Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017 Media Availability (10/11/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: This season, the Buccaneers have totaled 1,496 yards, the second-most through four games in franchise history (1,498 in 2003).
 
Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
 
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith
Wide Receiver Mike Evans
  
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
 
(On if it was good to get the guys back out on the practice field today)
“It was. It sure was. Good to have the guys back and start working again.”
 
(On what he remembers most about the game in Arizona last season)
“They just physically got after us and we turned it over way too many times. When you lose the turnover battle as far as we did last year it’s going to be tough to win. They physically beat us and took advantage of all of our mistakes. We didn’t show up to play that day and we didn’t do a good job coaching either. We’ve got to do a lot better in all phases this year.”
 
(On if those are the games that keep him up at night)
“Me personally, yes. I can’t speak for everybody, but for me personally they do.”
 
(On how the offensive line has played so far this season)
“I think the line has played pretty good. If you look around the league, there [are] a ton of teams that have issues injury-wise at O-line. There [are] several teams in the league playing with multiple backups. We feel like we have good depth on the offensive line. Our grades for the New England game – our O-line graded out extremely high.”
 
(On what he likes about the offensive line play)
“[We] cut down on MEs (mental errors) significantly and it starts with that – everybody being on the same page. The second phase of that is playing physical.”
 
(On if guards Kevin Pamphile and Evan Smith will continue to split reps)
“It was pretty even again last week and as we’ve discussed before, that really wasn’t the plan. It just kind of started that way and it has continued. Knock on wood we’ve stayed healthy [and] as I just mentioned, several teams have not. One of the byproducts of that is you’re developing depth. We will see how it goes. We don’t have to be in a big hurry to decide that. When one guy separates it will be obvious to everybody and when that happens we will make the move full-time.”
 
(On giveaways and takeaways)
“I think the New England game is only the second game in the least three years that we’ve won the turnover margin and lost the game. I think we’re something like 18-2 or 19-2 – something like that. The Cardinals are almost exactly the same way. We go over that with the team every week and both teams are real similar. It’s cliché, but the stats back it up that if you win the turnover margin you’ve got a great chance to win the game.”
 
(On if the team has specific guidelines in terms of when to clock the ball)
“Yeah, we have specific rules and also I call to the quarterback. We have both of those.”
 
(On what has impressed him about the way safety Justin Evans has performed the last few games)
“His athleticism. This guy is a freakish athlete and that is why he was drafted where he was. As we’ve said several times, the thing that set Justin back is that he missed the entire OTAs [and] was just slow. [With] a lot of guys, when they first come to the league they’re just not comfortable. They don’t know the system. It’s all new to them – new a lot of stuff. Many times, it happens that way when a guy is just kind of sitting back and then he is thrust into there, because of injury in this case, and then they take off. There is no denying his talent and it showed up big in the game.”
 
(On how does Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu create challenges for the offense)
“He looks pretty good. We had him on our game-wrecker tape today. We showed him making sacks, tackling runners in the backfield, [grabbing] an interception to win the Colts game. He is a very skilled player. He is good around the line of scrimmage. He is good as a blitzer, but yeah he is really good at reading the quarterback and coming off his guy or undercutting his guy and making plays on the football. Because we don’t see a ton of them – we don’t see all of their games [and] they’re not in our division – but to me he looks really good.”
 
(On if Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson was on the game-wrecker tape)
“He was on there.”
 
(On if Cardinals safety Budda Baker was on the game-wrecker tape)
“He was not on there. I mean he’s not playing that much for them. He is mostly playing in the dime. He’s not playing that much.”
 
(On how running back Doug Martin changes the dynamic of their offense)
“If we are getting the Doug that we’ve seen at his best – and he did look good the other night in the 25 snaps that he got – it gives you an explosive back, a back that can turn a four-yard gain into a 12-yard gain and once a while a 12-yard gain into a 50-yard gain. Next to that turnover thing, as we always say, explosives [are] the next biggest thing. We actually had our most explosive plays of the year in the New England game – we had nine. We were there on turnovers and we were there on explosives and we still got beat.”
 
(On if the team’s identity has changed this season)
“At our core, we’d love to be 50-50 on run downs. Balance is the hardest thing to defend. If you’re running the football your play-action game opens up. It slows down their pressures. I think every team is like that. Then sometimes injuries or circumstances – time and score – sometimes dictate that you can’t stick to that like [what] happened in the Minnesota game. But at our core, that is what we would like to be.”
 
(On Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald)
“He was one of our game-wreckers too. He was on our game-wrecker tape. He’s amazing. The guy is going to be in the Hall of Fame. Not only does he make the catches that you talk about, but he is the guy that does all their dirty work. He is the guy that plays when they are in their three-wide, one tight end [sets] – someone has to block the other edge or the edge next to the tight end because everybody is in eight-man boxes now. He does the dirty work and he makes the big plays for them. He is a pro’s pro and he is definitely going to be in the Hall of Fame someday.”
 
(On the return of kicker Patrick Murray)
“Funny how things work out – that’s what I said to Pat. It’s a strange world. It’s crazy how things work out. Pat, I know when he left here last time he was – I’m going to put words in his mouth now – he was a little bit bitter and maybe rightfully so because no one likes to lose their position because of injury, especially an injury that happened in a training session not really on the field. I think in Patrick’s mind – I’m not trying to speak for him – in his mind he should have been the kicker here all along. It’s just weird how things work out. He’s back and hopefully he goes out there and knocks it dead.”
 
(On if his reputation for being consistent when healthy served Murray well in the decision to bring him back)
“That was actually the year before me, but I know the players that were here and the coaches were here. I know within the building and within the team there was a lot of confidence in him.”
 
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE SMITH
 
(On what challenges the Cardinals offense presents)
“Well they have been throwing the ball extremely well. They’re second or third in the league in yards. They’re very explosive. They’re one of the top three teams in creating explosive plays. Larry Fitzgerald is still playing at a Hall of Fame level. They’ve got speed on the outside with their other receivers and they’ve got a good tight end in [Jermaine] Gresham, so it’s going to be a challenge. Then you throw in a new running back (Adrian Peterson) that hasn’t run the ball much this season when he was in New Orleans, but he is a big, strong back. I know that they’re trying to improve their run game and I think that he will be a big plus for them. It will be a challenge. We are going to have to get multiple sets of pads on him.”
 
(On where he saw improvements on the defensive end)
“I was very pleased with the performance in terms of keeping them out of the end zone. Ultimately, that’s how we are going to be judged in terms of [defense] – how many points do we give up? We did have some leaky yardage in the run game that was a bit concerning. We had a missed tackle that went for their longest run – 20-plus yards. Coming out of halftime, we didn’t keep them on the goal line when we needed to. There were a couple long drives where we let them out of some second down-and-longs. The third down efficiency was very good, considering who [we] were facing, but the second downs were not. When I say the second downs, we had them in second-and-15, second-and-20 and then they turned it around and got it to third-and-five and third-and-four situations. That probably to me was one of the most disappointing things was the way we played that second-and-long.”
 
(On what his players can learn from the game in Arizona last season)
“I think the first thing we can learn is that we need to do a real good job communicating. It’s something that we didn’t do well at the beginning of the season and it was very apparent going into halftime, where we gave up 14 points. We had a blown assignment – a mental error – where we gave up the long touchdown pass. It kind of snowballed from there. Knowing that, I hope that the guys will have a good memory of it in terms of that that’s a good football team and they can put points up at will and they can throw the ball around the yard. We’ve got to do a very good job of communicating. Carson [Palmer] is not a guy that can beat you with his feet. When I say beat you with his feet [I mean] turn it into run plays. He’s very good, when you watch him, [at] sliding into the pocket and extending plays. They’ve got those guys that can turn up field and go deep and he has the arm to get it there. That’s why I think they’re doing such a great job in terms of creating explosive plays.”
 
(On what he has seen on film about Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson)
“He is a big, strong guy. He runs violently. He is a violent runner and I think I mentioned earlier, if you don’t get your pads on him and don’t get multiple sets and take good angles, he is going to break tackles. He hasn’t had an opportunity for one reason or another in New Orleans to get many touches, so he is going to be fresh and it’s going to be a challenge. We are going to have to do a very good job of taking care of our gaps and not give him a crease. If he gets through the first level and gets into the secondary, he can cause some problems. He still, I think, runs very violently and I think he still has top-end speed.”
 
(On if he feels cornerback Vernon Hargreaves’ play is fluctuating up and down each week)
“I think that there were some good plays that Vern made. Vern made a nice play on a screen – showed the physicality that you want to have with your corners. We had an extended play where the receiver ran across the field. We could’ve helped him in that case. We should have had some underneath coverage. He ended up getting in a trail position. Vernon is in a situation where we’ve got a pretty darn good corner on the other side (Brent Grimes) and they are going to stay away from throwing the ball over there. He is going to get his opportunities – you’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some. The ones that stand out are the ones you don’t make, but he made some plays in the ball game.”
 
(On if it is the plan to have Hargreaves play a lot of soft coverage)
“I don’t think it’s by design in terms of what we’re asking our players to do. We give our guys a little bit of flexibility in terms of where they feel comfortable. There are ranges in terms of where we would like them to line up. We don’t say, ‘Hey, we want you to be right here in this specific defense.’ We give it to them based on their skillset. Brent Grimes is going to play it a little different than Vernon Hargreaves. Again, I think Vernon, you know, he had a lot of snaps last year and I think he continues to learn. Like I said, he gets a lot of opportunities because of who we have on the other side.”
 
(On if he was pleased with the pass rush versus New England)
“I thought we did a much better job pushing the pocket in the game last week. Our inside push was very good. I still think we have some technical things that we have to improve on across the board with our pass rush. That also includes some of the stuff that is going on in the back end – when the quarterback is ready to throw the ball, we’ve got to make sure we’re in phase with the receivers. The push of the pocket I thought was much improved. We still have a long, long way to go in a number of areas.”
 
(On how encouraged he was by the play of safety Justin Evans)
“It doesn’t surprise me. I said last week [that] I think he will perform like our rookie linebacker Kendell [Beckwith] has performed and I think he played very well for his first extended action. To have the pick early in the game, that was a huge play in the football game. He got his hand on two other balls. He is a very good football player. He just needs reps and he needs to see it. I think he is going to be a guy that is going to help us in the short term and the long term. He is a guy that can play both strong and free safety. He’s getting comfortable back there and no disrespect to any of the other guys, he is probably the most athletic safety that we have.”
 
(On how linebacker Kendell Beckwith compares to other rookie linebackers that he has coach previously)
“I had Daryl Smith as a rookie and I was very fortunate to have Daryl Smith [in] his last year in the league. There [are] some similarities. He is a little bit longer than Daryl. Daryl was probably a bit stronger, but there are a lot of similarities. There [are] a lot of similarities in that they are both country-strong guys. I don’t know what his 40 [yard dash] time was and his bench press and all that, but he understands leverage and he bends extremely well.”
 
(On what he pinpoints as key areas of measuring how his defense is playing)
“Each week there’s a different dynamic in play. It is based on who you are playing and who you’re playing with. If there is one thing that’s for certain in the NFL, you’re probably not going to have the same 22 guys going against each other from both teams when you meet, so it changes. Each week you’ve got to first figure out what are their strengths – we talk about game-wreckers and who do we need to stop and how do we want to stop them or, in some cases, slow them down. Then there are other ways that we have to say okay, ‘What do we do with the guys that are on our side of the board?’ It’s a challenge. Sometimes to the naked eye, it doesn’t seem like there is anything going on different, but there are subtle changes in terms of how we are lining guys up, how we are asking them to play certain techniques. That’s the fun part of working with these guys. We’ve had to change things up from week to week and that is just a given in this league. It’s fun, as a coach, as a coaching staff and with the players to get together, put together a game plan and hopefully we go out and execute it to the level that we know we are capable of doing it.”
 
(On how much of a lift it would be to get linebacker Lavonte David back into the mix)
“Any time you get your top-level [linebackers] back it’s a jolt to the defense and probably a jolt to the entire team. We want to have our best players out there and unfortunately, we haven’t been able to have our best players out there over the last four or five weeks. But hey, we are hoping that we get as healthy as we possibly can.”
 
(On how much the extra time off helps players recover)
“For those guys, I don’t really know the answer that because each one’s injury is a little bit different. Whether it’s time away – I mean they really haven’t done anything on the field. I don’t know that is really changed anything.”
 
(On if Justin Evans has cut down on the number of missed tackles)
“He has. I think Brett [Maxie] and Jon [Hoke] have done a great job in terms of working on the weakness that was perceived when he was coming out of college. I think he had one missed tackle in the game last week, but he had a couple really solid tackles in space. He is a long player. If he will continue to understand how you have to take the grass when you’re in the open field and use that length, he will get guys to the ground more times than not.”
 
(On if his tackling issue is a result of him being over aggressive)
“Absolutely. He was a very aggressive player. In open space, you’ve got to make sure you have someone that you’re working with and you’re not playing it like you’re the only guy on the field. I think he’s got a much better understanding of that. I’ve been very pleased. For him to come in and have nine tackles against the defending Super Bowl champs and probably the greatest quarterback of all time and get an interception – the guy has to be excited about his first start in the NFL.”
 
(On what adjustments Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians has made to his offense with the absence of running back David Johnson)
“They’re not running the ball as efficiently thus far in the season. They’re throwing the ball extremely well. Bruce is going to set up those long pass attempts by the play action. When you’re not running it as efficiently, it doesn’t have as much bite. With the new running back that is joining them this week it’s going to be a little bit different dynamic because you’re going to have to put some resources up close to the line of scrimmage when he is in there.”
 
(On not having to game plan for Johnson)
“I don’t mind at all. You don’t worry about who’s not there. You’ve just got to worry about who is there and put your best foot forward and try to put the best plan together that you can.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER MIKE EVANS
 
(On what he has seen from the Cardinals on tape)
“Well you see what they did to us last year. They stomped us out last year. They bring a lot of pressure and a lot of man coverage on the back end. We’ve just got to be real physical as receivers and tight ends. We’ve got to be real physical and get open.”
 
(On how important it is to get a win)
“I think so. I think it’s very important. We want to win every game obviously, but our division is tough. I think it’s probably [been] the toughest division in football the past three years, so we’ve got to win games to be in the race.”
 
(On what the Buccaneers offense relies on)
“Running the football, making guys come down, getting more guys in the box and then hitting them over the top with play action and things like that.”
 
(On Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald)
“I think he is a great player. He is a Hall of Famer for sure. [He is] very consistent, good route-runner [and has] great hands. Early in his career he was a big play guy. He does all of the dirty work. He blocks his butt off, so I’ve watched him in that aspect a lot, but he is a Hall of Famer for sure.”
 
(On if he gets excited to go up against the top corners in the league like Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson)
“I’m excited to go up against all of them because they’re all in the NFL. They’re all the best of the best, but in my opinion, he was the best I faced last year so we will see what he’s about this year.”
 
(On the addition of kicker Patrick Murray)
“Pat’s my guy. We both came in as rookies together. I know him real well and he is a great player.”
 
-BUCCANEERS-