some other quarterbacks I’ve been around – because it wouldn’t be them. But that’s Jameis and that’s really who he is, it’s who he is every day. And after the players are around it, they’re attracted to that because sometimes Jameis says things that they wish they could say, or they wish they had it in them to say. And then he backs it up.”
(On cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III’s progress and maturation as a football player this season)
“Yeah, think about all the things Vernon did yesterday. He started the game at nickel when they were in 11-personnel, he started at corner, he was also starting at nickel and then we made a switch partway through the game and brought [Javien] Elliott in at nickel and Hargreaves went back outside, did a good job with all that. We lose our top two punt returners in the first half and he comes in and – one of our goals for the game was to field every punt because their punter had kind of been spraying the ball. He was playing it like 50 yards deep and that last punt he caught, he had to come up 15 yards to catch it. That saved – if that ball hits the ground, that saves 15 yards, that’s an explosive play. He wore a lot of hats yesterday and one of the hats you’re not expecting him necessarily to wear is that of leader. It’s been well-documented about the improved communication on our defense and then you guys got it before I did, the reports of his communication on two huge plays, maybe the two biggest plays in the game, two of the biggest plays. The biggest difference that I’ve noticed in Vernon since the mini-bye, was it seems like he’s having fun out there. It seemed like he was – kind of like Jameis last year. Jameis’ coming out party, or the time that he really had to assert himself, was the at Atlanta [game], when [linebacker] Kwon [Alexander’s] brother had passed and Jameis really stepped up. And this is a different scenario, but it’s just like Vernon really came out of his shell after the Thursday night game. And sometimes rookies have to pay their homage to the leadership of the team, to the veterans, but more than anything, I think Vernon’s just having fun out there. They had that microphone on him a week or so ago and even though I didn’t see it, my kids told me that it surely appeared like he was having fun.”
(On what led to bringing Elliott into the game yesterday and how Elliott gained his confidence in such a short amount of time)
“Well what brought it about, is Alterraun [Verner] has been through a lot here since Thanksgiving and Alterraun’s actually stayed out in California, will not be with us Wednesday and Thursday, he will be out in California with his family for services. So, we knew that was coming and we weren’t sure – I think there was really an emotional game last week where Alterraun came in. Alterraun got beat on a couple of plays, we’ve been working Javien and the main reason we have confidence in Javien Elliot, is he picks off our offense about three times every day in practice. He’s a kid that practices hard – we encourage those guys not to hit our guys, not to take shots on our guys, but if you can get the ball in practice, get it and nobody picks off Jameis Winston more than Javien Elliot. And he makes plays, so we knew when he had a chance to come up, that we weren’t going to be afraid to put him in the game.”
(On how impressed he is with the team being 5-1 on the road this season)
“Happy. I’m real happy about it, of course. I can’t explain it and I wish we had a better home record, but your record is what your record is, no matter how you get there. I’m a big believer that it’s tougher to win on the road, it should be and it’s always harder with the crowd noise, the travel. Especially, we’ve had three West Coast trips this year and we certainly did not play our best football in that first trip to Arizona. We’ve played better in the other two and the fact that we’re not afraid to go on the road and compete, that’s a good thing. That was a resilient win yesterday and we’ve got to carry that over to our home games. We’ve really only played – we had the one win against Chicago, we’re close in the Oakland game, close in the L.A. game, but close doesn’t get you too far. So, we’re looking forward to Sunday against the Saints.”
(On how he thinks the team will play in December, with the games seeming to matter more)
“It’s a delicate balance because all I control is what I say to them in the other room and there’s just a lot boiling, swirling around these guys right now. And it’s all positive, but you can see – some guys I think can shut it out, but guys – whether it’s family, friends, media, we’ve gone from a team that didn’t get a whole lot of attention to a team that’s getting more. And hey, that’s all great, but it doesn’t do anything for you on Sunday. You’ve got to play on Sunday and to be honest, after looking at the tape, I don’t think we played great yesterday. We got the win, but when you really look at it, did we do anything – we made plays when it counted and the back-to-back plays of [punter] Bryan Anger’s punt down to the 7-yard line and then the pick-six on the next play, those two plays flipped the momentum back because we were really just kind of hanging on for a big part of that game. And then I thought we finished the game well. I thought we played it better overall in the second half, but I don’t think we played overall as well in that game than as we had the last three weeks. And I know for a fact we’re going to have to play better against New Orleans.”
(On what is not happening with the running game that needs to happen and if it is partially due to running back Doug Martin still working his way back from injury)
“I don’t think it’s that because Doug – when you look at the tape, Doug pass-blocked tremendous again. Did a really good job and then had the one check-down. Doug had two explosives on the day yesterday, [running back] Jacquizz [Rodgers] had two explosives on the day, so we get four explosives from our backs. We’re not as productive in the running game as we’d like to be. San Diego did some things, movement-wise with their front. When we were in our three-wide personnel, they loaded the box on us and we maybe got a little ahead ourselves, trying to keep some runs against some bad box counts, when we maybe should’ve given Jameis the option to get into a pass play. And that’s not Jameis’ fault, that’s my fault. I think you’ve got to give San Diego a little credit, but I do think we can run the ball better and we’re going to need to run the ball better.”
(On if he expects running back Charles Sims III to play next week against New Orleans)
“Yup, I would expect that and there’s some things, some hoops that have to – I don’t know what it’s called, some administrative things that have to happen, but I would think Charles has a good chance. He’s looked really good in practice.”
(On how much it helps to have multiple healthy options at running back)
“Well, you can only play one of them at a time and you can only give one of them the ball, that’s the negative. But we’ve come a long way in a few weeks, from being razor thin, to now having four guys in the backfield, potentially four guys if they’re all active that we trust to give the football to in the running game. And then they all have their different strengths. All those guys can pass-protect. Charles is the best receiver in the group, but none of them are bad. It just gives us more options and then Peyton [Barber] and Jacquizz have been playing key roles on special teams, as well. And that’s another place where ‘Chuck’ can help out. Usually on game day, between wide receiver, tight end and running back, you’re going to have 12 guys active. We’ve been kind of going, five, four and three, wide-outs, tight ends and running backs. But based on injures, that may get juggled around a little bit.”

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