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15 December 2015

Buccaneers Quotes: Tuesday, December 15, 2015

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, Tampa Bay is allowing only 94.1 rushing yards per game (eighth in the NFL) and 3.38 yards per rush (second in the NFL). They have allowed only three rushes of 20 or more yards, tied with the Seattle Seahawks for the fewest such plays allowed in the NFL.
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter
Quarterback Jameis Winston
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
(Opening Statement)
“Injury list: [Bruce Carter, Vincent Jackson, Akeem Spence and Logan Mankins] weren’t able to practice today, so four guys that weren’t able to practice today. Besides that, we’re in pretty good shape. Excited about playing. Whenever you’re the only game on at the time, and you feel good about where we’re heading, you want people to see that and our players are excited. And after you face disappointment, you want to play as soon as possible, also. We have some things to clean up, some things that caused us to lose the last game. So, excited about playing. I’ll take your questions.”
(On if the team rules players out on Tuesday before a Thursday game)
“We’re not ruling anybody out right now. Have a few hours, still, before we play and, this early, just keep in mind of how long [ago] we played. Everybody’s a little sore, still, right now, so we’ve adjusted the schedule that way.”
(On where certain players might line up on Thursday night)
“We don’t talk about where guys play during practice, as you probably know, or should know. We have some players out there, we’ll kind of mix them in and see where we’ll go. We like to keep some of those things on where guys line up in our private practice, private.”
(On St. Louis defensive tackle Aaron Donald)
“I thought he was a great player coming out of college. Was coached by a great coach in Bob Junko at the University of Pittsburgh. When I say great – play the run, there are a lot of players inside that can play the run, but he’s a legitimate pass rusher. It’s a tough duty. He’s a guy that you have to double most of the time, but still – I don’t know exactly how many sacks, 11 sacks or so right now – for an inside player. But if you see him, he’s active. Great quickness, great strength. Will be a good matchup for our guards, especially for a player like Ali [Marpet] to play against a player like that.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston and St. Louis running back Todd Gurley and their potential as Rookie of the Year candidates)
“Yes, that’s a good point. I talked about Todd Gurley earlier [this week]. We did a lot of work on him, he was a special player in college coached by a great coach in Mark Richt. And he’s played that way, he’s come on to the scene quickly and just watching him run, he can do it all. He’s a big back, he can run inside the tackles with power, make you miss in the open field, great speed, and, of course, I could talk the rest of the night about our guy, Jameis Winston. If you haven’t seen him play, and we haven’t been on the national stage, that in itself is enough to watch the game. I talked about Aaron Donald; there are two great defensive tackles [Gerald McCoy] that you can watch, so there’s a lot of things. And, you know we have some new uniforms, too, right? So if that doesn’t whet your appetite enough, just kind of seeing how we look a little bit should do that.”
(On if the coaches will be wearing “color rush” gear on Thursday)
“We want to have a little bit of a surprise for some things, alright?”
(Opening Statement)
“Good afternoon everybody, [It’s a] big game for us on a Thursday night against the Rams who are coming off a big win. [It’s] one that we need really bad. We’re looking forward to this ballgame on the road against the St. Louis Rams.”
(On St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley)
“It’s just a combination of the size, the speed, the quickness that he has – 16 carries for 140 yards against a pretty good defense. He’s a guy who you obviously have to pay a lot of attention to. That size-speed combination is rare and ability to make people miss and then he can run over you as well, so he has all the ingredients to be a very good back in our league for a while.”
(On the secondary’s performance against New Orleans)
“We had ups and downs in the ballgame on Sunday. They completed a pretty good percentage of passes, so we had our ups and downs. We didn’t play as well as we would like across the board. It was just a tough day all the way around.”
(On Alterraun Verner practicing at corner and Mike Jenkins practicing at nickel back)
“We’re just trying to look at different combinations and just trying to see what group works best together even at this point in the year against a team we need to be able to defend the pass against although they are very good at running the football, but everybody in our league throws the ball and throws it well. [It’s] another chance to look at some guys at this stage of the year.”
(On finding a nickel scheme that works well against the run)
“Between the guys that we are working, one of them has to stand up and help us. You got to be able to tackle this week for sure. They run the ball extremely well. It’s tough to be down linebackers and sometimes when you’re missing D-linemen as well, but that’s just a part of what you deal with in our league with injuries. To be able to find the right guy at the nickel position is something that we have been working on throughout the season. We’ll give some other guys a chance this week.”
(On linebacker Orie Lemon playing the Sam linebacker positon)
“He kind of went through the same thing a season ago and we plugged him in right away. So it’s similar in that way, but it’s been a period of time since he’s been here last. I think maybe three, four weeks since he was here last and now we are putting him at a different position. He has enough familiarity with our defense, with the language, that that will help him. You can see some of the rust even in practice. When you’ve spent that much time away, there’s a bit of an adjustment. That’s just part of it. That’s where we are.”
(On running back Doug Martin only having 11 carries against New Orleans)
“We ran 51 plays in the game. This is a story of third downs. We converted 36 percent. I think they converted somewhere in the 70s. They ran 78 plays, we ran 52, I think the number was – 52. Now let’s do the math backwards. 52, we had a five-play two minute drive at the end of the first half, we went down and got a field goal. Good job by the guys executing. We got the ball back with 13 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, down two scores. We went on a nine-play touchdown drive. You know how many times we ran it in that drive? Anybody? One. I didn’t hear anybody complaining. We went right down and scored and got it back to a one-score game. We got the ball back one more time, [with] five minutes to go in the game. Doug had a beautiful run, two great blocks on the perimeter. We had a 24-yard run then we threw three passes in a row. One incomplete, one overthrown, one dropped – game over. You got 51 plays in the game, I think with runs and passes Doug had – targets or touches – 14. I think [Charles Sims] had 13, then it goes down to Austin [Seferian-Jenkins], six, Mike [Evans], four. I always like to say, anyone who talks about touches, do the math working backwards. How many plays do you have? Divide up how many times you want every guy to touch it and then try to make that equation work out. I would love for Doug to touch it 25 times in every game, but the one thing I’m always talking about, when you are the play-caller, you always have to deal with time and score, time and score, time and score. That dictates a lot. I think Doug has done a fantastic job this year with his touches. The numbers back that up, but it is what it is for this game. I wish he got 25, but he didn’t.”
(On not having tackle Demar Dotson active against New Orleans)
“That’s a question for Coach [Lovie] Smith. You can only have so many guys active. Usually we only have seven guys up on [the offensive line] and the one thing that always comes into play on number six and seven is you got to have guys who play multiple positions and you’ve got to have multiple guys that can snap the football, play center in case your center goes down. But you have to ask coach about the rest of that.”
(On the season wide receiver Mike Evans is having and what has changed from a year ago)
“Again, the fact that I wasn’t here last year makes that somewhat difficult. One thing I would just say is Mike came on to the scene last year as a rookie, Vincent Jackson playing on the other side. I think people game-plan for Mike a lot more than maybe they did last year. Mike is drawing more double-teams than perhaps he did last year. Mike still has high 800s in yards. He’s still probably going to go over 1,000 yards, unless something bad happens. I would just say, more than anything, defenses are probably more aware of him and growing pains with a rookie quarterback, and we’re running the ball more. We’re running the ball more, last year they threw it a little more. We’re running the ball more and probably more successfully than they did last year.”
(On Evans not having a target or reception until the third quarter)
“Fifty-one plays, time and score. Over here [points to his right] you’re telling me Doug [Martin] has to run it more, over here [points to his left] you’re telling me Mike [Evans] has to get more targets. Which do you want? You want more targets, we have to score more points. I think we had going into the two-minute drive right before the half, I think we had something like 21 plays in the first half. That only comes back to one thing, we have to convert third downs and stay on the field. Everybody gets more touches if you convert third downs and stay on the field. It’s a hard math problem. It’s a lot harder when you look at it backwards, when you look at it after the fact. When you’re in the game you’re trying to work your game plan and move the football. Again, I’m not sitting out there checking it off, Mike has so many targets, Doug has so many targets. In the passing game, targets are determined by the defense, not by the offense. [If] they’re playing Cover-2 and we have a hitch route onto Mike, guess what? He’s not getting it. He’s just not getting the ball. We have to go somewhere else with it. Targets, kind of a sore subject with me, but the bottom line is we didn’t play well enough on offense to win the game. That is a fact. We got to play better on offense and that starts with third downs.”
(On how much of a disruptive force is St. Louis defensive tackle Aaron Donald)
“Extremely. We have an advanced scout from our scouting department that scouts teams a couple weeks in advance and he told me [Donald] was on the same level as J.J. Watt. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, that’s hard to believe.’ Then it came my time to watch the tape and I said, ‘Oh wow, he’s on the same level as J.J. Watt.’ This guy is having a fantastic year. [He is] definitely a game-wrecker for this game.”
(On tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins)
“Last week I said he looks like a guy who hadn’t played in nine weeks. I think he is making progress. That’s nine weeks, that’s a long time off, but he made a couple really nice plays – the slant route he ran and then, on the play Jameis [Winston] got hit on the roughing the passer, that was a really nice catch on the hitch route over there right in front of our bench for a key first down. I think Austin is improving and there’s another guy that really needs more targets. He had six in the game. Divide those 51 plays up – we need to get Austin the ball, we need to get Mike [Evans] the ball, we need to get Doug [Martin] the ball, we need to get [Charles Sims] the ball. We’ve got to stay on the field.”
(On St. Louis Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams)
“Gregg and I coached together one year in Jacksonville. Gregg Williams is one of the most innovative and fearless defensive coordinators in the NFL. By fearless I mean he will zero-blitz you at any time, any spot on the field. [He’s] innovative in that he’s not one to follow the crowd. He along with Coach [Jeff] Fisher, they’re going to run their defense and that goes clear back to Coach Fisher’s days playing with the Chicago Bears. They’re always going to have part of the Bears’ defense in there, which is a handful for the offense. It creates some issues for us. We’ve definitely got a challenge playing St. Louis on a short week from a scheme standpoint and from an even bigger standpoint than that is they’ve got some good players on defense. Unfortunately they lost a couple good players to injury – you don’t want to see that on guys – but they have a talented defense and they’ve got a difficult scheme.”
(On his evaluation of quarterback Jameis Winston)
“When you take a look at the tape and watch it, Jameis played better than you might think he did. Jameis played okay in this game. He missed a couple balls high. I don’t know if anyone can really know – maybe if you were down on the field – it was a lot windier than maybe you would have thought. That was a tough wind and that showed up a little bit in the kicking game, you could see it as well. Jameis has not had a lot of trouble with wind. I thought one ball came out of his hand a little funny. There’s a couple balls he would like to have back, but in general Jameis did okay in this game. Again, if we make a couple catches, here and there, or protect a little different, here or there, or a guy is at the right depth on the route or something like that. In that last drive after Doug’s [Martin] run, I can’t remember what he first-down play [was], second down we went empty and we got Charles [Sims] on that linebacker and Jameis was looking off the free safety. He was looking him to the right. He knew he had Chuck on the linebacker, what he didn’t see was that linebacker bumped Chuck pretty good. In my book, that should’ve been a call, we didn’t get it. Jameis didn’t really look, that’s why the ball is maybe five or six yards overthrown. We play the would’ve, could’ve should’ve game, that might have been a big play. Then we come back on third down, Jameis stood in that pocket and threw that end-cut. Again, on another day, he might have turned the corner and gone to the house. It wasn’t our day. We didn’t do well enough. That starts with me and we got to do better if we’re going to win games.”
(On wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s injury and players stepping up)
“Yeah, absolutely. Losing Vince definitely hurts us. Between Russell Shepard and [Donteea Dye] they’re got to step up. The good news, we’ve been in this situation before, but you take a player of Vince’s caliber out of our line up and it certainly hurts us.”
(On NFL analyst Jon Gruden and Pat Kirwan saying he is a very worthy head coaching candidate and if he wants to be a head coach)
“They must not have heard those questions I was getting earlier today. Can you imagine, if I had to answer all the questions a head coach [has to answer], how pissed off I’d get every week. Call up the media in Phoenix and ask them. I was fortunate enough to be a head coach for nine years at two different schools and I was also a high school coach at one time in my life. That was fun. I’ve got a great job. I’ve got the greatest job in the world. I love working with Coach [Lovie] Smith and the offensive staff. We got a fantastic group of players. I’m excited about our long-term future. I hope our owners are as excited about it as I am. You don’t control that. We’re trying to do the best job we can right now.”
(On his experience and opinion of Thursday night games)
“I think whoever invented Thursday Night Football was not a player and was not a coach. Thursday Night Football is great for TV viewing, but you guys go in the locker room today – the players, this should be like the first day they’re coming back and we’re only two days from playing another game. It’s hard to work ahead because you are so focused on the previous game that it’s hard to get ahead. We had a game plan kind of put together and then we came over here right after the game, started finalizing our game plan. We hadn’t even watched the Rams [versus] Detroit game because it wasn’t in yet. Then we start watching that and they change a few things. You just really feel like you’re scrambling. You get on the plane tomorrow – you’re the road team – you fly out there, you get to the hotel, you can have some more meeting. Night games, when you’re used to playing at one o’clock, sitting around for the players and coaches. You’re sitting around, there’s nothing really you can do at the point besides wait. [I’m] not a fan of Thursday night games myself, but after they’re over and you get some time off – you get a day or so off to catch your breath – that’s probably the benefit.”
(On playing a Thursday night game and how difficult the preparation can be as a quarterback)
“I think it’s harder on the coaches than it is on the players. From a player standpoint, just getting your body back together, but it’s just another game of football that we have to be ready to play. They’re not going to make any excuses so we can’t either.”
(On how excited he is to play in a primetime game)
“[It’s] very exciting. I just want to show the world how good this team really is. This is our chance and we have to take advantage of it.”
(On growing as a leader and if he thinks next season may be different)
“Absolutely. After the season I always sit back and reflect on things I need to do to better myself and things I need to do to help the team out. Definitely, this is a growing process. Just one year, I’m not going to be able to stay there. I have to keep getting better, I got to keep being a better person and a better teammate.”
(On if he watched Thursday Night Football games and if he watches it as a fan or a player)
“Absolutely, yes sir. I’m just enjoying it as a fan, trying to see the coverages. Try to see what plays the offense is running. I’m just watching football like I usually watch it.”
(On if he had the goal of winning Rookie of the Year at the beginning of the season)
“No, it would be awesome to achieve that goal, but that wasn’t on my goal list at the beginning of the year. My goal was to have more wins than last year. We did that, so that’s an important goal for us, not only just for me, but this organization. Definitely our team is way more important than my individual success with goals. I don’t focus on that type of stuff, but Todd [Gurley] is having an amazing year and deserves all the credit he is getting.”
(On if he knows St. Louis running back Todd Gurley personally)
“Absolutely, that’s my guy.”
(On if he notices teams game-planning for wide receiver Mike Evans)
“Absolutely. When you have a great wide receiver like he is you always have to find a way to stop him because he’s a deep threat. Explosiveness is something we really harp on as an offensive unit and with Mike Evans, he makes it easier for us.”
(On making adjustments with the possibility of wide receiver Vincent Jackson being out for the rest of the season)
“We’ve been here before. It’s nothing different. He missed three games earlier in the season – the most he missed this season is probably three. Obviously we want to get him back as quickly as possible. V-Jack is great. He probably would be able to go back this game if he wants to. With this being a quick game, he needs his rest and the other guys are going to step up. This is definitely not anything new for us.”
(On if he said anything to wide receiver Donteea Dye after his dropped pass against New Orleans)
“One play doesn’t determine the outcome of a game and every time someone thinks that they messed up I always say, ‘Guys, I threw four picks earlier in the year.’ I’m a quarterback. It’s just one pass. Donteea’s confidence is definitely still up. We can’t harp on that. He’s a great player in that position. He had to step up once again. Vince went down and he wasn’t even really involved in the game plan so he had to step up again for us. He played a big role for us and he did a great job.”
(On how close he is with Todd Gurley)
“I text Gurley throughout the week. I always tell him good job and he does the same. We just try to keep up with our rookie class. Me and Gurley, we go all the way back. Me, Todd Gurley, Devin Funchess, Cory Coleman and Sean Maguire all played at the USA International Bowl together, so we’ve been friends since we were high schoolers. That’s my guy. I’m very happy for him.”
(On St. Louis Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense)
“I see a great defense, but at the end of the day we have to stick to our game plan. We got to do what we do. Just because he has a great defense, just because he has great personnel I’ve never been scared about anything like that because Coach [Dirk] Koetter, I trust in him to put us in a great situation and I trust the offensive line and I trust the guys around me.”
(On how he spends his game days when he has a night game)
“I’m just going to be anxious waiting to play. Any day that we get to go out there and play football I’m ready for it. I’m excited for it, don’t matter the time, the place, doesn’t matter where. I don’t care if it’s in the Walmart parking lot, I’d be ready. I study, watch TV, it’s been a while since we’ve played a night game. I’m just going to do whatever comes natural and just do whatever I need to do to prepare for this game.” 
(On the short week of preparation)
"It's going to be hard but they have to go through it, too. We've got all day tomorrow to prepare. There's not much physically we can do; we need to rest our bodies. Thursday night games, a lot of people don't like them but I don't think they're too bad. It's going to be good on the back end for us."
(On if he is seeing more double-teams)
"Yeah. This week, these guys, they doubled Calvin [Johnson]. I don't know if they'll double me but it will be a short turnaround for them so they might keep the same game plan with [Vincent Jackson] being out. But I'm going to embrace the challenge and our receivers are going to embrace it."
(On how he characterizes his second season after a strong rookie campaign)
"It hasn't been as good. It's easier for me to get open and things like that, it's just my fundamentals. I haven't been as tight on my fundamentals as last year. But I'm looking to finish strong these last three games. Hopefully – anything can happen – we get these three wins, a couple people lose and we get in the playoffs."
(On how he has felt physically this year)
"I feel good. Other than missing the first week I've been feeling good, no other injuries. I'm sore and things like that, but that's everybody in the league."
(On playing in front of a national audience with the rest of the teams in the league watching)
"That's cool to get a prime-time game in so everybody gets to see what we can do. A lot of people haven't seen us, they just see and hear the numbers and things like that. They get to watch us and hopefully they see the physical team that we are."
(On if the Thursday night game came at the right time to allow them to move on quickly from a loss)
"Absolutely. We want to redeem ourselves, and what better way? We've got four days and we've got a game two days from now. We're ready to redeem ourselves."
(On he and Jameis Winston being young players and playing together for years to come)
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it all the time. I'm 22, he's 21, we're both young and we both have a lot of talent and we have the work ethic. If we can put it together, man, we could be great."
(On if he still feels the same way about the penalties and non-penalties on Sunday as he did that day)
"Yeah, I do, but there's nothing I can do about it now. I've got to worry about the Rams. We've got another physical secondary and I've got to match it with my physicality. I can't worry about the refs. I've said that before, but it's tough. I'll get through it."
(On what has been the key to the team strong rush defense)
“For us it’s just being gap-sound and being where we’re supposed to be, being more physical than the team we’re playing and just getting 11 guys to the ball. A collective effort.”
(On St. Louis running back Todd Gurley)
“He’s a very rare talent. His age doesn’t matter, talent is talent. He’s very gifted and he hasn’t even played a full season and he has been one of the best running backs in the NFL. He’s fast, big guy, great vision, can move make every run, catch out of the backfield, so it’s going to have to be 11-on-one for sure.”
(On St. Louis defensive tackle Aaron Donald)
“He’s so explosive. The thing about him is he’s a small guy, which helps. It’s hard to get underneath his pads, but then he’s a freak athlete. If you go back to his Combine numbers he had exceptional numbers. Not only that, he can play the game. I love watching him. I’m a fan of football and any defensive lineman than can play the game I love to watch and he’s very fun for me to watch. I love watching him play.”
(On St. Louis being recognized for their defense and overshadowing Tampa Bay’s defense)
“We’re not really concerned with what they can do on defense. It’s more about us. Their defense has to face our offense. I let them worry about them. Offensively, we definitely cannot let them get the ground game going. They’re number six in the league right now, I believe. It’s a tough one but we have to get it done if we want to get a win.”
(On if Gurley is the best rookie in the league other than quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I don’t know. I just worry about [No.] 3 on our end. I got to worry about [No.] 30 [Gurley] on their end this week, but as long as we got No. 3, I’m all right.”
(On if he likes the idea of having a short week after losing the previous Sunday)
“Yeah, that’s the best thing that can happen is us being able to play immediately. Last Sunday we were not ourselves. We’re going to have to make that different on Thursday.”
(On showing the nation this is a different Tampa Bay team)
“We’re not the same team. We were not ourselves on Sunday, but we’re not the same team. We’re a different team. Yeah, I think we are. Our only national stage we get, it’s time to show up.”
(On his conversation with Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen on the sideline against New Orleans)
“I’m a professional and so is he, but he’s our leader as far as the defensive line goes. We’re not always going to agree. We’re going to bump heads. It was a disagreement, it got heated, but we apologized to each other right after. I talked to him after the game, I called him again after the game, we talked again yesterday. Those things happen. It’s going to be made a bigger deal than it was. You laugh it off. I came into meetings yesterday and said, ‘Are we still friends?’ I love him as a coach and as a person. He’s a great guy.” 

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