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26 October 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (10/26/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: The Buccaneers have totaled over 400 yards of offense in each of the past four games. With 400 or more yards of offense against Carolina, the team will tie set a franchise record for most consecutive games with at least 400 yards of offense. Tampa Bay’s 2,357 yards this season are the most through six games in franchise history.
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach Todd Monken
Quarterback Jameis Winston
(On how well tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard complement one another)
“Honestly, I don’t really look at it as complement each other. I just look at it as they’re two good football players and both are really dangerous in the passing game. Both, for tight ends, are good route runners. Both catch the ball. O.J. [has] really good speed. Cam has an uncanny ability to twist his body and get open. I just look at it as two tight ends that can really play.”
(On what it takes for a team to learn how to win)
“Unfortunately, winning. That’s true. It’s just what it is. Winning begets winning and losing begets losing. It’s just a part of the sport. As long as I’ve been around it, that’s held true. You’ve got to get over that hump and then it seems like more breaks go your way. Whether you’re calling them breaks or whether you’re calling it getting out-played or whether you’re calling it doing things that beat yourself – there are many people out there who believe more games are lost than won. Teams that don’t beat themselves – the Patriots have probably been the best example of that over the last 10 years or so, rarely beat themselves and win a lot of games.”
(On how defensive end Darryl Tapp has looked since he was acquired by the team earlier this week)
“He’s looked fine. Where you’re at at this point – you can tell that Darryl’s played a lot of football in the NFL. You can also tell that he’s got fresh legs. He’s looked fine. In what we do in practice right now, you’re not going live or anything so it’s not the greatest test of where a guy is at.”
(On if there has been any setbacks with quarterback Jameis Winston)
“No setbacks.”
(On if he expects Winston to throw in practice tomorrow)
(On if he threw at all in practice today)
“He did not.”
(On what he learned from playing without cornerback Brent Grimes against Minnesota in Week 3)
“Any time somebody else has to step up and play I think they learnt the most from the experience of it. That’s how you build experience is by playing. Playing is different than practicing and playing is different than preseason. For guys that haven’t played a lot that is just experience and hopefully that pays off the next time they get out there.”
(On if he tries to limit the amount that Winston rolls out due to the status of his shoulder)
“No, because again, whether it’s a called bootleg or it’s a scramble play those turn into the same scenario. Jameis is going to play the way Jameis plays and he does a good job of that. You’re not going to take that away. We are going to game plan Carolina to do the things we think have the best chance to help us win. I’m always talking to Jameis about cutting down hits and I think we are far ahead of where we’ve been the last two years on that. But at the end of the day, Jameis is trying to get the ball in the end zone.”
(On if they take confidence away from being able to hold Carolina to a 22 percent success rate on third down last season)
“One of the things, especially in division games, this is our first division game but on your division opponents you always have a bigger notebook on stuff that they’ve done against you and you’ve done against them. They have the same book on us. Even though we do a four-or-five-game breakdown on our previous opponent and whatever they do, we always include last year’s games in the breakdowns. Now, when there is coaching changeovers or coordinator changeovers sometimes that affects it. In the case of our defense versus their offense, there hasn’t been any coordinator changes. The other way around they did change coordinators. But you always include that in. Just like when he asked about, ‘How do you build confidence in winning?’ By winning. It’s the same thing. ‘How do you build confidence in stopping them on third down?’ By stopping them on third down. There is some luck involved. There is some playmaking involved. There is some scheme involved.”
(On if he is encouraged by how much his players dislike losing)
“I don’t know anybody that likes losing. Hopefully none of you guys like losing – guys and ladies. I don’t know anybody that likes losing. I wouldn’t want them on my team if they did.”
(On if he feels like having two play-making tight ends opens up the playbook more for the offense)
“No, I don’t think so. Every team we ran last week we’ve ran before at one point or another. Your playbook is just like an encyclopedia that you pull from each week. Your playbook houses enough plays for 50 game plans. It’s every play we’ve ever run. That’s our playbook, but you only pull out 100 or so for any particular game based on what you think the defense is going to do. Sometimes the defense changes more than others. The more playmakers you have on the field at one time, the more the defense has to honor that, so even though we sometimes have an idea where the ball is going to go, a lot of times that’s dictated by the coverage the defense is in and [whether] there is a breakdown in protection [and] that sort of thing. The more guys that can make plays, the better. The fact that you have two tight ends and we have wideouts who can make plays as well – that’s a good thing.”
(On if Howard has made progress as a pass catcher and route runner)
“I think he’s improved as a route runner and he wasn’t a bad route runner before. Sometimes a guy just doesn’t get very many opportunities in a game. Back to what I said on the last one, O.J. might have been targeted on plays like we ran the other day but they covered him different so Jameis threw the ball somewhere else. On O.J.’s two touchdowns last week, they were in the perfect defense for the play that we called and the number one guy popped wide open. It’s rare on either of those plays that they will be that wide open. I told O.J. right after the long one that he’s never going to be that wide open again. You’re never going to catch a ball that wide open. Two of O.J.’s seam passes were a little bit different play-action look than we’ve showed before. We’ve run that play before, but we haven’t run it this year and we hit it twice last week. I think O.J. is getting more confidence in his route running just because in the NFL those guys who are covering you are better. You’re not just going to run by them with pure athleticism.”
(On seeing Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly dealing with the concussions issues he has had over the years)
“It’s terrible. It’s horrible for any player. I’ve said many times it’s the worst part of this game – injuries in general and concussions at the top of the list. I think the concussion protocol that they have in place right now is a huge help for everybody – for the players, for the doctors, for the trainers, for the coaches. I think it was a very smart move and I think it’s serving a positive purpose.”
(On if the Panthers are making an effort to keep quarterback Cam Newton in the pocket more)
“Only they would really know that. A player like Cam, or like Jameis [Winston], when he is competing sometimes – maybe the play wasn’t designed that way – but sometimes he is just competing and he’s trying to win so [if] he sees they’re in man coverage [and] he sees the daylight, he is going to take it. They may or may not have a little bit more designed runs for him. I know when I was in Atlanta and we played them, when Cam was a little bit younger, in short yardage or on the goal line they were going to run quarterback power. I’ve seen Cam run quarterback power and jump over the pile. [He is a] gifted, gifted athlete and a powerful athlete. As far as how many more they’re calling, I am not sure. You’ve got to honor his running ability. When you add the quarterback dimension to the run, they’ve run option this year, they’re running speed-sweep [or] fly-sweep, whatever you want to call it, they still have their quarterback runs [and] their quarterback powers. They have different read plays [and] zone-read plays that their quarterback keeps it on. All of those plays are a nightmare for defenses because you’ve got to play assignment football.”
(On having the ninth-best red-zone efficiency in the league)
“The thing about that red zone – and it’s one of our deals, it’s one of our 10 things – we upped our goal from 55 to 60 percent this year because the league in general has gone up. 55 percent used to always get you in the top five in the league. Last year 55 percent put you about 10th or 11th and we were below that. We’re above 55 percent right now and we are still ninth. What you’ve got to remember about that is just maybe two weeks ago we were 27th, so all that tells you is [in] a couple good weeks you can move up a lot. Everybody is pretty close in the league and two or three times and we definitely feel like we could be better than we were. We’ve missed some chances. It’s mostly an execution thing and partly a play-calling thing.”
(On being around 70 percent in red zone efficiency the past two weeks)
“We’ve been better the last two weeks, but here’s a good example: Jameis [Winston] scrambles and he and Mike [Evans] make a great play on that touchdown last week. Okay, that was just Jameis and Mike making a play. That was all them. The first or second drive, I think it was the second drive of the game, we had a little double move with Cam [Brate] – that was designed. It was exactly what we thought they were going to get. Jameis just missed the throw a little bit. It tends to even out over 16 games.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston’s performance against Buffalo)
“I thought for the most part we protected well. I thought we had a really good game plan going in. You always think you have a really good game plan, [but] you get into it and the opposing defense has a lot to do with that, with what they do. We were able to hit some explosive plays. We overcame one that we didn’t get to DeSean [Jackson] – which is a good sign, when you’re able to overcome that. I think he (Winston) did a really good job early in the week of mentally preparing to play. I think that showed once we got into the game.”
(On if the second half against Buffalo represents the offense that they want to be all of the time)
“I don’t know. Of course, whenever you’re moving the football, you’re running it, you’re converting on third downs [and] you’re getting touchdowns in the red zone you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what it ought to look like.’ No doubt. You want to get to the point where you’re cooking on offense to where you’re disappointed when you punt. When things aren’t going as well you’re like, ‘Is it hard to get a first down?’ It just goes that way at times. Every team goes through that. We are not the only one. Again, we are worried about ourselves obviously. We’ve had moments where we’ve looked really consistent and we’ve had other moments where we haven’t. That’s part of it. How do we continue to be consistent at all positions, so that we are able to move the football [and] get explosives? When you don’t get explosives, you convert on third downs, which leads to now you have to be efficient in the red zone. That’s what you’re trying to do every week, trying to piece it all together [and] utilize all of your weapons. People talk about the run game and yeah, we’d like to be able to run it better, but offense is about balance. It’s about being able to utilize all your skill players, which I think we’ve been trying to do that. You saw that last week with your tight ends, your running backs [and] all of your receivers all being a part of it, which makes it difficult to defend.”
(On if tight end O.J. Howard is making progress in his development at the professional level)
“I think each day that he practices, the way that he has been practicing each week, he’s continually to taking steps – as is Cameron Brate, as [are] all of our players. You can always find something to continue to improve on. It just happened the ball came his way. He does not control that. He controls how he plays and how he continues to improve. Sometimes with tight ends or throwing it to the running backs, unless that’s who you are – and we happen to have Cam – you’re going to have up and down weeks with his production, but maybe not in terms of his grade, in terms of how he plays. His grade may be the same, it just turns out where the ball happened to find him.”
(On if he and head coach Dirk Koetter like to get the tight ends the ball in the red zone)
“Being with Dirk, I would say so. We had Marcedes Lewis, who is still playing, and we had Zach Miller, who is still playing, [when we were] in Jacksonville. I think if you’re a run/play-action team with the tight ends we have, I think it helps you. I think it helps having Mike Evans – having another player that draws some of that attention in the red zone. If you didn’t have that teams find a way to take away your best player, so I think the more pieces you have, then I think it makes it more difficult as you get into the red zone.”
(On how well tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard complement one another)
“I think they’ve been fine. I’m not in their room day-to-day, but I think they’ve been fine. I don’t think either one of them comes across as having an ego where they can’t share some of that. That may change as you get older like it does with a lot of us, but right now they’ve been great. We’ve been trying to find ways to utilize [them and] improve their weaknesses and yet you’re always trying to package what we do well and what our players do well.”
(On how Howard has been in terms of his blocking ability)
“He is getting better. There’s a lot to it going against grown men, guys who have been doing it for a long time. Him being new in the league – that goes not only into the physical part of it but into the mental part of it [and] the calls that have to be made between him and the tackle, being on the same page, coinciding with your footwork. Then [going] against somebody that is trying to do the exact same thing to you that you’re doing to them, so there are matchups each week that are varying. He’s only going to continue to get better. He’s exactly what we thought he would be. He’s only going to get better with his route-running and also as the combination of being a guy that is really, really tough to handle on the edge as the league changes into what we see on both sides – smaller, more athletic players – smaller tight ends, smaller defensive ends to rush the passer. That’s got to be an advantage to us is his matchup on those guys.”
(On Carolina has produced a successful secondary)
“Well I think they do a really good job. They don’t give up a lot of explosive plays. I think the corners that they have now, that they drafted a couple years ago, are long [and] athletic. [Kurt] Coleman is a heck of a player [and] has been around the league for a while. They’ve over the years have been able to get pressure on the quarterback, which masks some deficiencies you may have on the back end – with any team – I’m not talking that they’ve had deficiencies. I don’t mean it that way, but when you can generate pressure – you know, receivers are going to get open. The way that the league is orchestrated in terms of letting those guys run free, you’re going to get open. Now it’s a matter of can you find them? Do you have enough time to find them? They do a really good job schematically. He’s (head coach Ron Rivera) been there for that amount of time, so the system has stayed pretty much the same, so guys that come in it’s the same system and they’ve had success doing it.”
(On if he feels the drives that the team is unable to end with a touchdown are due to self-inflicted issues)
“It all plays into it. We’ve had those opportunities early in games to score touchdowns. The consistency of being able to put plays together for a drive, so when you’re generating turnovers for your offense – ‘Okay, one time we are at the 25. The next time we are at the 50. This time we are at the 30 going in.’ That’s where it takes some of the pressure off, to piece all those plays together. We are doing a good job of it, but at some point, we are bogging down if we don’t get some of those explosive plays like a lot of the teams do in the league. I was stunned. I thought I saw the other day we were ninth in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage, and it doesn’t feel like that because it’s our team. We’re in this bubble. You guys watch us and we want to be a lot better. We need to be a lot better. That’s how you win games.”
(On if the offense gets better as the game goes on)
“It feels that way, but I don’t know why. I don’t know if that’s the sense of urgency in the game. It doesn’t feel like we’re grading any differently. It’s not as if we’re sitting there going, ‘Okay wow, we graded out so poorly in the first half this week.’ No, it feels the same. It’s just for some reason we’ve been able to kind of get it going and I do believe that offense is rhythm. Sometimes you get in a rhythm and there is a belief. Just like on defense, you’re stopping them [and] there is a belief you’re going to stop them. There is a belief you’re going to score, so I do think that that’s a big part of it. All of the sudden you get rolling, the defense plays better, they’re getting off the field – there is something to that. But to know exactly why – I don’t know. This week we took the ball. They deferred, but we were going to take it. We wanted to see if we could get another possession in the first half and get started faster being on the road and I thought we did that. We took it all the way down the field and we just were a little off on that throw to Cam [Brate] that would’ve gotten us a touchdown. I think everybody says the exact same things, ‘Start fast.’ Okay, I’m with you. We all want that and we’re doing different things to try and be able to do that but we’ve just got to do it better earlier in the game with a little bit of sense of urgency to give us those same opportunities, to get ahead, to help our defense to where we are playing from ahead and it forces their coordinator to make calls from behind. That’s a big part of it too – playing from ahead [and] their players having to make plays. You could feel it different in the Buffalo game, as opposed to earlier in the game. It felt like the momentum had switched. We were getting off the field. We were moving the football and you could feel that even on the road.”
(On if sticking to the run helped maintain balance in the offense)
“Without question. Even when it got to 17-6, with 11 or whatever it was, you’re still within two scores and it was early in the third [quarter]. I do believe that, sure we’d all like to run the ball better. Our numbers would like to be better – that’s obvious. But to be able to continue to run the football helps your explosive passing game by being able to play action. That’s still a big part of it. If you get away from it, now you have to have explosive players when you get it in their hands, now in space because you’re not getting as much ‘suck’ and you don’t have as many opportunities in the intermediate level like we got. There was a number of those plays to O.J. [Howard] intermediately and some other guys like DeSean [Jackson]. That comes from being able to at least run the football numbers-wise. Sure, we’d like to be able to comfortably turn around and hand the ball off to the running back, but that all fits together. How you get your yards really doesn’t matter as long as you’re not turning it over [and] you’re being explosive. There are certain times in the game when you have to be able to run it. When is that? Four minute [offense] – you’d like to be able to run it when you’re coming out. You’d like to be able to in short yardage or in goal line – those type of situations. Otherwise, what is the best way for us to be able to move the football? That’s being balanced, running it by numbers and also a lot of our players touching the ball and being part of our game plan.”
(On the play of the offensive line overall)
“I feel like that they’ve played well. From a protection standpoint, with as much as we are throwing it, I think Jameis [Winston] has stood upright pretty well for a guy that is good at scrambling and making plays and those things. I think that’s been pretty good. Yeah, there’s going to be some breakdowns. Then you look and say, ‘How could we run the ball better? How could we do a better job of finding ways to run the ball?’ Getting Doug [Martin] is a part of that. We need to get a few more explosive plays, which will help that. I think they’ve played well. I say that also, Ali [Marpet] is still only six games into center. There is an adjustment there that comes. [J.R.] Sweezy is new and had a whole year off. That’s a part of it that you’re still working through that will continue to improve. Then you’ve got a new tight end that’s a rookie that’s part of it. You’re using him in the run game and he is only going to get better. And sure, if you ask Tim [Spencer] I’m sure that he would say we need more of our running backs. We need more to make something out of nothing, push the pile. If you said it out of every position, we need to block better on the perimeter to get explosive plays. It’s all of us. We’ve got to game plan it better. That’s all part of what we do – figuring out the puzzle and keep moving forward as an offense.”
(On if he will take a similar approach to rehabbing his shoulder that he took last week)
“Yes sir. Whatever they tell me, so again it’s day by day. I’ll know when it’s time to go out there today.”’
(On how his shoulder is feeling)
“It’s feeling better. I know how it’s going to feel no matter what, so I’m just kind of used to it.”
(On if he feels the pain could linger for a while)
“You never know. When I dealt with it before I did not do half as much treatment that I’m doing right now. Again, that’s a shout out to Bobby [Slater]. He’s been taking care of me. Everybody in that training room – they’ve been taking care of me. We’ve got a good training staff, so who knows.”
(On the shoulder not seeming to bother him during the game against Buffalo)
“It’s just because it’s competition and I’m not really worried about how my body feels. I’m worried about how our team is doing.”
(On if he was throwing on the sideline during the game to keep his shoulder warmed up)
“Yeah, just to keep it warm. It’s difficult to put a hot pack up on my shoulder pads and go through all of that stuff, so I was just trying to keep it loose.”
(On how he felt the day after the game)
“I think after every game you are sore, but after last game, I think you always feel better with a win. I can’t really describe to you how I felt.”
(On how frustrating it was to get the offense clicking and still lose the game)
“I think we’ve just got to execute. I don’t like using the word frustration because I believe we have an excellent team. I just think we have to execute.”
(On if it’s nice to still have all six divisional games left on the schedule)
“It’s nice to just have another opportunity to play, really – another opportunity to show our worth. I think we’ve had a lot of opportunities this year to show our worth and we haven’t done it as a team yet. I’m looking forward to showing what the Bucs are really about because I know how good this team is and I know how far we can go.”
(On if he feels like the offense is getting close to where it wants to be)
“I feel like we’ve got to get better every day, every week, every second. I’m never going to feel comfortable with our performance. You can’t because it’s week by week. As I say all the time, it’s who plays better on Sunday. Statistics, they can speak volumes, but at the end of the day are we winning? We haven’t won a lot yet, but I think that’s when everything is going to start coming full-circle when we start putting together wins as an offense.”
(On if he feels like he is a better decision maker this season)
“I’ve still got to get better at protecting the football. I can tell you two instances that should’ve been interceptions last week, but Mike Evans helped me out. I’m really about this team and I know what it takes for us to win, so I’m trying to do my part by helping us by protecting the football. That’s really all I can say. That’s something I’ve got to get better at every single day just because of the type of player that I am. I want to win and I want to put our team in good situations. I know sometimes I make mistakes, but at the end of the day I’m doing whatever I can do to help us out.”
(On the advantage that having tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard on the field at the same time can create for the offense)
“We have so many weapons on this offense. Early in the season you guys asked, ‘How do you get all of them the ball?’ It really just shows we have all those statistics when you have guys like that around you. That’s why I’m saying it’s more important about winning. I’m proud O.J. had an amazing day, but O.J. would be happier if we would’ve won that game, so I think that’s the most important thing.”
(On if he talks to his teammates about sticking together)
“That’s where I’ve got to give a great amount of credit to our head coach, Coach [Dirk] Koetter. He does a great job of leading us and making sure that we are together always. Then when you look at the leaders in our locker room, they are probably some of the best guys in the world. Then you look at the leaders on that defensive side – they’re even better guys. I’m talking in terms of Clinton McDonald and Gerald McCoy – two guys that are the most humble guys in the world and the [greatest] men that you will ever meet in your life. I can’t really talk about division from a team perspective because I don’t see it. I would do everything in my power to keep this team together. That’s one thing that I don’t think our head coach has any time for or the leaders, the captains within the locker room, we don’t have time for division right now. We’ve got to come together and we’ve got to keep chunking away because we know it’s a long season and it’s up to us to make this season positive.”
(On playing divisional games)
“Well for me, I think it’s fun. Especially in our division [with] the type of caliber players that we have to face. Our defense faces arguably the best quarterbacks in the league in this division. We get to face arguably the best defenses in the league in this division, so I think it’s fun. Just that battle of playing the Saints, the Falcons and Carolina and more in particular to me that’s when all of my family gets to come to all of the games and stuff because it’s pretty close to Alabama. Everything is close. It’s like a central location to everywhere. As a team, I think it’s fun for us. We probably have more friends on those teams than we do on any other, so it’s just a great battle.”
(On what he would say to frustrated fans)
“Look at us last year. We hit a run. What the fans say, obviously it means a lot to us, but at the end of the day it’s about this building right here. Right now, we’ve got to make ourselves feel better before we worry about making other people feel better. I guarantee you if we make ourselves feel better, everybody will feel better. We definitely don’t want to disappoint the fans. I believe we’ve been doing a good job at home with bringing them wins and stuff, but on the road we haven’t had a road win this year. Last year we did pretty great on the road, so we’ve got to change it around. Obviously, it’s something out there that we are looking for and the only thing that is is a win. I know how that is because I am a fan of a lot of teams. I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan too and they’re winning so I want to be on that side too. I know our fans appreciate us more with wins.”
(On if he knows why the season has started slowly for them)
“It’s just little things in every aspect of the game. It’s just little things that are holding us back from getting over that hump. I don’t really believe it’s a drastic change we have to make. I just believe we’ve got to finish [and] we’ve got to execute effectively, efficiently and consistently. If we do that, we’ll turn things around, but it’s our decision as a team. It’s everyone’s decision. Everybody’s got to make that decision together and we’ve got to go and play.”

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