Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
(On if it is an adjustment for players to transition from quarterback Jameis Winston to Ryan Fitzpatrick)
“Yeah, it is. All quarterbacks – they throw a little bit different type of ball [and have] a little bit different type of timing just the way they call it in the huddle [there] is a little different rhythm to it. Yeah, it’s different. In training camp and when a guy is playing a number two role, his main job is to mimic the number one. But when he becomes the starter, he’s got to play. He’s got to do it his way and Ryan has definitely done it for a long time. It’s an adjustment for everyone, but it’s just part of what we are going through right now.”
(On if they tried to run the clock and shorten the game against the Jets)
“The Jets actually – if you look at the stats going into last week – that’s how the Jets try to play. The Jets were top 10 in field position, opponent’s field position [and] time of possession. That’s not necessarily how we want to play, but for last week that was probably a better way for us to try to play. I never try to say, ‘Shorten the game.’ Those words will never come out of my mouth. But as far as [running] the football, we are always committed to running the football. But, you can only be committed to running the football if you are running the football efficiently.”
(On what has stood out about the team’s struggles on the road)
“Just inconsistent play. It has nothing to do with the road. We’ve had the same issues at home. We also won five games on the road last year. We know we can win on the road. We’ve got to prove it this year. We haven’t done that yet. Inconsistent football, whether you are at home or on the road, is going to get you beat.”
(On if he watched the Miami versus Carolina game on Monday night)
“I had it on. We were working upstairs. I have a hard time watching games on TV anyway, but I did have it on. I saw a few plays here or there, but I left the office. By the time I got back at 5:30 Tuesday morning it was chopped up and in our cut-ups.”
(On why he has a hard time watching games on TV)
“When you are used to watching tape the way I can run it back – [with both] end zone view and sideline view – it’s just hard for me to watch a game where I can’t see the secondary and you’ve got to rely on the announcers. That’s nothing against them, it’s just the way TV football [is]. I can’t watch a whole game. I can’t sit still that long.”
(On the status of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves)
“Vern has a hamstring that he’s battling. He didn’t practice today. He is going to have to make some improvement. As I said last week, we had three guys last week that they told me at the first of the week weren’t going to make it and all three of them did make it, so we will see how the week goes.”
(On if defensive end William Gholston is in the same place with his injury as last week)
“He is in the same boat. Will is improving, but two guys that will be out for sure are Jameis [Winston] and Will.”
(On keeping the opponent out of the end zone for 59 minutes and if that was a great effort)
“Fantastic. They got all their goals. It leaves a little sour taste in your mouth how the game ended because the defense played fantastic the whole game and to have two bad plays at the end – a penalty and a ball over our head – but that doesn’t stop the fact that we shut down the running game, pressured the quarterback, took the ball away [and] shut them down on third down – all things that are going to help you win. Back to the consistency piece, when we put it together like that on both sides, we will be tough to beat.”
(On how wide receiver Mike Evans has improved in terms of controlling his emotions)
“I would just say off the top that Mike, in my first year here, the smallest thing could set Mike off. Many times, it was [talking] between players. For the most part, Mike is able to let that go. Mike is a very competitive guy. He doesn’t mind getting in a little trash-talking of his own, but I think sometimes players can fall into – other teams know you are going to be like that and they try to get you. I think Mike is pretty much past that. That still was not a wise decision on the one in New Orleans.”
(On if the team is where he wants it to be in terms of creating splash plays)
“Yeah, we are not explosive enough. We are below the number that we need to be at to be a consistent winner. You’ve got to get eight explosives in a game. We got six. We had six last week. I think we’ve only had over eight, by our definition, once or twice this year. We’ve been close. When you have one on a run, it’s get called back on a penalty. We can talk about all the factors. [The] bottom line [is] you need to get eight in a game – eight clean ones – and we are not where we need to be. We’ve had some opportunities, but we haven’t gotten it done.”
(On if there has been a game where the team met its goal of eight explosives)
“Yeah, we have. I can’t think of it off the top of my head, but if I looked at the chart upstairs I could tell you.”
(On if it helps at all that he spent time preparing for Miami earlier in the season before Week One)
“Not much because so many things have changed. [Jay] Ajayi being gone – he was the number two rusher in the league last year. [Jay] Cutler had only been there like a week, even though we’ve played him before. As far as on defense, their coordinator on defense was on the staff last year. Vance Joseph was calling it last year. He goes to Denver. Now that we are 10 games in, they have the same structure, but [Matt Burke] is definitely putting his own spin on it – totally different tendencies. I dumped my cut-ups. After I compared the numbers, we dumped them. You’ve got so much film now [that] it’s overload anyway. With a new coordinator on defense, we were going with preseason games, which I hate doing but you have to do it.”
(On his comment that center Ali Marpet has graded out as well as any lineman and how offensive guard J.R. Sweezy has graded out)
“I did mention that. I think it was that of all the players on offense, Ali has graded the most consistent if you averaged nine games together. Any time I say something like that it leads to [grading] the other 21 players I didn’t talk about, so that just leads to more questions. But yes, I will stand by [my statement that] Ali has been the most consistent. J.R. is doing fine at right guard. Our O-line across the board is playing adequate. Although in this last game, we protected well [but] we were not good enough in the run game in this last game. That was not what we were looking for.”
(On if by most consistent he means Marpet has the highest grade or just the least deviation in his performance from week to week)
“If you average nine grades together … his comes out the highest on offense.”
(On if there was any sense a week ago today that the team had more energy and if he had a good feeling about that)
“I have a good feeling at the end of every week. At the start of every week I think we have no chance. By the end of every week I think we are going to win by 30. That’s how I think. I gave up when I was a high school coach trying to determine how guys are talking [or] how much bounce they have. When I was a high school basketball coach, I used to count how many three pointers we made in warmups and think that helped determine the outcome. It doesn’t. None of that stuff matters. What matters is once the ball is kicked off, how do you play? I don’t even try to judge that.”
(On how much it resonates with the players when linebacker Lavonte David speaks to them)
“I think that you can’t fool the players on anything. Whether it’s me talking, you guys writing or any person that talks to them, I think the players can 100 percent separate fact from B.S. about that quick [snaps his fingers]. When 54 (Lavonte David) talks, people are usually paying attention.”
(On if he enjoys seeing the creativity of touchdown celebrations)
“It’s definitely added a dimension that the players asked for and they gave it to them. It’s here. Since it’s here, I wish we were scoring more touchdowns so our players were getting to do it more often.”
(On if he has to adjust practice for fatigue now that the players have gone 10-consecutive weeks without a break)
“A little bit. A tiny bit.”
(On how many more padded practices he has left to utilize)
“You can have 14. I think today was 11. We either have two or three left. I’m not sure, but we took the shoulder pads off today about halfway through after the run period, so there is an example of a little bit.”
(On if once they use the padded practices, they are gone for the rest of the season)
“Yeah, that’s the same every year. Eleven in the first 11 weeks and then three in the next six weeks.”
(On if they will start giving players days off to preserve them)
“As needed, yes. Sometimes as needed or by necessity, which came up last week for example with at least three guys.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE SMITH
(On the disparity between the defensive performance at home versus on the road)
“We have not taken our home game on the road. That is for sure.”
(On what is happening differently on the road)
“We haven’t been very consistent when we’ve played on the road. We haven’t started fast and when you don’t start fast you can get behind the chains, so to speak. We’ve got to be a much tougher and more resilient team on the road. We have been a completely different team statistically, as you’ve mentioned, playing at home. It’s something that we have to make sure our guys understand that it’s going to be tough to play on the road, but it’s not that tough. We have made it way too easy for our opponents when we’ve played on the road.”
(On if he has found any commonalities in the road games)
“We have given up too many points [laughs]. We haven’t done a very good job of stopping the run. I think that’s the common denominator. You can look back to the Arizona game. When you get yourself in unfavorable third-down matchups, it’s tough. It’s a lot easier to call a game. It’s a lot easier to go out and get after a quarterback when you’ve got them in third-and-10, third-and-nine, third-and-14 – even so when you have them in second-and-10 or second-and-11. That puts you into more of a pass mode and that gives you a little bit more flexibility in terms of what personnel groupings you can put out there on the field.”
(On what allowed the defense to get after the quarterback against the Jets)
“We performed better in terms of rushing the passer, but as I just mentioned, it’s a lot easier to rush when it’s third-and-10, third-and-12 and third-and-14. You get in those situations by winning first down and getting ahead of the chains. Your game plan and your playbook get a lot bigger and you’ve got a lot more flexibility when you’re in those downs and distances because pretty much everybody knows what is going to happen when you’re in those. [On] mixed downs, it’s a little bit tougher to have your guys reared up and ready to rush the passer. But, they did a nice job rushing the passer last week. They sure did.”
(On what has allowed linebacker Lavonte David to play at a high level this season)
“He is playing with a lot of confidence. There is no doubt about it. I think he’s got a really good understanding of what we are trying to get accomplished. He’s not thinking, he is reacting. Those two tackles for losses on the back side of a ‘nub’ formation where he ran downhill, he knew exactly where his next guy was going to be. Those were two fine plays. I think he’s got a good feeling of what we are trying to get done. I still believe last year was a little bit of an anomaly. It was just my first year with him, but I don’t believe he was nearly as healthy as he has been this season, even though he missed some time with his ankle.”
(On if he forsaw linebacker Kendell Beckwith playing at the level that he is right now when they drafted him)
“He’s got some measurable that say he is going to be a good football player when you evaluate him as a college player. Listening to the scouts read him, listening to the comments from the coaches there at LSU about what they felt about him as a football player – it doesn’t surprise me. He’s got length. He’s got speed. He’s got football intelligence. It gives us a lot of flexibility and it gives us the ability to move people around [and] put him in a different spot. When you put him in a different spot, you’re putting one of the other guys in a different spot. It’s two changes for us, but looking at it offensively, it looks like seven or eight different positions that they’re playing.”
(On when David got the green dot communicator in his helmet)
“He got the ‘green dot’ when he came back off of his injury. We had Kendell [Beckwith] with it when both he and Kwon [Alexander] were down. He’s done a very good job getting us lined up. I think he takes pride in doing that and he’s done a good job. Kendell did a good job and so did Kwon. But [David] has done a really good job in terms of getting us lined up in some of the no-huddle situations [with] some of the communicating that has to go on.”
(On the type of person that David is off the field)
“He is one of the most humble guys that I’ve ever been around. He’s got a completely different demeanor in the locker room and walking around in the building than he does on the football field. He reminds me of a lot of the linebackers that have been playing the last six or seven years. They’re a little smaller in terms of their weight, but they can run. He’s not afraid to put his face in there and make tackles. He’s become the tackle machine that I remember from when we were playing against him twice a year.”
(On what led to Beckwith getting an opportunity to rush the passer against the Jets)
“He has been rushing the passer for about the last five weeks. It’s just unfortunate we haven’t been able to have the downs and distances that allow us to do it [for] as many snaps as we got to do it last week. When you have an inefficient play on first down – meaning that it’s three yards or less – in this league, it doesn’t go from 50-50. Second-and-seven-plus turns into a pass down, so it allows you to put your pass package out there and we did that very well this past week, but he’s been doing it. He got his first sack this week. When he started playing football we were sort of just having a casual conversation when he was in [for] his visit before the draft, he [told us he] was a defensive end until he got to LSU. He’s got some pass rush in his background. I think he is a very talented football player that’s got a lot of measurable that say he is going to be a good linebacker slash x-man that can line up in many different positions.”
(On how the return of cornerback Brent Grimes help the defense as a whole)
“Having Brent back is a big plus in our pass coverage. It allows you to not concern yourself sometimes about putting resources on one side of the field or the other – meaning safety help or some underneath help. Brent gets challenged a lot, not necessarily from our opponent, but he gets challenged from us in terms of what we are asking him to do scheme-wise. We put him on an island quite often and he has handled it very well. He is an unassuming guy, but on the football field he is one of the most competitive guys that I’ve ever been around. I’ve said this many times, I don’t think you’re going to find a better athlete anywhere. If you wanted to go do American Ninja Warrior, he would probably be in the finals in Las Vegas. He is that kind of athlete.”
(On how rare it is for a player like Grimes to continue to play at a high level despite his age)
“I think it’s very rare. You’ve got a handful of guys probably over the last 10 years that play at that level, especially at that position. Champ Bailey played forever. [Charles] Woodson played forever. Darrell Green played [until] 42 or 43 possibly. He’s a rare athlete. We miss him when he is not on the field. You said, ‘Ah that little corner out there.’ He plays big and he plays tough and he’s a tough out. When I say a tough out, [I mean] people don’t want to throw the ball on that side.”
(On giving up a touchdown late in the game)
“We can’t finish the way that we finished. To play 57 minutes or 58 minutes the way that those guys went out there and performed, it just leaves a sour taste in everybody’s mouth. I think that was apparent. We’ve got to finish it off whether it’s a one-point lead or whether it’s a 21-point lead, you’ve got to have that mentality that when you’ve got them down you’ve got to keep them down. Don’t give them any hope.”
(On what he said to defensive tackle Chris Baker about his late-game penalty)
“I didn’t get a chance to talk to Chris right after the game. He said, ‘Coach, I’m sorry.’ He was playing hard and those things happen. The one thing that I tell all of our guys is that guy that wears a number that is under 20 and is receiving the snap every time, he is going to get extra protection. We’ve just got to make sure that we understand the situations and how we can legally contact the quarterback.”
(On if the hustle that players intensified in practice last week became contagious, as defensive tackle Gerald McCoy suggested)
“I think we had a good week of practice. I think it was very evident that we were very inconsistent in our effort the previous week. I think that’s been something that we’ve tried to address and it was addressed internally with the guys and the coaching staff. We did a much better job. I know this, the harder that you play and the more that you run to the football, you can overcome a lot. You can overcome a lot of bad calls. You can overcome having some bad leverage. You can overcome being out of your gap if guys run to the football. I thought it was, effort-wise, probably the top performance that we had all year in terms of effort.”
(On defensive end Will Clarke’s skillset)
“He is a long, [lean] guy. He is not a real thick guy, but he does use his leverage well in the run game. He can separate and when you can separate and then you can disengage and get off blocks – I mean it was great to see him get his first sack as a Buc. We had a number of guys that got their first sacks as Bucs and knock on wood we hope they continue to come in bunches just like we think turnovers do.”
(On what they will focus on in practice to ensure the defense continues to make big plays against Miami)
“We always talk about attacking the football. I will go back to Lavonte, I mean, Lavonte has done a great job of stripping the ball. Turnovers, when you talk about looking at a game, it is the most tell-[tale] sign of whether you are going to win or not when you win the turnover battle. We stress all the time about taking the ball away from our opponent. We’ve done a decent job on that this year, but not as good as we’d like. Secondly, we’ve got to win third down and when you win third down, it’s a turnover. Our guys did a nice job. We got on the right side of the ledger in terms of our third-down efficiency last week. We have not done very well on third down all season long. Our guys know it. You’ll go in there and ask them, ‘What’s the most important thing this week?’ The first thing we’ve got to do is we’ve got to stop the run then we’ve got to win the turnover battle, then we’ve got to get off the field on third down. That’s the simple formula for winning on defense.”
(On the challenge of facing Miami’s running backs, who are both strong pass catchers)
“It’s problematic in terms of they are getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hand very quickly. A lot of his balls are thrown 10 yards or less and when you’re throwing the ball 10 yards or less, a lot of the guys that are receiving it are the running backs. They do have the ability to get some run after catch. [Jarvis] Landry – he is one of the toughest guys. I’ve got a lot of respect for him [and] the way he plays the game. He plays it not like a wide receiver. He reminds me of some of the more physical wide receivers that have played this game. He is not afraid to mix it up. They’ve got some weapons that Jay [Cutler] can get the ball to. I think Jay has played very well over the last four or five weeks [even though] I know he missed some time with the injury.”
(On what is different about Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler in Week 11 than when they prepared to face him originally in Week 1)
“He was thrown into playing early in the season. He was doing what you guys were doing. He was going to be a media guy asking questions and being able to watch the game and make his comments. I think it took some time for him to get back into the swing of things. I think the thing that sped up the process was his relationship with Adam Gase. They have a long-standing relationship and he knows their offense. He’s worked with him, so I don’t think that was a big issue. We didn’t really get to see a whole lot in the preseason. He played maybe 20 snaps in terms of leading up to that game we were supposed to play before [Hurricane] Irma came.”
(On if he is glad to not have to worry about former Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi)
“Yes. He is a stud. He is no longer there. They’ve got some guys – obviously they think awfully highly of the two guys that they kept to let him go.”
WIDE RECEIVER MIKE EVANS
(On how difficult it was to sit out last week)
"It was tough. It was weird watching the game and watching my teammates. It didn't even feel like I was in the NFL because my team was playing in a regular-season game and I'm watching on TV. It was kind of weird."
(On if he analyzed the game any differently watching it on television)
"You can see things different from the TV's perspective. The commentators are very hard on players; I noticed that. I haven't watched a game in a long time."
(On how he watched the game)
"I just watched on TV. It was awkward but our team played great. They were very inspiring."
(On Rich Gannon's comments during the game)
"He was alright. He was a little bit off but he did okay for the most part."
(On if he was in Texas during the game)
"Yeah, I went back to Texas."
(On getting an approximation of a bye week)
"I mean, that was a good thing about it. I hurt my knee last week, so that helped. I'm healed, ready to go."
(On if 'anxious' is a good word to describe how he wants to get back on the field)
"Yeah, I'm ready to get out there and practice. I haven't ran in a while, just letting my knee heal. I'm excited to go out there and practice, have a great week of preparation and hopefully get a 'W' this week."
(On how much getting the win over the Jets has helped the team)
"A lot, a lot. Three-and-six sounds way better than two-and-seven. It meant a lot. Hopefully we can carry that momentum on and keep winning."
(On when he hurt his knee)
"I hurt it [the previous] Sunday after my first catch – well, my only catch. I hurt it then and I just finished out the game because I had that adrenaline going. But it's good now. After that play, I went down and I hit the turf funny, but I'm alright."
(On if he went somewhere in particular to watch the Bucs' game)
"I just watched it on my couch with my daughters and my wife."
(On adjusting practice)
"[You do it] throughout practice. Fitz [Ryan Fitzpatrick] plays a little bit different, more of a vet, he'll do a lot of more funky things. His ball's a little different so you've got to get used to it at practice."
(On how different quarterbacks have different throws)
"The spin is different on most guys. Jameis – I can't explain it – sometimes he throws perfect spirals, sometimes it comes different. It's hard to explain, but the spin is different on most guys. Some guys throw harder, some with a little more touch."
(On if Ryan Fitzpatrick can succeed by checking down or throwing deep)
"I think he can do both, as well as all the other quarterbacks in the NFL. You've got to take what the defense gives you, and when your defense plays that great you don't have to do anything spectacular."
(On how he feels about his performance this year)
"I've been okay. I'm not as good as last year, like I had hoped, but I've got seven more games to prove myself. I've been getting open, but not as much as I should be. Hopefully I can fix that these last seven weeks."
(On seeing double teams)
"Yeah, I'm getting doubled here and there, but nothing crazy. Not like last year. In the red zone, most teams pick a guy to double."
(On his goal to adding yards after the catch)
"Yeah, I've got to get better. I've got to do something about that. I'm still more of a possession guy; I'm trying to get better after the catch."
(On controlling his emotions to avoid actions like the one that caused his suspension)
"Absolutely. If we were winning, I don't think I'd do that. But we were down, 30-3, game out of reach. I had my momentum, I was running to the sideline. I made a boneheaded play. I shouldn't have done it. There [are] things I've got to fix, and I think that's the difference for me. I'll probably never do anything like that again. I've got to play more calm. I like playing with passion and effort, but I've got to be smarter."
DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
(On what he has seen from the Dolphins offense of late since they traded running back Jay Ajayi)
“Yeah, that changes everything. When you’re coming off a Pro Bowl season and take your Pro Bowl running back and trade him, that changes the whole dynamic of the offense. But, they still can be very explosive. They’ve got Juice (Jarvis Landry) down there and then my fellow [Oklahoma] alumni, Kenny Stills. They still can get the thing rolling. They’ve got a two-headed monster at running back, so if we want to get a W on the road, we’ve got to stop the run. We’ve been horrendous against the run on the road. We’ve got to be much better.”
(On why the team has allowed almost twice as many points on the road)
“I don’t know. We’ve got to be better though. On the road, we haven’t been good at all. We’re getting our tail-busted on the road. We’ve got to go get a big win this week. It’s about stacking them. If you walk around, you see the TVs around the building say, ‘Build on it.’ We’ve got to build on what we did this past week and just keep stacking them. We have everything we need – all of the talent. We’ve got 13 (Mike Evans) back this week. [Number] three (Jameis Winston) is working to get back as soon as he can, but we have what we need for right now to go get a big win.”
(On if he feels the defense got its mojo back after last week)
“You never know if you have your mojo back until you see some consistency. That’s what this league about is being consistent. That’s when a person – you consider them or that group what they are. Right now, what we’ve shown on the road is that we are not very good, so that is who we are. But we can change all that this week, having two back-to-back weeks of good defense. It’s going to start with stopping the run, though. We have to stop the run. We have to.”
(On the demeanor of linebacker Lavonte David)
“Everybody is different. I feel like because you always see me dancing or joking around or whatever, it’s similar to how 99 (Warren Sapp) was. He was kind of the entertainer and [Derrick] Brooks was the quiet one. He just played. That’s kind of who me and Lavonte are. That is totally just a coincidence. It is not purposefully done, that’s just how it goes. I think you can kind of see who we are. The Bucs posted a picture of me and Lavonte on their Instagram and you can always just kind of see our personalities when we are in pictures together. That’s really my family. He is not just my teammate. I’ve said this numerous times, I have three favorite players in the NFL [and] he’s been one of them since 2012. I love him. He’s great. He’s so good.”
(On what it means to see a teammate like David take a leadership role and be the communicator on defense, even though he isn’t traditionally a person who loves to talk)
“It goes to show he is selfless. He doesn’t really like talking at all. He hates it with a passion. I’m sure you guys know that he doesn’t like talking. But, he does whatever is necessary for the team to win and he feels like that’s what we need. If someone asks him to do that, he is going to do it. I didn’t know who was going to get in the circle and then he hopped in the circle and I was like, ‘Where do we go?’ When he kept saying, ‘I’m ready,’ I’m like, ‘If he is talking, something is about to happen.’ Lavonte is great. I could talk about him all day because I love him as a person [and] as a player. He is my favorite.”
(On if the locker room has felt different this week after a win and if the team can use the win as momentum moving forward)
“Monday, yes. Obviously, your energy is different after a win on a Monday. Today, no. It’s been the same every week. Guys came in preparing the exact same way. Walk-through was great. Walk-throughs have been great the last month to be honest. We’ve had really good walk-throughs and we’ve had really good practices throughout the week. So Monday, yes. [The] energy level – I mean you could sense a different energy, but as far as being different – no. Like DeSean Jackson said, ‘Let’s not forget where we are coming from.” Let’s not forget who we were before we got this win and I think guys took that to heart. We’re still 3-6. It was one game. We’ve got to keep it going. We’ve been playing terrible on the road. We can’t get excited about a home win and then just be like, ‘Oh, we won so…’ No, we haven’t done well on the road. We’ve got to go get a win. I think guys kind of have a sense of urgency about that.”