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14 December 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (12/14/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Buccaneers LB Lavonte David has five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries this season, both career highs. His five forced fumbles are second-most in the NFL this year and the most by a Buccaneers player since 2007 (Stylez G. White, seven). David’s five fumble recoveries are the most in the league and are the most in a single season in team history. He is only the second player since 1994 to record at least five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in the same season (also Justin Tuck, 2010).
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
(On linebacker Riley Bullough’s promotion to the active roster)
“We were a little nicked up at linebacker coming out of last week, so if he is active he will be in a backup role and a special teams role. He has done a good job all year running the scout team, working on his craft [and] continuing to get better like every guy that we keep on the practice squad. Eventually our hope is that they will be able to come up and play for us on Sunday. That’s what you keep those guys for – all of them. We’ve had other guys that have moved up and done that over the last couple of years and I’d expect him to be no different when he gets his opportunity.”
(On if each game has its own personality and game plan)
“Well, obviously what we did to try to stop Julio [Jones] last game didn’t work too well. We have to try to come up with some other things to try to stop him. But as you said, they have other playmakers. Julio has had three games like that, that I know of, since I’ve been following him. It’s not like he does that every single week, or he’d be the single-greatest player of all time. Even in the two games since ours, [he hasn’t put up those type of numbers]. But, he is one of the best receivers in the league. You always have to honor him, but they’ve got other guys.”
(On if he likes playing teams twice in a season and therefore get a chance to adjust to what they saw the first time around)
“It’s the same for both teams. The league has made a conscious effort here the last two years to have the division games mean something at the end and I think they’ve succeeded in what they were trying to do. Do you like it? It’s the same. It’s really no different. It’s weird playing somebody three weeks apart, but it’s happening leaguewide and it’s just something we have to adjust to and be ready [for].”
(On the competitiveness of the NFC South and what Carolina and New Orleans have improved on this season to get back into the playoff hunt)
“Carolina was in the Super Bowl the year before, so they have had a little bit of a bounce-back year. Part of that is injuries, and two years ago, Cam Newton was the MVP and he is playing pretty darn good this year. Also, last year their best defensive player, [Luke] Kuechly, missed quite a bit of time, so [it’s] been a little bit of a bounce-back year from Carolina to being in the Super Bowl. Our division has had the NFC representative of the Super Bowl the last two years and then the team that’s really come up and played big all year long is the Saints to be in it. We’ve known all along that we have a very tough division, superior quarterback play in this division and improving defenses. Atlanta has gotten a lot better on defense. Carolina, when they are healthy, is one of the best defenses in the league. And, New Orleans has improved a lot on defense this year.”
(On how viable is it for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to be able to play on Monday)
“It’s viable. Gerald is doing everything he possibly can to play Monday night and he had a lot of tests done. He’s had experience with bicep injuries in the past. They’ve told him that this is something that doesn’t need to be surgically repaired at this time and that [he’s] not going to make it worse by playing. But, it’s a matter of, can he play at the level that he’s used to playing at? Gerald didn’t practice today. We hope that he will be able to practice at some point before Monday and we will decide based on what he tells us.”
(On if he feels like the NFL has a natural ebb and flow in terms of teams being bad and good)
“That’s the way it’s set up right now. It’s set up for parity – whatever that means. Obviously, injuries to key players have a lot to do with that – who stays healthy. There is even some luck involved. There is a lot of close games and who is able to win those close games and who is not able to win those close games. I think you’re going to see most of the time, there are teams that you can move up and down pretty quickly with a few exceptions on both sides of that.”
(On how many changes the team plans to make defensively when facing Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones)
“Well we don’t want to run the things we ran last time that’s for sure. We didn’t do a good job in our preparation or our execution. He is an outstanding player and you’ve got to put enough resources out there where you can try to slow him down, but at the same time you can’t do so much that you are going to put the rest of the defense in jeopardy. Each game has its own little nuances that you go through, but I can assure you this – we looked very hard at what we did last time and we probably won’t be doing that.”
(On if he looked at the tape from the Minnesota versus Atlanta game to see how the Vikings defense was able to slow down Jones)
“Yeah, I took a very good look at that. They did a nice job. They really did. They had a good plan [and] they had some guys that matched up size-wise with him. They did a really good job in terms of taking him away in the passing game. There is no doubt about it. Coach [Mike] Zimmer and his staff did a super job and they executed it very well.”
(On if putting cornerback Brent Grimes on Jones the entire game is the best way to slow him down)
“I don’t want to talk about how we are going to do it, but we are planning on playing a lot better than we did the last time. That’s for sure.”
(On preparing to play a team for the second time in a season)
“It makes it a lot easier because you really now have a better idea of what those guys are capable of doing [and] who you are going to be playing. We are going to have a little different situation this week because the running back [Devonta] Freeman did not play in our first game. He is going to be back this week. It looks like [Tevin] Coleman may be there. He may not be. It’s going to be a little bit different. The guard (Andy Levitre) is potentially going to be out, as well. He’s got an issue going on with his arm. But, it helps with the familiarity. You’ve just got to make sure you understand where you had your shortcomings in the previous game and try to sure them up. They are going to do something different. You can’t prepare [for everything]. Matt [Ryan] can do a lot of things and there will be different things that we haven’t seen for a while that he will pull out in that game. We are going to have to be able to defend some un-scouted looks.”
(On if there is a specific type of cornerback that can be successful against Jones)
“Yeah, I think he is such a big, physical, fast wide receiver. Obviously, you want to have like-bodies on him if you can. I think that gives you the best opportunity because you are not giving away anything in terms of size and speed. We all want to have the biggest and the fastest at all positions. [Those are] the guys that seem to give him the biggest problem, [players] that [are] of like-structure.”
(On how the potential of not having defensive tackle Gerald McCoy changes his defensive game plan)
“I’m hoping he is going to be ready to play because we are a much better football team when he is out there. We’ve got a better chance of having success when he is out there. He is a dominant football player and he is probably – with no disrespect to the other guys out there – he is probably our best player on defense and has played that way this year. We’ve got to take it and see how the week progresses and we will know what’s going to happen on Monday Night.”
(On McCoy being a player who has played through pain)
“Yeah, his track record has been very good in terms of being able to overcome. He is genetically gifted and we are certainly hoping that he is going to be ready to help us and contribute to the game on Monday night.”
(On how the defense has handled the 3-5-5 formation)
“I think they’ve handled it fairly well. Our biggest issue – and it’s been a season-long thing – is that we are not very consistent. The only thing we have done consistently is take the ball away. Everything else is hit and miss. Whether we are in a 3-3-5, a 4-2, a 4-3, a 3-4 or a two-man front – we have just not been very consistent. It’s frustrating for the fans I’m sure. It’s frustrating for us as coaches. The most frustrating thing for me is the way the game ended. We had an opportunity and we’ve had many opportunities to put it away defensively and we haven’t gotten it done.”
(On his memories of Jon Gruden as a coach and what he thinks of him as an analyst)
“Coach Gruden has had an outstanding career as a coach. I had an opportunity to probably play against him more in preseason when I was in Jacksonville. I think we had one season where we played against each other in 2008. You know he is going to have his guys prepared. He’s done a great job. I don’t watch TV a lot, but from what I understand he’s does a great job in his analysis of the football games on Monday night. I know he does his homework because he is a guy that loves to, he still loves to, watch tape.”
(On if he has learned anything throughout his coaching experience on how to motivate players when the team is out of playoff contention)
“I have been very fortunate that this doesn’t happen very often in the time that I’ve been [a coach] I’ve been to the playoffs more times than not. You’ve just got to be consistent and you’ve got to demand the same things that you are demanding when things are going well. I think it’s very important for us as coaches to be consistent in how we are approaching it. You can’t change your style because of what your record is. I don’t believe that that works. I know that we have continued to talk about being better communicators, on and off the field, and I think that’s going to be a key for us having success this week and down the stretch. We want to try to get this thing turned around and do our part on the defensive side of the football and we haven’t done that.”
(On the alleged tension between head coach Dirk Koetter and quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I’m not going to comment on that. It’s a great group of guys in that locker room. They are working their tails off, we just haven’t – and I can speak to us defensively – we haven’t done a good-enough job to get these guys ready to go.”
(On if he ever attended Gruden’s FFCA in his year away from coaching)
“No, I did not. When I was taking my sabbatical, I spent it up at the league office working with the officials during the season. I’ll be quite honest, during the offseason I was enjoying my family [and] spending time with my daughter. It was a time to decompress. My football fix was working with the officiating crew with Dean Blandino and Alberto Riveron.”
(On if he has had the success he had hoped for in terms of blitzing)
“We haven’t blitzed, percentage-wise, probably what we have in the past and what I have in the past. We haven’t been efficient at it. Overall, there [are] some games that we are a little more efficient than others where if we are not able to get pressure, we are able to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand prior to where he is ready to throw. It’s a two-way street in terms of you’ve got to be able to apply the pressure with four guys. You cannot always rely on the blitz. If you rely on the blitz it’s going to be a quick death. Sometimes it’s a little slower death when you are not blitzing, but at least you’re going to get an opportunity to have more snaps. When you have more snaps, somebody is going to pull a ball out like we’ve had happen a couple of times with Lavonte David, or Brent Grimes is going to get an interception and we are going to get the ball back to the offense. Our focus – probably more than anything this year – has been that we’ve got to continue to work at taking the ball away because that’s really the only thing that we’ve done with any consistency.”
(On how special linebacker Lavonte David is for the defensive unit)
“Oh gosh, having Lavonte as healthy as he has been this year has been a big plus. He’s got a knack for taking the ball off of the receiver or off of the ball carrier. A couple of them he has not only taken it off, but he has recovered it. There are certain guys that have done it. [Charles] Tillman was a guy, a few years ago, that was great at stripping the ball and it’s something that you have to make a conscious effort at and not only on the practice field – you’ve got to do it the meetings. You’ve got to talk about, ‘Hey, there is a nice shot. There is a nice attempt.’  Getting the ball off is so important. He has done a very good job. He’s probably had what I would call, compared to last season, it’s a much better season even though we are not having the results as a team and as a defensive group. He has had a really fine season thus far this year.”
(On if he thinks the young members of the secondary will benefit from having played against the Falcons earlier in the year)
“Oh, I would think so. They are going to have it fresh in their mind the things that – hey, we did some good things in that ballgame. It wasn’t all bad. Then the things that we did poorly – for example, I know that we turned the wrong way [and] we didn’t turn into the receiver to give us a better opportunity to play the ball. We had an opportunity early in the game to intercept it and we knocked it down. If those opportunities arise again, I think those young guys are going to have a better chance of making it. We’re going to need to make some plays because they are a very, very potent offense and they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
(On how he is feeling)
“Very blessed. I’m blessed and feeling good.”
(On if he will be on the field playing Monday night)
“I don’t know. I’m just rehabbing and I’m going to keep rehabbing and do my best. I would like to be, but I don’t know yet. We will just take it day-by-day and see what happens.”
(On if he was relieved that this bicep injury didn’t require surgery as previous ones did)
“Absolutely. Nobody likes going under the knife. It’s not fun, so that’s definitely a blessing.”
(On giving back in the community during the holiday season)
“We just recently had our ‘D-Line Delivers Christmas.’ It’s a great thing. Myself and Mike Bennett started that in 2012 I believe it was. It’s just growing year-by-year and I’m very excited for it to just do nothing but continue to grow. Next week is family’s personal Christmas giveaway – ‘McCoy Family Christmas.’ That will be next Tuesday. I just love it man. It’s such a great opportunity to give back. I just love seeing other people smile.”
(On what has to be better defensively against Atlanta as compared to the Week 12 meeting)
“Well, we definitely [have] to stop the run. We can’t let 11 (Julio Jones) do what he did last time. I didn’t even realize how many yards he had until like the next day honestly. I was walking through the training room, they put it on TV and I’m like, ‘I didn’t realize he did that.’ We definitely can’t let him have the day he had last time. We’ve got to get on them early and often. If we slow the run-game down and we have our eyes in the right place, we’ll have a good shot.”
(On if the defense looked at the Vikings tape to see how they slowed Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones down)
“Absolutely. You look at the game as a whole. We’re a team [and] we’re a team where fits are very key. Well if you go look at the Minnesota game, a lot of guys got out of their gaps, but guys were just making plays. Guys stayed pushing, not giving up on the play and that’s how they were able to stop them. Atlanta would drive the ball, but Minnesota would hold them to a field goal, so they [weren’t] giving up a lot of points. You would see them give up yards, but not points and that’s what matters.”
(On facing divisional opponents in the final three weeks of the season)
“You don’t want to leave with a bad taste in your mouth in the offseason. What better way to leave on a high note than to get three division wins. We don’t want to give those guys the upper hand going into next season. It is the season of giving, but for us it’s the season of spoiling. We’ve got an opportunity to do that and I’m just praying I can be a part of that.”
(On if he enjoys playing in the atmosphere that Monday Night Football creates)
“Yeah, absolutely. I think the last time we did this, I think [Warren] Sapp might’ve gone in [the Ring of Honor] against Miami in ‘13. It’s a great feeling. He definitely deserves it obviously. I’m just looking forward to being there and it’s going to be a good one. I’m excited about it.”

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