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01 January 2018

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (1/1/18)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season the Buccaneers set franchise records in pass attempts (605), pass completions (378), pass yards per attempts (7.61), net passing yards (4,366), total first downs (352) and passing first downs (243)
Below is a transcript of Head Coach Dirk Koetter’s earlier media availability:
(Opening Statement)
“Hey, sorry to keep you guys waiting [and] sorry I was late. The finality of an NFL season – it hits me every single time how sudden it is here. You think you’ve got this big team meeting, guys check out, they get their exit physicals, talk to their coach, turn in their playbooks [and] turn in their equipment, but you get in that meeting room and there is really just not that much to say. There has been a million things said over the season, you wrap it up [and] you talk about when guys are going to be coming back. [There are] several individual meetings with players throughout, but then we are out of that room, [reporters] get them for a few minutes and it’s over. I had a couple players come up after. That was the thing that kept me a little bit late here, so I apologize for that.”
(On his message to the team)
“Just that we didn’t meet our own expectations and that, obviously, always starts with the head football coach. And [I told them] that I really appreciated their effort and hanging in there, which they did a good job of that. We competed to the end [and] no one could ever take that from them. And [I told them] that there is change. There is always change every year in the NFL and this year will be no exception. And [I told them] that change is hard at first, messy in the middle and hopefully good in the end.”
(On if he will consider giving up play calling responsibilities next season)
“Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen. I should’ve never said that last year [laughs]. Everything is looked at every year. That really is true – everything is looked at. The coaches actually get this afternoon off and when we come back in here tomorrow you are evaluating everything. There is a schedule. It starts off with your evaluating of the players. After we get done with the coaches evaluating the players, then Jason [Licht] and I are doing our evaluations of everything in the program. Everything is looked at. The way the calendar is now, when the players don’t come back until mid-April, you’ve got plenty of time. You’re doing your evaluation [and] at the same time you are starting on your free agents. We’ve got the college all-star games coming up, so it flows. It is a calendar that flows and we really do look at everything, but that is one of the things in there. I’m going to be the play caller.”
(On if the coordinators will remain the same as they are now)
“I would think so, but one thing I have learned in my time is never say never.”
(On if it is safe to assume that all of the coaches he wants to come back will return)
“As I just said, it is probably not 100 percent safe to assume anything. Just look at what is happening around this league today – there is a lot of stuff. Again, I am very appreciative of the Glazer Family. They are going to give me and my staff the opportunity to come back and fix the things that we didn’t do good enough this year. I really appreciate that and I do think it took courage because just look around the league. There [are] ones that surprise you the way they went and there are other ones that surprise you the way they didn’t go. I’m sure plenty of people are surprised by this, but I appreciate the opportunity and we are going to do our best to fix it.”
(On if Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith and Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken will return as it stands now)
“Well yeah, as I stand here now, but again remember a lot of stuff has happened since Friday at three o’clock. Our main thing was to finish out the season, finish last night and we will just have to see what happens here. Things are going to be moving fast these next few days – I’m talking about in the league. Any time there [are] major things happening in the league, it can have implications to the other teams in the league.”
(On what he takes away from the offense’s ability to accumulate a lot of yards but not score as many points as would be expected)
“[It tells me that] we need to score more points. We moved the ball up and down the field. We didn’t score enough touchdowns in the red zone. We missed too many field goals. Points win games. There [are] metrics that add up to points: turnovers, explosive plays, sacks. But the bottom line is points however you get them. The biggest play in that game last night was Josh Robinson kicking that punt back. That was seven points, boom, just like that. No yards accounted for those points. Those were instant points that flipped that game around right there [on] one play. The biggest thing, just without doing too much thinking about it right off the top, is we’ve got to score touchdowns in the red zone. We have to do better and that is easy for me to stand up here and say, ‘We have to do better’ – everyone knows that. How are we going to do it better? That is a lot harder. We’ve got to figure that out.”
(On if a lot of the difficulty closing out close games was the team’s inability to put significant pressure on the quarterback)
“I just think when you look at – I believe we are 3-7 in one-score games – you are going to have a hard time getting where you want to go winning 30 percent of one-score games. You’ve got to be higher than that. It could be a whole lot of stuff, but we have enough talent on offense to score more points. Score more points – that is one issue. The number two biggest issue on our football team is we can’t get pressure with a four-man rush. I’m not telling anybody any big secrets here. Those were our two biggest things that need to be addressed. There is a lot of other stuff in there too, but those are two things just right off the bat moving forward that have to better if our team is going to be better.”
(On if he over-valued the talent on this football team)
“No, I don’t think we over-valued it. I do a lot of presentations to the guys about talent. One of the quotes I use is, ‘Talent is cheaper than table salt.’ Everyone in the NFL is talented, so we talk a lot to the guys about ways to enhance your talent. All 32 teams in the NFL have talent. I’ll stand by my comment that it is the most talent that we have had. I will stand by that no problem. I still believe that. Getting that talent to score enough points and rush the passer enough is what we didn’t do. Again, I’m not blaming anybody. I’ll start right there with me.”
(On if running back Peyton Barber showed him enough the final few weeks of the season to be in consideration for the lead-back role next season)
“I think he will be right there. I think that will definitely be a consideration. Peyton did a good job with his opportunities this year. You’re going to be looking to improve your football team across the board. If recent history in the NFL has shown anything, it has shown that good running backs can come out of nowhere. Just look around the league – there [are] running backs that you’ve never heard of in college that are doing well in the NFL. I do think Peyton did a nice job with his opportunities and he has definitely steadily improved his whole time in the NFL.”
(On how his level of concern with quarterback Jameis Winston’s issue with turnovers)
“Turnovers are the number one thing that get you beat, so [I am] very concerned. Again, Jameis knows that. He knows. Jameis is streaky with his turnovers. He can go three or four games and not turn the ball over and then we had a game last night where we turned it over three times. It’s rare that you can overturn a negative turnover ratio. It’s definitely something that has to be corrected and that is one of the top things that would help us not be 3-7 in one-score games because they are hard to overcome when you don’t win the turnover [battle]. Most teams are in the 90 percent [range] when they win the turnover battle. We are real close to that.”
(On wide receiver DeSean Jackson)
“First of all, DeSean Jackson is a really good football player. His track record shows that and if you just had an ISO camera on DeSean Jackson when he was on the field this year, DeSean Jackson wins most of the time. When he is trying to get behind the defense, he can get behind the defense. We did not do a good job of getting him the ball in positions that he is used to getting it, which is over the top. After he came back from the injury, I think Jameis improved his deep ball throwing. He had two examples of that last night; the one in the first half down the New Orleans sideline to Mike [Evans]. That ball was right on the money and then obviously the last throw of the game to Chris [Godwin]. You just can’t help but think, ‘Where was DeSean Jackson on those plays?’ I guess the point that I am trying to make on that is I think DeSean did his part. I see it out there in practice, I see it on the game tape. DeSean Jackson hasn’t lost a step or anything like that. Whether it was by play design or whether it was Jameis’ injury during the middle part of the season when maybe Jameis didn’t have the confidence that he could put it on the money over 40 yards down the field, but we didn’t do a good job in that area.”
(On the special teams play this season)
“I think that all special teams start with your specialists. When Pat Murray got here, Pat did a nice job on field goals under 50 yards. He made his kicks under 50 yards. He had a good percentage. Pat, his strength is not his kickoffs. We have teams in this league kicking it 80 percent touchbacks and if you just look at what a kickoff return really is, if you just took a touchback every time and took the ball to the 25-yard line, you are going to be in the top 10, just taking it to the 25. Part of kicking it to the end zone if you can kick it to the end zone is hang time and that’s one thing Pat struggled with is hang time on his kickoffs. When a guy is getting the ball in not the proper hang time and you have to cover those kicks, it just makes it tougher on your coverage time. We struggled with that the last two weeks especially of the season. The other thing is, when you start to have injuries on your team, usually that is one of the places you are going to feel it because any time guys are injured, now their backups are elevated to full time players and the backup’s backups now become the special teams players other than a handful of guys like Josh Robinson. He is kind of our special teams’ ace. Josh had some health issues himself this year. A great example of that, Ryan Smith is a terrific special teams player, but when he becomes a full time starter, now he’s not playing gunner anymore. That is one of the examples. You can look at it two ways. We give up a big kickoff return last night, go down and score and get momentum, but the biggest play in the game in our favor was a big special teams play that turned the game around, so I guess that stuff evens out.”
(On the success and similarities between the 2015 and 2017 draft classes)
“Yeah. You look at O.J. [Howard], Justin [Evans], [Kendell] Beckwith, [Chris] Godwin. The four you mentioned from Jameis’ class and then those four are four pretty good players right now. Stringing drafts together is I think the key to longevity in the league right now because the way the salary cap is structured, being able to hold onto those guys through their first four years, that’s important that you have those guys and that you develop them. I think we do have an excellent core of young guys based on the drafts that Jason [Licht] has put together. It is never going to be perfect. Not everyone is going to be exactly perfect, but I think there is a really good young core of guys that we continue to build this team around. I think I heard a stat this morning that there are eight new playoff teams from last year and I really don’t think we are that far away. Of course I am going to say that today, but I do believe it.”
(On if struggles in the running game might have impacted Winston’s performance this year)
“Yeah, probably, because all of these teams in this league have all these crazy rush packages and we spend all of our time on how we’re going to block these third-down rushes. Now, our third down percentage was off the charts last night and we did run the ball decent, especially in the first half last night – we had a good little rhythm, a lot of four, six, eight-yard gains – but there’s no question, and we say it all the time: the hardest thing to the defend in the NFL is balance, and especially when you get later in the season, you get to some bad weather games or that sort of thing. But, if you can run the football which we did in 2015, and we have not been consistent enough of a running team since, our yards have primarily come through the air – we’ve already had the yards discussion – but you just look at New Orleans in our division. [They] have four Pro Bowl guys – a quarterback, two running backs and a receiver – so being able to run the ball like they can only makes Brees and the receiving corps that much better.”
(On what he learned from the various rumors this season about his relationship with Winston and his coaching status)
“Don’t listen to rumors, don’t listen to rumors is what I learned. Yeah, I mean, again – the NFL is the most popular league in the world. It’s so popular, it’s driven by the fans, it’s driven by the media and we’re all blessed to be a part of that. If it wasn’t that popular than I wouldn’t be standing up here right now, so there’s going to be things that are said about your team, said about you personally, said about your relationship with guys that aren’t true and I wish I could go to each person individually and say, ‘Hey, that’s not true and here’s why,’ but I can’t. All right? I can’t, I can’t do that. Someone gave me a piece of advice one time that said, ‘You should either read all of it or read none of it, and you’re probably better off reading none of it.”
(On positive takeaways from the offensive line play this year)
“I think the fact that we finished these last few games with only two of our original starters and were still able to have production on offense with only two starters on the O-line – I really still think that [left tackle] Donovan Smith’s three-year run in the NFL, I mean, there’s another guy that if you listen to rumors you’d think Donovan Smith should never play football again but all Donovan Smith does is play hurt, play consistent, play against the best pass rushers in the world. Donovan Smith is a pretty darn good football player and I think [right tackle] Demar Dotson was having his best year in the three years I’ve been here. He was having his best year until he was forced out and he was playing hurt at the time. I think we have depth on the offensive line, I think we have versatility on the offensive line and I mean, I know our O-line – I guess I do read some of it (laughs) – but I know our O-line is heavily criticized. I think our O-line is in the upper-half of the league. I don’t know where the line is because I can’t rank them all, but when I’m looking at tapes of other teams, I see some bad offensive line play. Part of that is injuries, okay? But I think our O-line play is pretty good.”
(On his interaction with New Orleans’ Head Coach Sean Payton after the game)
“First of all, Sean Payton is a fantastic football coach and he’s been where I would love to go. At the end of the game, I was wishing him good luck in the playoffs.”
(On the fact that it looked ‘like he was trying to make a mark on you’)
“Well, every guy has their own style I guess.”
(On how much of a ‘sell job’ he’s going to attempt on cornerback Brent Grimes to return to Tampa Bay)
“Well, I tried to give him a sell job this morning and I told him we would love to have him back. I think Brent defies his real age and there’s been other guys around the league that have been able to do that. He’s a free agent so he’s in control of it but we’d love to have him back and I told him that.”
(On how much he will have to prepare for the league investigation of Winston ‘with the personal conduct policy being so broad’ and potential uncertainty regarding his status in 2018)
“To be totally honest, I have not really been involved in that so I really haven’t given that a whole lot of thought, just getting through the season. That is definitely something that is out there and I don’t have a great answer for you because I haven’t been the point person in this building as far – [General Manager] Jason [Licht] has been more involved in that and I really have very little knowledge of it, so I can’t give you a great answer.”
(On if he would prepare the quarterback position as if it was an injury or anything else)
“Again, like I said, because until Friday I didn’t even know if I was going to be preparing at all so that’s something I kind of have to get up to speed on, to be honest with you. I don’t even know if there is a progress report. I don’t even know where that’s at.”

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