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15 December 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (12/15/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: QB Jameis Winston has 64 career passing touchdowns, tied with Cam Newton for the ninth-most by a player through their first three seasons in NFL history. He needs two on Monday Night Football against Atlanta to tie Matt Ryan for the eighth-most (66).
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 there is any update in regard to linebacker Lavonte David’s hamstring injury)
“Yeah, Lavonte was out again today. Lavonte and Gerald [McCoy] were both out today, so we will see what tomorrow brings.”
(On if the depth and experience of the team’s linebackers would help in the chance that David cannot play on Monday)
“Yeah, I think our linebacker depth is good. Whether it be Kendell Beckwith, Adarius Glanton [or] Devante Bond – all of those guys have played well when they’ve been in there.”
(On if waiting is the biggest adjustment to playing on Monday night)
“Yeah. Having the extra day is fantastic. It would be great if we got a few more of those in there to get the extra day. Now, it catches up with you the following week when you figure by the time Monday Night Football gets over – you don’t get out of the stadium until after midnight – so you’re basically short a day the next week. It’s like all the night games in preseason – everything is tempered to play, but you don’t do a whole lot the day before the game and then instead of playing at one o’clock, you are back another seven and a half hours or whatever it is. [There is] a lot of waiting around. We do add another set of meetings when we have a night game – another set of meetings to try to give the guys one last review session in the morning. Then they have some down time before pre-game meal and before going to the stadium.”
(On if he likes playing on Monday Night Football)
“I think everyone likes Monday night games because you’re the only game on. It wasn’t that many years ago that there [were] no other games during the week. Monday Night Football was the biggest thing going and still I think every one of the players and coaches look at it that way.”
(On the tight NFC South divisional race at the end of this season)
“I think that’s what they wanted for all divisions. I think our division is very tough. Just look at the math – Atlanta is sitting at third right now, but controls their own destiny. I’m sure that’s a dream come true for the people that make the schedule. That’s fine if that’s how they want it, coming down to division games, which are sort of the natural rivalry games anyway. I think it’s a positive.”
(On if it his experience that every coach-player relationship has some disagreements)
“I think our relationship has been real consistent, so I don’t know who took it out of whatever it was. I don’t know who said what. I have to put my name on everything I say. But can there be stress? Is it possible? Sure. We spend a lot of time together – players and coaches. So, coach-to-coach, coach-to-player, player-to-player when you spend as much time together as we do, of course there can be. In specific as far as my relationship with Jameis [Winston], it’s been really consistent throughout for the last three years.”
(On how frustrating it is when an issue like that leaks outside the organization)
“You can’t worry about stuff you don’t control. I encourage our players to put their name on it and for our coaches to do the same thing. That way you can always settle it like you would settle anything. Anything that is unnamed – there is no way to settle it anyway, so there is not really much use worrying about it.”
(On encouraging players to come to the coaches)
“I think any time you have a problem with anybody in your whole life, in any relationship, if you want to solve it you should resolve it face-to-face with that person. If you’re going to go through a third party, at least do the justice of putting your name on it.”
(On if Winston came to him to address any of the concerns that ended up getting identified in the report)
“Jameis and I have been very consistent with our communication for the last three years.”
(On if he can share the status of safety T.J. Ward)
“I can. I am happy to report that T.J. Ward has cleared concussion protocol as of 8:30 this morning. We’ve talked about this before. I think it’s a good process, but there [are] a lot of steps to it and sometimes guys have to backtrack before they can get all the way to the end. I know it’s frustrating to them, but I still think it’s a step in the right direction for their own good with head injuries. But, T.J. now is out [of the protocol]. So, as of today, we have zero players in concussion protocol for the first time in a while.”
(Opening Statement)
“I want to talk a little bit about what we’ve had to deal with in terms of talk about relationships. I’ve been here almost two years and from a coach-player relationship, I have never seen anything close to what is being talked about between our head coach (Dirk Koetter) and our quarterback (Jameis Winston) – not one thing. What I want people to understand is this: the majority of players that I’ve ever coached in my life, at some point in our relationship, it’s been strained – fact. If you ask any player I’ve ever coached, ‘Have you had a strain in your relationship? You bet. The best man at my wedding was my roommate in college. You don’t think we had strains in our relationship at times? My wife of 26 years – that I wouldn’t be who I am without her – that we haven’t had times in our life where we’ve had strains in our relationship? All of the sudden it becomes news that all of the sudden there is a strain? You know what the strain is? The frustration of being 4-9. That’s a frustration. When you put everything into it, what you’ve got is a quarterback that is very competitive – a guy that wants to be great and has had a frustrating year, probably some things on and off the field. And [you have] a head coach that does an unbelievable job coaching our players and our quarterback. That becomes news? Holy cow, news flash, we’ve got a strain in a relationship. There is not one person that can’t say that that’s ever happened before. That is a flat-out joke that that even becomes news.”
(On if the strain in relationships is due to the nature of the season)
“I think [it’s] just the nature in relationships. If everything that I ever said to anybody else about frustration ever came out, holy cow, I can’t imagine. No one has ever said anything to anybody else about a relationship? No one has ever said, ‘Gosh dang,’ about their wife, about their brother, about their parents, about a coach – any relationship? Has that ever happened? Of course, it does. It’s never news. It’s human nature. Is it frustrating? You bet it is. What’s frustrating? Being hurt [and] not being able to play like you’d like to play [and] our team [not] playing like you’d like it to play or a relationship not going as well as you’d like it to go, or a job, or a boss or somebody you are dealing with on an everyday basis. Yet it becomes news. It is not any news at all – fact. Then we talk about Jameis. I’ve talked to a number of people about this – [he’s] a young player still developing. It’s the way it is. Do we want to throw the deep ball better? Yes, we do. Do we want to protect the football better? Without question. But, if you look – I don’t know how else to judge it. QB rating? I don’t know. But, if you look at the stats and you go, ‘Okay, who is 14? Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr’ – now that is from 14-19 within three points of everybody. That’s not a bad collection of players right there. Now are we the top 10? No. I don’t know what the average age would be of that – I don’t know. It’s a variety – some older, some younger. But, I don’t know what Jameis will be in five years. I have no idea what he will be, but I’m not going to put some sort of parameters on what he could be at age 23 and had a season where he has been banged up and fought to come back in and play. I’m not. And, I’m not going to listen to people talk about things they don’t know. It’s frustration. It’s human nature. Now, all of the sudden, we have to defend that there is frustration in a relationship. That’s normal. Who has where it’s perfect? Someone come see me and tell me any relationship that they’ve had, or if they’ve been in coaching, that everything has gone great. It doesn’t happen. It does not exist. Okay, now I’m done with that.”
(On if it is just the typical player-coach relationship strain, then how does it become news, considering the fact that it has to come from the player to someone else)
“Without question. That’s normal. If somebody heard anything that I say to somebody else, I’m not expecting it to be news, unless you want it to be news. When I am sitting there talking to somebody, is there times that I’m frustrated with Coach [Dirk] Koetter? Yeah, we have a relationship. What is abnormal about that? With the players that I coach, what is abnormal about that? [Nothing] at all. With my wife, what’s abnormal about that? Nothing. What’s abnormal about some of my best friends, my brothers, my family, [do] you [ever] have any of those things? Yes. It doesn’t become news because it’s not news. It’s normal. News would be, ‘Oh my god, I’m 51 years old and I’ve never had an issue with anybody in my life.’ That would be news. Holy cow – 51 and I’ve never had a problem with one person? No. I get it what we do for a living and we talk about it and all that. It’s not news to me.”
(On if he believes that quarterback Jameis Winston could be frustrated with the alleged predictability of the offense)
“I think, in general, we look for reasons why we are not successful. If it was one thing, we’d have it fixed. ‘Boy, if we just had this position. Boy, if we just had this coach. Boy, if we just had this play call. Boy, if we just had that.’ When you are frustrated, those come out. Without question, that is a part of it. All of us think it. Every single one of us – you, me, our staff and our players. That’s it. You reel it back in and you say, ‘You know what? I’ve got to do better with what I control.’ That’s it. That’s the way you fix it. That’s been the frustrating thing. Do I think there probably was some frustration with that? Yes. When you think that all of a sudden it’s going a certain way, well, there’s got to be a reason. ‘Boy, if you would’ve just done this. If we would’ve just called this. If we would’ve just run this.’ Sure.”
(On the report that Winston felt that head coach Dirk Koetter did not have his back when he was dealing with the shoulder injury and if looking back the coaching staff feels that maybe it should’ve limited Winston while he was dealing with the injury)
“First of all, no one has [Winston’s] back more than Dirk Koetter – nobody. Nobody in this building. I promise you [along with] our personnel people and us as coaches moving forward with Jameis. When a player is injured, they are somewhat separate from the team and you have to move on. I’ve never been around a program where an injured player didn’t feel a little bit separated from the group. How would they not be? They are not playing. When you are in a meeting room, you are talking to the guys that are playing. The guy that is not is sitting right there (points off to this left). You are talking to the guys that are playing. They are going to feel that. That’s normal. The things we are talking about are normal. Is he going to feel that way? You bet. If you’ve ever been injured in an athletic deal, you are separated. You aren’t part of it and you feel like that. To say that he didn’t have his back – I don’t know whether he said that or not – I’m not getting into that. Frustration? Yes. To not have his back? Not even close. With the other things with Jameis, it’s hard to know. When you are dealing with someone with an injury [and] doesn’t throw – we are going all the way back to the Bills. Okay, he plays real well. No one knows how they’re going to play. He is a competitor, a guy that wants to play, wants to spot the ball and [says] let’s go play.”
(On if it is up to the quarterback to tell his head coach that something doesn’t feel right when he is injured)
“Sure. I think it’s a combination of all of us. That’s really good. You can never read a player. What the MRI shows or what [his play] shows, everybody’s discomfort is a little bit different. I don’t know that. I can’t read that. You can only read what you see on the field and hope that by the time we get to game time what we are all judged on is how we play and how we coach.”
(On if looking back he feels it was a mistake to play Winston through his injury)
“I can’t comment on that because at that time we thought the best thing to do was play him. I don’t know that. Looking back – it’s like any position – whether it’s an injury or a way a player plays, there [are] times we all look back in a given game – it can happen within a game where you have a particular player for a play and he runs a route and you go, ‘Maybe I should have had someone else there. Maybe I should’ve made this other call.’ We deal with the information we have at the moment and we go with it. When you have starters, if they say they are healthy, you go with those guys that you think give [you] the best chance to win. There are times where, you bet, you wish you had done something differently. Again, [it’s] not news, [just] human nature.”
(On if the coaching staff noticed during that time that there were throws he couldn’t make)
“I think by the time we realized that, we went to that next spot. I think that’s the best way to put it. By the time you realize, ‘Okay, well maybe it’s worse than we thought.’ Again, you’d have to talk to Dirk [Koetter] about it, but I think at that point probably what skewed that was the Bills game. He played so well besides a throw here or there.”
(On the play of tight end O.J. Howard in his rookie season and how high his ceiling might be)
“First of all, he is an NFL tight end. He is a rare commodity these days. With any player, you want them to do everything well. ‘Boy, we want a tight end that can block, and run, and catch and we can flex him out there and we can do this with him.’ Those guys don’t exist, especially early in their careers. He is the closest thing to that. A lot of guys now are H-[backs]. They are much more outside. They are air-raid guys. He is not that guy. He is going to be a tremendous, tremendous player. It’s only starting to come with him in his route-running, his balance and body control, his aggressiveness and going against grown [men]. We ask a lot of him. He not only has to be really, really tough and really fundamental in his run game, but he’s also got to be a receiver for us vertically. So, you’re right – I think he has an unbelievable ceiling. This floor is still really high. We thought that when we drafted him. That’s the bottom – you are going to get a really good player. Now, where that [ceiling] is – that’s up to him and the coaches around him to develop him.”
(On if he has noticed any distraction this week stemming from the alleged tension between Winston and Koetter)
“No, because it’s the same. It’s normal. If you’ve ever been to practice or you went to training camp, what are you doing? You’re coaching the guy. That’s correcting. That’s teaching. Sometimes that’s yelling. Sometimes that’s not good enough. That’s part of it. That’s the interaction. [That’s] not anything – not one bit.”
(On if there is another level of frustration that comes from the fact that allegedly someone in the organization leaked information regarding the perceived tension between Winston and Koetter)
“No. I don’t, even though I came in here with a message. So, you say that like ‘Okay, how do I say that now since I already came in here with that?’ My frustration isn’t that it comes out. I’m surprised it doesn’t come out more often with what we do.  Holy [cow], DeSean Jackson is upset with [Todd] Monken this week – news flash. What do you want me to say? My wife is mad at me this week. That’s not news. That happens every week. I don’t know what to tell you. That’s the thing about it that frustrates you. It’s part of it. It’s part of what we do. It’s the give and take. It’s the pull. Then you look back and say, ‘You know what, I’m better today because people, it was worth it.’ If you don’t care, you don’t argue. If you don’t care, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t care, you’re not frustrated when things aren’t going your way. That’s part of the good times that you go through – the tough times. That’s part of what you go through. That’s what makes it all worthwhile later.”
(On treating Monday Night Football like just another game)
“A lot of guys have been in big-time moments, but this is a moment like no other. You just think about the national championship game where you’re the only game on TV. That’s how it is this week. We have to approach the game just like it’s another game. Another game [and] another chance for us to get a win at home against a great divison opponent.”
(On why he has seemed to struggle at times in the first half of big-time games)
“I approach every game the same, no matter if it’s in front of everybody or it’s at practice. My approach is just to hopefully start fast and get the job done.”
(On if his relationship with head coach Dirk Koetter feels like a normal quarterback-coach relationship)
“Yeah, absolutely. We have the same goal every single week and that’s to go out there and win. I wouldn’t use friction as a term. I believe when you are communicating with any player, you’re going to have some disagreements. At the end of the day, as long as we come to a solid agreement and we are out there to win football games – at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter.”
(On if there was friction at times in his relationship with Jimbo Fisher at Florida State)
“Absolutely. It’s not friction [though], it’s communication. There is no friction at all. It’s communicating. He is going to get his point across. I’m going to listen and I have to go out there and execute what he wants.”
(On if he had disagreements with Fisher)
“Absolutely. You probably see Coach Koetter is very patient with me on the sideline. Coach Fisher was in my grill all the time. You always have different experiences with different coaches, but at the end of the day our relationship is solely about this team and how we can make this team go.”
(On how his shoulder feels)
“I’m just ready to play. It really doesn’t matter. No one really cares. As long as I’m ready to play, I’m good.”
(On if he envisions any type of surgery in the offseason or just rest and recovery)
“Just rest and recovery.”
(On how much it helps the second time around facing an opponent in the same season)
“Like you said, it’s good and bad because that team has seen you once already. I believe we have the toughest division in football, filled with great quarterbacks and great defenses. It’s fun to play against our division opponents. For me, just playing against Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees [and] dueling off against those guys is very fun. Obviously, I’m going against their defenses, but to be on the same field with those caliber players and get a chance to compete against them and attempt to beat them is something I enjoy.”
(On if there is a different approach or any added motivation in the fact that the team finishes out its season with three divisional opponents)
“No, we just need to win. Like I said, [there] is not going to be a different approach. We need to win. That’s what we are going out there to do is go out there and play hard and get a win in front of our home fans.”
(On the growth of tight end O.J. Howard)
“I really just put that on Coach Ben Steele with his development. [O.J.] being at Alabama, he probably ran two or three routes – an over, a screen and a go. Him being able to come here and learn from Cam Brate, who is an excellent route-runner [and] being around Luke Stocker, who is an excellent teammate – Luke is actually a great coach himself – him being around those guys and being in that room with Coach Steele, who played tight end in this league, has really helped him grow. He is a special player. When he really gets a grasp of everything in the NFL – you can see he is just picking up game after game after game – he is going to be an amazing player to watch and an amazing player to play with.”
(On if looking back he would still play through his shoulder injury)
“Yeah, I’m a competitor. I’m going to go out there and fight. I’m going to give it all I’ve got and if they take me out of the game – let them do it. I’m not going to be the person to tell someone that I can’t do something.”
(On if it is hard to communicate with others how he feels physically)
“It’s challenging, but at the end of the day you’ve got to go out there and do your job. Like I said, no one really cares, so you are going to get backlash from a lot of different people. But at the end of the day, as long as you know that you’re going out there giving it your all and you’re trying to put your team in a position, you’re good.”
(On if it concerns him that the report of alleged tension between himself and Dirk Koetter got outside the organization)
“It does concern me that something like that would come out. But, am I surprised? Of course not. I’m not surprised because when you lose, people always try to find something to nitpick and nag at. Attacking the relationship of a head coach and a quarterback is definitely a way to get this locker room kind of in a panic, but we don’t condone that at all. Every one of our players stand firmly behind Coach Koetter. I talk to Coach Koetter every single day. Like I said, the quarterback’s relationship with a head coach – it’s like a father and son relationship. This is my third year with him. It’s like a boyfriend and a girlfriend – you’re not going to know everything about that one person just through a few years. It’s about continuity. Even in my development in the offense – every single year, year after year after year, you grow and you get better and better. Like me and Mike Evans. Our first year, I missed him on a lot of opportunities, but we continue to get better and better and better. This year we haven’t had the productive year like we’ve had in recent years, but that’s just something that we have to continue to go through. That’s something that we have to continue to work out, but we still love each other no matter what.”
(On how to forget the backlash and scrutiny that the team is facing)
“You win. That was one of the best questions I can answer. The only way that you can stop all the stuff that is coming is you win. Winning takes all of us coming together as a team and just applying it on the field and going out there and executing to get a win.”
(On what Jon Gruden means to the Buccaneers organization and the game of football)
“The ultimate goal in this profession is to win the Super Bowl. That coach brought a Super Bowl to this organization, so I know he means a lot not only to this league, but to this organization. I’m so happy to be out there playing in honor of Coach Gruden as he gets inducted into the Ring of Honor for the Buccaneers.”

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