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29 October 2014

Week 9 Conference Call Transcripts: at Cleveland (11/2/14)

 HEAD COACH MIKE PETTINE
 
(On if center Alex Mack being out is the reason they have struggled running the football)
“That’s part of it. I think when you lose a player of caliber of Alex, I think that you want the guys around him to step up because you’re not going to replace him and for that transition to be seamless. We went through two different lineups in those two games and we’re hopeful that we’ve found the answer with Nick McDonald, but Nick hadn’t played significant reps in a good period of time and we didn’t play well necessarily around the guys that went in there and that to me was one of the reasons that we sputtered a bit offensively. We know that we’re an offense that has to stay on schedule, we have to stay ahead of the sticks and the run game is a big part of it.”
 
(On how prevents his team from having a letdown game)
“I think that we have a pretty mature group. We know we didn’t play well against Jacksonville for a number of reasons, but I thought it was a similar circumstance with Oakland coming into town and I thought our guys – especially defensively – handled it well. We try not to get wrapped up in the opponent. We just assume we’re going to get their best and if you look at the rosters there are some real good football players in all three phases on the Bucs roster, just as there was with Oakland and as there was with Jacksonville. We’re not at the point where we can just show up for a game and expect good results. We ourselves are still learning a new system and I really like to challenge our guys. Yeah it’s about the opponent, but it’s also about you versus your grade sheet. We’re trying to get a plus on every play and things will work out when you do that. That’s pretty much our mentality.”
 
(On what about the Tampa Bay offense stands out when they look at film)
“What stands out offensively is first off, it’s the biggest receiving group I think we’ve faced all year, tight ends and wideouts. We all know what Vincent Jackson can do. Mike Evans was a guy that was very high on our draft boards and it’s no surprise he’s having some success. Louis Murphy is playing at a high level as well, that’s something that they can give us some concern. I went against Mike Glennon a year ago when I was in Buffalo and he didn’t have a great day statistically, but he found a way to win and made some clutch throws when he needed to. It’s just as I talked about, it’s an NFL team, it’s a prideful group, they’ve got some good players and we have to expect to see they’re best.”
 
(On Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans)
“He’s a guy that we really liked his skillset. Having him and Vincent Jackson is like having two power forwards, guys that are strong, that can get off press coverage just because of their strength and they can run all of the routes on the route tree, but the scary one is when you see them when they’re covered and they still have the ability to make the play over the top of a guy. That’s always a concern defensively that covering them sometimes isn’t enough and that you have to be able to out execute them at the moment of truth when the ball gets there.”
 
(On Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer)
“He’s been big for us and I think it’s a real tribute to him. He was put in some real difficult circumstances coming into the season, he was coming off a season-ending knee injury the year before, really hadn’t taken any live reps up until training camp and was the starter in his hometown which I think is a lot for a guy to handle. Last year he kind of came from out of the pack, I think he was third and ended up with the starting before his injury and then to add the whole [Johnny] Manziel thing to it I think was a lot on his plate and I think he did have some struggles early, but to his credit he was very poised, very focused and once he was named the starter I think a lot of that stuff just dissipated for him. He was getting some live reps, he was feeling confident with his knee, he was practicing with the group that he was going to be playing with in games and he’s only improved throughout the season. I know the last two weeks he hasn’t been great, even three from a statistical standpoint, but he’s made big throws when we’ve needed them to make them and a lot of times our quarterback’s success here will be a function of how well we’re running the football. When we’re running the football well, it will open up the pass game, the play-action is very important and it’s a lot easier to run play-action pass on second and four-or-five, than it is on second and 10-or-11. That will be a big part of what we do, but we’re very pleased with where Brian is, not just from a physical standpoint, but his leadership ability, how he handles the huddle and how he is in the locker room with those guys. I think they all have a lot of respect based on what we he’s had to overcome.”
 
(On how Cleveland quarterback Johnny Manziel has handled being the second-string quarterback)
“It’s funny because I got asked that question today by our media and I don’t think he’s handling it well and I think that’s because how competitive he is. I don’t mean he’s not handling it well in that there are issues with, but there’s no outward signs of him not handling it well, but I’m sure inside – he’s a competitor, he wants to play and to go from – I’m sure it was very similar to when he was a redshirt at Texas A&M and having to sit behind [Ryan] Tannehill, I’m sure that was a frustrating year for him, but even more so now that he had the success that he did and now he has to take a step a step back and hit the reset button. I’m sure there’s mixed feelings with him, I know he could answer it better, but my guess is that he’s torn a bit like ‘Hey, I’ve got to learn the game and this is great for me to be able to see Brian go through and implement a gameplan and how a gameplan comes to life and how it gets worked through the week and how it ultimately plays out during a game.’ He can see all that Brian is going through, but at the same time I’m sure that he’s envisioning himself out there and how he would have responded in certain situations. His time will come, you just never know in this league when that’s going to be.”
 
QUARTERBACK BRIAN HOYER
 
(On what his relationship has been like with quarterback Johnny Manziel)
“It’s been really well. It’s a working relationship, I’m the veteran and he’s the rookie, he’s asking questions and we’re trying to do whatever we can to make this team better. I know the perception may be that we don’t like each other, but I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. I think that we have a good time and just our entire quarterback room as a whole has been great.”
 
(On how the transition at center has been going)
“It’s good. This will be our first week that we won’t be changing centers in the past three weeks and that obviously benefits us. I think Nick [McDonald] did a great job with his circumstance where in training camp he hadn’t really practiced at all and he gets thrown in there and did a good job and I think that he’ll only get better. I’m familiar with him from being in New England together and I thought he did a great job.”
 
(On if it takes time for the offensive line to be successful with the transition)
“I think the offensive line all together as a unit [is transitioning] and there are a lot of calls to be made and a lot of communication. When you’re rotating guys through there out of necessity, it’s not always going to be the same. I think with time, it will only get better.”
 
(On what he sees from Tampa Bay’s defense and especially defensive tackle Gerald McCoy)
“He jumps out immediately when you watch film, his get-off off the ball, his motor, he’s obviously disruptive and plays in the backfield. In general with their defense, you can tell they’re a well-coached defense. You don’t see a lot of guys out of place, you see zone dropping into the right areas and  we have a lot of respect for these guys just from watching film and stuff like that. You mentioned Gerald McCoy, he definitely jumps off the film, but there are a lot of guys that do that too.”
 
(On being able to bounce back against Oakland last week and get the victory)
“In Jacksonville, it was just a situation where we went down there and got beat and there wasn’t much else we could say about it. They out-physicaled us and they beat us. I think even with Oakland our defense did a great job and our offense kept battling and battling and then we finally hit a few big plays to really turn the game around. This is the NFL, this is my first year as a starter, I don’t underestimate anyone, I don’t think our team has done that and regardless of record when you have a team come in who has players like Gerald McCoy, like [Lavonte] David, like [Dashon] Goldson, [Alterraun] Verner or whoever it might be, I don’t underestimate anyone in anyway. This is the National Football League, everybody is good, the coaches are good and sometimes it’s just a few bad breaks here and there and yeah your record might not be so good, but you have good players and a good scheme. You can’t underestimate anyone.”
 
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