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02 January 2017

Transcripts: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (1/2/17)

Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Quarterback Jameis Winston
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
(On his review of the season)
“What I told the team is, ‘Only one team takes home the ring and this year, it’s not going to be us.’ So, even though we had improvement in a lot of areas, some huge improvement in some areas, ultimately, not what we’re shooting for. The bar has definitely been raised and I really, really appreciate the effort of our players. I do think we came close to achieving the potential of this team, close, but not quite. I think the future is very bright. Obviously, there is going to be change. There always is in the NFL. We need to embrace that change and just know that it is coming. I told the players that I’d do everything in my power to make us better and that starts with the coaching aspect of it, starting with myself. Also, with the player acquisition. We know there is going to be player acquisition. Things that we do to try to make it better for the players on a day-to-day basis. So, with all the positives and just knowing that only one team ultimately gets it done, it’s a little bit empty feeling. But I think every team, but one, has that at some point. Ours is just today.”
(On his thoughts of his role as the play caller and serving as head coach for the first year)
“I have a lot of thoughts about it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I am probably not ready to make any crazy announcements on any of that today because I think about a lot of stuff all the time. I think all the time, how can I, in the stuff that I control, make us better and are there places where I am making us worse? I learned as a head coach, I’d love to have more time to get involved with individual players on a daily basis. When I do get a chance to talk to players one-on-one, I enjoy it. I enjoy the motivational part of trying to reach guys and different groups on the team. As far as my schedule goes, I am asking myself all the time, are the things I have to spend my time on, are those in the best interest of helping the Bucs win games or am I spinning my wheels on stuff that doesn’t really matter and what’s the most important things to helping us win? So, those are questions that don’t all have to be answered today. Because of the changeover in the NFL, we have to see how some of that shakes out as well because it might not be possible for the staff to come back 100% the same way. We’ll just have to see how that works out in the coming days.”
(On whether he is contemplating giving up the play calling duties)
“I’m contemplating how does our team get better in all areas? When we look at everything, if there is someone out there that can do a better job to help us than me calling the plays, then that’s something that we definitely need to look at.”
(On what he believes the offense needs to improve on moving into the next season)
“So, in the things that matter most towards winning, we went from 1.8 giveaways a game a year ago to 1.7 this year, so slight improvement. The biggest negative is in explosive plays. We were averaging just under nine a game a year ago and we’re just under seven a game this year, so almost two a game in explosives. We went up a little bit in sacks. We went down one percentage point in the red zone. We actually went up to the highest point I think ever in franchise history in third-downs, top ten in the league. Scoring, we were down three points a game. I already mentioned the fact that we were down in explosives. We were down 34 yards a game in the running game. Overall as a team, we came a long way as far as penalties. We went from last in the league to 18th in the league. Just the explosive play thing, just a couple things that jump out and part of this is health related. Last year, passing and running, [running back] Doug [Martin] and Chuck [Charles] Sims combined for 37 explosive plays. This year, eight. Don’t misquote me on this, that is in no way just their fault. Part of that is injury related. They didn’t have nearly as many attempts. But, in just touches per play, over nine percent explosive last year, about four percent explosive this year on touches between those two players. And even though [wide receiver] Mike Evans and [tight end] Cam [Brate] had really good years, we actually went down by four explosives in those two guys. They went from 46 a year ago to 42 this year. So, I’ve said many, many times that we believe besides turnovers, explosive plays are the next biggest factor in winning and losing and that was our biggest drop-off on offense this year is in explosive plays and that was both in the running game and in the throwing game.”
(On how big of a deal he believes the importance of making field goals has on a game)
“It’s big because the way the league is structured right now, they almost all come down to that. Look at yesterday. Look at how it sorted itself out yesterday. It’s a scoring game and on the defensive side, the other thing is those two things go together. Even though we went from allowing 26 points a game a year ago to 23 points a game, 26.1 to 23.1, think how much better that number would’ve been had the offense not put our defense – that goes back to turnovers - in such short field so many times. The fact is, when you look at all the stats, the numbers at the end of the year as far as records go, let’s face it, the history of offensive football in Tampa Bay is not nearly as good as the history of defensive football. Our defense came a long way this year. I think the greatest stat out there that says the most about our season is going from 30th in the league in third-down conversion to first in third-downs allowed. That’s a huge, huge improvement. The scoring thing, we definitely need to score more on offense and I think our defensive numbers would’ve been even better had we not put them in so many short fields.”
(On whether he believes the team needs more playmakers)
“Yeah, definitely. We need more speed and when we say playmakers, playmakers and explosive plays are one in the same. Guys that can make explosives, guys that can catch a 10-yard pass, break one tackle and turn it into a 30-yard gain. Our run after the catch is not where it needs to be. And again, anything that we’re saying here is not an indictment on the guys we have because the guys you have are the guys you have and you’ve got to coach the heck out of them. Once again, it goes back to the thing I said in the beginning, I think this team did a good job of playing as close to their talent level. That’s a hard thing to judge, it’s not an exact thing. In my opinion, we played close to our talent level.”
(On whether he has ever thought he would want to step away from the play calling and transition more towards one-on-one interaction with players)
“No, because I’ve always been a play caller. I love being a play caller. That’s one of the best things about the game, but with being the head coach this year, I have more responsibilities and I have really enjoyed my interaction with the players. I’ve really enjoyed to go in and do the team meetings every day. That takes time. I don’t just get up there and wing it from the hip like I do in here [laughs]. It actually takes preparation time. Everything I say in front of the team. I take very seriously. So, I want to back it up, not just BS those guys. I try to never BS those guys. So, I ask myself, ‘If I spent more time on it, could I do a better job?’ But, at the same time, I look around the league at other, there’s plenty of other coaches in the league that are doing it the way we did it here this year. You look at some of the guys I consider top play callers in this league; [Green Bay Head Coach] Mike McCarthy, [New Orleans Head Coach] Sean Payton, [Kansas City Head Coach] Andy Reid. They’re guys that have been the play caller, they’ve given it up and they’ve always taken it back. When that day comes when I do give it up, I don’t want to take it back. I want to be sure.”
(On his timeline in deciding whether he wants to give up play calling)
“Until September 10th next year. I have that long.”
(On whether the challenge in play calling is more during the week or during games)
“Oj, during the week. Shoot, Sunday afternoons, if you are prepared – I definitely spend a lot of time preparing. The one thing that I wasn’t able to do as much this year as I have been in the past, I’m in every offensive install meeting listening to the coaches. I used to do all the installs myself. The coaches did it this year, I’m right in there. I chime in from time to time. But, I’m not sitting in the quarterback meeting rooms as much as I used to just because my time won’t allow me. With that said, I also have a huge amount of confidence in the guy that’s in there running those quarterback meetings in [Quarterbacks Coach] Mike Bajakian. I think he does a fantastic job with [quarterback] Jameis [Winston] and with our other quarterbacks. So, for me to sit in there and listen to Mike talk for an hour and a half every day, I might have a better use of my time than that. If I’m not going to be doing the talking, I’ve got other things that I can be doing during that time as well.”
(On whether he has someone on the staff right now who he would trust with play calling)
“Yeah, more than one.”
(On whether there are certain plays he looks back on and believes he could have done better with if he had more time during the week to prepare)
“Every play that doesn’t work. I’m not kidding. I’m not kidding about that.”
(On the plays not necessarily failing because of his play calling)
“You just asked me when I thought about it and I told you the truth.
(On his explanation for their progress on third-down conversions this season)
“A part of that is pass rush. A part of that is disguise and part of that is multiplicity. I think those three things combined.”
(On if there is a chance that left tackle Donovan Smith or right guard Ali Marpet could change positions on the offensive line in the future)
“Well, it’s too early today to say a definitive answer to that. but our general philosophy is, get your best five on the field and I think that be proved that at New Orleans. Based on the circumstances we had that week, we moved Kevin [Pamphile] out to right tackle and started Evan Smith at left guard. So, we’re going to do our best to get our best five out there. I do think – even though those are the two guys that I mentioned – I do think we have with the guys we have signed coming back, I think we have pretty good depth on the O-line. Every team has weaknesses and every team has other places that they’re strong in depth. I like our O-line. I know there’s people out there, maybe some in this room, that think we need to add [new pieces]. We need to add everywhere. Every team wants to add a better this, a better that, another one of these, another one of those, but that’s not possible. You’re not going to fix everything, you just can’t. You can’t because there’s not enough of them out there number one and number two, there’s salary cap issues. You just can’t get guys across the board that are the perfect fit. So, I think we have good versatility in the O-line and I think we have good depth and I think we’ve got two young guys that didn’t get to play very much this year, in [Caleb] Benenoch and [Leonard] Wester, that will be there for us when we need them.”
(On Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith interviewing for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coaching vacancy)
“Well first off, shoot, just before I came down here, the names that Jacksonville was going to interview were going across the ticker, I mean, it looks like they’ve got a long list. They better get started [laughs]. As far as ‘Smitty’ goes, look at his record, look at his record as a head coach. All of the guys that are interviewing out there, none of them have Mike Smith’s record as a head coach. So, every team that’s going to interview head coaches, they allegedly have something that they’re looking for and if Mike Smith is it, then great, good for him. Mike Smith’s a proven head coach in this league, I think the world of him. Obviously when we brought Mike here, we knew that this day might come and this day would come. And if it’s the right fit and he’s the right guy and that’s what he wants and that’s what they want, there’s nothing I can do about it, that’s how this league works. What I can tell you is, I’ve got a lot of confidence in the staff that I put together last year and I’ve got a lot of confidence in the staff I’ll put together moving forward.”
(On the team’s talent level and how well positioned he thinks they are to fill needs in the offseason)
“Really good, really good. We mentioned some of that yesterday, that I think on both sides of the ball, a good, young talent base. Both sides, proven guys that can play at a high level and shoot, 70 million or whatever it is in cap space, yeah, we’re in good shape.”
(On if ownership is committed)
“Oh, absolutely, 100 percent. I don’t think anyone should doubt that at all. I don’t doubt that.”
(On if guard J.R. Sweezy will be a contributor next season)
“Yeah, that is a question that I can’t answer. The thing about J.R. is, we did our evaluation based on his time in Seattle and we were very excited about what we bringing into the mix here. He had an unfortunate injury that none of us control. The result of that surgery, for whatever reason, he hasn’t come back, he hasn’t come back from that injury. I’m not a doctor, but what I do know is, we haven’t seen him on the field. So at this point, it’s been over a year since he’s played and we really don’t know what we have because until we see him on the field healthy, that’s an unknown. I think if it ever comes to that point where we have a healthy J.R. Sweezy on the field and he’s the player he was that we thought we were getting when we were looking at the Seattle tape, then I think he just adds another one to the depth I already talked about at O-line. But, do we ever get to that point? I do not know that.”
(On if he has had any conversations with wide receiver Vincent Jackson about his future)
“I haven’t talked to Vincent specifically about future, I’ve had some conversations with Vincent along the way. Vincent’s had a tremendous career in the NFL to this point and one of the most respected guys, not only on our team, but in the league. [A] team captain and I’m sorry that it ended the way it did for Vincent this year. That’s one of the things I think hurt us, offensively, is not having Vincent out there, not having his presence out there on the other side from Mike [Evans]. His contract is up at the end of the year and I’m sure that’s one of the questions that [General Manager] Jason [Licht] and I will be talking about in the coming days.”
(On what went wrong with the running game this season)
“Well the number one thing I’d say was, our top two backs were not healthy. Not many teams are going to get to their third running back and stay the same as they were. We had really good fortune a year ago, to keep those two guys healthy. Doug [Martin] and ‘Chuck’ [Charles Sims] combined in 2015 for 395 carries, accounted for over 1,900 yards, 37 explosives. This year between those two guys, 195 carries – so half as many – for only 570 yards and eight explosives. I mean, that’s what happened to our running game. Now, injuries are not anybody’s fault and depth is different at different positions. We brought Jacquizz [Rodgers] in, Jacquizz I think did a good job playing his role. But just those numbers alone, that’s 1,500 yards and 29 explosives. That’s a lot.”
(On what he learned about himself this year and the demands of being an NFL head coach)
“It’s demanding. I thought I was ready for it and still think that today, but I also believe that you learn and you’ve got to admit your mistakes and you know what? Sometimes my mistakes that I admit to aren’t the same ones you guys think I miss. You guys are still criticizing me for some that I don’t think I miss. But the ones I think I’ve made, I’ll be the first to admit them. And I’ll be better next year than I was this year and I’ll be better the year after that than I am next year.”
(On how much he is battling the investment the organization made in kicker Roberto Aguayo, whose longest field this year was 43 yards)
“Well, the long of 43 part, we didn’t attempt many longer than that. They just didn’t come up. When I was in Jacksonville and we had Josh Scobee, when I was in Atlanta and we had Matt Bryant, it seemed like we’d hit a certain yard line and stall up and they were kicking 53-yarders all the time. That just wasn’t the case that much. It just didn’t come up. Now, as far as the investment in Roberto and where we picked him, we were all on board with that and that’s not going to change. We’re never going to bring that back, that happened. And Roberto was our kicker and like any other player, if he’s got that Buc jersey on and he’s out there on game day, then I’m 100 percent in. With that said, our field goal percentage of this year is not good enough. Now, that’s not only stat that’s not good enough, but that wasn’t good enough. Jason and I have already talked and I think it’s already proven that we have no problem moving on from a draft choice and playing somebody that wasn’t drafted, we did it this year and we did it a year ago. So, we’ve got to have competition at every position, nothing’s a given and if they’re not the best player than I can be pretty certain in saying that they won’t be out there.”
(On if he has already begun searching for a possible new Defensive Coordinator, if Mike Smith leaves)
“Yeah, of course. That’s underway.”
(On if they have an idea where they would like to play Ryan Smith next season, cornerback or safety)
“Yeah, we’re going to move Ryan back to corner full-time. He played both in college. We originally thought because of his size that we wanted to try to play him as a safety. He got a little bit behind because he got injured earlier – I can’t think of right now if it was OTAs or preseason – but he got a little bit behind in the install. It was in OTAs, he came in after the combine, [the injury] was in OTAs, missed some time. Over the course of the year, through his play on scout team, it became apparent that we have very high hopes for him, long-term at corner. He went up against Mike Evans every day, did a really nice job as the season went along on special teams, as [wide receiver] Russell Shepard transitioned from being more of a special teams player to being an every-down receiver or a high-rep guy at receiver. And [Smith] made a couple big plays yesterday as a gunner, so yeah, I think that draft pick there is going to turn out just fine. He’s going to be a corner long-term and behind [Vernon] Hargreaves and [Brent] Grimes, we’ feel like we’ve got good depth at that position.”
(On if he looks back on the season and wishes he could do anything over again)
“Sure. Going back to [earlier], I joke about it, but anything that doesn’t go right or doesn’t go the way I expected it to go or I planned it to go, eats at me. But what eats at me, I hope doesn’t ever hold me back from moving forward because you’ve got to move forward, you’ve got to move on. You’ve just got to learn your lessons and move on. You look back at that Rams game and even though it would probably be different than what you guys say, there’s things in that game I wish I would’ve done differently. And let me make that point real clear: probably not the same thing you guys think because I still think you guys are full of [crap] on that. There’s things in that game that I wish I would’ve done [differently]. When something gets said, people – including media – that don’t have any idea what they’re talking about, they just repeat it because they heard it because they think it’s fact. So, not everything you hear in the media is fact, all right? There’s plenty opinions out there that I don’t have to agree with. But with that said, I made plenty of mistakes and I’m going to do better next year, I promise you.”
(On the 2016 season)
"We've been buying in and we had a pretty decent season. I'm just thankful for all these guys for putting in the work and doing their jobs."
(On when he'll evaluate the season)
"We fell short of our goals as a team, not just my goals. We'll sit down. This week is my birthday week so I'm not going to be thinking about anything, really. So I'm going to enjoy that, and I'll sit down in about a month or so."
(On if he's going to take a vacation)
"Not planned right now, because I was planning to not be able to take a vacation for a good minute. But I'll probably go somewhere. Ali [Marpet] says he's camping, so I might go into the woods and spend some days by myself."
(On if he follows offseason team developments)
"No, I just do whatever I need to do to help this team out."
(On if he'll watch the NFL playoffs)
"Absolutely, because I want to experience that. I'm going to experience that."
(On his offseason goals)
"Get better. When I sit down with my agent and talk more in-depth with coaches about what I need to specifically improve on, not just my typical improvements that I think I need to get better at, I'm going to do my best to eliminate the negative parts of my game. I believe that getting better every single year is instrumental to being a great quarterback and leading this franchise."
(On if he's talked to personal trainer Tim Grover about continuing their work this offseason)
"Oh, yeah, I've been to talking to Tim the whole season. You'd better believe he's going to be in the picture."
(On the fine line between winning and losing in the NFL)
"That's the game that we play. Any time we get an opportunity, we've got to take advantage of it. We fell short of that, but I don't see us falling short in the future. That's why I'm excited for the offseason and I'm ready to do whatever it takes to make sure that we take more positive strides next year."
(On the team having a lot of young players)
"I'm very excited. That's all I can think about right now – when is our next game? When is the offseason going to be over with? The future is bright. I'm happy that our young guys gave so much to the team. You view these people like we've got 12 rookies, but the new guys like [wide receiver] Cecil Shorts, Sealver [Siliga] with the D-Line, the late-season additions that we had really helped us out as well. I'm definitely thankful for those games."
(On if the team did change its culture this season)
"Well, you can see that we had more wins, so that developed pretty good. But [it's about] always having the attitude of being a perfectionist; it can never get too good."
(On personnel needs for the team)
"That's not my place, personnel. I love my teammates. Whoever we put out there, you'd better believe I'm out there to compete. I'm expecting to go to the limit with those guys. I'm pretty sure we might get some additions, but I just love being a Buc and I know everyone wants to see the Bucs, in this locker room, be successful. I know upstairs they're going to be doing whatever we need to do to help that."
(On if he'll be looking back at this season as the one where he clicked with Mike Evans)
"No, but I'm going to be looking to build. We can break more records now. Since Mike tied his record [for touchdown receptions], now we've got to break that record. I don't know about the other records; I just know about the NFL record. But I know I've got to throw more than 28 touchdowns as a Buc. The future is bright, we just as a team have to get better."
(On how the end of 2016 feels different than a year ago)
"It's great to go into the offseason a winner. We started winning, finished the season winning. That's great that we had a winning season but guys are not really happy about what we're doing right now. We thought we had a lot of opportunities we missed out on. It was a better season, but we know we should be getting ready to play again. Nobody's really happy about that. But the vibe is still – we can leave with a good taste in our mouth because we won and go into the offseason with some momentum."
(On a play here and a play there being the difference in a season)
"Yeah, a couple plays man, and some guys we know we really should have won. It just took us too long to figure it out and get going, and then we had two missed opportunities at the end against the Cowboys and the Saints. But we'll learn from that and get better and improve."
(On what it was like playing for Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith)
"Oh, Smitty's great. I love Smitty, man, just as a person. He's a great man. Smitty's always at Chapel. He's just a great guy. It was a joy to play for him. He has tons upon tons upon tons of knowledge about this game and he just loves this game. He's one of those coaches who, when things don't go right, he doesn't point fingers. If I didn't make a play, Brent Grimes didn't make a play, Lavonte David didn't make a play and it's blatant that we should have made that particular play, he blames himself. A coach like that, you always want to go out and give your all for. We all love him. Everybody loves him. Nobody has a bad thing to say about him. We're just hoping he's back here. That would be great because I love playing for him."
(On how critical it is to have consistency of scheme from season to season)
"Consistency is always something that will help you improve, keeping the same [pieces]. Whether it's scheme or players or coaches, keeping them around is how you build. When things go in and out, that's when it's tough. But you'll never get me to say, 'He shouldn't leave,' or, 'He should have stayed.' He's got a grown man, he's got a family to take care of, he's got to do what's best for him. When you see players leave teams or don't re-sign with teams, or go to other teams to re-sign, they're doing what's best for them. I would love it if Coach Smith stays, but if he doesn't I'm still going to love Coach Smith because I had this year with him and I got to know him as a man more than just as a coach. And he's a great, great man. I wish him all the best, whether he's still here or somewhere else. But I love Smitty. I know Gerald does; I'm pretty sure everybody else does because I don't ever hear anybody say anything bad about him. We love Smitty."
(On if he feels more comfortable going into this offseason in terms of organizational stability)
"I don't know if I'd use the word 'comfort,' but I will say this: This is the most fun I've had around here in a long time. This season has been special. I've had so much fun this season. I've always been excited about – I've always been optimistic, regardless of what it looks like. I just believe, as long as you're out there on the field, you've got an opportunity and you've got a chance so you make the best of it. But I can actually feel internally, around the building, the culture change. It hasn't rolled all the way over, but it's turning and I'm excited about that."
(On feeling the fans embracing the team)
"Yeah, the fans were great. That's why it's critical we won yesterday. They deserved it. They've been there all year cheering us on through the good and the bad. We love our fans. They're going to keep supporting us, we know they will, so we just have to keep doing our part."
(On having lots of young players get experience)
"Absolutely. The thing I always said this year is that we're only as good as our young guys, and that's what's making us so good. Our young guys, they have a vet's mentality with how they approach the game and how they prepare. I'm excited about it, because most of our young guys are beyond their years. They just do everything right and they're going to help us move forward."
(On defense being back in Tampa)
"Absolutely. I think everybody else knows it, too. But we've got to keep it going, man. It's great to do it once but the best teams in this league are consistent and we've got to be consistent. It starts now. I'm going to take the rest of this week off because I'm in a lot of pain. As I get older, it takes much longer to recover. So I'm going to take the rest of this week off and get to work on Monday because I've got another game to play in. I'm excited. It's going to be fun moving forward. I think everybody will take the time off and be ready to go when we come back in April."

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