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16 September 2015

Week 2 Conference Call Transcripts: at New Orleans (9/20/15)

(On Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston)
“Having met him at the Combine and then, really, sitting right behind him during his Pro Day, getting a chance to watch him throw, he’s got a great arm. I would say his leadership skills and personality stood out. He’s got a lot of that ‘it factor’ you’re looking for. He’s won a lot of games, even prior to playing at Florida State. So he would probably be in a long line of young quarterbacks in Week 1 that things didn’t go exactly how he wanted them, and yet he’s got that resiliency and toughness to him that’s the right fit for his team. But having had a chance to watch the film, there are a handful of things that come up and typically more credit or blame oftentimes falls on that position, but I’m a big fan of [Winston’s] throughout the process of seeing him. And obviously the [league schedule makers] put the two young guys in the first game against each other and, really, it’s two teams.”
(On having had trouble in the red zone in Week 1)
“It ended up being a game where we had to settle for field goals. We had some opportunities, especially in the second half. The score was really a one-score game for the most part. It got away from us late in the fourth quarter. We’ve got to be more efficient. We had the one touchdown early on and then settled for a number of field goals. Now, the good news on that is we had a rookie kicker that stepped up and on the road did a nice job. For us, offensively, we’ve got to be better. There’s a handful of things you come away from the game [with]. You identify those Monday when you come in as a team, then, come Wednesday, you’re on to game planning and your practice versus the opponent.”
(On running back C.J. Spiller)
“We’re in our first year with him and he’s explosive. He’s got outstanding speed. That’s the first thing you notice when you’re with him. So he’s been with us throughout the spring and the training camp. He practiced today on a limited basis and it’s good to see him back out there.”
(On how Spiller can help diversify the offense)
“That speed and that ability to run the football – he’s also a good receiver. Look, when you have a player that’s dynamic like him, you have some things that you want to do with him in the game. It gives you a little bit of versatility.”
(On the importance of protecting young quarterbacks and whether they can have long-term effects from taking hits early in their careers)
“I think the mental toughness and the ability for a guy that has thick skin, that’s been, throughout a player’s career – and I say that [as] high school, college – there’s a roller coaster ride oftentimes playing that position. Generally those guys that you’re looking for in the draft have that toughness to overcome. And I think that every year we spend a ton of time evaluating the quarterback position and you’re constantly digging for traits, similar traits, things that you’re looking at for the position. Is he accurate? Is he tough? Can he move? Is he smart? I think that the challenge oftentimes is they go earlier in the draft than most positions and sometimes they play early, sometimes they don’t. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong formula either. I think it really depends on the team and the player.”
(On New Orleans’ home-field advantage in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the importance of that when facing a team with a rookie quarterback)
“Historically, we’ve been good here. But I would say this: last year, we weren’t. It’s still about playing smart football, taking care of the football, fundamentally doing all the things that keep you from – preventing yourself from doing the things that keep you from winning games. In this series, where over time in the dome and then a last-possession-type game, I mean, in our time here, it’s been a field goal, it’s been a real close-fought series and a close-fought game year-in and year-out, the two of them. Typically in the division, teams have a feel for what they’re going to get when they’re on the road or what it’s going to be like to be at home and I think here’s a game where you have two teams that opened the season with a loss and both will be fighting hard to get their first win.”
(On the advantage of being familiar with Tampa Bay’s Tampa 2 defensive scheme)
“Typically good defenses have certain things they want to do and do well. The key offensively is quickly understanding the defense, how to handle the force patterns, how to handle the movement. Dating back to when Lovie was at St. Louis, they were playing [Tampa 2 defense] as well as anyone. And I think the one thing oftentimes that goes undiscussed with it is how much single-safety defense, man and zone, that a team like Tampa, for instance, plays. [Tampa 2] is the preferred coverage of choice, but there are so many things that go into it. They do a great job with their technique. We read to the team today, I think that in Lovie’s however many years as a head coach, his teams have caused 180-some forced fumbles. It’s a little more than one a game. They do a great job of disrupting the ball from the ball carrier, the receiver or the runner.”
(On whether New Orleans’ large receivers help their defense prepare to face a receiving corps like Tampa Bay’s)
“In our division, one of the things we tried to do in the offseason, and you can do it through the draft or free agency, but, man, if it’s Tampa Bay, if it’s Atlanta or Carolina, there’s a lot of really, really talented, big receivers in this NFC South. So I think it’s important that the corners have some size and length or there are going to be plays where they just can’t come up with the ball and they might be in perfect position. I think that week to week in our division, you see really talented, big receivers and that makes it challenging for the defense.”
(On quarterback Drew Brees and how he maintains his level of play, especially given the loss of major target Jimmy Graham)
“No. 1, he prepares and his work week is amazing. He’s extremely dedicated. Takes care of himself; he’s in great shape. When you start looking at these elite quarterbacks, or the guys that – if you really looked at their work week, you’d be amazed. What they spend on the film study, what they spend in the weight room, all the treatment that they go through to put themselves in the best position on Sunday to be healthy and ready. With the loss of Jimmy – and obviously you spend a lot of time with a trade like that – there’s some challenges that go into it because you have a matchup player there that can give you some joker opportunities or matchups versus safeties or linebackers in man coverage. But we were able to acquire a first-round pick and also our starting center, Max Unger. I think the pressure on the skill people, the tight ends and receivers, is spread throughout. I don’t think the snaps or the touches are picked up by one individual, I think they are picked up by a number of them. So it’s our job each week to look closely at how we want to go about playing a game and where do we think the matchups might be and that’s what we’ll do this week.”
(On Tampa Bay tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and the weapons in the Tampa Bay offense)
“I know this: he played well this past weekend. When you watch the tape, you’re starting to see more and more these tight ends that come into this league – typically at that position there’s a trait, [a player is] a receiver more, a run-blocker more, and I think [Seferian-Jenkins] has that versatility you’re looking for at the position where he can help you both ways. When you watch the film and you look at the touches and you look at both of the receivers [Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans], and of course one didn’t play last week, and then the tight end – I thought Doug really ran well [as well]. He almost looked like he did a year and a half ago. He looked explosive, fast. There are some things you see on film that strike you. Coming away from that game [in Week 1], I’m sure a tough loss like that, there are some positives. But I thought they ran it really well and I thought that he, specifically, played very well.”
(On the current New Orleans defense)
“The first thing you obviously realize is there are some key veteran players that in one season either retired, maybe through injury or just where they were at in their career – when you have a [Jonathan] Vilma, when you have a Will Smith. Then we lose Malcolm Jenkins in free agency, Roman Harper is now with Carolina, Jabari Greer – there are about six starters after that ’13 season that all of a sudden we were replacing and the one thing about that group is not just the skillset, but their toughness and leadership ability is something that you miss. You generally lose maybe one or two [players] a season, but that’s something that we’re working hard to replace.”
(On what to expect from the New Orleans defense this week)
“I don’t know that we’ve been a high-pressure defense of late. In other words, there were some snaps at Arizona, maybe some five-man rush. I think each team will have their critical-situation, Cover 0 snaps, it’s something that you mix in. But I think with the size of the receivers that Tampa has, you really have to be careful not to tip it off. So I really think depending on the game, you look at the matchups and then you decide how you want to play a certain game.”
(On Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I really haven’t had a chance to see hardly any film on Jameis other than the highlights – ESPN or what have you. There’s no doubt that he is extremely talented. I had a chance to actually have dinner with him this offseason in San Diego. I know he was getting ready for the draft there and that’s where we spent a portion of the offseason. So I had a chance to meet him there for the first time, talk with him a little bit and I was impressed with his knowledge of the game. I think he’s an intelligent guy who is only going to get better [with] the more experience that he gains. It’s tough to come in as a rookie and play the quarterback position. There is so much on your shoulders and there’s a big learning curve – just the level of talent that is around you that you are going up against and all those things. He’s certainly a very talented guy and I’m sure he’s going to be just fine.”
(On how often the Buccaneers actually play the Tampa-2 compared to other looks such as single-free or cover zero)
“If you broke it down statistically it ends up being about one-third, one-third, one-third Tampa-2, one-third single-high safety zone and a third man-to-man. I’m sure they self-scout and they try to keep it even. They try to disguise it at times and do different things, all of the good defense do. I know this, I feel like I’ve been going up against Lovie Smith defenses for a long time and they are always very, very well coached, very well disciplined. Some of the things you know he’s teaching very, very well. They pretty much invented the Tampa-2 defense back when and their ability to take the ball away and do certain things has always been a great strength of the defense.”
(On what he remembers about going through his first full season as a starter)
“You definitely feel the effects of a long season. It’s certainly a grind. It’s a grind for players that have been in the league for a while, especially for a young guy that is used to a college season. All of a sudden you’re going really 17 weeks and hopefully more. It’s long. It’s your job, so every day it’s not you go to class and then you go to football practice and study some football. It’s all day long, all day every day if you’re really entrenched in the process of preparation and everything else. It’s definitely a change, but guys that make it to the level Jameis Winston has made it to and had success that he’s had – you can tell he loves playing the game of football. He’s extremely enthusiastic. It seems like he is having fun doing what he’s doing. Is it tough? Yes, it’s a grind and it’s competitive and stressful at times and all these things and yet you love the game, so you do whatever it takes.”
(On possibly reaching 400 career passing touchdowns on Sunday)
“Let’s get there first. Let’s not speculate what I’m going to feel like when it happens. [I’m] just focused on winning the football game. All that stuff kind of takes care of itself. All those stats and everything else, they kind of pile up as you go along, but the most important thing is finding a way to win the football game. If you can knock down some milestones in the process then that’s pretty cool too.”
(On what Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Griffin can reveal about the Saints’ offense)
“I don’t know. Obviously, he has knowledge of our offense. He was quarterback here for three years, but I think there are plenty of guys that have left this team and have gone elsewhere and we played against them and they would have had knowledge of the system. Unless somebody is inside of our helmet and can hear our plays and know exactly what they mean, I’m not sure if it helps. It’s a divisional opponent, I think both teams know each other pretty well at this point – from a personnel standpoint and exchange standpoint. There’s always wrinkles that you kind of build in, but I think we are more worried about our execution rather than worrying about if somebody knows what we doing.”
(On Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy)
“He’s awesome. Man, he’s a stud. I’ve worked out with him over the last few offseasons. He’ll come down to San Diego. He’s a guy that works. He loves the game. He takes a lot of pride in it. He’s the total package. Pretty relentless and he can cause you a lot of problems if you don’t account for him. I tell him every offseason to take it easy on me. I hope he does.”
(On how hard it is to be the signal caller on defense)
“It’s hard. There’s a transition. There’s a lot to see, there’s a lot to call. You’re kind of the quarterback of the defense. You have to communicate a lot. That’s definitely a tough job and typically you’ve got a lot of information thrown at you.”
(On if he wants to have a more balanced offense)
“I think ideally, but I also would say ideally that if I’m throwing the ball 48 times, I would expect to complete at least 40 of them. I would just say efficiency. If we are throwing it that many times I would like to be more efficient. If we are running it more, I think overall that’s a better balance and I think that’s what we’ll strive for. It’s funny, because I walked out of that game and I was surprised when I saw the stat sheet saying that we only ran it 20 times and we threw it 48. It felt much different. It felt like we ran the ball pretty evenly to pass. Our offense, the pass is an extension of the run game in some sense. Some of those shorter passes kind of take the place of runs at times. Every plan is different. We preach balance; certainly we strive for that – whatever is working.”
(On if running back C.J. Spiller can fill the void left with Darren Sproles’ departure last year)
“Yeah I do, absolutely. He brings a great element to what we do – not just in the pass game, but in the run game. He’s electric if you give him the ball in space and he can really do some things with it. If you look at his highlight reel it gets you excited about what he can do in this offense.”

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