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09 November 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (11/9/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: The Buccaneers have generated 105 passes of 10 or more yards this season, tied for the most in the NFL (also New England Patriots).
 
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 Ryan Fitzpatrick
 
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
 
(On why running back Peyton Barber has been the best in his position group in terms of yards per carry against an eight-man box)
“There is a lot of different reasons. You would have to look at every single one of those plays. I think we talked about this yesterday – if you look at the New Orleans game, on Doug [Martin’s] carries he had a free-hitter in the hole almost every single time. Sometimes the running back is going to make that guy miss. Sometimes he is going to break the tackle. It just depends on how much space he has. Peyton did an excellent job with the opportunities he got. We like Peyton and we hope to get him more touches.”
 
(On how the team makes up for the injuries it is facing at defensive end)
“Every team has injuries. As you get later in the season you have to deal with it. Sometimes that involves roster moves. Sometimes your hands are tied in that area. The other part of that is it’s somebody else’s opportunity. There is always another guy waiting in the wings that feels like he is just waiting for his shot. The hardest thing is when you have multiple injuries at one position whether it’s our team or any team.”
 
(On if he thinks that wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been playing his best football for the Buccaneers these past two games)
“Absolutely. DeSean doesn’t control when the ball comes to him. He doesn’t control where he is at in the progression or the read. DeSean played a really good game at New Orleans. He just didn’t get as many opportunities. The ball just didn’t come his way whether it was pressure or whatever the reason might be. DeSean is playing fine. We need to get the ball to him when he is open.”
 
(On what Jackson has done better in the past two weeks)
“He has been more consistent. I think he’s getting more and more comfortable in what we’re asking him to do and he’s been consistently doing it. As far as being where he is supposed to be and being open, he is doing a good job of it.”
 
(On if any defensive tackles or linebackers could fill in at defensive end)
“Sure, both of those things.”
 
(On if linebacker Kwon Alexander has been ‘rusty’ since he returned from injury)
“I’m not sure about rust, but I just think the word inconsistency applies to a lot of things on our football team right now. Kwon, two weeks ago versus Carolina I think he had [10] tackles. In between there he hasn’t played as well as we have seen him play. Tackles aren’t always the measure of how a guy plays, but again you’ve heard Coach [Mike] Smith say it and you’ve heard me say it, as a football team we need to be more consistent across the board.”
 
(On what quarterback Jameis Winston can learn from watching Ryan Fitzpatrick)
“This will be the first game in Jameis’ entire life that he has watched that he’s been on a team [due to injury]. Sunday is going to definitely be a different experience for him. I know Jameis will make the most of it and Jameis will do everything he can as a leader to help our team on that day and he will do everything he can to help Ryan. As far as what he will learn from Ryan, I am not sure on that. That is going to depend on how the game unfolds and what lessons are there to be learned.”
 
(On if the 3-4 defense is becoming more of a norm in the NFL)
“Actually, there [are] five or six different styles out there based on who they came up under. We actually haven’t played a true ‘odd’ team – a true 3-4 team with two uncovered guards all year. Most of these teams now that play with 3-4 personnel are really just playing ‘under’ defense. They really have a nose guard and a three technique, but they call them a nose tackle and a defensive end. I think out of 400 plays in our breakdown, I think I’ve seen the Jets line up in a true ‘odd’ one time. They ran a double-corner blitz, if they are listening. They ran a double-corner blitz on that. 3-4 personnel just means you’ve got two stand-up guys, but one of those guys is a true outside [linebacker] that might drop or might rush. Then another thing these a lot of these 3-4 teams are doing when they’re not in an ‘under’ defense, they’re in a ‘semi-bear’ defense where they are bringing both outside [linebackers] or dropping both outside [linebackers] and dropping eight into coverage. It has a lot of unique problems to it that make it difficult on the offense. I’d say it’s a system that is probably gaining popularity as Todd Bowles – he brought it from the Arizona Cardinals to the Jets and then they continue it at the Cardinals and there [are] a few other teams doing it as well.”
 
(On how the 3-4 defense changes things for the offensive line)
“There is a lot of ID and then when they get into their sub-packages there is more ID and the Jets do a really good job of that because they have more than one sub-package.”
 
(On if it is an advantage to have a quarterback like Fitzpatrick who has seen that defense before)
“Yeah, to show you how cyclical it is, Ryan pulled up a game from 2013 – Tennessee Titans versus Arizona Cardinals. Todd Bowles was the D-coordinator. It ended up 34-34 at the end of regulation and then Arizona won in overtime. We were chuckling at the similarities. Now, their system has changed and the guy that was coaching Ryan, the coordinator there, is now the coordinator of the Bears. Football is a cyclical game and what goes around comes around. Ryan, having 116 starts under his belt – that’s why a guy like that is here.”
 
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR/WIDE RECEIVERS COACH TODD MONKEN
 
(On how much he expects running back Peyton Barber to play down the stretch of the season)
“I’ve come up here for now almost maybe 25 weeks and most of the time I’ve made a comment on who I’ve thought was going to carry the ball more than someone else, I’ve usually been wrong. Do I think Peyton Barber did a nice job in the second half of the game, getting his pads out and turning two-yard runs into five-yard runs and five-yard runs into seven-yard runs, and does he bring something different? Yes, of course. I would anticipate we would find ways to get him involved. That’s with all of your team. Based on your production, based on what you do in practice [and] your opportunities – if you take advantage of those opportunities, you will get more opportunities.”
 
(On how he would assess the performance of the offensive line in the first half of the season)
“[It’s] been fine. Like a lot of things offensively, from a standpoint of we’ve been consistently inconsistent, I think that’s the best way to put it. You look at the grades and you look at our players and how they’ve performed and you would say, ‘You know what? We’re in pretty good shape. I like our guys. I like the way they’ve graded out.’ But, when you find moments – each and every one of them at times in the game – then you’re inconsistent. I think they played fine the first half. I think early on we were continuing to find ways to run the ball better. Protection has been pretty good. I don’t think that’s been an issue in terms of their play or their practice. We’ve got a few guys banged up, but I think we’ve got really good depth. We went into the year with Evan [Smith] and Joe [Hawley] [and] Caleb [Benenoch], a second-year player, [and] Leonard [Wester], so we expect our tackles to play, but if not, we will rely on those guys.”
 
(On Ali Marpet’s transition to center and if it has worked out as expected)
“I think so. I mean, it’s always still a work in progress when you take someone who has been in the league a couple years playing guard and now you move him to center. I think he has continued to be better in terms of his communication in terms of trusting it. I think your confidence in anything you do in life comes through the way you speak. A quarterback that’s confident in himself and what we’re doing offensively, his communication [and] his body language shows that. I think your center – I think whenever someone asks you a question and you’re confident in your answer. I think you are starting to see more of that. As he sees different looks he is able to say, ‘No, no, no this is what we are going to do. This is where we are going to make the MIKE point. This is where we are going to slide the protection.’ All of those things I think are coming. I think he is only going to continue to get better.”
 
(On how the absence of wide receiver Mike Evans changes things for receiver DeSean Jackson)
“First of all, the way it changes is I would anticipate if [Morris] Claiborne plays that he will follow DeSean around. When he has played, he has followed their top receiver. We’ve had corners follow Mike [Evans] around, so I would anticipate that is what changes. Now, DeSean is going to get their top corner. That changes first and foremost. I think DeSean, first of all, I think has played well and I think the last two weeks he’s played his best football. It may not show up in the box [score] in terms of touches, but in terms of running his routes, his detail, his effort on the perimeter, his on-the-sideline demeanor, his communication [and] a positive approach I think has been outstanding.”
 
(On getting to see more from wide receiver Chris Godwin against the Jets)
“I think any time a player gets an opportunity – I would prefer that opportunity come when we have Mike [Evans], but with that being said it’s still about how we do it better than they do it. Talent alone isn’t enough. The moment that we continue to do things from an execution standpoint, then you will see us start to take off with or without Mike. Those are the things you have to correct first, the things that stop you from scoring points. Mike adds to that because of his talent, but the bottom line is we still have to find ways to be better on third downs, not get costly penalties [and] not turn the ball over – that will give you a chance to score points, irrespective of who is out there. Obviously, Mike is a big part of that. He is a good football player.”
 
(On his comment that Jackson has played his best two games in the last two weeks)
“Well, that’s not to say that he hasn’t worked on some of the things. I didn’t really mention it that way. It’s just I think that it takes time to get a feel for some of the things you control and a feel for coaching and your teammates. The frustration of potentially being open or opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of – you don’t control. There is nothing here to do by being frustrated that’s going to help us moving forward, not a thing. What helps is continuing to do your job, continuing to do the things that help us to improve as an offense and being positive in that manner, staying out after catching routes [and] working on your timing. I think he has realized that the other things I don’t control. If we did great [but] there [are] a lot of things in our lives that we don’t control. I think that’s the biggest thing with us offensively and including DeSean – the old cliché, ‘Just do your job.’ That’s what we control. Bring energy, a great attitude [and] great body language to practice every day. That’s where it’s got to get fixed. Your game is a byproduct of what you do every day [and] the work you put in and I think he’s done that.”
 
(On if Jackson has been frustrated due to a lack of opportunities)
“Sure, I think that’s just normal skill players. That’s not [just] DeSean. That’s every guy I’ve ever been around from the first job I had to now. What do skill guys want? Running backs want more touches. Wideouts want more catches. D-linemen want more opportunities to rush the passer. I mean, who doesn’t? That’s part of it. That’s okay. But with that comes that that’s not going to change. You don’t control the play call. You can bring constructive criticism, which he does. I think he has started to realize, ‘Okay, I’m going to continue to play and when those opportunities come I am going to take advantage of them and he has. He’s played well.”
 
(On the penalties on the offensive line in the New Orleans game and if the noise was a factor)
“I wouldn’t say it was the noise. The bottom line is [it’s] bad football. You can’t have delay of games. Whatever excuse you make, it can’t happen.”
 
(On his confidence in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick)
“I think he is a very confident player. I mean his demeanor – he’s played enough football and seen enough things to where if you asked to a man on our team if they felt like what Ryan would bring to the table, [they would say] poise, confidence, has the ability to move with his feet to create plays with his feet, his timing – he is going to get the ball out – and he is accurate. That’s why we brought him here. [We] brought him here to have an experience backup so if this happened you would still give yourself a chance to win every given Sunday and I believe that.”
 
(On what he feels like the success rate should be for a receiver in regard to targets and receptions)
“100 percent – boy, that’s what it should be, shouldn’t it? Every ball thrown to a guy should be caught. Without a doubt. I don’t know exactly what that is because there [are] times where a QB is throwing the ball away and its okay, it was because of the pass rush or it was a ball was overthrown but they judge it as somehow it landed near one of our clear-out guys. Sometimes it’s the receiver and he doesn’t create enough separation. To me, as you’re looking at individual players and you’re grading them, quarterbacks are looking for accuracy when they have the ability to be accurate. Receivers – are we creating separations? Are we sitting down in zones when necessary? I’ve never put a number on that. I get it because it’s a way of formulating, ‘Hey, we’re not on the same page. We’re throwing it to somebody, but we’ve got to get that tightened up.’ Some of that’s true. You’re working with your players, but sometimes that can be a little skewed like all stats.”
 
(On what it says about Fitzpatrick and Jets quarterback Josh McCown to still be playing in the league after all the times theey’ve had to move around)
“It’s awesome. It’s a credit to those two guys. When I was in Jacksonville, we had Josh’s brother Luke [McCown] – what a great family. I don’t know Ryan’s as well, but I know that family and I mean just a great family, great people. What do you want to say? There is a reason they’ve been kept around so long. One, they are fantastic football players. You play that long in the NFL and get paid what you get paid, those guys are great football players and it’s fun to see when those guys get opportunities and play well like Ryan has and so has Josh.”
 
(On how the game plan changes with Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback in place of quarterback Jameis Winston)
“It’s hard for me to say exactly how the game plan would change. I wouldn’t say from us – I mean both quarterbacks we have are relatively athletic and make plays with their feet. They can move around in the pocket. I think where it changes as we get moving forward with Ryan is each quarterback has a confidence level. You could have the same exact game plan but certain quarterbacks have more confident level. I kind of like that concept a little bit more. Sometimes it’s about the concept they believe in as much as what we believe in. I think that’s where you’ll see more of that.”
 
(On the Jets defense)
“Well, [they’re] aggressive. It’s Arizona Cardinals who we’ve played the last couple years. That’s where coach comes from, so again [they] have to try to be aggressive early in downs, put you behind the chains – not only them, that’s every team – [we] need to stay in front of the chains [and] when [we] get opportunities down the field [we] need to take advantage of them. They’re going to try and grind out the game offensively to shrink the number of plays you get on offense. We’ve got to do a great job of taking advantage of those drives that we have when we get those opportunities and finish them off with touchdowns, which is obviously [our goal] every week.”
 
QUARTERBACK RYAN FITZPATRICK
 
(On getting to face off against one of his former teams, the New York Jets, on Sunday)
“Yeah I think first just looking at the probability of it happening since I’ve been on six different team it gets greater and greater. It’s definitely an ironic situation – me getting my first start here versus the Jets [after] playing with them for the last two years. I’ve been on this situation before with other teams and the biggest thing is I’ve got a lot of friends still in that building, whether they are players or coaches or guys on staff. [There is] a lot of mutual respect, I think, between us. But, we’re all competitors too. I know I want to beat them bad just like they want to beat me bad, so that will go into it. Then just the familiarity of Todd [Bowles] being able to watch me practice for two years and me being able to practice against his defense for two years – there is some different things they are doing and some different faces and guys that they have on their defense, but him knowing me well and me kind of knowing at least personnel pretty well – those kind of cancel each other out I think.”
 
(On his comment in which he said that last season was the most difficult of his career)
“It was a tough year I think. In 2015, we exceeded expectations. We had a 10-win season and just missed out on the playoffs and there was a lot of optimism heading into 2016. 2016, in terms of personal performance and team goals and all that, just didn’t go the way that we would’ve liked it to go, so there’s a lot of new faces there. There is a lot of people that were there in ’16 that aren’t in ’17 now. I just think expectations were very high within the building and they weren’t met. A lot of that fell on me as the quarterback and I obviously take this job and this role very serious and it’s hard when you let people down. It was a tough year for me.”
 
(On how close he came to retiring and when did he realize that he was glad he made the decision to return this season)
“I was pretty close just to being done, which was a really hard thing for me just because I enjoy playing so much. I enjoy being around it so much. I got a call from Dirk [Koetter] and we talked and I ended up signing here. Really, I don’t think it was until I was in that Arizona game in the second half playing that I maybe realized how much I would’ve missed it if I didn’t play. That was probably the moment if you are looking for one of me just being reassured that I made the right decision. I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far and I’m looking forward to this opportunity.”
 
(On what led to him considering retirement and if it was for physical reasons)
“This body is a machine. I’m a machine [laughter]. It had nothing physically. It was more just the mental and emotional part of it. My kids are getting older and all that, so that played into it on both sides. It’s something now they can experience, or me missing out on certain things. I had to weigh all those things in. I’ve been very fortunate physically in my career. I’ve had a broken leg and that’s about it, so I’ve been pretty healthy and so right now I feel really good. It had nothing really to do with that or anything with head injuries. It was more just the mental and emotional side of it.”
 
(On what advice he has given to quarterback Jameis Winston who has faced some adversity of his own this season)
“I’ve been through that a lot. I’ve had so many ups and downs in my career. I think a lot of it is you just have to try and be the same guy every day. You’ve got to come to work regardless of if you are 6-2 or 2-6 and put your work in and just try to have the same spirit and go about your business the same way every day. I think he does a good job of that. That’s what I’ve always tried to do. I’ve always tried to prepare the same. I’ve always tried to keep the same routine throughout the season and go out there and try to be consistent on Sundays. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that this Sunday.”
 
(On if he expects the Jets to change up or disguise their defense for this game since Fitzpatrick spent his last two seasons in New York)
“No, I don’t think so. They’re playing well on defense and they do some great things. Todd [Bowles] has a lot of different things that he does defensively, so they won’t change anything specifically for me. They’re doing great with everything they are doing and I’ll just go out there and do the best I can against it.”
 
(On what he feels has led to the inconsistency in the offense this season)
“I think it’s funny how as the losses adds up perspective changes a little bit. Before those two division games, just in terms of statistics and things, we were humming pretty good offensively. I just think there are ebbs and flows as the season goes on and we’ve just happened to stack a couple of bad weeks in a row. I think the biggest word is just consistency. That doesn’t fall on one guy or one position group. That falls on everybody. For me going out there, and even in practice every day, I’m just trying to be consistent and efficient in everything that I do. Hopefully that trickles down. The guys are putting in the work, so I’m not worried about the guys that we have in the huddle. We’ve just got to go out there and do what we’ve been taught and I think everything will take care of itself.”
 
(On if there is any animosity between him and the Jets after splitting ways following the 2016 season)
“No, no animosity at all. I’ve got great respect for Todd Bowles. I think in our last meeting of the year, we had a good meeting – a good talk – and I think there is a mutual respect there. Even with Mike Maccagnan, their GM, I appreciate everything he did for me. There’s no animosity or bad blood whatsoever for me. If anything, I feel bad that the performance wasn’t there that was expected last year more so than anything. It’s very simple in this league. If you don’t play well then you’re not going to be around for long. It was more of that last year than anything.”
 
(On the statistic that he has the highest passer rating when targeting tight ends since 2010 and if it is something he has ever noticed about himself)
“I didn’t throw to the tight end much when I was on the Jets. We didn’t really use the tight end much. I know I loved throwing to Scott Chandler when I was in Buffalo and so that probably played into it, just the chemistry that we had. I’m not sure. I wasn’t really aware of that stat and that stat is a little bit shocking. I like throwing to Harvard guys too.”
 
(On if he knows Jets quarterback Josh McCown and what he thinks about playing against another quarterback who has followed a similar path in his NFL career)
“I don’t know Josh real well. We have a lot of mutual friends or people that we’ve both crossed paths with and I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. Some of that is coming from this building and the guys that played with him, but some of that is coming from all around the league too. I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. We’ve texted a little bit, but never really talked all that much. I look at a guy like that and really respect how he has stuck with it, kind of like me. My career has had plenty of ups and downs. His has too, moving around. [We are] both family guys. You can see the passion that he has to play the game when he plays, so I’ve got nothing but respect for him.”
 
(On if he feels an extra incentive to lead the team to success due to the fact that he is stepping in following a 5-game losing skid)
“I don’t want to go out there and do too much. I’ve just got to go out there and play. I’ve got to play my game and stay within myself and really just be the guy that is facilitating [and] that is getting the ball to our playmakers. I think as a quarterback in the NFL, when you are starting, there is plenty of pressure on you to win the game. I don’t know that this game has any added pressure. I just think that’s the nature of the position. That is one thing for me – just staying within myself and playing within the game plan. That will be something that I will be focused on doing.”
 
(On what he needs to pay attention to in regard to the Jets defense)
“I think it starts up front with them. They’ve got some great guys in terms of being able to stop the run and rush the passer [and] just being disruptive. They play with a lot of confidence. They fly around. They’ve created turnovers, so for us, it’s protecting the ball and trying to be efficient [on] first and second down and obviously converting on third down and scoring touchdowns. You say that every week, but this is especially the case with this crew.”
 
(On the alleged ‘Fitzpatrick Curse’ where the quarterbacks he backs up get injured)
“It’s crazy that it’s happened pretty much everywhere I’ve been. Last year was a crazy year as well. I got benched a few times and had to go back in the lineup because of injury. It seems to have happened over and over again, but obviously it’s just some sort of crazy coincidence.”
 
(On what first comes to mind about each place that he has played)
“St. Louis – I got engaged at a McDonald’s across the street from the practice facility. I got married and [we] had our first kid there. That’s what pops in my mind when I think about St. Louis. Cincinnati – I think about Carson Palmer and Ken Zampese and Marvin Lewis – just the things I learned there. That was really my first time as an extended starter, having 12 starts there. Whenever I think about Cincinnati, I’m very grateful for the opportunity that Marvin Lewis gave me. Moving on to Buffalo, there’s a million different thoughts but the first thing I think about is ‘Crock-Pot Sunday.’ That pops into my head. After every Sunday, our neighbors would all get together, sit in the front yard, eat out of the Crock-Pot, drink beer [and] the kids [were] playing, so that’s what pops into my mind there. Moving on to Tennessee, I think about – Nashville was a very cool place, so maybe like the Cowboy boots I got there – I think about that. Houston – goes straight to Halloween in my neighborhood [and] the amazing time we had there. Bill O’Brien and the stuff I learned from Bill O’Brien and George Godsey pops into my head. With the Jets – Chan Gailey pops into mind, a guy that I was with for three years in Buffalo that had a huge impact on my career, going to the Jets and getting to be in his offense again. I think about my relationships with Nick Mangold and some of the other guys like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker – just the cool bond that all of us were able to form. I don’t think I missed any. Then so far here, the biggest impact maybe for me has been Jameis [Winston] and just the daily interaction with him. Just seeing how much he cares about this game, how passionate he is and how he gives everything he can to it. I really have come to respect him as a person and a player and that’s been fun for me getting to know him.”
 
-BUCCANEERS-
 

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