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Buccaneer Coaches Quotes, Nov. 27

Posted Nov 27, 2013

Tampa Bay's coaches credit the team's recent turnaround to the perseverance of the players through some difficult times...And other thoughts from Greg Schiano, Bill Sheridan and Mike Sullivan

The last time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced the Carolina Panthers, in Week Eight, they took their most lopsided loss of the year, 31-13, to fall to 0-7. The Buccaneers have played four games since then: an overtime loss in Seattle that nearly produced one of the NFL's biggest upsets and victories over Miami, Atlanta and Carolina. The team is averaging 28 points per game over the last four outings and the offense and defense have combined to produce an 8-0 takeaway-giveaway ratio in the last two victories.

Essentially, the Buccaneers are now playing up to the potential they believed they had when they broke training camp, and Head Coach Schiano attributes some of the turnaround to the players' ability to stay focused while the losses mounted.

-- Buccaneer coaches have been impressed with the focus and perseverance of the players during difficult times
“I think it really is just sticking with it," said Schiano on Wednesday. "Again, not pressing too hard, either. With those losses … building up, I thought, maybe, we were pressing a little bit. [It was] everybody collectively kind of just taking a breath and just keep going but don’t press. I think it’s really the leadership of guys keeping it together until it started to turn for us.”

Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan agrees, crediting the turnaround to the team's " perseverance and a steadfastness."

"We really haven’t changed that much, whether it’s scheme or how we go through the week in prep," said Sheridan. "The players have had a phenomenal attitude of just kind of plowing through. I know that sounds very trite, but that’s what’s happened. I think our players recognize that we’ve been very competitive all along. Greg’s done a good job of just being steadfast and consistent, and I think the players appreciate that. We have confidence in them and they’ve just kind of stuck to the plan and now it’s starting to show its benefits.”

The Buccaneers perseverance wasn't the only topic being discussed at team headquarters on Wednesday. Below are some additional thoughts from Schiano, Sheridan and Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan.

Head Coach Greg Schiano

(Opening statement)
“OK guys, good workout. I thought the guys really pushed hard, it was a physical game on Sunday but they came out and practiced hard today – first and second down install for Carolina. We had some guys that did not practice: [linebacker Adam] Hayward had some lower leg things, [cornerback Darrelle] Revis will be day-to-day, [guard] Davin [Joseph] scheduled off day but he’ll play Sunday, he’ll practice tomorrow. It’s good to have [safety] Dashon [Goldson] and [linebacker] Mason Foster back, they were both full go. We signed Kyle Adams, tight end, who’s played for Chicago, played in 24 regular season games so he’s a guy who’s got some experience, and I think that’s it.”

(On Revis’ injury)
“Without going into too many particulars which I’m not supposed to do, it’s just he’ll be day-to-day, so that should tell you, kind of. It’s not real bad, and will he play Sunday? I don’t know, we’ve got to figure that out. That’s why he’s day to day.”

(On if Revis practiced today and if he will participate this week)
“He did not practice today, no. That’s why day-to-day, yeah.”

(On why they chose to put cornerback Johnthan Banks on Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson last Sunday)
“It wasn’t an easy decision. As a matter of fact, we took the field thinking that we might just play right and left and whoever got him, got him. And then we get on the field and it was just a gut feeling that, ‘Let’s get Johnthan on him.’ Because Johnthan, you’ve got to remember, was coming off an injury, Johnthan had gotten banged, so it’s not like he’d had a full week of practice, either. But you just kind of – sometimes, you get a feeling.”

(On the performance of Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton)
“Well I think he’s doing a really good job; I think their whole football team is. They’re obviously the hottest team in the league right now, but [Head Coach] Ron [Rivera] has done a great job with them. They’re incredibly well coached, [Panthers’ offensive coordinator] Mike Shula has been able to get Cam to stay within himself and he still runs, he still does all the things that makes him exciting, but he doesn’t force passes. He’s doing all the things that winning quarterbacks do and they’ve got a really good football team and now they’re at full strength. I don’t know if they’re missing anybody. They really have well-coached, really good athletes, their defense is tops in the league. It’s probably the top defense if you just look through every category, if you add them all up, they’re probably number one in scoring defense which, I guess, is the most important stat there is because that’s what decides wins and losses, so we’ve got our hands full.”

(On quarterback Mike Glennon and the evolution of his play)
“Well we’re very proud of both Mike and Lavonte, proud of them. Mike continues to progress and understands what we’re doing, what we expect for him. I think its [the] ability for him to see the vision of what the offense is and what we want him to do. And I’ve said it many times, he’s got a mature attitude as far as letting bad plays die and that’s usually the hardest thing for a rookie quarterback to do, it’s the hardest thing for any quarterback to do, but especially a rookie quarterback because they’re such great competitors. They didn’t get to this level in being a starting quarterback in the National Football League if they’re not a great competitor. Yet that strength can be a weakness if you force a play, and it really boils down to six to eight plays that the quarterback’s going to make during that game that are going to win that game, but you’ve got to let them come to you. If you force them, that’s when interceptions occur, that’s when some things happen where you hold it too long and you get sacked and all those kind of things. So I think that’s been his strength and his preparation, I think, is what allows him to do that. The guy works incredibly hard to get ready each week and that’s what championship guys do. That’s why I think we’ve just got to keep growing him, we’ll get some guys back healthy around him too, and I think some guys in the receiver position, even though they’re young, are starting to understand better what we’re doing which is going to help. [Wide receiver] Vince [Jackson] has kind of been, and [wide receiver] Tiquan [Underwood] are the two guys that are the more experienced guys and it’s a bunch of young kids that are starting to get a better feel now.”

(On Revis’ injury and how it’s affecting their game plan)
“It is, there are certain match-ups we’ll do with him, will we do them without him? I don’t know. Again, that’s a decision we’ll have to make, so you’re going to have to have plenty of contingencies because it could happen first play of the game as well.”

(On if a contingency plan with Revis might be to change how and where he plays)
“I think if he can go, he can go. I think that’s the way it will be.”

(On being told last year that teams can’t block punts in the NFL)
“Well, I don’t know if it was an individual who said that to me, just the overall feeling was that that’s not – this is a return league, that the snappers and punters got it off so quick that you couldn’t get there. They do, and people adjust to us, so they know that we’re a punt block team [and] they get the ball off more quickly. So it is harder for us as time goes on but that’s OK, too. If they change or alter their timing because of what we’re doing, then usually that brings a good result. The thing that you have to really be careful of and we’re ultimately most careful of is that you can’t be a block team at the risk of giving up a fake, and that’s why I was so frustrated in the Atlanta game when they faked it on us, because that wasn’t even a block, so they run a fake on something that’s not even a block. That’s what gets you, really. If you’re going to get faked on, it might as well be when you’re coming after them, right? Risk-reward. But we’re going to continue to do that, it’s part of what we do, but I think you look, the return game has improved quite a bit. I don’t know what we are but we’re in the top 10 in punt returns which if you can do both, that really becomes a weapon for you.”

(On how the Buccaneers’ offense can be successful against Carolina)
“Well, I think we have to continue to play the brand of football that we’re playing. Offensively, we have to run the ball and they’re going to be hard to run it against. There’s not an area in their defense where they’re weak, so it’s not like you can sit there and say, ‘Well you know, we can attack this,’ because they are a rounded out, very, very good defense. We have to play to our strengths because they really don’t have a weakness. We have to play to our strength and I think our strength is still running the football. We didn’t do a great job of it the other day, you’re right, but we have to, and we have to throw the ball down the field and we have to mix it up, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

(On cornerback Johnthan Banks)
“I think it was big of him stepping up, without a doubt, but that’s the guy we drafted. When I spoke to [Mississippi State Head Coach] Dan Mullen before the draft, he said, ‘This is my guy. He is a football player. He may not be the fastest guy on the clock, Greg, but this guy will step up. He’s a two-time captain and he’s just a leader and he plays and he’s mature,’ and sure enough, he is. That’s what we drafted and he’s living up to that and as he gets more experience, I think he’s going to get better and better.”

(On not running the ball as effectively in Detroit as the previous two games)
“Well, a lot of it had to do with the guys we were playing. They are really, really physical and good. We didn’t play our best, it was a bad, kind of a bad combo: we didn’t play as well as we have up front and they are really, really good, and that resulted in some negative plays and we’ve got to get back. That’s why I was really excited about today. We had shoulder pads on for half the practice and we got into some real fundamental run stuff and I think our guys get it, ‘Look, that wasn’t good enough.’ I know they get it and we’ll run it better.”

Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan

(On cornerback Leonard Johnson’s pick six and the other turnovers forced Sunday against Detroit)
“It was pivotal in the game, a big momentum swing for us. It was great to see those guys do that, especially the young guys. Every one is a critical time, because they’re moving the ball up until those points on all of them, but yeah, it was really rewarding to see our guys, in that environment, and some of the backups that had to play the entire game, and to step up and play well, that was as gratifying as anything I’ve been around in a quite a while.”

(On if he was surprised that some of the backup defensive players played so well)
“I’m never surprised. I’m never surprised about any of that. I’m very optimistic and I always think, ‘Yep, they’re going to play good.’ I always think that.”

(On cornerback Johnthan Banks filling in for cornerback Darrelle Revis in covering Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson after Revis’ injury)
“I think that really helped John going forward. We kind of just told him, ‘You’re doing this.’ That was kind of the backup plan going in, that if something did happen, he would be the next guy to match up that way. He had coverage help around him, but he played [Johnson] in straight man-to-man coverage quite a bit in the second half, when we were pressuring. It says a lot about John. Even from the beginning of the season, John doesn’t get too rattled or fazed by stuff. He’s getting better. He’s [had] a couple balls caught on him during the season, but he’s never been [shaken] up or rattled by anything or overwhelmed by any of that stuff. I think, going forward, it’ll be great for him, because he was competitive against as good as there is in the league [Johnson].”

(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy’s improvement and potential)
“I think there’s so many different components to a defensive lineman’s game, in the run and the pass, that he’ll always be able to get better. He’s a guy who’s talented enough and intelligent enough to recognize that stuff and work on different parts of his game. But he’s had an outstanding year and he’s so talented and so overpowering, both in run defense and in the pass rush. I’m sure there are other guys as competitive as him at his position in the league, but there probably isn’t too many better. What he’s done for us the whole season, not just the last three weeks, it’s as impressive as probably anybody else you’re going to see on film playing in the interior defensive line.”

(On McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David projecting as dominant players for years to come)
“Only because [McCoy] hasn’t had as many years in doing it because of his early career injuries, I think, right now, if you really looked at and probably got some feedback from some offensive people around the league, I think Gerald’s doing that right now. He just hasn’t done for as long because, like I said, early in his career, he had a couple season-ending injuries. I think Gerald’s playing very near to that level right now. The thing about Lavonte [is] he probably just isn’t as well-recognized maybe nationally. I guarantee you he is around the league for the teams that have played against us, and I think that, eventually, because of his consistent production that he puts out there every single week, I think he’ll be in the same category. Those are just great guys to be around, great character guys and really, really competitive athletes that love to play and they love to compete, and that’s probably why they play the way they do on Sundays.”

(On what has led to an increase from last season in yards per carry allowed)
“That’s a very good question. I tell our guys most Mondays, when we get together with them, or on Wednesday mornings when we start the next week, if you do let out a couple of big runs – like the other day, we had two runs over 15 yards – it really skews your stats. You could have a whole lot of two-yard runs and three-yard runs and one-yard runs and really be playing good, quality run defense, but if you let out a 15-yarder or a 20-yarder, it totally lopsides your stats, and I think that is what has happened to us. I think that, down in and down out, we’ve played very competitive run defense, but we’ve also let some out each week, a 20-yarder here – I mean, just even in Atlanta, we had a 50-yarder – and that just really skews your stats. We’re well aware of that and we make our players well aware of that every single week, how they’re doing in that statistical category, because, in our minds, that’s one of the three cornerstones for playing quality defense, stopping the run. Even though we’re in a passing league, the whole object is to get teams in passing situations so that you can pressure or rush and play the kind of coverages you want. But on first and second down, you’ve got to get people into those situations, so that is still a cornerstone of our defense, to be a great rush defense, and we take a lot of pride in it, but we are well aware of the fact that we’re not the same, statistically, as we were a year ago, and I think the majority of that is because we’ve let some big runs out each week. That adds to the stats.”

(On Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina offense)
“I think a little bit of what they’re doing on offense [is] they’re trying to get a little bit more of a mainstream, conventional NFL [offense]. They have fantastic running backs, let those guys run the ball and let Cam get in the pocket and throw the ball down the field. Obviously, they have an outstanding receiving corps as well, that’s why they’re doing so well. I think he’s accepted that and he’s executing at a very high level right now. He still has the ability to run it – he’s a ball carrier every game. They never get away from at least having him run what’s called the gun-run stuff, and he’ll still pull it and run it three or four times a game. Then, obviously, in the pocket, he’s just very elusive, so, as well as they’re doing as far as getting the ball down their field to the receivers – and Cam does a great job of that – at any time, obviously, he can pull it down when things do break down in protection or things are being covered or matched up on the back end; he’s able to pull it down and create plays, create first-down plays. Probably the biggest thing is that he’s really bought into being a true pocket passer, and he’s more than talented enough to do anything, offensively. Then they’re running the ball as well as anybody right now.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan

(On takeaways from the first game against Carolina)
“I think they’re a very good football team, for sure, and they’ve certainly gotten better in all respects. We were our own worst enemy at times, as has often been the case this year, with a couple of critical third downs when the game was still in the balance and you get the errant snap and then it results in a sack and, all of a sudden, you’re having to settle for a field goal or you get knocked out of field goal range. I think there were some of those self-inflicted wounds. Then, before you know it, you’re in a situation where you’re having to throw a ton, which, in our perfect world, we’re throwing when it’s best for us, on our terms if you will, in terms of the play-action pass and some three-step [drop passes]. When you have to throw, you have to throw; everyone knows, third down, that’s what it comes down to. I think we were really skewed, as I look back at that game, of really, for the majority of the game, being in that two-minute-type of a mode on the ball and those guys [the Carolina defense] are able to pin their ears and it makes for some tough sledding.”

(On quarterback Mike Glennon)
“He has always had a great maturity about him. From the day he walked in, he’s had a tremendous work ethic and [he’s] very smart and able to put all of it together in terms of understanding the plays. He’s got the plays, he had today’s script, today’s call sheet, run and pass, memorized, so he’s not having to go ahead and think. He’s finishing the calls, he gets it and really is taking the next step both in the run game and the pass game, in terms of the coverage recognition, in terms of the pressures and what we’re trying to accomplish, really the essence of the plays. Now, as he continues to grow, the next step for him is to take a microscope and try to really crack the code and get some of the subtleties and nuances of the defense, being able to read the coverage or how we’ve got to reset the protection or where to go with the football. The big three components that he’s had and I think he had in college and he had early on when he came here and he’s continued to improve upon is the leadership, is the accuracy, is the decision-making, and as long as he keeps those three pillars in mind, at the forefront, we’re going to be in great shape. He’s still got a lot of room to grow, and the exciting thing for us as coaches is his willingness to do that. The guy is a football junkie and really is making the most of his opportunities.”

(On staying committed to the run game)
“It’s easy at times to be tempted to [say], ‘Oh, let’s just go ahead and throw it,’ but I think that persistence just to stay with it, whether it’s a tackle for loss or a penalty or something that sets us back. [Sunday against Detroit was] a frustrating type afternoon – we ended up, I want to say, with five or six third-and-15’s or more, and those are awful difficult to overcome; you’re going to have to throw in those type of situations. But, ultimately, if we could just have the patience, and that we have that dual-threat, then you do have the defenders, I think, being a little bit more aggressive and they’re stepping up and just biting a little bit more, if you will, like what happened on [wide receiver] Tiquan’s [Underwood] long touchdown pass. I think, as long as we’re in a position where we don’t have to be up-tempo, we don’t have to be in a two-minute-type of scenario – our defense just had a heck of a day out there with all those takeaways and they really kept us in it when we were struggling – if we can play that type of a game, we have to have the patience to stay with it so that we’re not one-dimensional and that we can throw on our terms so they’re still thinking it’s not just ‘pin your ears back’ like I said of the Carolina example where you have to throw. [If] we have that dual-threat, that’s always going to be in our favor.”

(On wide receiver Tiquan Underwood and tight end Tim Wright)
“First off, Tiquan Underwood – you want to talk about a guy that has had a rocky road in terms of [being] released from the [New England] Patriots the night before the Super Bowl and has come here and has been up and then has been released – what a great story of persistence and steadiness and a work ethic, and an excellent young man too, as a person. The football, him stepping up and making the plays, [I’m] just so happy for him because he does put a lot of time into it and we do have a great deal of trust because he is very smart and knows all the positions, so to see him make the most of that opportunity really is a testament to his work ethic and his character and his ability to persevere. Then Timmy Wright, holy cow – this is a guy that was moved to tight end as a wide receiver, had never done it before, and Brian Angelichio, our tight end coach, did a tremendous job with him, coaching him up from day one. It was a process, but he had, early on, the toughness and the willingness and the intelligence to get it done. Now, he’s really developed into a guy that we feel very excited about in the pass game and really is fighting and doing enough good things in the run game that you can’t, if you look at our numbers, [think,] ‘Okay, he’s in the game, it’s a pass.’ It’s not. [I’m] just very, very proud of those two young men, Timmy being an undrafted free agent. [It] just really speaks volumes to what hard work and dedication and the results that can come to people that do that.”

(On Glennon’s decision-making in late-game situations)
“It’s impressive because it’s easy to sit back in a meeting room and put the tape on and [say], ‘Let’s talk through the situation,’ in an air-conditioned room. It’s easy, even on the sidelines, to talk about a situation – ‘Hey, we could’ve done this’ or, ‘Hey, if this thing comes up’ – but in the heat of the game, a critical situation right there, a lot that’s going through his mind and whether it was the right decision, the wrong decision, having that awareness of situational football, that, again, speaks volumes about his football IQ [and] his maturity beyond his years. [We’re] just really excited about where he’s at in terms of the type of player that he’s working to become. It’s one of those type of situations [where] there’s so many things that come into play in the ballgame, and we’ll go over that as a team, all the various situations. From our standpoint, fortunately for us, we’ve had a couple games where we’ve been in the lead, so you go through your variations of how we want to go ahead and kill the clock by taking the knee or extending it a little bit, and those are fun to go over, those are good things to go over, so you get to say, ‘Hey guys, let’s talk about our slow victory,’ and those types of things, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to do more of that.”