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30 November 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (11/30/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: QB Jameis Winston needs 205 passing yards Sunday at Green Bay to pass Joe Flacco for the 10th-most passing yards by a quarterback through their first three seasons.
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 if he has a sense of whether offensive lineman Evan Smith is close to clearing concussion protocol and therefore having a chance to play Sunday)
“I think he is close, but I have no say in it. He is in the final stage.”
(On where he feels Caleb Benenoch fits best in the offensive line)
“If we had a preference we would keep him as a tackle. When you’re a utility offensive lineman, until you become a full-time starter you’re a both. You’re a left side, right side, inside [player].”
(On what he does at tackle that makes him feel it is Benenoch’s best position)
“His athleticism. He has really improved a lot as a run blocker this year – a ton.”
(On what wide receiver Bobo Wilson is doing better now than he was in preseason)
“He has learned to be more disciplined across the board in everything. He was one of those guys that just ran around out there and looked good running around, but didn’t always know what he was doing. He didn’t always do the right thing. The same thing when you’re a backup receiver, you can’t just be a slot if you’re a backup. You’ve got to be an everything because you don’t know where you’re going to be needed. You have to be able to be a gunner. You have to be able to be a corner on punt team. There [are] just very few guys, unless they’re in the starting group, that can go out there and just be one thing.”
(On if it was more of a playbook issue or a route-running issue as to why he seemed to be running around not knowing what he was doing)
(On if he would like to see quarterback Jameis Winston get the ball to his check-down receiver more)
“I’d like to see him play quarterback the best he can play quarterback. You threw out a whole bunch of stuff in there. You don’t just throw check-downs to throw check-downs. We’ve had this discussion before because if they are a man coverage team there are no check-downs. You’ve got to win with your three guys that are guaranteed in the route. The second thing is, the object of the game is not to move the chains. We had 28 first downs last week and we got beat. The object is to score points. The best quarterbacks play football – they do take what the defense gives them, but they also have to know when they need to go for it and throw it down the field.”
(On his memories of Lambeau Field)
“The first time I went there was for a preseason game and I think every single person in the crowd had a Green Bay Packers jersey on. I’d never seen anything like it. It was a summer night. It was in August and I’d never seen anything like that where it was that high volume of Packers jerseys. Then we went another time when it was in December like this and before the game the field was covered. They had the blowers going. [It was] horrible weather. You couldn’t even see. It was snowing. The second those gates opened, there was people in those seats two hours before game time. It’s with complete snowmobile gear, fans sitting there like it was nothing with the weather. [It is] a very cool place to play.”
(On how Winston’s timing was today in practice compared to yesterday and if he has to account for the timing in the game Sunday)
“It was better today than it was yesterday and I would anticipate it will be a little better tomorrow than it was today. As far as the game goes, when Sunday rolls around you’ve got to play the game. Do you account for it? I don’t know that you can account for it. You’ve got to play football. Jameis has played a lot of football and so have the other guys. You just don’t really have the option of easing a quarterback back into it. He either plays or he doesn’t.”
(On why tight end Cameron Brate has had four catches in the past four games)
“He hasn’t gotten many balls thrown to him.”
(On if there is a reason he hasn’t had many balls thrown in his direction)
“I would have to look at all of the passes over the last four games to tell you that. We are not mad at him.”
(On if he has noticed more teams, aside from the Jets, double teaming Brate in the red zone)
“No, that was just that one game.”
(On if defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is playing some of his best football)
“I would just say he is every bit as disruptive as he’s always been. Gerald plays extremely hard when he is in there. He plays the most number of plays on our defensive front. He is getting double teamed the most of anybody on our defensive front and he is still a very disruptive player. What has hurt us is when Gerald is getting double teamed and using two blockers, our other guys that have been single haven’t been able to get home.”
(On who besides McCoy he believes is the most deserving of Pro Bowl consideration)
“You just caught me off guard because I didn’t even know we put that out. I didn’t stuff the envelopes on that. I haven’t given Pro Bowl voting one bit of thought right now. By the time we get those ballots on our desk – every year when we get those handed to us – I always think it’s too early. For coaches, everything is week to week for us. Heck, I forget who we might’ve played earlier. Like right now, I think there is about seven guys on the Packers who should be in the Pro Bowl. I’m sure when you look at that in the context of 32 teams that is probably not right.”
(On how big of a concern the Packers pass-rush scheme is considering the changes in the offensive line this week)
“It’s a concern whether we had the changes or not because they are deep at outside linebacker. I think they roll about five guys a game through there. It’s not just the two you mentioned (Nick Perry and Clay Matthews) who are their top two, but they’ve got three or four other guys. Then when they are healthy, they’ve got two really tough guys on the inside too. Their deal is they try to get you in five-single blocks. They are a five-man rush team. They try to get your O-line in five singles, so you don’t have a free hitter in there. It’s five one-on-ones and that’s what makes it difficult. Of course, we are concerned about it.”
(On if Winston making coming back strong is more important considering his position)
“I’m just going to guess and say that he would say that. I don’t think anyone else is looking at it that way. Everybody has got their things that they are focusing on and they are concentrating on at their position. If you ask any player at this time – when Lavonte [David] missed time, Kwon [Alexander] missed time, Mike [Evans] on a suspension – when a player has to sit, a player that is typically an every-down player has to sit, and comes back, he is hungry to get back out there. I can tell you Jameis is extremely hungry to get back out there. But, more important? I don’t know the answer to that.”
(On how Winston has handled the off-the-field situation)
“I would say the only way that he can – to focus on his rehab, when he was injured, and his work. That’s really all that he really can do right now.”
(On how he thinks Winston will respond to missing time)
“I think he will respond. I know he is going to do everything he can to try to help our team get a win on Sunday. But you never know how the game is going to unfold. You don’t know that part. I mean no player wants to sit out and I don’t think there is value in being injured, but I do think there is some self-reflection when a player sits out and has to watch, whether he is watching at practice or having to be on the sideline during games. A guy that is, in Jameis’ case, 30-something games where he was out there and now you’re not – just watch those guys. Watch the guys that we don’t suit up on game day. They’re miserable. It’s not a fun thing for them, but then how it translates on the field when they come back – that is a hard call.”
(On if he hears from players that it is a humbling experience to miss time)
“I would just say reflective, but I don’t know. We are getting into semantics here.”
(On if he thinks Winston can do better with his pocket presence and be calmer in the pocket)
“I just think as Jameis gains experience he will get better across the board at everything. When you are playing a team, your cut-ups are usually based off the four previous games. As we are playing the Packers this week, one of the four previous games is the Lions. So, in our cut-ups [and] in our meetings, we’ve had a lot of Matthew Stafford up there. I will use him as an example of a guy – we were just watching a couple plays today – that that wasn’t even what we were watching. When we are in the quarterback room, we’re watching the defensive structure and our keys and all that stuff. You can’t help notice other quarterbacks, whether it was [Ben] Roethlisberger in their game Sunday night – that’s also in our cut-ups. In the Detroit game – Jameis brought it up today – there was a play where Matthew Stafford pulled it down, reset his feet and got it out lightning fast. All of us, basically at the same time, were like, ‘Wow. That was a heck of a job by him.’ Even Fitz who is older than dirt even noticed it [laughs].”
(On if he or his representatives had been contacted by Mississippi State in regard to its head-coaching vacancy)
“First, I would much rather move on to the Packers than it be about me. But in general, from a coaching perspective, when you have people that represent you there is dialogue that goes on all the time about different opportunities. That just comes up. I don’t really want to get into all of those or things that come up. I would much rather move on to the Packers.”
(On what quarterback Jameis Winston took away from sitting out due to his shoulder injury)
“[It’s] hard to say unless you talk directly to him of what he took from [it]. From the beginning of the season, to the injury, to trying to fight through it, where we are at as a team – I just know he likes to play football and he’s healthy. We need to get him out there and see where he is at. He hasn’t practiced for three weeks. [He] looked fine yesterday and I expect him to be better today.”
(On if he would like Winston to get better about using his check-down receiver again)
“Sure. I think that’s all a part of maturing and feeling more and more comfortable with the offense is getting through your progression faster. I think in order to get to check-downs, you’ve got to get through your progression faster. That’s part of it. We’ve done a pretty good job protecting. It’s running routes more efficiently, getting the right coverages [and] scheme-wise putting [him] in a position where [he] has some of those check-downs. Some of the things that you may do on earlier downs, if you’re trying to sell play action more, you are not getting as many guys out. I think that’s learning when you have check-downs and when the coverage dictates, getting through your progression.”
(On if Winston has something to prove in the last five weeks of the season)
“I don’t know if he has something to prove. I think that’s a good question. Prove – I think we are all proving ourselves every day [and] every week as what we do for a living. It’s what we do. We are trying to do it better than they do it. Jameis [Winston] is still trying to improve as a player. So sure, in that respect, yes. We are trying to prove ourselves as coaches, as an organization [and] as a team, so there is something there this week to play good football on the offensive side.”
(On the theory that if players are healthy they should play)
“You’re right in some respects. Where are you at in the season? Do you think that the injury would put someone at risk – whether they can protect themselves, especially a quarterback. Can they protect themselves out there against the best in the world? But as long as Jameis [Winston] is cleared and we believe he gives us the best chance to win, then we need to put him on the field. It’s not a matter of Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) versus him. It’s a matter of he is our starting quarterback [and] he is healthy. Let’s get him out there and let’s start playing again. That’s where we are at.”
(On where he has seen an improvement in wide receiver Bobo Wilson)
“Bobo likes to compete. He does like to compete [and] that’s one thing you see on an every [day basis]. We saw it back in training camp that he loves to play football. If a guy loves to play football and has a skillset, as all of our players do, then he is going to continue to improve because he is going to attack every day wanting to get better. He is still a young player. He is still doing it as a look-squad member, so we will see how that transfers over. We really only have a small sample size in preseason, but he has earned this part to be able to be moved up and we will see what role, if any, we are able to create for him.”
(On what Wilson has done better technically)
“Again, it is hard to say other than we love the way he competes. We think he’s got a chance to be a returner for us. What we’ve got to understand is that when the guys that you have that are going to be in your 46 that are going to dress, they are taking all of the reps, minus the quarterbacks who other than the number one quarterback, they get all the reps. The reps that those other guys get are really on the look squad, so it’s a card. It’s a dot running a route. What do you see? You see him going against Brent Grimes. You see him going against other corners and you like what you see, but that’s off a card. That is in practice. You’ve earned that part – that next step – because some guys don’t do what he did, so he’s done that part to compete and earn that. Now, we will see. Still we have six receivers up. We were talking about getting guys more touches when we might have four or five. Hell, now we’ve got six. We will see. We like where he is headed if he continues to progress like we hope.”
(On the key to an improved run game)
“I think it starts off with alignment and assignment first of all. That gives you a chance. Alignment and assignment gets you beat before mismatches. It’s being on the right people. Then having a sense of urgency to move people. You can talk about the run game and, ‘Hey, we’ve got to double team here and when we are going to bring the receiver down to do this,’ If we get no movement, it’s not really a double team. We are just leaning on people. We are not really moving anybody. I thought we moved people. I thought our backs ran downhill, so I thought we did a better job at the start that way. I think that was probably a part of it, not that we haven’t, but it’s just that I thought we had a better sense of urgency at the start of that game on the road. You’ve got to have that.”
(On how he would characterize Dom Capers’ defense)
“I think he does a great job with multiple looks. I think that’s one thing – you get multiple looks [and] different-pressure looks. They do a good job with their linebackers. They’ve got a lot of 50 numbers. You’re trying to figure out where they’re at. From a protection scheme, I think that they can be three down linemen [or] they can do some four-down looks. Their secondary does a good job disguising, so I think it forces you to be able to think and play on the run.”
(On how much more of a risk it is to play Winston without center Ali Marpet and tackle Demar Dotson and if that should be part of the discussion when starting Winston)
“No, probably in the fact that everybody that is on our roster is the best in the world. There is not one guy on our roster that is not a capable player. Some are more advanced than others in their progression as a player. Joe Hawley is going to play center. Well, he was our starter before. We went 9-7 with him as our center. Then whether Kevin [Pamphile] plays over at tackle or Caleb Benenoch – whoever plays over on that side – Kevin has played there before and we are going to count on them. There is a reason why we drafted both of them and they’ve got to go play. They’ve practiced and been with us. It’s not as if we’ve called somebody off the street from the IHOP and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come play tackle for us?’ We’ve got guys here that are the best in the world. That is what they are. They’re paid to go do their job and we will count on them to do their job. That is the expectation of the team and the position.”
(On how Benenoch has looked and where he fits best in the offensive line)
“It’s hard to say. Again, we are talking about young players that your sample size is so small. Does he have talent? Yes. Does he have a bright future? Yes. Has he played a lot? No. So, you are sitting there going, ‘Okay, well we’ve played him some at jumbo. We’ve had him in the games at times.’ He is an ascending player, so every time he plays – every game he gets to go in – play starts to slow down for him. Heck, last week just going into jumbo and, ‘When am I in? When am I out?’ He’s looking at the sideline. It’s just the anxiety of playing the game that starts to slow down. He is going to be a football player and we need to get him some reps and see.”
(On the plan to fill former tight end Luke Stocker’s blocking role and if it includes tight end Antony Auclair)
“We need to see Antony play. That’s what we needed to see. Luke got banged up a little bit one week and we started to play Antony a little bit. He is another young player we think is ascending. It was time to get him in there and he is only going to continue to get better. That was the mindset. It’s tough. Luke is one of those glue guys and great for our team. There is not a better pro than Luke, but it was time to move on and go in a different direction.”
(On how he evaluated the plays where wide receiver Mike Evans was targeted in the end zone)
“The first conversion he had – and when I’m saying conversion, it was his fade route – I thought he did a poor job of holding his line. He knows this in terms of the defender keeping it on your hip and letting the ball fade you. I thought he drifted too far and allowed the defender to come underneath [him]. Then when the ball is inside, it’s much easier for the defender to make a play on it. On the second one, I thought he got grabbed a little bit by the linebacker and then the ball [was] coming. Could he have stepped another yard back? [Yes], but it was kind of a bang-bang play. Neither one was a drop, but definitely the first one I think by technique we could’ve given ourselves a better shot at it right out of the gate in getting a touchdown.”
(On the reason for the lack of yards after catch and if it is the throw being out in front of the receivers, players not looking to make runs after the catch or being too conscious of getting hit)
“Probably all of the above of what you said. Certain guys have more of a knack when you put the ball in their hands to make plays. That’s probably natural. Some other guys aren’t as comfortable doing that. The more you utilize your backs and screens, you’re going to get some of that. The better you are at screens, you are going to catch it and gain yards so that is part of it. More and more teams are going to spread [offense], so the more you spread it out and you are throwing shallows and intermediate routes as more of a spread offense, I think that adds to that. Are we conscientious of that, trying to get guys in space, especially guys like Desean [Jackson] and Adam [Humphries] and some of our backs? Of course. We certainly don’t want to have to – if you throw for 300 yards, throw for 280 of it – no. We would like to be able to throw for a couple hundred and have 100 [yards] after catch. That’s all a part of it and we need to get better at that. That’s been an ongoing thing we need to continue to get better at – with our confidence, who we get the ball to in space and obviously continue to do a better job in the screen game.”
(On which charity he chose to sponsor for the NFL’s ‘My Cause, My Cleats’ initiative)
“The Dream Forever Foundation. This is my own personal foundation. We just launched it this year. And [I’m sponsoring] JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) for juvenile diabetes. It’s all for the youth.”
(On what he learned from spending the past few weeks on the sideline)
“I learned a lot in terms of just watching Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) prepare throughout the week. When it came to the game, I was trying my best to be engaged and to put myself in the same situations Fitz has put himself in. But definitely seeing a veteran quarterback at his finest execute and lead this team was very eye opening to me.”
(On how important these last five games of the season are for him)
“Every game is important to us. Obviously, we want to finish strong. We want to leave a lasting impact. I want to give us a chance to still be able to be in that race. Every game is important. [These] are playoff games from here on out for us.”
(On how his shoulder is feeling now compared to how it felt three weeks ago)
“I’m ready. I’m ready to play. Like I said, I am happy to see you guys’ faces. I am here. I’ve been missing you all. I know you all probably don’t believe me, but it’s good to get back in a regular week of preparation and this is my job.”
(On how hard it was to watch his teammates practice and suit up for the games and to not be able to join them due to an injury)
“Very humbling, but it was a whole learning experience. I’ve never been in that situation before where an injury prevented me from playing. Like I said, I sat back and I viewed thing from a different perspective and viewed it as an opportunity to get better and not to regress.”
(On if he has been able to find the identity of this team)
“Yeah, we’ve got to just keep working. We’ve got to work hard every single week. Your identity can change week to week based on what we need to do to win the game. But you always have your core things that you go to and I think as a team we must continue to apply those core things that we go by in our locker room.”
(On what he thinks about fans saying the team should shut him down for the rest of the season in order to protect him)
“I mean this is my job. I enjoy playing quarterback. That is what God blessed me [with] – to be able to play quarterback. When I am able to play, it’s not even in my mind about saving. There is nothing to save.”
(On if the future is always now for him)
“Not necessarily, but every week I am ready to play every game. Missing these past few games it was tough, but I’m back and I feel good.”
(On if he believes he has anything to prove over the final five games of the season)
“I believe we just need to win. As far as proving things to other people, that is above my head. I think we’ve just got to go and play good football and finish this year out right – give ourselves a chance. That’s all we are focusing on.”
(On the chance to play at Lambeau Field and if that is an exciting opportunity for him)
“Yeah. I kind of wish I was able to get back to Atlanta. It’s kind of a home game, but playing at Lambeau – there has been a lot of great memories at that field. Hopefully we can have a great memory [of] our own.”
(On if he was able to self-scout himself over the past few weeks and if so, what he wants to improve on)
“Pocket presence is one thing I watched as far as just identifying myself on what I need to improve on. And just being strong in the pocket – stand in there, stand strong and make some throws.”
(On what in particular he needs to do better in the pocket)
“Stand strong, make some throws and not move so much.”
(On if there is anything else he took away from watching Fitzpatrick aside from the preparation aspect)
“Just Ryan’s demeanor out there on the field. He is the same guy the whole time. The only time you see him rise is when he makes a competitive play out there on the field. He is a true competitor on the field, but on the sideline he is just a laid-back guy, letting things come to him [and] not trying to force things. I’m not talking about [forcing] the ball. I’m talking about trying to do too much or things like that.”
(On if he would be surprised if Jimbo Fisher left Florida State this year)
“That’s above my pay grade. I love Coach Fisher. Whatever he decides to do, I am definitely going to support him because he is more of like a father figure to me than just a coach at a university.”
(On if he has been paying attention to the rumors swirling around Fisher and the Florida State program right now)
“I’m focusing on what we have going on right here. I am pretty sure if a decision is made, I’ll call him to congratulate him either way.”
(On how he will keep the NFL investigation from becoming a distraction)
“I’m just going to respect the process most importantly. That’s all I can do.”
(On if he plans to become a calmer quarterback after admiring Fitzpatrick’s demeanor)
“I’m going to be myself. I think developing as a top-tier quarterback, you’ve got to be yourself. That’s just how Ryan is. He was himself. He never let [anything] phase him and that’s what I respect.”
(On the Uber incident allegations and why he and Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby have had allegations made against them multiple times when they’ve been together)
“I put my statement out there discussing this allegation and I’ve got to respect the process in that part. I’ve been vindicated several times on the past situations, so my statements on those accusations stand firm too. It’s always a growing process in everything. I’m going to continue to grow every day.”
(On if he remembers the Uber ride)
“Again, I’ve got to respect the process for the NFL.”
(On if he believes he will be vindicated in this situation)
(On if he has any fear of a suspension from the NFL)
“I have no fear at all. But like I said, I have to respect the process.”
(On how hard it is for him and his family when allegations are made against his character)
“One thing about my family is that we are very strong in our faith. We’re very strong in believing that nothing from our past can control our future. What I’ve been through in Tampa Bay and how I have grown over the past few years has meant a lot to my family, seeing my development even through college. I think that’s more important than what could be said from any outside source.”

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