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Buccaneer Coaches Quotes, Dec. 11

Posted Dec 11, 2013

A visit from San Francisco in Week 15 gives a surging Buccaneer team an opportunity to chase a defining victory before season's end...And other thoughts from the Bucs' coaching staff

After an 0-8 first half of the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won four of their last five outings, getting victories at home and on the road, in and out of the division, in the afternoon and in prime time, against first-place teams and last-place teams.

Players and coaches in the NFL know that any win is hard to come by, and all of them are to be celebrated. However, they also understand that some victories are treated with more esteem than others by outside observers. For instance, had the Buccaneers held on to their near upset in Seattle in Week Nine, rather than falling 27-24 in overtime, that win would have been considered particularly impressive and might have changed some of the perceptions of the team.

Another such chance arrives this weekend with the San Francisco 49ers, the defending NFC Champions who will visit Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. The 49ers are 9-4, likely playoff-bound again and coming off their own win over those same Seahawks (albeit in San Fran, not Seattle).

-- The Bucs have won four of their last five and could turn some heads with a victory over 9-4 San Francisco
Head Coach Greg Schiano sung the 49ers praises during his Wednesday press conference, and he isn't alone in his admiration for this week's opponent. He is confident, however, that the Buccaneers can get the win, and knows it would be an important one.

“Well I think I went and gushed on them a lot, and that isn’t coach-speak," said Schiano of the 49ers. "I think anybody who throws a TV game on or reads the newspaper knows [their] names. They’re a really good football team and obviously what they did in beating Seattle was a huge win – we know how good Seattle is. I give our opponent respect but I also know our guys are going to be ready to play and we’re going to do everything we can to win this game. If we’re able to win it I think it will be a big win, especially doing it in our home stadium. "

The chance at an impressive victory wasn't the only thing being discussed at One Buccaneer Place on Wednesday. Below are some additional thoughts from Schiano and Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan.

Head Coach Greg Schiano

(Opening Statement)
“From a health standpoint, today [wide receiver] Vincent [Jackson], [center] Jeremy [Zuttah], [guard] Davin [Joseph], and [defensive end] Da'Quan [Bowers] did not practice. They were limited, they did some stuff, but weren’t out there for the majority of it. [Defensive end] Will Gholston is going to be evaluated throughout the week, but he was full-go today. Per the Head Injury Protocol of the NFL he’ll continue to be evaluated up through kickoff, but he was able to practice throughout the practice today. First and second down install today, kicking game. [This game is] a big challenge, San Francisco is just about strong at every position. There’s a reason they were a pass interference away from winning the Super Bowl and there’s a reason that their record is what it is right now. Just name a position and I’ll give you a guy who’s a Pro Bowl level player. That’s what we’re up against, including in the special teams. This will be our biggest challenge on special teams. They have big athletes like we do and we’re down one without [linebacker] Johnny Casillas with us. It will be some of the best big man special team guys in the league playing on Sunday. It should be a great challenge for our team.”

(On Bowers’ injury)
“It’s not any acute thing, it’s more of a – and it isn’t, it actually is not the knee that everyone talked about when he was coming out [of college], it’s the other knee.”

(On quarterback Mike Glennon getting Tuesday off)
“We gave him off because we just wanted to make sure he got some rest, he’s been working so hard and he’s been getting hit. He’s been playing against some really good fronts and he’s been taking shots. I’ve said to you guys before I liken it to being in a car accident. When you get hit by these 300 plus d-linemen it’s not very unlike being in a car accident except we ask you to get up and play the next play, usually they take you somewhere. When it happens over and over again, you want to give the guy a little rest. With that being said, I think he’s progressing, I think he’s understanding things better and better, we’re playing better defenses each week, better pass rush, it’s become more of a challenge for a rookie quarterback without a doubt. I’m pleased with his progress and we just have to keep moving him on that trajectory.”

(On the promise that Glennon shows)
“Well there’s a lot of those moments that he makes plays that you go ‘Wow, yeah that’s what I’m talking about,’ [or] ‘Wow, what a good throw that is.” Now, that’s in practice. No one is going to touch you though, that’s the difference. What we try to do is have a clock, ‘Get rid of it, get rid of it, get rid of it!’ make him get rid of the football like it’s going to be in the game. You’re not going to be able to stand there and throw seven-on-seven, where all the routes are beautiful and timed. We try to make it realistic, but it is different, no doubt. In any position, first you have to be able to do it against nobody on air and then you have to be able to do it against another man, which is generally the show team and then, ultimately, you have to be able to do it against your opponent. Those are the steps and I think Mike has made those steps and continues to make them. That’s why I am encouraged, plus I think he’s doing a heck of a job of playing the quarterback position within this offense and there’s a lot to it in this offense.”

(On why Glennon’s completion percentage has dropped)
“We’ve taken some more down the field throws, which obviously the percentages are going to be less, we’ve had some more pressure. I think one of the things you look at is he’s not taking sacks. Now, can you throw the ball away? I think he’s done a good job of that, he’s extended plays with movement – scored on one, but extended others. We don’t like the little flipper too much that hit the defender right smack – I mean the guy was shocked ‘Whoa, hey.’ We try to stay away from those. Those are probably some of the reasons.”

(On if he wants more short passes in the game plan)
“You have to take what the defense gives you and it’s risk-reward. If we feel like there’s an opportunity to take shots where the reward outweighs the risk, then we’re going to do that; even though we know that the completion percentage will be less. If we don’t feel that, then we’re going to take what the defense gives underneath and I think each week that’s the challenge because people change up. People change up when they know you have a rookie quarterback, people change up when it’s just Vince and – I shouldn’t say that – when [wide receiver] [Tiquan Underwood] is over there and not [wide receiver] Mike Williams, people change how they would play us. We have to make sure that we stay ahead of that and that’s the cat and mouse game.”

(On how difficult it will be to score points against San Francisco)
“I’ve put a premium on points all year. We’ve struggled putting points on the board – we have to score points, without a doubt. They have a good offense that is going to come in here and just try to maul us and we’re going to have to be able to stand up to that. They have now [wide receiver Michael] Crabtree back. He and [wide receiver] Anquan Boldin, you look at their receiving core it’s a Pro Bowl receiving core with their tight end [Vernon] Davis, he may be the fastest of everybody on the field at the wide out position. You’re talking about a rare group of guys and we’re going to have to really be on point with the secondary. Then you throw [running back] Frank Gore in there who is still running at a very high level, great vision, patience, strength. I remember when we were recruiting Frank when I was down at the University of Miami. You should have saw his high school tape, phenomenal and he’s only gotten better and better. You’re talking about a great group of skill people and then a really, really good offensive line – probably the best offensive line we’ve been up against. It’ll be a big challenge, so yeah, we’re going to have to score some points for sure. But if you flip it over, their defense is equally as talented. Their front with [defensive ends] [Aldon] Smith and [Justin] Smith, those guys are really talented. Then their linebacker core as a core is probably the most talented group in the league. There’s going to be some great linebackers playing in this game Sunday, both sides of the ball. Then in the back end [safety Donte] Whitner and [safety Eric] Reid, Reid’s playing very well. They’re a talented team, special teams as I mentioned, really good, their kicker I guess just broke a record of 21 straight field goals, whatever that number is, kicking very well. Their coverage units as I said, big men on special teams that cover. They’re well coached in every phase, offense, defense, and special teams. We know what we’re up against, looking forward to it. Sure am glad that we’re at home and it’s going to be a great atmosphere and we need every bit of the home crowd, home field advantage to get this done.”

(On how much safety Dashon Goldson has helped in the game plan)
“A lot, both on the field and up in the meeting room.”

(On who is calling the plays on offense and what the offense can do to improve)
“[Offensive coordinator] Mike [Sullivan] is calling every play. There are things that we talk about, I’m not going to share them with you guys because it would put us at a competitive disadvantage, but we’re going to try to do some things that hopefully will have a better opportunity to move the ball against these guys. Everything looks good on the white board right? They’re ‘Ts’ and ‘Rs’ and ‘Bs’ but when human beings have to do it, it changes a little bit. We just have to go out and practice – I thought the guys practiced well today, they were on point, attention to detail, we didn’t have pads on, but they did everything you could do without pads on. I thought it was very, very efficient.”

(On San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick)
“I think he’s really talented. That guy has a huge arm, he throws the ball from the far hash to a 22-yard – I don’t really see many throwing 22-yard comeback – but he really rips it and it doesn’t leave much more than about seven feet off the ground. Then when he runs, he’s a really talented runner. We went out and visited – I didn’t go, my staff went when I was at Rutgers – out to the University of Nevada to study the stuff they were doing and I can remember the coach there, Chris Ault, speaking to our staff about – Kaepy they call him, he called him Kaepy – it was Kaepy this, Kaepy that. I said ‘I have to see this Kaepy guy.’ Well I’m seeing him. I tell you, I’m seeing him in my dreams.”

(On adding offensive linemen Richard Clebert being to the practice squad)
“We’re going to try him and work him at center a little bit. Again this is the time of year you kind of bring guys through and get ready for who you want to have on your roster at the end of the season.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan

(On quarterback Mike Glennon’s recent statistics)
“I think there’s been a couple situations where maybe he might be forcing it a little bit. Look at a couple weeks ago: You have a play that’s designed to take a shot down the field and there’s some pressure and that throws off the timing and we went ahead and put it up anyway. We talked about that and reviewed that. I think, in this most recent game, [there were] a couple types of plays that, nine times out of 10, we’re hitting that ball to [wide receiver] Vincent Jackson and we’re in great position there to be in the tight red zone and hopefully score, and then their guy makes a heck of a play, so we’re not quite there. Then, [there was] another ball that we threw an interception. Again, both of those, you’d like to capitalize more upon those opportunities. Their defense played tremendously and they gave us opportunities for us to want to come away with six points. It was disappointing for everybody. I think, at the end of the day, he’s still someone that is continuing to grow and mature and he learns from mistakes. I think that, the more he can just play each play and each series and have a perspective of, ‘Okay, whatever’s there, take what’s there and know when to let a bad play die.’ Then, when he has a chance to go ahead and make a huge play – I thought was a tremendous throw on the touchdown which was unfortunately overruled on Vincent Jackson there in the fourth quarter – I want to make sure [Glennon] continues to have that killer instinct and that confidence, which I think he does.”

(On if facing tough defenses has aided Glennon’s development)
“Absolutely. For example, like last week, with Buffalo – very, very multiple, a lot of different looks that they had, whether they had their conventional 3-4 [defense] people on the field or they had their substituted defense – a lot of different looks in terms of the front and in terms of the coverage. That’s not particularly easy and [Glennon] worked extremely hard at it and had a lot of success, then [there] were some other things that he wishes he could’ve had back, or you’re going through the pictures and talking at halftime and [he’s saying], ‘It’s okay, I’ve got it.’ That helps. Then, of course, the type of caliber of the defense as far as Carolina and the issues that they had with Detroit and so on and so forth – I think these games are really helping to sharpen the saw, so to speak, and help him get better and better and better. I’m excited about it. You wish there was a magic button you could push and, ‘poof,’ instantly he’s got it and he’s grown and he has it all together, but I think we’re seeing, while there may be some setbacks and some decisions he’d like to have back, or certainly some play calls that could come back – anything that we’d like to go back in time and reverse – at the end of the day, I think there arrow continues to go up with him and what we’ve seen out on the practice field, what we’ve seen him do in some games. I think that it has helped him mature, the fact that it has been some tough sledding.”

(On defensive pressure on Glennon in recent weeks)
“I think you do have a couple groups – last week, a team that led the NFL in sacks, and for us to hold them to one [sack] is a great job by the line and by Mike, at times, getting the ball out on time and throwing it away and doing what he needs to do to try to extend plays. Then, the week before that – it seems like it’d been murderer’s row as far as just some very, very good football players and very, very good schemes. I think, anytime that we’re in a position where you’re throwing more on the defenses’ terms than on your own terms – and I guess what I’m talking about is situations where we end up with a third-and-extra-long, or you’re in a two-minute type scenario because you’re trying to play catchup – that’s going to be a disadvantage for most quarterbacks, and certainly us and within what we want to try to do. I think it comes down to trying to establish those things in the run game, which was great to start off the game [against Buffalo] with a long run by [running back] Bobby [Rainey] that we had. [We] had a bunch of things that, schematically, we thought would play to our advantage and [we were] just trying to maintain patience with that so that the throws could more so be on our terms, so to speak, so that, now, [Glennon is] not constantly letting those guys pin their ears back and go.”

(On making decisions on play calls)
“I think it’s a combination of a lot of factors. I think, in terms of who we have, you have to try to tailor what your thought process, schematically, may be to the players that are on the field. What can they best do? What is Mike most comfortable with? He’s exposed to everything and he has a good grasp, but the stage of, ‘Hey, I understand it up on the board, I can even understand it in a walkthrough, boy the jog-through looks great, practice is good,’ now all of a sudden you do it and you have some of that pressure and some of those guys. When it comes down to it, there’s things that he’s got to feel that he’s 100 percent certain about where he wants to go with the football and how to see it and know the intent of the play. I think those factors all do come into play. I think the thing that everyone ought to be encouraged by is how hard he’s worked. You talk about what he’s faced – the types of defenses and the struggles and everything that’s been well-documented – that he’s continued to work hard and progress, while maybe there can be some steps sideways and a few things you’d like to have back. You look at the Miami game – we had a fourth-quarter touchdown [that] helped put us in the lead to win that game. [We had a] fourth-quarter touchdown [against the] Detroit Lions. [Those are] two teams that are pretty darn good and in the playoff hunt. I think there’s a lot of good things that he’s doing and, certainly, the things that he needs to improve upon he’s well aware of and is focusing on that.”

(On the offensive struggles against Buffalo)
“There’s no excuses. I’m never going to have a pity party, never point to what could be better, what we have, what we don’t have. From day one, whether we’re having great success and setting franchise records or if we’re struggling the struggle part I’ll take full responsibility for; I’ve got big shoulders and I know that there’s no excuses. I don’t know any other way. To throw up my hands and get frustrated – any of those things aren’t going to serve a purpose. Especially against San Francisco, you better [be] darn sure – any time I’m getting frustrated about how things didn’t go right or things that could be different, anything else – lo and behold, this is one heck of a unit coming up. The thought process that I have right now – and again, it’s a lot easier to actually say than to do when you throw the tape on, because, holy cow, you put that on and you see those guys play and, man, if you’re not 100 percent locked in on what we’re going to do to try to run the football, what we’re going to do to be able to throw the football, what we’re going to do to score the points – that age-old formula, I think, comes back into play with regard to controlling the controllables. When it comes right down to it, it’s a no-brainer, but it’s true – taking care of the football, avoiding the self-inflicted wounds, staying on a manageable schedule. [Offensive Assistant] Ben McDaniels and I were talking, as far as our numbers on third down and the specifics of it, our percentages are actually pretty good [if] you go third-and-1-to-9. It’s all of a sudden [when] you get to [third-and-]10 plus when we’re taking the nosedive. That’s a product of what we need to do consistently on first and second down. It’s the same old story. A lot of things go into it. Obviously, if I had the magic wand or the certain answer, then we’d have the problem solved, but in terms of you asking me how do I feel about it, certainly frustrated, certainly disappointed, but, above all else, determined to get it right this week.”

(On if Glennon has thrown the ball too early sometimes)
“I think it’s a combination, also, of what the secondary is doing and some of the multiplicity of the looks. While on the surface those guys [are] a man-free team, it’s all man-coverage, there were some other wrinkles that we knew, going into the game, we were going to see that we worked on. I think, when you take that into account, he’s got to make sure he sees it the right way so that he can make the appropriate read, make the right decision, and, by the way, the guys are coming at you. I didn’t get the sense, I guess – to answer your question specifically – that there were any happy feet or phantom pressure, running away. I think he’s done an admirable job, and certainly the extending-the-play scramble throw to Vincent was tremendous in terms of avoiding the sack, keeping two hands on the ball. I think every quarterback, very, very rarely, if you went across the league with the No.1 offense, No. 1 quarterback, No. 1 line, that pocket’s not always going to be as clean. There’s going to have to be some movement and some sliding. He’s really done a great job, starting last week, and [he] did it again today in the individual drills. There’s a few throws that you’re just getting loosened up, but every throw to a spot, throw to a receiver – I’m talking about even on air – is just getting his body used to making those adjustments of stepping up, sliding, spinning, doing what has to happen, because that’s football, regardless of how good the protection is.”

(On what he has seen from Head Coach Greg Schiano that helped the team weather the early-season storm)
“Consistency. There’s been great resolve. There’s never been any wavering as far as the determination to do things the right way, to win football games, to prepare to win, to do everything that we need to do. There’s never been any sense of panic or any sense of self-pity, any of that, just a determination, a consistency and a resolve. I think that’s something that all of us as coaches, and certainly the players. One of the most gratifying things about being with this group of men, offensively particularly, is how, as frustrating as things have been, there hasn’t been any of the finger-pointing or the backstabbing or the blame game or anything like that. Everyone [is] really accepting responsibility for the things that they can control and trying to get it right. I think that level of consistency is one of the things that’s helped us be able to get to a point where, while we’re still struggling and it seems like we’re taking two steps forward and one back, [we’re] still [trying] to head in the right direction and have some [of the] success that we’ve had. And again, we’ll need all of that with a heck of a challenge against these guys this Sunday.”