Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Wednesday, December 5, 2018
What have been some of the differences you've seen under Mark Duffner serving as defensive coordinator?
"I mean I think Coach Duffner and the entire defensive staff have been doing a good job moving guys around more than anything else. We've had a ton of injuries on defense and so we've been down multiple corners, multiple safeties, and multiple linebackers. We've done a good job of carving out some niches for guys. Guys that we picked up off the street that didn't go to training camp or weren't even there for the first game we played you guys. I think they've done a good job with that and then just getting those guys up to speed and putting them in position. I think our defense is playing faster and playing harder and that could be for a number of reasons, but we've been playing better defense. In some areas our stats have skyrocketed. Now, there's a couple areas where our stats have actually gone down too."
As far as playing faster, do you attribute that to all the turnovers the team has been able to create the past two weeks?
"Well I think the main thing I would look at there is rush and our coverage have been working together more and probably the most consistent thing that we're doing on defense is those ends led by J.P.P (Jason Pierre-Paul), (Ryan) Nassib and Vinny Curry have been getting fairly consistent pressure."
How crucial has Jason Pierre-Paul been for the team?
"Crucial, the word you used is a good word for it because J.P.P. he's been playing beat up, but he's been playing so hard and he's just set the bar so high for everybody else on our team actually. As far as what you have to do during the week to get yourself back to be able to play at a high level on Sunday and with his pedigree with what he's done in his career and winning a Super Bowl (with) the Giants and everything, he just sets a really good example, he's been a real vocal leader for us and then he's backed it up with his production on the field."
How has De'Vante Harris been progressing this season since you picked him up?
"Yeah, we got De'Vante and we were excited about him and then he pulled his hamstring or tweaked his hamstring. The hamstring injury (was the reason) that we had to let him go for a while and then we brought him back because we had even more injuries a corner and the thing about De'Vante is that he's played before so it's not too big for him and he got a chance to get his first start last year. He'd been playing some roles, smaller roles on defense and on special teams. But with Brent Grimes down last week, he got the start and the thing he really does is he knows how to compete. He goes out there and he's not afraid of the moment and it doesn't matter who he's playing against and the fact that he's been in this division before, he knows how good all these quarterbacks are and he just went out there and really competed hard and had some production. (He) Made a couple of really nice plays."
Jameis Winston has a little bit more production as a runner recently. Is that just circumstantial or is that something you try and take advantage of?
"No not through that. Very, very few of those runs would be quarterback designed runs. What Jameis has been doing a really good job of is on scramble plays. He's been making good decisions. He's made a lot of downfield throws for productive plays with the second touchdown the other day as a scramble play and then when he hasn't seen anybody open, he's turned those into runs and he had two 18-yard runs when he just kind of stepped up in the pocket and the sea parted for him and he just kept it, pulled it down and did a good job protecting the ball and we'd like Jameis to protect himself in those situations, but he ended up really trying to push the pedal down and get some extra yards and he had two nice runs."
How much can you learn from the Cowboys game considering it was so different from what we've seen in the ten weeks leading up to that for the Saints?
"That was two good teams playing on Thursday night and it was a low-scoring game, which is unusual in and of itself for the Saints. It was two good football teams, it was a hard fought game and two teams that are hot right now. Dallas got the better of them that day, but you don't win 10 straight in this league if you don't have a really, really good football team. Just look at our game last week. With the guys we had out, we played one of our better games in the win over Carolina. So you can learn stuff from every game (that) you watch a team. But I think you've got to be careful about putting too much emphasis on any single game."
Is there big difference in the Saints that you saw in week one and the Saints that you saw during that 10-game winning streak and what was the biggest difference you think in that?
"That was a shootout in game one. Their offense has been on fire all season and the thing that jumps out at me is how well their defense is playing and I'm not saying they didn't play well before, but they're number one in the league in rush defense and the pressure they're getting on quarterbacks (is impressive). I just think that was a day in week one where we were fortunate to win the turnover battle and both teams were making a lot of plays and we made just enough."
In that week one game in New Orleans, Mike Evans had a really big day going up against Marshon Lattimore. He's a good young corner. How did Mike kind of consistently beat him so well in that first game?
"That was a while ago. I'm not going to say too much about that. It was two good players going at each other. a lot of times (Marshon) Lattimore matches the other team's number one receiver and there's a lot of good receivers in this division. You guys have one too in Mike Thomas. When you have really good players going head to head somebody is going to come out slightly ahead and we've had other games where Lattimore's come out ahead. Maybe Mike (Evans) got him one or two extra times in that first game, but again that's kind of what I was talking about before. You can't you can't read a whole lot into one game. Lattimore was a really good player. Mike Evans is really good player and I'm sure they're going to have a good battle on Sunday."
Going back to some of the Saints recent defensive success, I think they have gotten 20 sacks in their last four games. Have you seen anything in particular with that and why they've been able to have so much success? Sean (Payton) this morning kind of said it was ends and interior guys all kind of getting after it.
"I agree. I think the thing that jumps out is their defense plays extremely hard. I think everything starts with Cam Jordan. I have been in this division for a long time and Cam Jordan is just a consistently outstanding player, but (Sheldon) Rankins is having a good year. (David) Onyemata gets three sacks last week. Their linebackers are playing fast and downhill. (Alex) Okafor coming off the injury last year and I'm not sure if he was 100 percent in our first game, but he looks to me like he's playing like his old self which is at a high level. They've got a lot of speed in that secondary. They're playing well together and they're playing hard or playing fast."
Sean (Payton) has been here for 13 years. You just saw one of the guys he came up with in the coaching ranks in Mike McCarthy being like go in Green Bay. How hard is it to do what Payton's done here in 13 years trying to keep things fresh and always kind of be on the cutting edge like he has?
"I'm sure it's hard. I mean that's a question you should be asking him not me, but obviously he's done a great job. He's done a heck of a job."
You've faced Drew (Brees) a lot in your career. How would you evaluate this year compared to maybe some of those other years you've faced him?
"I think he's been playing at an MVP level. I think he's right in the discussion for MVP of the league. Whatever those numbers are 29, 30 touchdowns and two (three) interceptions. Are you kidding me? That's next to impossible. 77 percent completions. A surefire first ballot Hall of Famer. Drew Brees sets the barometer for every quarterback in this league with the way he performs."