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Buccaneer Quotes, Dec. 12

Posted Dec 12, 2013

Creating turnovers has become contagious for Tampa Bay's defense, which leads the NFL in that category and could put up its highest total of takeaways in years…And other discussions

With five takeaways last Sunday in their 27-6 win over Buffalo, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pushed their season total to 29, already three more than they had in 16 games a year ago. They now lead the league in that category and are on pace to finish with 36 takeaways, which would be the team's best season-ending total since the Bucs had 38 in the 2002 Super Bowl year.

Of course, turnover total is not a statistic that lends itself well to such "on-pace" predictions. They tend to come in bunches, as they have for the Buccaneers recently; Tampa Bay has 15 of its 29 takeaways in the last four weeks. On the other hand, that type of run could mean the Buccaneers will blow past that pace, if one believes that turnover-production can become contagious.

“I think it does and I think our guys are … more in tune for the opportunities," said Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan. "The reverse can happen as well. If you get shut out for a couple weeks, and you don’t get them, it’s not in the forefront of the players’ minds. But because we’ve had quite a slew of them in the last month or so, our guys are looking for them and in tune to them and looking to play the ball down the field and strip-tackle and sack-fumble, that kind of stuff.”

-- Rookie CB J. Banks had one of the Bucs' five takeaways against Buffalo
The Bucs' turnover binge wasn't the only topic being discussed at One Buc Place on Thursday. Below are some additional thoughts from Buccaneer coaches and players on the upcoming game with San Francisco and more.

Head Coach Greg Schiano

(Opening Statement)
“Good practice. [Wide receiver] Vince [Jackson] was limited, [defensive end] Da’Quan [Bowers] was limited and [center Jeremy] Zuttah was limited. Everybody else was full [go]. Third down, red zone install [today]. Very, very difficult against this outfit, on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they present a lot of problems, on third down and in the red [zone]. Offensively, same goes with [San Francisco quarterback Colin] Kaepernick being able to be a different element, an additional element to have to defend in both situations. It takes a while to come up with a plan that you feel can be effective against all those things. The guys did a very good job, though, executing today and really trying to get it right. We’ll get another chance to shine it up tomorrow and then head to the weekend.”

(On where Jackson is health-wise compared to last week)
“I think he’s a little bit better. Our goal is to get him back to being [fully healthy]. I want to be real careful because, with him, his legs are everything.”

(On the talent of San Francisco’s defense and what it means for their third down efficiency)
“It starts there, without a doubt; you’re looking at one Pro Bowler after another staring you in the face. [They have a] relentless pass rush. Yes, they’re very talented, but they play with a motor, as a group – that front, whoever they send, four, five, six, or seven guys – they are nonstop until they get to the passer.”

(On commonalities in games in which the defense rushed the passer well)
“A number of things. There’s matchups; some weeks are more favorable matchups for our best guys, and then maybe for our lesser guys – for our guys that, some weeks, just get negated, then, on some of those good weeks, they have a chance to have an advantage. Coverage, I think – I think we covered very well on Sunday, which, as I’ve said many times, they go hand-in-hand. If you can make the quarterback hold it half a click more, it changes everything. A lot of times, quarterbacks sack themselves if you get them off the spot. They’ll move into the rush. All those things go together.”

(On the four-man rush)
“We’re getting better. I don’t know if we’ll ever want to be just totally four-man rush. I think, even when you have a great four-man rush, there’s a really nice element if you can bring some real pressure, some extra guys. But that even gets better when your four-man rush is just kicking tail. I think we’re getting better in our four-man rush though. I think we’re starting to understand concepts better, techniques better. Sometimes, in pro football, people think, ‘Well, that’s who you’ve got.’ Well, no, you can get better. That’s why we go out there and practice every day. Let’s practice and work technique and be a better pass-rush team, or a better ball-running – whatever it is – team five weeks from now, four weeks from now, as we go through the season. I think we are improving. Now, this offensive line and this quarterback, and the receivers, now that’ll make it harder to rush the passer. It’s all relative.”

(On what he has learned about safety Dashon Goldson)
“What an intense, intense competitor he is, what a really bright guy he is; he’s really bright, and a good guy. You never know when you meet a guy on a recruiting trip. He seems like a good guy. We all have our best foot forward. But he really is a good guy, a good teammate, a guy who’s fun to coach.”

(On what Goldson has meant to the team)
“I think he’s meant a lot for our entire team. I think he brought a leadership, a sense of confidence, into our secondary, into our defense and ultimately into our whole locker room. He’s a popular guy on the team. With him and [safety] Mark [Barron], I think Mark’s communication has improved immensely. Would it have happened anyway? I think so, because he’s more confident. But I think, with Dashon around, it really took a bigger step.”

(On if Goldson’s production matches the team’s investment in him)
“He’s missed three and a half games, really, is what it amounts to. In my opinion, he’s definitely worth the investment. I’d do it over again in a heartbeat.”

(On if facing tough defenses has led to third-down struggles offensively)
“Yeah, you hit it on the head: tough defenses. And when you have tough defenses, third down’s where they really shine; that’s the money down, and they’ve got the guys to do it. But we need to convert more. We had not a lot of drops but we had one or two drops on third [down]. We had some pressure. I’m just going through it in my head here, because it’s something that I look at right away – third down, red zone, those key elements to the game. It’s going to be huge Sunday. Huge. If you say, ‘What are the keys,’ third down is a huge key, for them and for us. They want to run the football, we want to run the football, so you’re going to get into third down-and-manageables. Can you convert or not? If you don’t, you’re punting.”

(On having third-and-longs)
“[Against] Detroit, we had more negative plays than we’ve had in a while. A negative play on first down usually amounts to an eight-plus[-yard] third down – not always but usually, just statistically. That’s why a first down or a possession-and-10 negative play is a big thing, because there’s a really good possibility of [third-and-long] – incrementally, it goes [way up]. I’m talking about getting second-and-nine compared to second-and-12 – third-down conversion on that set of downs is a lot lower if you start second-and-12. There’s been some in these last couple weeks, some longer downs, but then the third-and-eights can’t be a longer down; you’ve got to find a way to get eight yards. That’s something that we have to do better. Third-and-13’s? There’s a reason that the conversion rate’s pretty low across the league on third-and-13’s, third-and-14’s. But the eights and the nines – not everyone’s going to be four-to-six, three-to-five. We’re going to have some sevens, eights and nines that you’ve got to find a way to convert.”

(On San Francisco running back Frank Gore)
“He’s an incredibly tough-minded individual. I remember even in high school. This guy is tough, so he’s going to bring it every down. He plays with pain and all those things. I think that’s what lends to his longevity. As an athlete, he’s got tremendous vision, balance, vision, explosiveness – very, very explosive guy. His high school tape was legitimately sick. He was something.”

(On San Francisco’s secondary)
“They have a good secondary. The LSU kid [safety Eric Reid] is really playing well, the rookie. He’s stepped up. He had some big shoes to fill and he’s doing a great job. [Safety Donte] Whitner’s back there; he’s an excellent player. They have a good secondary. They may get overshadowed because the front is like a who’s-who of defensive football, but they have a really good secondary as well. There’s a reason they’re top 10 in everything. They’re talented.”

(On San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis)
“It doesn’t matter what personnel group they’re in, with Vernon Davis – this guy’s a sub-4.4 [second 40-yard dash] tight end. He may be the only one walking the planet. They could go in 11 personnel [one running back, one tight end], 12 [personnel], 22 – when he’s out there, he can lineup anywhere. When he lines up out there at a wideout position, he’s the fastest wideout on their team. So, yeah, he creates mismatches wherever he is. He’s a tremendous player.”

(On San Francisco excelling in total points but not total yards)
“[It’s] a combination [of things]. They definitely feed and live off takeaways and playing good defensive football. [Their] kicking game [is] very sound, gives them a short field, or a shorter field. They’re a run-first team. How do you cover big chunks of yardage? Throwing the ball, right? They will grind it out. They enjoy bullying you up and down the field. That’s part of their shtick, so we’ve got to match it hit-for-hit, play-for-play and kind of what we like to see ourselves as. I think it’ll be an exciting game.”

Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan

(On if the Buffalo game was the most fundamental, sound games the defense has played)
“Definitely one of them and that’s why we played well. Our guys just executed the calls. [Head Coach] Greg [Schiano] talks to them all the time about ‘the plays will come to you if you just do your job’. It started off well, the game did, a lot of times that, even if it’s subconsciously during the course of the game, guys subconsciously believe in what’s happening and they’re more likely to play within their assignments of the defense and that kind of stuff. But it was definitely one of the best, since I’ve been here, as far as guys just simply executing a call and leveraging the ball correctly and playing the coverages the right way and fitting up the runs and obviously it worked out well for us and we got up to a lead early in the game which helped.”

(On having safety Dashon Goldson around in preparation of the game)
“It’s been good and we’ve talked to him quite a bit. I know a lot of our players are talking to him because so much of it is personnel and personnel match up so whatever insight he does have about the players both on the defensive side of the ball and the offensive side of the ball, he’s just tried to share some of that, with not only coaches but the other players, guys their going to be playing against.”

(On Goldson being familiar with San Francisco’s offensive players)
“He’s very familiar, obviously, with their defense personnel as well so yeah, it’s been helpful. And like you said, not so much scheme stuff, because, they’re multiple but you can get a lot of that stuff off of film, most of it is their personnel.”

(On Goldson’s performance)
“He’s been playing good. When he’s out there, the one thing is he only plays one speed and he’s a very aggressive run support player and he plays fast in the back end of the pass coverage as well, so he’s all we’re looking for. He’s done a nice job.”

(On why he thinks the pass rush has improved)
“Some of it is, like last week for example, we got ahead and so you’re going to get more pass attempts and our guys are in tune to that, so it’s a little bit of a disadvantage for the offense because our guys are just pinning their ears back. Like Greg has said, I think we’ve gotten better, of course [defensive tackle] Gerald [McCoy] has done a good job but I think our other guys have gotten better. Then you’re counting on, maybe once or twice a game, you get a little scheme going and you can get a certain pressure that maybe you haven’t shown or a wrinkle of a certain pressure that you have run before. You’re hoping maybe you can catch them on their heels and they’ll turn somebody lose and we had a couple of those last week as well. I think over all, we’re getting better as pass rushers and, again, having the lead that early in the game lends itself to our guys’ really anticipating pass. They threw the ball a lot more than we anticipated coming in because we were ahead a couple scores so that helps as well.”

(On linebacker Lavonte David)
“It’s a joy to coach him. Mostly, because like a lot of guys on our defense, he loves football, none of it’s a chore for him, it’s never work. Even during the week at practice, which can become monotonous, he loves it and he’s into the meetings, he’s into the game plan, he’s into making the calls at the line of scrimmage, he’s into offensive tendencies and aside from that, he just likes to play and play pass coverage and blitz and support the run. All there is and that’s why he’s playing the way he is, he’s into all of it from the neck up and he’s talented, he’s been blessed, he’s a talented football player and he enjoys playing the game and he’s super competitive.”

(On if he knew last year that David would be as good as he is)
“I thought even last year during the preseason when he was playing quite a bit, we were trying to get him into the lineup and even playing him quite a bit in the preseason last year. I think all of us right away realized that this is a really instinctive guy and that if we didn’t screw him up, he’d make a lot of plays and he has.”

(On if David doesn’t make the Pro Bowl)
“Well, I don’t think about it, especially right now. The only thing that I would say is that – and we don’t study other peoples’ personnel on defense, we’re watching other teams’ offense to get ready to defend them. But just having been in the league and seeing defensive football players play – in particular linebackers – I just can’t imagine there’s a half a dozen guys that are, week in and week out, playing just as well as him from a production standpoint. Maybe there are, I might not be aware of it but he certainly is playing at that level, for sure and I would love to see him get recognized just for his own gratification.”

(On linebacker Mason Foster)
“There’s no doubt, Mason plays the MIKE linebacker and there isn’t a down in football, especially in the running game, where they’re not going to have a guy assigned to block the MIKE. Lavonte plays behind Gerald and so there’s no doubt he is protected a little bit more in the run game and more likely to just be able to run and scrape and make tackles, where ‘Mase’ lines up to what we call the bubble – the uncovered guard – so he’s going to get blocked every single down. Not taking anything away from Lavonte, because he’s had an outstanding year and plays well week in and week out, but there’s a lot of plays he makes where he’s not being blocked, he’s running down the ball carrier. Where Mase doesn’t get that opportunity as much because they’re assigning either a full back, or a guard, or a gap-scheme blocker to come up and block him so, yeah, there’s no doubt, Mase is in a more of a block take on position than Lavonte is.”

(On San Francisco’s offense and stopping Frank Gore)
“They’re going to use what we refer to as bigger personnel groupings, like two backs and two tight ends, they’re going to use that more than anybody we’ve played during this season, that’s just part of their main menu, it’s not an exception for them, or it’s not just a short-yardage or goal-line grouping and they’re going to use that on first and second down throughout the game. They do a great job, they have really talented offensive personnel and they do a great job from a coaching staff standpoint at putting together schemes that really make you move a lot before the ball snap and then after the snap, have to fit up a variety of different types of runs and blocking patterns. So, aside from having very talented players, their scheme – like I said, they’re going to make you adjust just prior to the snap and then they’re going to make you fit up a variety of different runs and that’s very challenging for guys. Outside of just physically defending it from defending blocks and tackling these guys, their scheme is excellent.”

(On San Francisco running back Frank Gore)
“We would watch him on film; I think he’s as competitive right now as anybody we’re seeing on film from a running back standpoint. He’s excellent. I guess people might talk about him being up in age and all that stuff, I don’t see any of it, we don’t see it on film, he hasn’t demonstrated it in the five or six games that we put in our break down, he’s running the ball as well as I’ve seen anybody in the NFL. He’s super aggressive with the ball, downhill, can cut, still make people miss and he has no problem putting his shoulder down and trying to run through guys. He’s tearing it up right now, they are.”

(On San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis)
“He is the fastest [tight end] and because of that – he’s not just a straight line fast guy either, he’s a fantastic athlete, and the one thing you probably wouldn’t know unless you watch a lot of film is he’s really turned into an outstanding run blocker, and they ask him to do it and he buys right in and they’re moving him around and having him block on linebackers and crack people and double teams, he does a great job. He’s so athletic, he can get body position on guys and use his hands and move people. But aside from that, not only his straight line speed, but he’s just a very – he’s like having a wide receiver out there. So even when there in two tights, their basically in two wides because he can line up, detached from the formation, and he does and you’re hoping your corner can cover him well enough. A main target for them [in the red zone], for sure.”

S Dashon Goldson

(On if he has a lot of emotions about this week's game)
"Not yet. I'm trying to keep my composure. I know there's a lot behind everybody asking me about being there, but I'm just looking at it as another football game. I understand that's where I spent the last six years, but it's just another team that we've got to play, at the end of the day, and that's the way I'm trying to keep it."

(On how San Francisco’s offense looks on tape)
"They're looking pretty good, man. They're a talented football team. This is my first time going against them. Being there for years, I was able to practice against them sometimes. I used to watch them at practice and I always knew they were a good football team – good players, good quarterbacks, plus those receivers and a great running back. Going against them will be a great challenge."

(On if San Francisco is a physical offense)
"Their offensive line can be physical, a physical group. With their shifts and motions they try to get you to think a little bit, get you off balance, and then, bam, they hit you over the top or get an explosive play with Frank [Gore]."

(On if his years with San Francisco mean he can help the Tampa Bay defense understand the offensive shifts)
"No. It's hard because their coach is great and they do a great job of switching it up. They keep teams off balance and don't show the same stuff every week."

(On if he's still happy with his decision to come to Tampa despite some unfortunate occurrences this year)
"I don’t regret my decision to come here at all. I think I'm in a great place and I'm happy to be here. I'm going to be here locked down for a couple more years and I'm excited about it. As far as my injuries, I've dealt with some injuries, the MCL that kept me out a couple weeks, that was hard. And the suspension was even harder. It was hard to try to get your mindset when you bounce from an injury to a suspension. It was like, 'What's next?' Then you've got to get back into that football mode and go out there and try to win football games. But I'm in a good place, I'm ready right now and I'm feeling pretty good. We've got a good team coming in and it's going to be a great challenge for our football team. We'll try to make things difficult for them."

(On how the Tampa Bay defense is playing right now)
"I think we're playing well. We're doing some good things, we're getting a lot of turnovers. We've got to continue that, especially with a good football team coming in. We've got to continue to stay loose, play with clean eyes and tackle."

(On San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick protecting himself)
I'm seeing he's throwing the ball away and sliding a lot more than when I was there. He's understanding that he is a positive, important piece to that football team. His health is very important to them and I think he's understanding that now. He's playing smarter, and he's still making some great throws. He's pulling it off. I know he took a lot of criticism early on and probably still, but he's still a good football player and he's maintaining that."

CB Darrelle Revis

(On if beating San Francisco would be a signature win)
“A win is a win. I don’t really look into a signature win. I mean it would be special if we win because they’re one of the top teams in the NFL, but at the same time a win is a win. We’ve got 16 weeks to perform and try and get to the playoffs. I just look at every game – win or a loss, you move on and prepare for the next week. Don’t get me wrong, the 49ers, they’re defending their NFC Championship and they’re one of the top teams in the league, they’ve got a lot of talent and we’re looking forward to it.”

(On facing San Francisco wide receiver Anquan Boldin)
He’s always been physical; I think that’s been a part of his game, that’s been his identity throughout his career, his physicality and how hard he plays, how hard he blocks, and his passion for the game.”

(On if San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree looks healthy on film)
“He doesn’t. Sometimes you can kind of see him favoring that Achilles and I don’t even know which Achilles it is, but you can kind of see him hobbling around out there, here and there on plays. But he’s out there, so there’s no excuse.”

(On the physicality of San Francisco running back Frank Gore)
“Actually this will be my first time playing against the 49ers, I never played against them, this will be exciting. Frank Gore I feel he’s one of the top two backs, top three backs in the league, just in his longevity I’ll say, him just always being consistent and running the ball very well. He’s been there for years and that running attack, even when they were losing during some of his early years, I knew he was still being a consistent guy on that team. Now they’re one of the top teams in the league and he’s still being consistent that’s good to see and you’ve got to tip your hat off to them. Don’t know him personally but I do respect what he does out there on the field.”

(On the information safety Dashon Goldson has given him about facing his former team)
“He’s been given us everything, he’s been spilling the beans and we definitely appreciate that. We want to get this win for Dashon. We know he was one of the captains on that team and one of the leaders and a core guy on that squad. We want to get the win for him.”

(On Goldson’s impact on the team)
“I’ll just say leadership, his leadership. When you play – I used to play for the [New York] Jets and he was [on the] 49ers, you hear about guys around the league he was a guy I paid attention to and being one of the top safeties in the league and now we’re teammates. I’m sure he never thought this and I never thought we would be teammates either. I’ll say the biggest thing is his leadership.”

(On getting more pass rush opportunities after getting a sack last week.)
“I don’t know. I’ve got to talk to coach about that [laughs]. It was great last week, we put it in and it actually worked out. Actually [linebacker] Lavonte [David] helped me, because he was on my side and he came up a little bit and ducked underneath and helped me out for a free path to the quarterback.”

(On if the pass rush is starting to come together)
“We’ve been growing as a team, I feel. These last four out of five games I think we’ve really grown and I think we know how to win together. Guys know how guys play now and the communication of where guys are supposed to be and not supposed to be. I think we feel very confident, we really do. We’ve been on a roll and we’ve got to continue to do that and that’s just us sticking together like we’ve always been this whole year, even though it’s been rocky; but we can build, I was saying this earlier in the year, we can build off this and look forward to the future.”