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Tampa Bay Buccaneers talk about Sunday's Saints game

Posted Dec 25, 2013

Greg Schiano, players met with the media Tuesday

jimmy graham

Tampa Bay Coach Greg Schiano's opening statement:

“A little different practice, obviously, going on a Tuesday today. We’re going to give the guys Christmas at home and then we’ll get back at it on Thursday. It was good work. We got to run a good number of plays against New Orleans’ looks. Going on a Tuesday, the guys are sore, but I thought they gave a good effort. We’ll finish up with some meetings this afternoon and then get them on their way to their families and get back at it on Thursday. Health-wise, we don’t have to put anything [official] out today, but I can just talk about the guys we talked about after the game. [Linebacker] Dekoda [Watson] didn’t practice today. He didn’t go through the paces. We’ll see; he’ll be day-to-day. [Linebacker] Lavonte [David] was fine. [Guard] Davin [Joseph] was limited as he usually is right after the game. [Safety] Mark [Barron] did a little today, which is encouraging. [Defensive back Keith] Tandy is fine. Other than that, it was good. Got first and second down installed and guys are excited about the opportunity. They understand what the atmosphere is going to be down in New Orleans, a playoff-type atmosphere, and that will be good for us. Good opportunity for our young guys to be in that environment.”

On reports of his interest in possible college head coaching positions:

“I heard that. No, there is zero truth to that. I’ll make it clear: the only job I want is the one I have right now.”

On the possibility of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy reaching 10.0 sacks this season:

“I don’t know what it will mean to the team other than that means we got a sack in this [New Orleans] game to help us win the game. For Gerald individually, I think it’s quite an honor. For an inside player to have 10.0 sacks, that doesn’t happen a lot. Gerald is that type of player. God willing he stays healthy, I expect that to be the nearly norm rather than an exception. That doesn’t happen a lot – that’s a special feat. We need him to do that for us to win this week, and that’s, I think he would tell you, the most important thing, as well.”

On seeing improvement from McCoy this season:

“I’ve seen improvement in every phase: his run defense, pass defense, his understanding of the game. He’s improving as a football player and that’s one of the neat things about Gerald. He’s such a gifted athlete, but he works so hard and has bought in so full into what we’re doing that he makes strides still today, every day. We were just coaching him today on some little thing that he cares about. That’s what makes him great.”

On McCoy’s endurance being valuable:

“Very valuable. And we talked about that. We challenged him. There’s a considerable drop-off between [McCoy] and his backup. And that’s no slight on his backup. There’s a considerable drop-off between him and most players in the league at his position, starter or backup. So we said a 95 percent efficient Gerald is probably as good as a 100 percent fresh guy. Now, if it drops down into the 80s, that might be a different story. So it’s not like without exception he can take rest. I think he’s stepped up to that challenge in a big way.”

On the New Orleans defense:

“I’m sure he’ll come after us, but the reality is that they have even evolved this year. They are played a lot more – believe it or not – Tampa 2 than they’ve ever played. So that’s something we have to contend with in addition to all the blitzes and different kinds of front combinations, 3-4, 4-3 mixes and all those things.”

On planning for the New Orleans offense:

“We have some plans that hopefully can – Jimmy Graham, let’s call it like it is. He’s their leading receiver. That in itself is a rarity, that the tight end is a leading receiver by far. It’s interesting that the second-leading receiver is a running back. They spread the ball around. When I do my introduction to the opponent, which I usually do on Wednesdays this week I did it on Tuesday, usually there are two or three key guys who carry the ball. With the Saints, there are six or seven. It’s a different look; they spread the ball around so well. [New Orleans quarterback] Drew [Brees] reads things out so well, pure progression, bang-bang-bang, goes through it very rapidly. He goes where the ball should go, it doesn’t matter who it is. Now, just like everyone else, they scheme it so that their primary read is the guy that they want to get the ball, but when it gets taken away, Drew is a master of knowing step two, step three, checkdown. But Jimmy is the leading receiver and rightfully so. He is an incredible talent. Do we have some things? Yeah, [but] I can’t get into that.”

On seeing McCoy’s leadership evolve:

“Sure we have. And that’s natural, right, because his first two years he got injured. Leadership – you can say all the right things, you can have all the right thoughts, but until you perform on the field, it’s awful hard to lead. There’s an equation in leadership, you need some followers. And guys follow people that are productive.”

On the wear and tear physically and mentally this time of year:

“The whole league is (worn down). At this point in the year, you’ve been practicing since July 26. Everybody is tired, so it doesn’t really matter. I liken it to and tell the team often it’s kind of like when you go down when lifting weights or something and say, ‘I’m going to do 10 reps.” Well, on the ninth and tenth you struggle. If you said you were going to do 12, you’d probably struggle on the eleventh and twelfth. If we had to play four more games, maybe they wouldn’t be quite as tired right now. So we talk to them about, hey, it’s about today. Let’s do the best we can do today, go to bed and do it again tomorrow. I think when you stay focused on the immediacy of what you have to take care of now, you don’t start thinking about [being tired]. Four weeks ago, you could have started saying we’ve got a whole month of football left. Our guys have done a good job. I think our rookies have plowed through the rookie wall. It’s part education and part drafting the right guys with mental toughness who are willing to do it.”

On the discrepancy between New Orleans’ performance on the road and at home:

“I don’t know why that is. I don’t think it’s every season, so it’s not like that’s been their M.O., but you’re right. Thirty-three points at home and 18 on the road, plus-five turnover margin at home, minus-five on the road… they usually go hand-in-hand. There’s no doubt they’re 7-0 at home because of those numbers. We have a tall order in front of us, but one, like I said, that every guy in the locker room and upstairs in the coaching offices are excited about it and are wanting to go down there and win that game.”

On whether he would consider resting starters and playing backup players:

“We are such a young team trying to establish our culture and how we’re going to do things – we want to win the football game. When you’re involved in competitive athletics, you know that you may say you’re 4-11, well, you know what, that last game sticks with you. You have to live with that taste the entire offseason. Our guys need to play. If you’re healthy enough to play, you should play. That’s what we do. You only get 16 games, that’s how I look at it. Then, if you’re fortunate, you get more. We get paid to play and coach 16 games a year minimum, and anyone who’s able, we’re going to do that. Looking at guys, no. When I ask the guys to lay it on the line every week and study and take care of their bodies and practice and play with pain – I don’t think it would be right for me, then, to turn around and say we’re doing a little experimenting here. They’re going to lay it on the line to win the game. I’m going to do everything I can to win the game. We have four preseason games next year to take a look at guys if that’s what we want to do. So those guys who are under contract, we’ll get them in the preseason. That doesn’t mean there won’t be some new guys playing, I mean, we have some injuries and some things, but I wouldn’t read into anybody new playing as a look-and-see type thing.”

On fixing protection issues:

“We need to. We have to. To win the game, we have to. That wasn’t nearly good enough.”

On facing a New Orleans team fighting for a playoff spot:

“I think these guys are pro athletes. That’s what they get paid to do, be under pressure. I don’t think pressure fazes these guys, to be honest with you. That’s what we do. I think the excitement of playing in this game is really more of the story. When you’re 4-11, you don’t usually get pushed back in the day on the TV time. Obviously it’s a game with implications and we’re fortunate to be involved in it. Even though it’s not our implications, it’s our implications. It’s our playoff game. We’re going down to play it that way and come back with a victory.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan on the importance of establishing the run:

“There’s a couple of things. I think it helps set up some of the deeper play-action shots, some of the play-action passes and even some of the intermediate ones. Secondly I think it enables us to have the type of balance that we need – not literally, in terms of run vs. pass, but more so with regard to the pass-rush. I think whenever some of the great pass rushers – whether (it’s) the great [defensive] ends we’ve been playing, or some of the inside rushers, when they have to recognize run vs. pass, play the run or run-fits that they have and the responsibilities that they have – if we do enough in the run game to keep them guessing somewhat so that it’s not the situation, which unfortunately has happened quite a bit recently, where it’s obvious that we have to pass, it’s obvious that we’re in a three wide receiver set and then you’re really fighting uphill. That’s why I think it’s so critical, particularly if we can get it on first down or even on second down, which of course lends itself to getting some of the more manageable third downs.”

On how he feels about the offense’s decline this season:

“It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing, there’s no doubt about it. It’s not been the season, in any way shape or form, that anyone would have wanted, not to the standard we had established last year. Difficult circumstances, but none of that matters. At the end of the day, there’s a job that has to get done, despite any type of obstacles. All of my focus, you talk about my pride, at this point it’s just on trying to – with the only opportunity we have left is vs. a tough division opponent, with a playoff-type atmosphere – is going out and responding. Doing something – there’s no way to turn back the hands of time and make things different with what’s happened earlier this season. There’s nothing to think about as far as anything in the future. It’s just about that opportunity. We had a really sharp, crisp practice today. I feel very good about the plan and really zeroing in on the things that we feel comfortable [with], that we’ve had success with and trying to have some multiplicity in terms of how we want to get about doing that, both in the run and the pass. From my perspective, personally, it’s all about what we can do as a team, as a unit, as an offense, to – with this one last opportunity – play the type of football that we’re capable of playing and play at a high level.”

On having to try and match New Orleans’ offense:

“I think time of possession – particularly with an opposing offense that is as potent as theirs is – is critical. First and foremost, we can’t turn the football over. That’s hard for us as an offense to try to sustain drives and get first downs and be in manageable third downs etc. if we are turning it over. I think, from the standpoint of our thought process, first and foremost is taking care of the football and putting ourselves in those manageable type of third downs. I’m not so sure as much as it’s trying to put added pressure of ‘Let’s come up with some additional shots’ or any type of gadget plays or gimmicks or we have to score lots of points, but rather, when we have the opportunities, make sure that any of the self-inflicted wounds aren’t going to rear their ugly head and that we’re able to just sustain. Again, a lot of times the best defense is with No. 9 [New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees] sitting on the bench. We just want to get some consistency. That’s been the goal all year and no better way – again in a tough game, in a tough environment – to match up against these guys, to get that done on Sunday.”

On the pass protection against St. Louis:

“There were a few things as far as – without getting into too many of the specifics. In any type of pass protections, you have situations where if they have one more than you have in protection, there’s either a built-in sight adjust, or a ‘hot (read)’ or there’s the means by which a protection can be adjusted. That would depend upon whether it’s a three-step drop or a five-step drop. I think it was a very good learning experience. You hate to say it’s a learning experience, when it’s a game and it’s an important game. We all would rather learn, certainly, on the practice field. We would like to learn in the meeting room. That is part of the process, but ultimately getting out there and seeing it – and it was a talented group. A few times it didn’t work out for us, but (we) went through and evaluated that and reinforced it and I think the one that (quarterback) Mike (Glennon) has done throughout his process here, with all of his playing time – he’s made his mistakes, he – and one could argue at some point ‘Well where’s he been? Is he taking steps back? Is he taking steps forward?’ He is a very good learner, and you don’t see often times the same mistakes repeated. With the challenges we’ll face on Sunday – with the multiplicity of their fronts, with the multiplicity of their coverages, both with their base defense and their sub defense and certainly the blitz package – I think we’re focusing on that and we’re prepared and we’ll be ready for it.

On making adjustments to pass protection before the snap:

“It’s based upon various factors, and certainly Mike, as the quarterback, is the focal point. There’s an awareness of everybody else and obviously with he being the signal caller and, within our system, a guy that has the ability to adjust protections as he sees fit. Those types of scenarios come about, we’ve got to learn from them and adjust and we’ll see what happens. I’m sure we won’t see just a four-man rush and they’ll be sitting back on Sunday so he’ll get a chance to get back up on the horse here in a few days.”

On the receivers struggling to beat man coverage:

“There’s a couple issues in terms of man coverage and a lot of it is based upon what you can do formationally, because regardless of who the receiver is, there’s a lot of great defensive backs, and if we’re just static and in one particular spot and there’s a big, physical, press-corner, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. We’ve tried to adjust and manipulate formations and yet at the same time move [wide receiver] Vincent (Jackson) around so he’s not always in one spot. You have a bunch of young guys that are cast into starting roles and into supporting roles and I think in some cases what’s happened (is) we have something schemed right and maybe we don’t have quite the precision in terms of being able to get to the spot that we need to, or it’s that one-on-one match-up and we don’t happen to be able to be at our best to be able to win that match-up or we win and there might be a protection issue. It’s definitely been a challenge, when you’re seeing that type of coverage and especially when it’s just going to be a four-man rush at times, where they may have an additional player and some of the doubles on Vincent. I think it’s a combination of trying to make sure we’re doing some things, schematically, to move guys around and it starts with Vincent because we can’t always have him in the same spot, and then that means some of the other guys have to adjust and get accustomed to aligning in some different locations and in some different types of formations and some of the movements and so-forth. Them, just as you mentioned, there’s some times you’re lined up, the guy is in front of you and you have to win. We try to do things to help guys, but at the end of the day it’s something that we’ve got to continue to work on and improve and get better at.”

On Jackson’s performance this season:

“I think Vincent has had a very, very good year. He’s been somebody that, with all of the pressure that’s been placed upon him, you look at the type of coverages that he’s seen, the type of doubles that he’s received and the type of rotation that he’s received and some of the plays that he’s made for us, despite all of that – I’m not sure what his exact numbers are but we’re so fortunate that he’s here. I think that he’s a heck of a player and a heck of a person and I certainly would be pleased to see him go to Hawaii.”

Quarterback Mike Glennon on how he feels:

“I’m doing good, I actually feel pretty good. I took a few shots, just kind of typical feeling after a game, but two days later now I feel much better.”

On what he wants to accomplish in the last game:

“I think we want to win the game, and that’s the most important thing is for us to win because we want to finish the season on a high note and come out beating a really good opponent. We know it’s going to be tough, they’re a very good team, but as a player, just want to perform well and perform at a level high enough to win.”

On New Orleans’ blitz packages:

“They do some blitzing, but not as much blitzing as some of the teams we’ve faced. They’re one of the top-ranked defenses in the league. They play a few different coverages, they do multiple things, but they don’t blitz quite as much as other teams we’ve faced.”

On what he took from the Seattle game and playing in loud environments on the road:

“I think it’s actually a lot of fun because there’s nothing like quieting a crowd when it’s so loud and then something big happens and then it kind of quiets the whole place. Your back’s against the wall the whole time and just the feeling of kind of a, ‘Us against the world,’ it’s a lot of fun to play in those atmospheres and I’m sure it’s going to be rocking because it’s a huge game for the team, for the city, so it’ll be a lot of fun. We’ll have to communicate really well, we’ll work on it all week in practice, but that’s what it’s all about at this level is playing in games like this and in an environment like this.”

On any mistakes he has learned from in the St. Louis game:

“There’s definitely a few things. First thing that kind of comes to mind is the fumble that I had. I tried to secure it with two hands on the ball but (I) just have to know just keep holding as tight as possible until you hit the ground. I was being held up for a little while and (I have) just got to focus the whole time on squeezing the ball tight. And then just little things here and there with our protection schemes of maybe when they bring more than we can handle, getting it out a little quicker just to help out and not have negative plays and more just schematic things that we do offensively.”

On if part of his job Sunday is to keep New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees off the field:

“I think a big part of the game is to keep that offense off the field. We want to control the ball as long as we can because that’s such a powerful offense and they’re one of the best offenses in the league. We have great confidence in our defense, but at the same time, (they have) one of the best quarterbacks in the league and one of the best offenses, so we want to do everything we can as an offense to stay on the field and score points to put our defense in a good situation.”

On if Tampa Bay left some points on the field in St. Louis:

“Yeah, I think always looking back, we got in the red zone a few times and weren’t able to score touchdowns and again, this is about scoring touchdowns, not field goals. Definitely feel like if we would have maybe scored one of those touchdowns, if not both, then it could’ve been a different game.”

On what he’s learned from facing tough defensive pressure:

“I mean, it’s part of the game and you’ve just got to keep up and get up and trust the line and keep moving on and don’t worry about what’s happened in the past. Step up in the pocket and let it rip, time after time again, and not let things that (have) happened in the past kind of get in your head and ruin your mindset of maybe getting out of there too quick. I have trust in my offensive line that they’re going to do a great job and I’m going to keep stepping up in the pocket and letting it go.”

On what he learned from watching the Bucs-Saints game in Week 2:

“I guess that was earlier on when I obviously wasn’t playing yet and was still kind of new to the whole NFL game, so there was just a lot – it was the first home game – it was just a lot to take in and observe. Just kind of seeing their scheme, really seeing Drew Brees and how he played is also good for a young player like myself, to see a player at his level, kind of see him live and how he does things. I’ve gone back and watched the tape, so have obviously learned some things then, but I can’t remember exactly what I took away from it right after the game.”

On the kind of year wide receiver Vincent Jackson is having and the Pro Bowl:

“He’s having a great year. He’s been such a huge part of our offense and just with how things have kind of played out with some injuries and stuff, defenses have been so focused on him that to put up the numbers that he has and just, he’s been such an emphasis from a defensive scouting standpoint that you have to give him so much more credit than maybe he’s even [received] because everyone’s keying on him so much and yet, even with them keying on him, he still makes a lot of big plays. He’s been a huge part of our offense and definitely deserving of that award and hopefully he gets it.”

On if this season has gone by fast for him:

“It has gone by fast. Looking back, it still feels like not too long ago was my first start and it really does go by fast. Obviously, we wanted to get more wins, but also it’s been a great opportunity for me to start and play a lot of football. I’ve learned a lot along the way and hope to build on it this Sunday.”

On if he or center Jeremy Zuttah is making the calls at the line:

“We work together, but it’s predominantly on me. I’m the one that can see what’s going on in the back end of it with the safeties rotating and all of that, so it’s predominantly on me.”

On how he plans on spending Christmas Day:

“Well, me and Jordan Rodgers are living together so we’ll wake up, I’ve got some presents, so I’ll probably open them, and probably spend the rest of the day watching some Christmas movies. And then obviously watch a little film here and there, but a little different, first time away from home or not in college, bowl game, something like that. It’ll be good.”
                                                       
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on the key to facing the Saints in New Orleans:

“You have to attack them. You can’t let a team like that get hot early, because if they get hot early, there’s no stopping them. It’s almost impossible when they’re at home. One of the best crowds in the NFL, it’s tough. It’s a tough place to play, a playoff-type environment, the game got flexed so it’s going to be a national stage… it’s going to be fun.”

On how difficult it is to get Drew Brees on the ground:

“It’s definitely difficult. He does a great job of moving in the pocket. I think people underestimate his athleticism, and he’s real crafty. A lot of people get him on the ground but he just gets the ball out, and even if he’s going down, he’ll flip it to his other hand and flick the ball so you can’t get the sack. We’ve got to keep him bottled up. Coaches talk about putting him in the well. You know, you put somebody in the well that’s really far down and make them throw out of the well. He’s a shorter guy, he’s extremely accurate though, but if we put pressure on him, I think we could frustrate him.”

On what it means for a player to achieve double-digit sacks:

“It would definitely be a huge milestone. Hopefully, if that is to happen, it’s within the scheme of the defense and I don’t get outside of myself, which I don’t plan to be. If that is to happen, it will happen within the scheme of the defense. I’m just doing what I get paid to do, but it’d definitely feel good. More than that, I just want to do whatever I can to help us get this win and finish off strong.”

 

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