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25 October 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (10/25/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: With 225 passing yards against Carolina on Sunday, QB Jameis Winston would reach 10,000 passing yards in his 39th career game, tying Peyton Manning for the sixth-fewest games played to reach 10,000 career passing yards.
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
(On if it was frustrating not to come up with a touchdown on either of the first two drives versus Buffalo)
(On losing defensive end Noah Spence)
“It’s just unfortunate. Noah’s toughness is beyond question because most guys that have that injury are out three to four weeks right off the bat. It’s the same shoulder that Noah had last year, [but] when it happened in Minnesota he went in and put a harness on and went right back in the game. Any time a guy has a shoulder that’s coming out, they’ll let you play in a harness until it starts coming out more often and then the doctors have to shut it down. Noah [has] incredible toughness. He did everything that was asked of him from a rehab standpoint. [It was] just a real unfortunate break for him. Injuries are one thing that nobody has any control over. [They’re] just an unfortunate part of the game.”
(On if he is concerned that Spence’s shoulder will be affected long-term)
“I’m not sure about that. That’s a medical question. Noah is in the process of deciding with our doctors, his agent [and] his family what course of action to take moving forward. He is going to have to have another surgery and he is going through that process right now.”
(On what he knows about recently-acquired defensive end Darryl Tapp)
“I’ve played against Darryl multiple times. Obviously, I know what his numbers are and he’s been around the league. This is the time of year, if you watch the [waiver] wire, different teams are hurting at different positions due to injury. This is the time of year that veterans like Darryl get picked up because they know what to do. They can go in and help your team more than maybe a guy off the street who hasn’t played before like a rookie free agent type guy. There’s several guys around the league that that’s happening for and we’re happy to have Darryl joining us.”
(On if Spence could come back at any point this season)
“No, he’s going to have to have shoulder surgery. He is done.”
(On how much the Panthers have missed linebacker Luke Kuechly who has been out with a concussion)
“Kuechly is one of the best linebackers in the league. He is a tremendous player. Their defense is tough with or without him, but when they’ve got him in there that’s like us not having Lavonte [David] and/or Kwon [Alexander] in there – same situation. [David] Mayo, that comes in for him, he’s done well when he comes in. But, you don’t take a guy that’s in contention for Defensive Player of the Year every year out of your lineup and not have it affect you.”
(On what he likes about the 3-3-5 scheme)
“Every scheme they use has strengths and weaknesses. That’s why everybody doesn’t play the same scheme. If there was one perfect scheme, all 32 teams would be playing it. As soon as you go 3-3-5 in a passing down, teams are going to try to figure out which one of those linebackers is really the fourth rusher – they call him the spinner. Which one of those guys is really the spinner? They are going to start working their protection that way. There’s pluses and minuses to both. We feel like in the perfect world you could go out there and pressure from a four-man front and have dominant pressure. That’s not the case for us right now. The second part of that is you have to factor in trying to get all your best players on the field at the same time. It doesn’t do you any good to build depth at a certain position and [be] strong at one position, but you can’t get them on the field, or maybe they’re playing 20 plays a game instead of 40 plays a game. That’s a constant thing for every team. It’s the same thing on offense. Do you want to be in three-wides? Do you want to have Cam [Brate] and O.J. [Howard] on the field at the same time? Those are the issues that you battle and every scheme has strengths and weaknesses. We don’t have time to go into all of them.”
(On the adjustments the players have to make in a new scheme)
“That’s a good point as far as different roles, but if you are a blitzer, you’re a blitzer. Whether you’re standing on the edge or you’re rushing through the A-gap, a rusher is a rusher. That part I’m not too concerned with. The defensive staff works very hard when they’re making changes like that to try to keep the packages and the terminology the same, so that guys are doing mostly the same things. When you are playing three linebackers and three D-linemen, not everybody is going to be doing exactly the same thing as they had been.”
(On if one of the consequences of that would be defensive tackle Gerald McCoy being a less-effective pass rusher)
“I’m not sure about that. We had different blitz patterns in that game. As I’ve said in here a million times, when you are in a four-down front – which most teams are – the easiest guy in the world to double-team is the three technique. We played against it, Tampa, multiple times and we’re turning our center and our guard to the three technique almost every time in a four-man rush. The main way, if you want to take a double-team off, is you’ve got to bring a fifth rusher.”
(On if he sees the Super Bowl Cam Newton this year or a new one)
“I’m not sure about that. What I do know is Cam has been an MVP in this league before. He has been to a Super Bowl. He’s obviously a top-flight dual-threat quarterback. I think he’s one of the best deep-ball throwers in the league no matter how you slice it.”
(On the progress he has seen from cornerback Javien Elliott)
“Well he has been on the field a few times and he has also been on the field in special teams. He played a few snaps at dime. That’s why you have starters and you have backups. Your starters play and your backups backup. When your backups are pressed into duty, when Javien was pressed into duty last year – I think he started four games if I’m not mistaken – he performed fine. Usually guys that are backups started off as backups for a reason. They weren’t quite as good as the guy in front of them, but if the guy in front of them is not available then they’re going to step up and they’re expected to perform.”
(On the rarity of finding a dominant pass rusher)
“I competed when I was in Jacksonville against [Dwight] Freeney when he was in his prime. When they had Freeney and [Robert] Mathis playing on turf with Peyton Manning as their quarterback – wow. In that dome, unbelievable. But Dwight Freeney has retired a couple times now and even though he is going to the Hall of Fame, he is not the Dwight Freeney I remember from my Jacksonville days. Now [Julius] Peppers with 6.5 sacks, I think Carolina is doing a really good job of how they’re using him. They’re spotting him. He’s not a starter right now and they pick their spots for him. He’s still a tremendous athlete [with] unbelievable power [and] great explosion. We were playing him his first stint in Carolina, when I was in Jacksonville, and we made a protection call and Maurice Jones-Drew had to come across the backfield and cut-block Julius Peppers. He came off and told me afterwards, ‘We can’t do that ever again.’ We’ve got a lot of respect for Julius Peppers.”
(On how quarterback Jameis Winston is approaching this week of practice)
“Jameis didn’t throw today and we will see tomorrow when tomorrow comes.”
(On if the Panthers defense is looking any different without Sean McDermott)
“Well they are running the same scheme and Coach [Steve] Wilks is doing a fantastic job. They picked up right where they left off. It looks to me like he’s pressuring even a little bit more. They’ve got great depth in their front seven. They’ve had a couple guys out. They’ve had some good players out. [Luke] Kuechly has been out. [Kurt] Coleman was a guy at [Philadelphia] that was kind of a forgotten man and I think he’s been playing as good as he’s ever played. I think he is really playing good at free safety for them. They do have the same scheme. I think every time a different guy is calling it, it’s going to look a little bit different.”
(On if the defense let the offense down against Buffalo)
“We didn’t hold up. There is no doubt about that. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping people out of the end zone. We’ve got to do a better job of not giving up explosive plays. That was probably the biggest issue that we had in the ballgame were the explosive plays and our third-down efficiency.”
(On what broke down defensively on Buffalo’s final touchdown drive of the game)
“Well the first thing that broke down is the play went too long. The quarterback had about five to five and a half seconds. He was able to step up, so we did not have good pass rush lanes on that specific play and we had two guys out of position in the back end in terms of what we should’ve done with the mix of the receivers and the way that they dispersed. It was all around – defensive line, linebackers and the secondary. I keep telling you guys it’s not always what it seems like. We’ve got to do a good job of keeping the quarterback in the pocket first and foremost [and] not allowing him to have five seconds. Then we’ve got to make sure we are on top of our landmarks in where we are supposed to be in our pass coverage.”
(On the pass rush)
“We’ve had our trials and tribulations in terms of getting pressure on the quarterback this year. We are trying to mix it up with things that we are doing schematically, we’ve added a player to replace Noah [Spence] that has some experience, but we have not been able to generate the type of pass rush that you need to allow people in the back end to cover. And we’ve got to do a better job of covering guys.”
(On if Simeon Rice could still play as he suggested on Twitter)
“I don’t want to comment on that. He was a great pass-rusher. I know when I was 43 I couldn’t do what I was doing when I was 25.”
(On what he noticed on the third-and-nine play that allowed the Bills to continue their drive late in the fourth quarter)
“We did not tackle. We had five missed tackles on that play. We were going to be able to give the ball back to the offense with a minute and 50 seconds and with the way they were moving the football – we just had to get it done. We didn’t get it done. We had some poor leverage leveraging the ball [and] had some missed tackles. When you have that it’s a disaster waiting to happen and it was a disaster. We didn’t hold up our end.”
(On facing Carolina quarterback Cam Newton)
“I don’t think that they’ve changed a bunch in terms of what they’re asking the quarterback to do. They still have the quarterback runs. They still have the quarterback as an element with their option. They have the belly and the man-read option where he is going to read it. They also run lead draws where they’ll have the running back lead through. They run him on the quarterback power. So, they’ve got designed runs. I believe he is their leading rusher in terms of what he has been able to get accomplished and he is a tough out. You’ve got to get multiple bodies on him. Most of the time, in most defenses in the NFL, the guy that you don’t account for is the quarterback because most of the time he doesn’t carry the football. In this scheme he does, so it is a challenge in terms of what you’ve got to do.”
(On who is responsible for the recent defensive performances)
“Ultimately it’s the guy who is calling the plays and we’re not getting it done. That’s the bottom line. There is one guy that is held responsible and that is me. We’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got the players. The players are the players that we’ve got to play with. We are going to do our [best] to get them in the best position that we think gives them the best opportunity to win. Obviously, we haven’t done that as well as we need to.”
(On recently-acquired defensive end Darryl Tapp)
“I remember Darryl coming out [of college]. He was an edge-rusher. He was an up-the-field rusher. He has played in the wide-9 so he has been a guy that’s been out in space. He’s had some production in this league and he will be a good addition for us this time of year to get a player that’s had that much experience. We feel like he’s still got some game, so we are excited about working with him.”
(On if he has met individually with safety T.J. Ward)
“My policy is real clear. If, when, where, how – if I have a conversation with a player on our team that is between him and me. We’d like to keep that private.”
(On if there are things Ward needs to improve on to get more playing time at the safety position)
“We have to make decisions each and every week. I have said many times that we don’t have 11 starters. There [are] different guys that are going to play different roles. The amount of time that guys are going to play is going to be based on how people are trying to attack us. That’s what we are at in terms of how we try to defend people. Obviously, our job as coaches is to put the guys that give us the best opportunity to win out there in our opinion and that’s what we do.”
(On if the team needs to make different adjustments than they had to make last season)
“Well when you get your butt beat, it doesn’t matter if it was last year or this year – it freaking stinks. It doesn’t feel any different. You have the same amount of sleepless nights. You’re not getting the job done. We’ve got to do a better job in terms of getting these guys prepared to go out and execute the game plan. Obviously, we have got to do a better job of putting a better game plan together. I’m never going to point the finger at anybody else. It’s on me, because of the performance of what we have done, it hasn’t been up to the standards that it needs to be.”
(On why rotating safeties is different from rotating cornerbacks)
“I think [with] the corners their skillset is very similar from one corner to another. When you have safeties, I think you have a little different skillset in terms of some guys are better playing close to the box, some guys are better in half-field [and] some guys are better in quarters. Based on what you’re trying to get accomplished you can have some flexibility in terms of having different safeties in there. In terms of corners, their skillsets are basically all the same.”
(On the performance of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves versus Buffalo)
“I thought that he had a better game playing inside. He made some plays on the ball. I thought that he showed some comfort in that position. We’ve got flexibility now in terms of how we disperse and who we want to put on who, so it gives us some flexibility.”
(On facing Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey)
“It’s a big challenge because they really work hard to put him in different places. You’ve got to try to find him. They’re going to get the ball in his hands with the screen game. That’s an integral part of how he is getting the ball. Then he also can lineup in the backfield and run the football. He’s probably more of an outside runner. He is not the same type of runner that DeAngelo [Williams] and Jonathan [Stewart] are or were with that power running game where they’re going to pull a guard and kick out. He’s a little different back, but he is a unique athlete. He can catch the ball. He can lineup out in the slot. He can line up out at number one. They’re moving him around in many different places. I think Mike Shula is doing a great job in terms of the diversity he is showing in terms of trying to get the ball to that playmaker.”
(On if it is tougher to go to the 3-3-5 set without defensive end Noah Spence)
“No, I don’t think so. When we talk about putting a game plan in and how we want to disperse our guys, we look at it about how do we get our best 11 players on the field for the situation that we are facing. We felt that it was to our advantage to have the three linebackers on the field to give us the best matchup in that game. We did not do a very good job of our pass-rush lanes in the game last week. The quarterback scrambled, stepped up in the pocket, was able to extend some plays not necessarily all of the time with his legs – he extended it where he could throw the ball down the field. Average get-off time, when it gets up and it’s north of three and it gets above four, it’s hard to cover in the backend. We’ve got to do a better job of playing complementary football from the front end, to the middle, to the back end and that’s what we are not doing right now.”
(On if going to three down linemen changes what the players do)
“It does. When you go to three down linemen, it does. You have to create the situations where Gerald [McCoy] can thrive and that’s what we’ve got to do because he is one of our best players. We’re always looking at, ‘Who are our best players? Who is the matchup?’ Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job of that because we’re not getting it done.”
(On if he agrees with the belief that guys are being caught out of position)
“We’ve got certain spots we’ve got to be on and all defenses on a four-man rush – if it’s four-man rush [then there are] four spots that somebody needs to be at. When the quarterback steps up and is able to step up and run through the middle of our defense, we are either getting blocked or we are out of our gap.”
(On if the reason the defense has struggled on third down compared to last season is because the defense is putting itself in more short-yardage situations)
“No, it’s not as simple as that. We’ve had a lot more third-down-and-mediums at least after our first quarter of the season when we did our quarterly self-scout. The numbers were way up. We weren’t having as many third-and-longs. Third-and-three-to-sixes, third-and-three-to-sevens – those are very difficult down and distances to win. It’s advantage to the offense. We’ve got to do a better job on first and second downs, trying to get us in some favorable third downs. If you look at our third downs, you’re going to see that we are probably way down at the bottom of the list in terms of what is going on across the league in third-and-two-to-sixes.”
(On how rare it is to find a good pass-rushing defensive end)
“Some people think corner is the most unique position. Other people think it’s the guys that can rush. The guys that you mentioned (Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeney) are special players to still be out there playing at their age. It’s a very difficult position to play. You’re pushing, pushing, pushing on every pass. You are not retreating. You’re the guy that’s putting the force on it. If you’re a really good one, you don’t get a whole lot of opportunities to get one-on-ones. There is usually going to be someone sliding to you and they’re going to have two people responsible for you. The great pass rushers in this league – they are few and far between. Everybody is trying to find guys that can put pressure on the quarterback.”
(On if Tapp brings some of that ability to this team)
“Well we hope that he can bring us some pressure because the way we’ve rushed the passer thus far is not acceptable. It’s not. I’ve got to do a better job of creating the situations where our guys can thrive. That’s what coaching is all about.”
(On the reason the defense has struggled more on the road)
“I wish I knew the answer to that. I think a lot of teams that have problems on the road, they’re all trying to figure that out. We have not been a very good road team and it’s been well-documented that we don’t start very fast. You can’t start out and let people go down the field and score the first two times that they have the football. You look up and you’ve given up 10 points, or you’ve given up two field goals, or you’ve given up 14 points – you can’t do that defensively. We’ve got to start a lot faster than what we’ve done in our road games this year. I know this, I am glad to be back here in Tampa and playing at home.”
(On linebacker Kwon Alexander’s performance versus Buffalo after coming back from a hamstring injury)
“I thought there was some rust on Kwon. I thought he did some good things, but that first game back was really like his first game of the season. He has been out. He played in the first game and he played about a dozen snaps, so it was great to have Kwon back out there. Unfortunately, we just didn’t perform as well as we needed to.”
(On how defensive tackle Chris Baker has been performing)
“Chris, right now, is a rotational player for us. He is rotating in more on run downs. Again, it’s going to be based on what personnel groupings are presented to us in terms of how many snaps he is going to get. If it’s going to be more of a run game and we are going to see 30-plus runs, north of 30 rushing attempts – I hope we don’t because that usually means you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing – he’ll play more. We’ve got some guys on our team that are in the position that they need to be in, in terms of the number of snaps, based on what personnel groupings we are getting. I know guys get frustrated and that’s part of it.”
(On what they need to do defensively against Carolina to be successful)
“The biggest thing we’ve got to do is we’ve got to start winning on third down. You can’t be giving up 50 percent plus [or] 60 percent on third down. That just extends drives, it wears your players out and it keeps your offense on the field. We have really struggled on third down. Our third-down efficiency is not anywhere near where it needs to be. To me, that’s the first thing – we’ve got to do that. Then the second thing is, we’ve got to make sure we continue to attack the football and create some turnovers. The two biggest things that happen in the game is the team that wins the turnover ratio is going to win the game. So, if we can create turnovers and get it on the plus side for us, which we haven’t done as well as we need to. There is a litany of things on the to-do list that we’ve got to get better at. Let’s be real. Through the first six games, not good enough across the board.”
(On facing Carolina quarterback Cam Newton)
“It doesn’t matter what he is doing the week prior, or the week before that, or the week before that – he is an MVP and that doesn’t go away. He is that good and can be that good at any moment, so we have to be prepared for it. I still believe he is the best escape artist we have in this league just because of his size and what he is able to do. He can make plays with his feet. Big arm, one of the strongest arms in the league and he’s got that ‘it’ factor. He is a confidence guy. He feeds off positive energy, so if the team is rolling, he is going to get it going. We don’t want that to happen.”
(On if it is key to put Carolina down early)
“We’ve got to go at Carolina. They are a very physical, tough team. Every time we play them that’s how the game goes. We just can’t back down. We’ve got to go at them full-speed. This is our house and we have to play this game as if this is our house.”
(On Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey)
“He still is who everybody says he was in college. It just hasn’t hit yet in the NFL. You can tell he is special and he has that home run ability. He has just yet to hit.”
(On the Panthers giving McCaffrey a lot of touches)
“Definitely. They know he has it. We can see it. You can see it on film. You’ve just got to make sure to keep him bottled up because he still has the home run ability. [He is] a very dynamic guy, he can do a lot of things and they give him the ball a lot, so we’ve got to make sure we get around him.”
(On if it’s encouraging to know that the defense was able to turn things around last season and to help the team go on a winning streak)
“Yeah, it’s a week-to-week league. You see some things where it’s like, ‘Golly, who is this team?’ Then it’s like, ‘Who is this team?’ It’s not our job to speculate and say this or say that. It’s our job to come to work, practice, go out on Sunday and perform. [Then] regardless of the result [we’ve got to] go back and do it again. We don’t have any more breaks, so it’s straight from here on out. We’ve got to do this every week. Regardless of the outcome, we’ve got to get back to work. That one Sunday (versus Buffalo) hurt bad – I’ve been upset since it happened. I probably got over it this morning. The 24-hour rule – I kind of went over the 24-hour rule. It’s back to work. Division opponent – what better way to get back on track than back-to-back division games? We’ve got to do our best to start with this one on Sunday. Carolina is still Carolina – tons and tons and tons of talent – and they don’t take playing us lightly, especially last year, we got two wins on them. I’m sure they’re thinking about that and we know it. We’ve just got to defend home.”

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