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16 November 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (11/16/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: CB Brent Grimes, who had an interception last week, has recorded 19 interceptions since the start of the 2013 season, tied for the second-most in the NFL during that span. His 32 career interceptions are tied for the fifth-most among active players.
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach Todd Monken
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
(On how big of an adjustment it is for the receivers to transition from catching passes from quarterback Jameis Winston to now catching passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick)
“I don’t know if it’s nearly as much of an adjustment for the receivers as it is collectively up front [with] the communication that takes place with those guys in terms of his mannerisms in the huddle just making sure – especially on the road – that you’re hearing exactly what the quarterback is saying. I think that’s probably there than with the receivers.”
(On the reason the running game has struggled to get into a rhythm)
“That’s hard to say. If we had that answer we would have it fixed. At times, it’s looked better. Just like last year, if you’re not getting some of those explosive runs it can be hard to run for the amount of yards that you would expect. We have to continue to run the football because it helps us overall offensively play-action wise. It helps our defense to not play as many snaps [and] to play football together as a team, so complementary football. We will continue to hammer away at it.”
(On if the offensive line has played up to expectations in terms of run defense)
“I get where you’re going because we all want the answer. Why? What is it? The [running] backs? Is it scheme? Is it O-line? What is it then? How can we get better at it? You’re exactly right and it’s all of it. It really is. It’s not one thing. There [are] times where up front we take our times to not be as consistent, then running backs hitting it, so I think collectively, scheme-wise, there [are] certain things we are trying each week to try and create more opportunities for us to be able to run the football. But you’re right – it has to come from somewhere. We have to be able to run the ball better.”
(On if beating teams over the top in the passing game would open up more holes for the running game)
“I don’t know. We’ve sure as heck tried. It’s not like we are going to stop trying to throw it down the field. We are going to continue to do that. That’s who we are – run play-action [and] continue to get better on third downs. But, you’re right. Does that help? Of course, it does. Our ability to sustain blocks, be on the right people, be able to run downhill and break tackles – that’s all part of it.”
(On if the blockers are failing to pick up the free rusher)
“The extra defender? That happens sometimes and sometimes it’s an assignment issue here, it’s a cut here, it’s a perimeter block here, it’s a number of things. It’s a scheme here or there. That is all a part of it. Whenever anything isn’t functioning the way you would like it to on either side of the ball it is a collective issue. We’ve got to figure out a way. It’s what we are paid to do – solve that puzzle.”
(On what he would like to see out of wide receiver Mike Evans in the second half of the season)
“Mike has come a long way in terms of his approach – his practice approach [and] his approach during game day. It’s been frustrating for all of us. Nobody likes to go through what you go through. We are paid to win [and] paid to find a way to get our players to play better. That’s the puzzle of this league. That’s the biggest part of it is to continue down that path he was headed in and control the things he can control. That’s the only thing you can tell guys is the next play [or] the next series in a game. Then in practice, it’s the next play. It’s consistently building who you are as a player. That’s the first and foremost with all of our guys when you are not having the type of success you would like. Obviously for him – it’s never been with Mike – he’s a very selfless player. It’s not about targets. It’s rarely that Mike ever says, ‘Hey, I’m open. Throw me the ball.’ Or, ‘We ought to call this.’ It’s frustration as a team. He is the ultimate team player. He will do the dirty work from a blocking standpoint. It’s about controlling that of the things you can’t control.”
(On if there are things that a veteran like Fitzpatrick does in his preparation that younger quarterbacks might not necessarily do)
“Sure, I think so. I think a guy that’s played as long as he has [and has] played [as] a mature player, has confidence in his ability of what he sees from the defense and has the confidence to then be able to get us into different plays [and] different route combinations. He is not afraid to do those things because of all of his years of experience. There is no question. You can see it on the field in terms of where he would go with the ball, so all of the receivers have to be up and ready to go. I know everybody should be anyway, but I think a veteran player that plays as much as he has – he’s not afraid to get us in the right checks, to think outside the box, to come and tell Dirk [Koetter] things that he is seeing that maybe a younger player might see, but is he really as confident to be able to say that or see it?”
(On if he Fitzpatrick’s mobility is a function of his athleticism or a result of being in the league for such a long time and knowing how to take the space when it is available)
“All of the above. I think being in the league adds to that. I think he is a really good athlete from an escapability standpoint. That’s obviously shown over the years with the amount of rushing yards he has. I think the beard disguised that a little bit [and] makes him look a little older than he is. Maybe people don’t think of that – if a guy has a beard that he is going to be able to run like that. But, he is certainly capable of getting himself out of trouble and making plays with his feet.”
(On if tight end O.J. Howard’s low target number despite being on the field for a significant amount of snaps is due to him being a matchup player)
“Some of that is true. O.J. plays our Y position so we ask him to do a lot of things that the common fan wouldn’t see that help us win. We’ve got a number of good players. I’ve said this every time I get up here and it’s a valid question. I don’t mean it that way. All I’m saying is when his targets go up, then someone else’s go down. It’s just the way it is. There [are] only so many throws. If you want to run the football and be able to play-action [pass], it’s okay, well why did Cam [Brate] only have X-amount of targets. Well, that’s because Chris Godwin and DeSean Jackson had this many. Why are Mike [Evans’] numbers down? Well, we’ve added DeSean. If there is only going to be 30-something passes in a game and you complete 20 of them, it’s just going to come from somewhere. It just is. He is still a developing player. [He is] going to be a really good football player and is a good football player. [He is] going to continue to get better with his route-running, his body control, his balance [and] being able to set up defenders. Sometimes it just plays itself out that way. Would we like it to be more consistent? Of course. Like with all of our players, [we want to] be able to distribute the ball. We sure would.”
(On if the team has focused on getting more players comfortable in the red zone so that they can flourish in that area)
“Sure. Last week in playing the Jets, they hadn’t shown a propensity to double a receiver, especially Cam [Brate]. But then Mike [Evans] was out, so it happened twice where they doubled Cam. Once it didn’t matter because we threw it to Chuck (Charles Sims) for a touchdown. But then on the two-point play they did. You have to adjust. I think the thing that benefited Cam last year the most down there the most was Mike because more and more teams were doubling Mike. You’re right though, we always have to have a plan for how are they going to handle those two guys – O.J. [Howard] as well and some of the other players that we have. But we have to do a better job of making sure that we have a plan that allows for a big target like O.J. or Chris Godwin down there to give us an opportunity to score touchdowns.”
(On if running back Charles Sims is more effective with Fitzpatrick at quarterback due to his familiarity with dumping the ball off in the flat)
“I do agree with the first part that I do think the more experienced the quarterback is that he is going to get the ball out of his hands quicker. He is going to see things faster and be able to make decisions quicker. I do think that becomes a function of our running backs – to be able to check it down. That is a part of it. Will Chuck benefit from that? I do agree that I think that will when you get into third-situations and the way he sees the game and processes it probably just a hair quicker. I’m sure when he was in year two or three it didn’t, so I think that comes through with experience.”
(On if he has seen tight end Cameron Brate getting double teamed more this season)
“No, not up until last week. Last week it did because we didn’t have Mike [Evans]. It came up in odd formations. It wasn’t like we had Cam flexed out where they were doubling him. No, he was attached and they decided to. We had another time when he was in line and they just made the decision. You couldn’t really tell – you can always tell when Mike is by himself. When a receiver is by himself you can tell what the safety is doing in a single-high look, but when you have an attached tight end the safety doesn’t have to move very far. You don’t really know it at the snap. You see it when the play is over [and] you look at the pictures and go, ‘Okay, this is what they are doing. Okay, they are doubling. Okay, make an adjustment.’ That happened so late in the game [that] we didn’t really get down there again to really adjust. Moving forward you just have to look at the stats – most teams [and] who they like to target in the red zone.”
(On if Fitzpatrick tends to throw higher-percentage passes than quarterback Jameis Winston does)
“I try to think of the calls that we had up in the game plan. It didn’t feel like, from our game-planning standpoint, that it was any different. Sometimes if you have a given game plan you can take five coaches and every one of those coaches would call it differently with the same exact plays. I think sometimes with different quarterbacks and different looks that you get, the ball is going to go [to] some different spots than [it] would with a different quarterback. You’re right in that regard, but it wasn’t like we were like, ‘Hey, now we’ve got Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick). Hey, let’s not do these things.’ We still try to throw it down the field. We had DeSean [Jackson] on a go route and then we had a take route to Chris [Godwin] that we threw an interception on. We had some other times when the ball was scheduled to go downfield, but the pass rush has something to do with that. I don’t think it was really that. I think some of it has to do with the defense at times, where the quarterback’s eyes take him first and who is playing the position.”
(On if Fitzpatrick’s strength is getting the ball out quickly whereas Winston is more apt to dropping back and pushing the ball downfield)
“I think they are both apt to push it down the field. I don’t see that so much. I just think through experience and seeing things, possibly. I think you would have to ask Coach [Dirk Koetter] and Coach [Mike] Bajakian that a little bit. I just think sometimes experience – as we talked about earlier – he (Fitzpatrick) is able to get it out of his hands a little bit quicker. We did a little more in the screen game – that is going to get it out of your hands a little bit quicker. I’d have to go back and look at it to really see that. It doesn’t feel like that through our game planning that that’s changed. It may be just because Fitz just has a little quicker decision-[making]. He makes his decisions a little bit quicker.”
(On the first thing that comes to mind when he thinks of cornerback Brent Grimes)
“The first thing that I think about is that I can’t believe he is whatever age he is, for his body [and] the way he can move around. I don’t know how many defensive backs could make that interception he made. That’s receiver-like, adjusting his body [like he did]. His ball security wasn’t very good after it, but it was an unbelievable interception. His confidence to change directions and jump routes and that part of it – we are different when he plays because it just takes the pressure off of every other player. There is a natural confidence that comes from having one of your best players on the field.”
(On if Grimes’ ability takes away his side of the field for the opposing offense)
“It does a little bit. They still have to throw it there. That play – it’s amazing we ended up winning the game considering we didn’t take advantage of the field position we had early in the game [with] as many opportunities as we had. He was a big part of that. The last game of the year last year [he had] the interception for the touchdown. Those kind of plays that he is capable of and a third-down knockdown that gets us off the field, but the biggest thing is just how lively his body is for his age the way he can bounce around. It’s like DeSean [Jackson] and him – they’re different in terms of their ability to bounce around and to be able to change directions and still play at such a high level. It may be just the way we are today in society with nutrition and guys the way they take care of their bodies. You’re seeing it with quarterbacks. They’re not slowing down. They’re still very athletic and still playing at a very high level and can play, the way I see it, as long as they would like to play.”
(On if Grimes could be used as a receiver with his skillset)
“Sure. You bet. Vernon Hargreaves [is] the same way – really good hands, body control and athleticism. That’s what you would want. You want guys – if you thought they could play corner in this league and can change direction – you would think he would be a heck of a slot receiver.”
(On how he felt physically after his first full game this season)
“I came out okay. It’s almost a good soreness to have, getting hit and knocked down a little bit and being able to wake up on Monday and Tuesday and feel like one of the guys. It’s a good thing, but yeah, I feel really good.”
(On what positives and negatives did he see from his performance after watching the film)
“I think I left a lot out there just in terms of I could’ve made some better decisions [and] maybe some quicker decisions in some of the stuff that we had. I came away from watching that game obviously happy and excited that we won, but kind of excited at the prospect of getting another shot at it and hopefully doing a better job. There were some plays out there that I could’ve made that would’ve made us a lot more effective.”
(On if his mistakes were due to rust)
“It’s a little bit of everything. It was a credit to some of the stuff that they were doing and then me just having to be a better decision maker at times.”
(On much he can take from his previous matchups with the Miami Dolphins)
“Personnel-wise, they’ve got a few different guys, but I’ve gone against a bunch of those guys for a long time. Ironically enough, the defensive coordinator was at Harvard when I was there. That doesn’t happen a whole lot. Matt Burke is a guy I’ve kept up with a bunch as we’ve both gone through the league. I’m happy to see the success that he’s had and kind of the position that he has earned.”
(On what he has to be most aware of in the Miami defense)
“Well they’re really good all over, but their front four [is] really disruptive. They get after the quarterback in terms of hitting the quarterback, strip-sacks and all of that stuff. That will be a big thing that really jumps out on tape when you watch these guys. They do a lot of different things, so it’s one of those games [where] I’m really going to have to be on top of what I am seeing pre-snap and post-snap. They do a good job of mixing it up.”
(On if Miami’s ability to pressure the quarterback makes it more important to be able to hit check-down receivers)
“Not necessarily. I think that it’s just going to be good decisions, whether it’s shorter throws, intermediate throws or longer throws. As long as I’m making good quick decisions and all of those are thrown on time then it shouldn’t be that big of an issue.”
(On Ali Marpet’s transition to center)
“Ali is a really smart guy. I don’t think I would’ve known it – if I didn’t know the history of it – that he hadn’t played center before or started many games [there] because he really studies it and works hard at it. He does a nice job. It’s been nice for me in stepping into this role, just the communication there, whether it’s the side meetings or talking on the field or talking during practice. Ali is a good communicator and he does a nice job with it.”
(On if he senses a different morale after the win)
“The morale hasn’t been terrible around here so I haven’t seen a huge shift. I think sometimes some of that is just seeing on Sundays just with the confidence you are playing with or the momentum that you can carry to a game. I don’t know if that’s necessarily something that will show up during the week, but hopefully it shows up on Sunday.”
(On having time to stack some wins together before the end of the season)
“This league is kind of about getting on runs. Unfortunately, we went through a bad run for a little bit there, but if we can just continue to stack up some of these wins you never know what is going to happen. I’m 100 percent positive that the belief in that locker room is that we can do it. We can continue to go out there and we are talented enough to win these games. It’s not like we are going into games and we don’t have a shot at it. We’ve got some really good players here. It is just a matter of me distributing the ball and getting them going. I think that confidence can turn into more wins.”
(On Monken’s comment that his beard may make him a deceptive runner)
“Deceptive speed – I ran a 4.89 I think at the combine and that was 13 years ago, so I am probably like a 5.2 now but I do my best when I am out there. It is amazing when you’re running and you’ve got 300-pound guys chasing you, how fast you can go sometimes [laughs].”

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