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07 December 2017

Transcript: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Media Availability (12/7/17)

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: QB Jameis Winston needs one passing touchdown Sunday against Detroit to tie Ryan Tannehill for the 10th-most passing touchdowns by a quarterback through their first three seasons. With two passing touchdowns he would tie Cam Newton for ninth-most.
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 running back Doug Martin and defensive end Robert Ayers cleared concussion protocol)
“They did. They both got cleared. They got cleared late this morning. Robert and Doug got cleared. T.J. Ward is still in the concussion protocol.”
(On if he has an idea of how he wants to handle the carries at running back between Martin and Peyton Barber)
“Yeah, I do. I have a great sense of it and I will let you know Sunday at one o’clock.”
(On how tough it is for a player to have continued success in one area after other teams haven’t recognized it like Cam Brate has had in the red zone)
“One of the reasons that has worked well is because for the last three years that I’ve been here, basically, Mike Evans gets doubled every time we get inside the 10-yard line. When he gets doubled, that means –unless they rush three – everybody else gets singled. We’ve become accustomed to any plays we have in the red zone – they’ve got an option in there and Cam has taken full advantage of that in case Mike gets doubled. I don’t think we’ve played a team yet this year that hasn’t doubled Mike inside the 10 because most teams in the NFL are going to throw fade balls to their big receivers. We just haven’t gotten a chance to throw very many fade balls because the corner is pressing in with outside leverage and the free safety is rolled over the top. Again, that opens up something else – when you are in a three-by-one set, especially.”
(On having three 100-yard rushing performances in the past two seasons and none of them coming from Martin)
“We could throw numbers at everything. We can also go back to 2015 and say Doug was the second-[leading rusher in the NFL].”
(On much of the blame falls on the running back himself)
“We’ve talked about this a million times. Nothing out there is on one single guy. Nothing that happens is on one single guy. It’s a team game. You need all 11 guys. We’ve talked about that at least five times this year in this room. So, I guess now it’s six.”
(On if better blocking was the sole reason that Barber went over 100 yards rushing against the Packers)
“There is a little more to it than that. I mean it could have something to do with the defense – that’s another option.”
(On if there is anything to point to that explains the discrepancy between the defensive performance at home and on the road)
“I can’t, really. Most teams in the NFL play better at home and for whatever reason that has worked for our defense.”
(On how he would rank defensive tackle Gerald McCoy this season compared to the previous two and if he is deserving of the Pro Bowl)
“Again, deserving of the Pro Bowl is based on what everybody else in the league is doing. I don’t have the benefit of watching all 32 three-techniques in the league. I know if you talk to the teams we play, I’m quite sure that they are very concerned about stopping Gerald McCoy on a weekly basis. How he stacks up against the other three-techniques – there is at least 32 of them, other than 3-4 teams – I don’t know the answer to that.”
(On how McCoy compares to the other defensive tackles that they have faced this season)
“He is right up there, yeah.”
(On how much he bases his Pro Bowl votes off of how much preparation a player requires)
“When a coach votes on the Pro Bowl, I don’t study all 1,600 players in the league. All you can do is go off of guys you’ve seen. Who votes for the Pro Bowl that it’s an exact science? I mean the players that vote, who are they going to vote for? The guys they’ve seen, or guys they’ve gone against or guys they’ve watched on TV. The Pro Bowl voting is inexact. I hate voting for the Pro Bowl. We do it as a staff and we let the whole staff have input and it’s impossible because there might be a guy on a team, the Chargers for example – I don’t think we’ve seen the Chargers on crossover tape one time this year – there might be a guy having a fantastic year [and] I wouldn’t even know it.”
(On if the team plans to go after Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s injured hand)
“No, we would never go after any player. If you read that whole thing, it was said in jest followed up by about a 10-minute oration on how tough of a player Matthew Stafford is, which is easy for anybody to see.”
(On if running back Doug Martin will resume his position as the starting back once he clears concussion protocol)
“It remains to be seen until he gets cleared. He hasn’t been cleared yet, but I think it is a good problem to have. Doug is a good football player. Peyton [Barber] had a good week last week. I thought we blocked well last week. I thought we schemed it up well. All of those things are a part of it. When you’re not having success in a certain area, it’s all inclusive. It’s scheme, it’s coaching, it’s players – it’s all of the above, but you’ve got to find a way to fix it. When Doug is cleared, we will be happy to have him back.”
(On if Martin would have had the same success as running back Peyton Barber did against Green Bay with the way the offensive line created holes to run through)
“That is hard to say. It just didn’t work out that way that he was out there. I know what I saw in Peyton and what he brought and I know what Doug brings, so that is hard because we kicked that around ourselves. Where would we have been if ‘X’ [and] ‘Z’ – you talked about Ryan [Fitzpatrick] and if Jameis was in there. You don’t know who plays and the expectations of the position.”
(On what Barber did to have success against Green Bay)
“Well, he is certainly a bigger back. He is able to certainly bring the capability of yards after contact. I think that’s what it was. [It was] something we needed and something that Doug had been doing better at. It’s week-to-week, so up until last week it wasn’t as if Peyton [was overly successful] for the opportunities he had. [There] wasn’t a lot of opportunities, but it wasn’t as if he was having that same success. Like I said, I thought he did a really good job. He made a couple of really nice cuts, getting it downhill and then the yards after contact.”
(On if Martin had been hesitant with his runs before he suffered the concussion)
“I think every back [goes through that]. You find where at times when there is not that consistent hole, they start to find something that isn’t there. It’s the same thing if your quarterback starts getting hit. Does he start looking for the rush? It’s human nature. That’s one thing that I thought we did a really good job of. We’ve done it the last few weeks a lot better, getting push and creating some seams for our running backs. That showed up early in the Atlanta game and then last week.”
(On the performance of quarterback Jameis Winston against Green Bay)
“First off, I thought he played extremely well under the circumstances of going three weeks without throwing the football. Let’s start with that. I thought he threw the ball [well] and got better as the week went on as you would expect. I think that as he continues to grow, and we continue to get our offense around him and his strengths and our guys – I think he will continue to shine. Really it felt like the first time in a number of weeks where he was healthy. I think that is the biggest thing. Taking from it – obviously, protecting the football. Jameis is a highly competitive guy. [He made] a couple errant throws and then a couple times [struggled when] taking care of the football.”
(On if he sensed that Winston started the game with a lot of poise)
“I did. I sensed it as well. A lot of people have talked to Jameis about that. Guys that are high-strung, competitive guys get fired up and you can see it in their body language and their footwork. I thought he did have a calm demeanor. I thought that showed in the way he checked the ball down, which he did early in the game. They gave us some looks to check the ball down, so that was part of it. He did a very nice job of assessing what we were getting and [knowing] where to go with the football early in his drop.”
(On if he thinks the 100-yard rushing game for Barber was less about him and more about the blocking, defense and scheme)
“It’s usually all of the above. It just is. Did we like what we saw with Peyton? Without question. There is no doubt. Did we scheme it up well? I think so. That’s usually a part of it. Do I think we blocked well? Yes, that’s usually [part of it]. Did we play [well] in all of those positions that add to that? No doubt. Just like any situation in what we do, there is more than one reason why it worked and there is more than one reason why it didn’t. It comes down to those three things – it comes down to personnel, your scheme and your coaching. That’s it. So, when it comes to that, we all take the credit and we all take the blame when it is not good enough.”
(On having three 100-yard rushing performances in the past two seasons, but none of those being from Martin and if that should be recognized)
“I think some of that – I’m not avoiding that part of it – part of it is that Doug has missed an extended period of time. That’s a part of it too – Doug missing time – some things he created and some that he couldn’t help from an injury standpoint. So, no doubt. But it’s hard to say in those games because I think one of them was San Francisco and then Green Bay and [Carolina], so you’re sitting there trying to assess – well he didn’t play. Where would it have been? I don’t know that. I don’t know the answer. Do I like Peyton Barber? Yes. Do I like the way we schemed it up? Yes. Do we know how to work with Doug? I don’t know.”
(On if he felt the game against the Packers was the best run-blocking game they have had all season)
“It certainly felt that way and usually that is a byproduct of it. Every game is different. It’s just odd that way. If you said, ‘Hey, did you go in the game thinking you would be able to run the ball for X-amount of yards?’ No, not any different than any other game you go in. It just happened to work out that way, schematically speaking. Some of the things worked that we hoped would work and I thought our guys blocked and ran the ball well. And we were able to control that part of it. We converted on third downs better [and] that helps. When you are able to convert and keep the defense on the field, that helps. We’ve struggled in that area. It all fits together. We were able to sustain the first drive with some third downs and some plays, so that is all a big part of it.”
(On if he has seen benchmarks in Winston’s play this season that suggest he is on the path toward becoming an elite quarterback)
“Well, it’s hard to say because he has been banged up. It’s just so hard to say from the get go, then getting banged up, then not being able to throw and still playing, to now not having to throw and then come back, so that is hard to say. Do I think he is developing as a player? Without question. You can see it every day that we are out there with him and [by] his mannerisms. He is only going to continue to get better and learn from the mistakes that he makes – that all quarterbacks make. It’s week to week. You go one week and you’re playing well and then the next week – there is a lot to do with who you are playing and the scheme you are going against. I think, without question, he is progressing as a player. Again, it’s hard for any player – not just him – that if they are not practicing [and] not able to do the things you’re going to ask for them to do in the game, it’s hard to assess that because they are not able to get the work.”
(On if he was frustrated by the sack fumble against Green Bay, thinking that Winston may have been past those type of mistakes)
“We went through a tough stretch. We went through an interception where we would have had the ball on the 35 going in, but we got a block in the back. That backed us up another 20-25 yards of hidden yardage. [We] went three and out and got the punt blocked. Then moved it all the way down and got the turnover. That was the game. I mean, we battled our rear ends off to get back in it and do all that, but there was a sequence right there – there was other things and the red zone and some other things. But, there are certainly times when Jameis’ competitiveness gets the best of him. The last drive we had the ball coming out, he was trying to get rid of the ball and then has to take care of it. But, there is other times he bails us out by getting rid of it. There is a fine line where he has to understand and he did. In watching the tape, there were other times where when we didn’t protect as well, he did eat it and he did understand that every possession has to end in a kick. Either we’re punting, kicking a field goal or a PAT – it has to end that way if you want to be successful. We’ve done a pretty good job of that. Over the last four weeks, [we’ve had] two turnovers. Unfortunately, the one he had last Sunday resulted in a possession where we’re going into score and they get seven the other way – I don’t know what else to say. Obviously, it’s frustrating.”
(On what makes tight end Cameron Brate a threat in the red zone)
“First of all, I think Cam is very consistent in what he does route-running wise. He spends a lot of time with Jameis, which usually is the case where you develop that rapport. The consistency of his route-running and I think the rapport he has with Jameis that I think is really the biggest part of it. You can count on that he will make contested catches down there, so I think that’s probably the biggest part in it. Again, like whether it’s O.J. [Howard] or it’s him, it comes in bunches by game plan and the way it kind of worked out. The touchdown pass that we threw to Cam – the last one – we should’ve never gotten to that. We had the ball – I mean were we at the one-and-a-half? It should have come down to the running back running it in. Sometimes it works out that way where you end up further back where a guy gets an opportunity that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. Then the one he scored first, that came by coverage that dictated where we went with the ball where it could go somewhere else. Consistency, and as I said before, just the rapport with Jameis.”
(On the reason behind using the screen game more against Green Bay)
“I think we have been trying to utilize our screen game. We talked about that before in terms of yards after catch, getting easy completions, getting the defense moving [and] getting the D-line running – that adds to it in a drive if you can get them running. I think we’ve got some backs that are good and some receivers that are good at run after catch. It just kind of worked out also by the coverages that we were getting to where they were playing more zone and playing off of us, so that creates more space for the screen game. It just worked out on third downs – I thought coach (Dirk Koetter) did a great job of calling from a run-game standpoint. We ran for a couple of first downs on third down. We threw screens for first downs. Some of that is a byproduct of our players, what we saw and also who we had up front – that was part of it.”
(On if Winston is healthy enough now that the final four games can be an effective evaluation of where he is at in his progression)
“I would think so when a guy is healthy. But again, any time your development is stunted, which it has been – there is no way to say that it hasn’t – but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Whether it is him or Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) that takes the field, the expectation is that they play well and give us the best chance we have to win. We are held to that standard. They are held to the standard and no one cares. But, with every player, the reps are so critically important to the development. What you talked about with Cam and the development he has – that comes from reps. Also, seeing things from protection calls to what to assess you are getting from a defense – the reason that, at times, potentially that Fitz is as calm as he is, is all the years that he’s played. Why is an experienced player much more calm than they were earlier in their development? Well, an understanding and trust of the O-line, the calls – all those things come with time.”
(On if there was thought to having Winston throw more screens and short passes while dealing with the shoulder injury)
“We did, just not nearly as much. Sometimes you don’t get the same looks. Sometimes you don’t have the same success whether you’re the defensive coordinator [or the] offensive coordinator, those calls come from also having success. You look at certain teams [and] you’ll see a certain team play a certain coverage or blitz and they get beat by it – you may not see it for the next two or three weeks because they are stung by that. Same with whatever calls you make. Run game calls, ‘Hey, that worked. Let’s come back to that.’ Right or wrong – it’s human nature. That’s part of it. As it kept working and they kept playing off, I think that just added to it.”
(On if he has been through a season with as much inconsistency in various areas as the team has dealt with this year)
“That is kind of the NFL. As you lose players and you play different teams, they provide different challenges. That’s really what comes with it. Then as you add new pieces, especially at center and then at a tackle position, and there is communication involved and the quarterback hasn’t played for three weeks – a lot of it was communication. There [were] a couple of times where Jameis slipped a little bit or got off a little bit and all the sudden that created – that last sack fumble was more of that. Protection wasn’t that bad. He kind of slipped a little bit and that kind of through him off a little bit, so Mike [Evans] is running an in-cut [and] he is open but just a little bit throws him off and all of the sudden now, as we all know, now there becomes a protection issue when there wouldn’t have been normally. That’s going to come. Whoever our center is moving forward, that is a big part of our communication. Our right tackle moving forward – that’s a big part of our communication. When you move those pieces around, quarterback-wise, that is going to lend itself to that. I expect it to be fine because those are good players that are playing. It’s not like we’re putting in what I said last week (local people from IHOP). We’ve got good players. We will be fine.”
(On if he can pinpoint what went wrong in pass protection against Green Bay)
“Similar to what I just talked about, it’s hard to pinpoint. Like I said, communication was some of it. Some of it was slipping. Some part of it was getting beat – all of the above. Sometimes you get beat and you’ve got a quick-game call and the ball is out. Sometimes you’ve got different concepts where the ball would come out. Did they call the snap a sack? I mean does that count as a sack when the snap goes by Jameis for an eight-yard loss? Is that a sack? If that’s a sack, that is one of them. Well, that is not a sack. That’s just bad football. Some of that fits into all those categories where it’s not that simple, but the bottom line is we’ve got to get it fixed. That’s the way it is. That’s part of our job just to fix it.”
(On if wide receiver Mike Evans is ‘fighting’ to catch the ball)
“I don’t know if he is fighting. I think the biggest thing is – he had the one glance in the game that he got his hands out wide as he was getting held. To me, he’s got to do a much better job – and Mike, we’ve talked about this, there isn’t anything I’m telling you guys we haven’t talk about – better pad level, working to get to spots better. Mike gets into this habit – he thinks he is being held, so he is trying to big body people. How do we get to a spot better? It’s harder for big guys. It just is, okay. But once you get there, [he’s] got to get [his] hand placement back. He had poor hand placement on the one he dropped on that glance – it was poor hand placement. He was getting held and his hands came from here – we don’t have a chance that way. Your chances of catching it are greatly diminished.”
(On what he feels like he improved on against Green Bay)
“I think honestly I was just ready to come back and play. As far as what I did better, I did my job. It’s just one game. I’ve got to get focused on this game, so that’s all I’ve got there.”
(On his thoughts on Florida State hiring of Willie Taggart as its next head football coach)
“He is from Florida. Coach Taggart is a great person [and] a great coach and he is a great recruiter. Hopefully, we can take over Florida again with his recruiting abilities.”
(On how he felt throwing the ball against the Packers after taking time off to heal his shoulder)
“I just was really focused on being able to be back out there with the guys. Me getting an opportunity to get out there and play – I was just happy about that. I wasn’t thinking about [anything] to do with my body. I was just going out there, trying me best to execute and try to help us get a win just like I’m focused on doing the same thing this week.”
(On if they can take something away from scoring on their opening drive)
“We always want to start fast and that is definitely something we can build off of, definitely scoring on the first drive. Again, like I said, [there] were just a lot of emotions. We overcame a lot with having some unfortunate things come up right before the game with some new guys having to get in there and step up and play. I think we just had to come out there and make a statement. I think that helped a lot of the guys confidence-wise to believe in themselves and to have a good game.”
(On his confidence in throwing to tight end Cameron Brate in the red zone)
“He is one of the hardest workers out there on the field and we have a lot of reps together. Any time you have a mismatch in the red zone you want to take advantage of it and Cam Brate versus numerous linebackers and safeties is a huge mismatch for us.”
(On if he took note of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s poise and try to implement it into his own game)
“Yeah, you can say that.”
(On where he assesses his progression as a quarterback)
“What I’m really focused on is finishing this year. I’m not really trying to assess where I am. I just want to finish. I want to finish strong for the fans [and] for this team because obviously this year hasn’t turned out how we wanted it to turn out, but we can definitely finish strong.”
(On how important it is to him to take care of the football in the final four games and take some positive momentum into next season)
“It’s not really about me. Obviously, I’ve got to do my job and me taking care of the football is part of me doing my job, but it’s really about just this whole locker room [and] everybody just coming together and finishing strong. I think that’s huge into us coming back into next season with confidence, with fire and just finishing up strong. That’s what we want to do. We want to get this win at home and just build from there, but it starts with this game.”
(On linebacker Lavonte David taking over pre-game speeches)
“It’s really whoever wants to speak and talk to the team and address the team. I haven’t played. Last game was my first game back. It’s good to see different forms of leadership and different forms of communication with guys because some people react to different things and I’m so happy Lavonte has stepped up into that role and has done a great job.”
(On if David deserves to be considered for the Pro Bowl)
“Well, he definitely should. Who he is as a person translates onto the field. He is an unbelievable person. He is an unbelievable player. I am so blessed to have him on this team, just his fire [and] his passion out there. You know why he is out there doing it. You can just see it through his face. I’m honored to get a chance to play with guys like him, Kwon [Alexander], Gerald [McCoy] – guys like that always brighten you up – Mike [Evans too].”
(On the feeling of not being in playoff contention)
“I believe everyone dislikes losing. But, what can we do now about it? That’s all we can do. We’ve got to focus on this game. We’ve got to start with Detroit. Like I said, one game at a time is our main focus. Has the year gone like we wanted it to go? Of course not. Even if we were 8-1 or whatever, it still wouldn’t be like we wanted it. Our goal is always to get better. Obviously, we know we’ve got to get a lot better but at the end of the day, it’s about this game [and] finishing strong.”
(On the potential for changes in the organization and how he feels about that possibility)
“I think it’s been a case of a lot of unfortunate events in regard to how this season went in terms of injuries [and] in terms of a lot of different things. Again, it’s one game at a time. I love our coaching staff. I believe they have been doing a great job. I always go by, ‘Coaches coach and players play.’ Again, we’ve had a couple injuries that probably set us back [and] a couple things here and there that probably set us back. We don’t know, ultimately, what it is. All we can control is what we do from here on out and our goal is to win and finish strong.”
(On if he feels added pressure to win to avoid changes in the organization)
“Absolutely not. My job is to play quarterback. I’ve been playing quarterback for a long time and hopefully I can continue to do that.”
(On what he likes about Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford)
“He is just a true competitor. Talent-wise he is one of the most gifted quarterbacks in this league, so I’ve got a lot of respect for that guy. Our defense, they have to bring their A-game this game. Matt is an amazing quarterback – that is why he is one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in this league. Guys like that, you always try to emulate their game or try to take something away from them and I just think his competitive nature and his talent. I don’t think you can really compete with his talent – that is God given – but he is definitely a great player.”
(On taking disadvantaged youth to Busch Gardens as part of his Dream Forever Foundation)
“I wanted to change it up this year. I actually got some kids from Freddy Solomon’s Boys and Girls Club off of Sligh [Street] and we took a trip to Busch Gardens. I just tried to give these kids a day that they would never forget. I provided them with some Nike gear [and] provided them with some Xboxes. We went on some rides. It was fun and it’s always good to give back to your community. My whole thing is I try to work as hard off the field as I do on the field. Those kids deserve it. My whole foundation is about providing opportunities for the disadvantaged youth. If you drive down Sligh and you see that area there, you get that feeling like, ‘Okay, I’m in the right place to affect some kids in some positive ways.’ It was definitely a very memorable time for me and I hope the kids really enjoyed it. I just tried to have us there. I didn’t want a lot of people around. I [saw] people at the park and stuff and they were trying to take pictures and stuff, but I was like, ‘Hey, we are with these kids and we’re having a blast.’ I actually took one picture with a young girl who it was her birthday. She wanted to join the crew as well, but her mom was like, ‘Come on, let’s go.’ It was a fun time. I think a lot of guys around here like D-Jack (DeSean Jackson) and Clinton McDonald and Kevin [Pamphile] and Gerald [McCoy] do so many great things around this Christmas time because, to me, it is the most wonderful time of the year. We get the opportunity to give back and have the opportunity to change these kids’ lives for a lifetime – not just for now, but for a lifetime. I really enjoy doing that.”
(On the feedback he received from the kids)
“What kind of feedback? [Laughs] I got excellent [feedback]. They got Xboxes, they got Nike bags, they got footballs – you can only imagine the feedback that they [gave]. It was amazing. It’s really just about giving back. Even if some kid was not in a good mood, he still takes that moment [to think] like, we are spending the whole day together. We’re riding rides [and] they get to have free anything from the candy store. It’s just huge for them and that’s what I’m all about. I’m all about just surprising people and making their day and having fun.”
(On his feelings toward his college coach, Jimbo Fisher)
“Coach Fisher is behind Coach [Bobby] Bowden, with all respect for him. Coach Fisher is an amazing coach and I think his track record speaks for that. He always says something, ‘Actions speak so loud, I can’t even hear your words.’ That’s just what he is. I think we will see that at Texas A&M. Fans, obviously they are going to have their opinions, but I believe the [positive] opinions outshine the [negative] opinions. I believe everyone in Tallahassee really loves Coach Fisher. I know I do. I really love Coach Fisher. I know I’m going to be at Texas A&M with Mike Evans, joining him down there as well even though I am a Seminole. That is just the love I have for him. He is like a father to me, so anywhere he goes – I don’t care if he goes to Auburn – I’m still going to go there and support him because that’s just who he is. He actually coached at Auburn too. Coach Fisher – he is definitely one of the best coaches in Florida State history. Probably just for me not wanting to get ridiculed by the Florida State fans, I’ve got to say he is behind Bobby, but I didn’t get coached by Coach Bowden. I got coached by Jimbo and I loved my experience at Florida State up under Coach Fisher.”

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