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09 November 2016

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 Media Availability (11/9/16)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Since Week 7, QB Jameis Winston has thrown for eight touchdowns and only one interception, for a passer rating of 105.2, the fifth-highest mark in the league during that span (min. 60 attempts).
 
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
Wide Receiver Adam Humphries
 
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
 
(On how much an injured player could be used in a game after just a couple days of practice)
”That is an excellent question and I do not know the answer to that. That depends on the guy, who the guy is, the severity of the injury and how fast he comes back, how he looks in practice.”
 
(On the lift of getting running back Doug Martin back at practice)
“It’s great to have him. Anytime we get our guys back, it’s awesome to have those guys out there.”
 
(On what Martin was able to do at practice today)
“Now we’re crossing over into injuries and game plan.”
 
(On how tight end Cameron Brate has progressed from last season)
“I think [Tight Ends Coach] Jon Embree addressed it the other night, I think Cam has just made steady progress on his overall game. Cam, as we said multiple times last year, Cam and [quarterback] Jameis [Winston] got a nice little chemistry between them, especially in the red zone. Cam has a knack for getting open and he can twist his body, contort his body and make difficult catches. I would say that he’s making progress in the run game. It was something that he needed to work on, wanted to work on it and has improved.”
 
(On how Brate is now as a run-blocker)
“Tight ends in this league, there’s really three categories. There’s guys that can do everything and there’s not very many of these guys. There’s guys that are primarily blockers and then there’s guys that are really big wide receivers and there’s a lot of those kind of guys, those big wide receivers, coming out of college right now because there’s just not many teams playing with prototype tight ends. So, you want guys that can do everything, but there’s just not a lot of them around. Think about the defensive ends those tight ends have to block in this league and it’s not an easy task. Or outside linebackers in a 3-4 team. People are taking chances on small college guys, basketball players and you’re seeing some nice stories out there. Cam, being from not necessarily a football power school, there’s multiple guys that came into the league as basketball players, maybe one of the best all-time. Cam is just a guy that’s really improved over the last year and a half and is a solid player for us right now.”
 
(On what Martin has been able to do to stay in shape which he was injured)
“They have all kinds of tools they use in the training room. The underwater treadmill, running in the pool, that [AlterG] treadmill that takes some of the body weight off. You guys don’t get to see it, but because it’s right outside my window – all of our guys that are able to workout that are injured are working out at all hours out on the field with the trainers. So, it’s a progression that they go through. Whether it be machines and then gradually progressing up to running on the field and changing direction.”
 
(On if wide receiver Mike Evans is still in the concussion protocol)
“Officially, yes he is. I believe he might be taking the test either later today or tomorrow, so he could possibly come off.”
 
(On what the hardest deficiency is to cover up on offense)
“Offensive line, easily. You’ve got to have those guys up front. You look at the teams in the league that are struggling – everybody struggles to a certain extent – but teams that are really struggling, when you get a chance to look at them on tape, it usually is because their offensive line is banged up and they’ve got multiple starters out.”
 
(On what has been the best and most challenging part of his first season as an NFL head coach so far)
“Well, it’s not something you think about like that. You think about it as, ‘What are we doing this week?’ is really how you think about it. Easily, the toughest part are the losses, that’s the toughest part, hopefully for everybody involved with us. The best part I guess would be that you’re seeing some things, developmental-wise, that maybe aren’t evident to everybody right now, but you hope will bear fruit down the road,”
(On what is the biggest drag on his time)
“There are no drags on your time. We all have jobs to do and this is my job, so there’s no drags on my time. This is my job and shoot, I can’t wait to get to work every day.”
 
(On losing ‘elite’ players to injury this season, like Martin)
“You’ve got your 22 starters and all those 22 starters are on different levels. You’ve got elite players. We have four or five guys that were in the Pro Bowl last year, those guys are usually harder to replace. Now sometimes, you have a really good guy behind him, sometimes you’re kind of holding on. And that’s not just the Bucs, that’s everybody, you’re holding on at some positions. So, there’s a lot of luck involved and then when you get hit at multiple spots – very few teams go past two-deep. We hit a goldmine in getting [running back] Jacquizz [Rodgers] in here, based on everything else that had happened, as technically a third back that wasn’t even on our team. Again, one man’s injury is another man’s opportunity and there’s great stories around the league every year about guys that people weren’t counting on and they step up, they get their opportunity and they play well.”
 
(On how much it hurt the team to lose center Joe Hawley and linebacker Kwon Alexander for a portion of the game against Atlanta)
“Well, we didn’t really lose them that early and Joe Hawley, as far as the center, he’s been in and out a few times this year and again, that’s one of those positions, center, that we have a backup [Evan Smith] that has started as many games as our starter has. Evan’s actually playing at a really high level when he goes in there. The Kwon deal, that happened right before the half, he had a stinger, he had to get his strength back, that’s where again, we’re fortunate to have a guy like [linebacker] Daryl Smith, who’s usually out in nickel defense, but Daryl has been a top-level starter at middle linebacker for both Jacksonville and for Baltimore. So, he was able to go in there and – [linebacker] Adarius Glanton, there’s a guy that got his opportunity. Been primarily a special teams player and then I think it was 14 plays, had six tackles as a SAM linebacker, so sometimes guys play their way into more playing time when they get that opportunity.”
 
(On how wide receiver Cecil Shorts III is coming along in terms of knowing the offense)
“He’s there and he’s there because we only suited up four wideouts last week, so he’s got to be there and Cecil’s worked really hard to catch up. Cecil’s a proven pro, now we’re his third team. Cecil, at one time in his career, he was the man in Jacksonville. They were trying to go to him all the time and he’s made a lot of big plays. I think a lot of that is just confidence in knowing, not having to think about it. Leaving the huddle and knowing you know what to do and then going out there and doing it, but the talent’s definitely there.”
 
(On if Shorts still has the potential to be a main focal point of an offense)
“Yeah, again, that’s hard to say because he just hasn’t gotten very many opportunities and you’re back to – all these guys, if they’re here, they’ve made plays in their career. They may not get opportunities right now, so sometimes you don’t know until – like all those guys are looking at me, saying, ‘Hey, throw the ball to me and then you’ll see.’”
 
(On where he would put cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III’s development, on a scale from one to 10)
“Man, you guys are giving me some hard ones today. Again, I don’t think of it like that, but I’d probably say a seven or an eight. Pretty decent, always room for more.”
 
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR/WIDE RECEIVERS COACH TODD MONKEN
 
(On running back Mike James learning the offense)
“I was surprised how well he kind of picked things up when he came back, so I think every day, every week he’s going to feel more and more comfortable and we’re going to feel more and more comfortable. And we’re going to have to count on him. As we keep losing running backs, we’re going to count on him even more.”
 
(On if the team is taking a ‘by committee’ approach at running back until injured players return)
“It’s kind of gotten to that, to where you’ve got to continue to rotate guys. When we lost [wide receiver] Vincent [Jackson], that’s kind of been at the ‘Z’ position, we’ve got to do that there and we’re going to have to do that at the running back position until someone takes another step forward. But you’re talking about – we brought Mike back and then a couple of really young players.”
 
(On if having several mid-season additions on offense limits the play-calling at all)
“I don’t know if it’s too much of what you take out of the offensive game plan. I think you have to be careful, in terms of much you put on each individual player. So, some guys will have this specific role and others have these pieces that we’ll give them because it’s hard for them to grasp everything. But again, they had a good week last week – all those guys – and we anticipate they’ll have even a better week coming up.”
 
(On what wide receiver Josh Huff brings to the team)
“Well, in those two days [that Huff has been here], really to be honest we haven’t done a lot. So, we’ll have a better idea as we move forward. He’s a young man that’s played in this league, a former third-round pick. We’re excited to have him. He understands where he’s at, the mistakes he’s made and I think he’s looking for a start and he’s got to hold up his end of the bargain to give himself an opportunity.”
 
(On where wide receiver Cecil Shorts III is at, in regards to learning the offense)
“I think he’s had it up top, I think did a really good job coming in, he’s a smart young man. Picked it up well, but then obviously he had the setback and it’s different when you don’t practice. But then we he came back, he’s been fine. I think each week I’ve said it, he’s continued to get more and more confident with it and regain his speed, his ability to change direction and get in and out of cuts.”
 
(On if pass protection is the hardest thing to pick up in the NFL for young running backs like Peyton Barber and Russell Hansbrough)
“I think that’s fair to say. Number one because of the number of reps you get. You’re a young player, you don’t get a lot of reps and yet, probably the most critical thinking that comes in a play for a running back is the protection. So here you are, the toughest thing you’re going to be asked to do – not only mentally, but physically, against grown men that are trying to hit the heck out of your quarterback. So, that part you have to deal with and then they don’t get a lot of reps. So now all of a sudden, the critical thinking element of your position, you don’t get a lot of reps. So sure, that’s probably the toughest thing for a young player to come in, is pick up all your pass protection – not only mentally, but then be able to do it physically.”
 
(On if wide receiver Mike Evans’ recent play can spread to the rest of the team)
“Well, you hope so. And when Mike gets frustrated with, maybe coverage and over the top – it’s a compliment. I said, ‘That’s what you want, that’s the ultimate compliment.’ If they’re leaving you out there one-on-one, you’re not the player you think you are. So, that is a compliment and we have to be creative to find ways to get him the ball and move him around, but that’s always – the best way to move the football is play complementary football. If we can run it well enough to where they’ve got to put extra guys in the box, can we throw it over their head? Okay, do we have enough skill guys in the perimeter where they’ve got to back off where we can consistently run the ball? So, Mike’s continued to improve, he’s had really good weeks of practice and it’s shown.”
 
(On the dynamic between him and Head Coach Dirk Koetter on offense after half a season and if they have ‘gotten on the same page more’)
“Well, there’s really no page. Dirk calls the plays. I don’t mean that to be – I’m on the field, so really, I’m coaching the receivers and we as an offense collectively do it during the week and everybody collectively has suggestions for Dirk. Bottom line is, I was brought here to coach receivers and assist in the offense and are there things I do in the install and in front of the group? Yes, but when it comes to game day, bottom line is we’ve already assembled how we feel is the best way to attack an opponent and we go from there. It’s been great, it’s been fine, I’ve worked with Dirk before. Very similar system we worked under in Jacksonville, so it’s been seamless, that hasn’t been an issue.”
 
(On how much it has helped to have a veteran like offensive lineman Evan Smith, who is able to come off the bench when a starter goes down)
“Invaluable to have a guy that – and he’s not only a really good player, but every time I get a chance to put my eyes on him, he’s dialed in. And that’s hard when you don’t get nearly as many reps, so for him to come in there and you really don’t miss a beat, which we didn’t, again is invaluable. Because that’s a tough spot, that’s a tough position to have a quality backup and we do.”
 
(On penalties stopping the offense as much as Atlanta’s defense during last week’s game)
“That’s the frustrating thing, when you feel like that you had a good game plan, had an opportunity to execute it and then you have untimely –  it doesn’t matter what it is – communication, penalties, a drop, those kind of things that stall drives when your margin for error is small, like it is in this league. It’s frustrating, you address it. But most of the things we had last week were physical and the margin between holding and not holding is so small. I get a little more frustrated if and when we have delay of games and procedural penalties or personal fouls on the sideline that are really issues in terms of our ability to process and be playing smart. So, sure, we had one that was a facemask early in the game – [center] Joe Hawley’s getting out there and he goes to put his hand on the ground, it’s facemask. Tough deal. And it hasn’t been an issue, unfortunately it got us the other night.”
 
(On what he has seen from quarterback Jameis Winston the last four weeks, only throwing one interception)
“I said it a few weeks ago, it’s a week-to-week league, you can’t carry over stats. I think he’s done a really nice job. I think we’ve played better around him, I think he’s going through his progressions better. I think he’s learning that, ‘I can’t make every play and I did make a heck of a play the other night throwing it left-handed,’ but it’s okay. It’s hard for a competitive young man to say, ‘I lose this small battle, but I win the war,’ and I think he’s doing a great job of that and I do think we’re playing better around him, which does help that. I think there have been games we’ve run the ball better. The moments where we were struggling throwing, we weren’t running it very well, we weren’t very precise, in terms of our route running and we were down in the game and he’s trying to make every play. I think all that fits together.”
 
QUARTERBACK JAMEIS WINSTON
 
(On if having the weekend off helped the team recharge after playing two games in four days)
“Yeah, people talk about how Thursday Night [games] can be a quick turnaround, but the end part of Thursday Night Football is big, especially when you’ve got guys that are kind of banged up and you can get back ready.”
 
(On if the team views the final eight games of the season as a whole new season)
“Not even thinking about the other seven that are beyond this week, just focusing on week-to-week. Every week is a big week for us, so we’ve got to really make every week a championship game mentality because we need wins.”
 
(On if wide receiver Mike Evans gives the offense a focal point to build around)
“Absolutely. When your superstars are making plays for you, it gives everyone else around just an extra boost of confidence. Like, ‘Mike’s doing it, I can do it,’ so it’s good. But it’s an overall team thing. The more we can get people to playing up to Mike’s level, man, it’s going to be scary.”
 
(On Evans still finding ways to get open despite being double covered)
“It sounds cliché, but that’s his job. I need him to get open, everyone knows he’s one of our main targets. Mike knows he’s our main guy, but that’s the fight inside of him that [says], ‘Man, I’ve got to get open for the benefit of this team.’”
 
(On Evans’ one-handed sideline catch against Atlanta)
“It was amazing. People talk about [New York Giant wide receiver] Odell Beckham’s catch [in 2014]. It was an amazing catch, he caught it with his three fingers. But, Mike took a hit on that play and kept the ball in that one hand, so that’s impressive.”
 
(On how much extra work he and Evans put in during the offseason to create chemistry)
“Tons. Every day we could spend together, every day we could. I feel like now you’re starting to understand why the offseason is very important. Mike’s playing amazing, got to keep him up.”
 
(On how proud he is of his reduced interception numbers the last four games)
“Still not satisfied. Those fumbles, you just can’t turn the ball over, period. But, it’s progress and with progress, we can make something with that. But still, that’s four weeks. This week is important, the next week is important, just being able to do it consistently will help this team be in better winning situations.”
 
(On what the difference has been the last four games, in regards to interceptions)
“It’s just, I put my mind to not turning the ball over. Sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to get back to the basics. What’s the most important thing to help this team win games? The quarterback can’t turn the football over. I knew I was hurting our team and I had to persevere from that.”
 
(On what was going on earlier in the season when he was throwing more interceptions)
“Just got to take care of the football. Just careless and just have to make sure you always stick to the basics.”
 
(On why he has so much success throwing outside of the pocket)
“Coach Monk [Todd Monken] says it all the time, that’s our number one play, is to scramble. So, you’ve got to be able to extend plays. The offensive line does a great job of just protecting me and giving me some extra time to be down there and make some plays for these guys. I take pride in being able to extend plays outside the pocket and I think that’s big for us.”
 
(On how he keeps his confidence after losing)
“I believe losing is too easy and I hate easy stuff. Going out there and losing is so easy. I want stuff to be hard, that’s why I want to win championships. I want to win more and more games, but confidence-wise, it’s easy because I’m not a loser. We’re winners in this building and I believe it’s a choice, it’s just a mentality that we’ve got to have and that we’re building. We’re heading on the right path, we’ve just got to get over that hump and I’m going to do what I need to do to help us get over that.”
 
(On offseason work helping players develop)
“Well, just everybody. The offseason is so important and people really put in work in the offseason and you’re able to develop some chemistry and you have a head coach who is going to put you in good situations, you’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities. Cam Brate in particular, is a person that’s up here before everyone else, on off days he’s up here for four to five hours a day. Same with [wide receiver] Adam Humphries. It’s no coincidence who’s having success on our football team, the people that are putting in that work on a day-to-day basis.”
 
(On how difficult this season has been, with all of the injuries on offense)
“A lot of people can look at that as a negative, but it’s a challenge. It’s the opportunity that we’ve got to show people. How big would it be if we show people that we can win with injuries? We show people we can win with penalties. We show people that we can do things, despite the adversity. The Carolina game, we thought when [running back] Jacquizz Rodgers – we haven’t heard about this guy in two years, he comes in and has an amazing game. We showed people that we can win when our back’s against the wall and we’ve just got to do that more often.”
 
(On if he watched the Presidential Election last night)
“I went to sleep, man. We’ve got to win this game [laugher]. We can deal with that in four years.”
 
(On how his offseason weight loss has helped him so far this season)
“Just go back to Cam Brate and Adam Humphries. The more time you can spend time on your body – this is all we’ve got. This is constantly aging on us, so we’ve got to protect our body and I think I’ve done a good job of that. And I think this offseason, Mr. Grover [Tim Grover] helped me realize that taking care of your body is important.”
 
(On his early impressions of wide receiver Josh Huff)
“I’m just ready to throw him the deep ball. As soon as that guy walked in the building, I said, ‘Josh Huff! What’s up, man?’ Just excited to have another player on our team that’s here to help us.”
 
(On his response to Head Coach Dirk Koetter saying he would rather Winston throw the ball away than take a hit on the two-point conversion late in the game against Atlanta)
“We go through that same discussion almost every week. We’re just going to keep playing and just when I take those hits, I just have to start getting in the end zone, so it can be worth it.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER ADAM HUMPHRIES
 
(On having wide receiver Mike Evans playing so well on the outside)
"it's always good to have a guy like Mike on your team, regardless of where he's at. He's just a playmaker. Obviously with that catch, the things he did the other night, it's just incredible. His ball skills and the way he can go up and get the ball, it's impressive."
 
(On the offseason work quarterback Jameis Winston and the receivers put together)
"It's always important, just for our chemistry, for our timing. We all have a good relationship, too, so it's always fun, just meeting up in the offseason and working. Just working on the timing, like I said. With 'Monk' coming in, Coach [Todd] Monken, he's helped us, staying after practice and really perfecting our craft. This is our job and we want to be the best at it. Just staying after practice and really working on that timing has helped."
 
(On the work ethic of Evans)
"Yeah, it's great. Like I just said, we're staying after practice every day for 15 minutes working on our craft, catching more balls and running more routes. We're trying to be the best at our positions, and Mike's obviously had a great year so far. That's a tribute to the hard work he's put in."
 
(On if Evans's play elevates his own game)
"Yeah, it's always fun seeing your teammates make plays. When you see him make that one-handed grab it makes you want to go out there and make a play, too. It's fun seeing your teammates be successful and it lifts the spirits of your team."
 
(On if Evans's one-handed catch against Atlanta is the play of the year)
"In my book, yeah. That's awesome. As a receiver, that's so tough, going away from your body and bringing it one-handed, then taking the hit after is impressive. For me, that's probably the play of the year."
 
(On what he's learned from Evans)
"He makes it look easy. He's a smart kid, too. He knows the offense very well and that really helps, having the physical attributes that he has, being able to go up and make some crazy plays. It's been fun to watch him this year and hopefully in the second half of the season he can keep making plays like that."
 
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