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Buccaneer Quotes, Dec. 19

Posted Dec 19, 2013

Second-year safety Keith Tandy has carved out a larger role than might have been expected and helped the Bucs' defense weather some injuries in the defensive backfield…And other discussions

With safety Mark Barron's status uncertain for Sunday's game in St. Louis due to a hamstring injury, second-year man Keith Tandy is preparing for the possibility of expanded playing time this weekend. Even if Barron is cleared to play, Tandy will remain a significant part of the Bucs' defensive strategy for the Rams; the former 2012 sixth-round pick has emerged as a valuable contributor in the sub packages that utilize three safeties at once.

Tandy, who is tied for second on the team with three interceptions, has gained the confidence of the Bucs' coaching staff and that has led to more exposure on defense than might have been expected back in training camp. Tandy also has 24 tackles on the season and has forced a fumble and broken up three passes.

-- S Keith Tandy is tied for second on the Bucs' defense with three interceptions this season
"He’s been playing a lot more than maybe you would have anticipated in the preseason," said Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan. "You might have viewed him as [filling] a reserve role but with some of the time that’s been missed by Dashon [Goldson] or Mark [Barron], he’s played a lot and … he’s done a fantastic job, way above and beyond than what maybe you would have thought a year ago he would be capable of doing. That’s why, even with some of the injuries we’ve had throughout the year, we’ve at least been able to play competitive football. It hasn’t been just a dramatic drop off when we’ve had to play some of our backups.”

Tandy's emergence wasn't the only topic being discussed at One Buccaneer Place on Thursday. Below are some more thoughts from Tampa Bay players and coaches.

Head Coach Greg Schiano

(Opening Statement)
“Good practice. [We] reviewed first and second down, got into third down and red zone, got pretty much everybody out there. [Defensive end] Da’Quan Bowers did not practice; he’s got a knee [injury] that’s bothering him a little bit. [Safety] Mark Barron was limited. Other than that, I think everybody went.”

(On Barron’s improvement health-wise)
“He’s improving, sure. He’s day-to-day.”

(On wide receiver Eric Page returning kickoffs and punts)
“He’s done some really good things, had some questionable decisions, but rookies make questionable decisions because they haven’t been there before. And he’s a young rookie; he came out as a junior and went to Denver and got hurt before he ever got there, so he didn’t play. He is really the age of a rookie, the experience of a rookie, maybe even less. I think he’s done a nice job.”

(On getting contributions from young players)
“I think, in this day and age, you’re going to play your best players, whether they’re rookies or second-year guys or veterans. I was looking the other day – in this game, we’re going to have about 18 first- or second-year players playing. Some of it is because they’re better than anybody else on the team, some of it is because of injuries and they’ve been put in that role, but that’s a big number. I think our young guys are doing a heck of a job. They’re working very hard, trying to grasp all the information. As a coach, you try to speed that process up. Sometimes the only way they’re going to learn is to go through the fire, but you try to see if you can’t expose them to a little bit before they get into that fire.”

(On tight end Tim Wright)
“I think he’s really performed very, very well. There’s one of those young guys we’re talking about. That was the plan had I stayed at Rutgers – we were going to make him a tight end – so when we brought him here, we had visions of doing it. I’m glad he’s here, because he’s been very productive. I read in somebody’s [article] – I don’t really pay a lot of attention to those numbers, but I guess his numbers are pretty high up there in rookie tight ends in the league. Thank goodness, because we’ve needed every contribution we can get offensively and he’s done that.”

(On if the defense has performed as well as the team needs)
“Well, no, not as good as we need them to be, because, to be a championship team, we need them to be a championship defense. I think we’ve made progress defensively. We have two games left and, in all the major statistical things that you judge the defense by, we’re kind of in the middle of the road – some just outside the top 10, some around the middle of the pack, 15 or 16. Two games worth, [in] some of those things, could put you in the top 10, it could also put you in the 20s. But, as [for] their body of work over 14 games, I think we have improved. I think that we’re going to be better. I think that these guys understand the defense better now. We added some new parts that, I think, are now comfortable in the defense. They’re veteran guys so they’re comfortable playing the game, but with the assignments, verbiage, all that stuff, and playing with their new teammates. We’re a couple pieces away, I think, from being a dominant defense. We have some good players, some really good players. We’ll just keep working at it. I think some of those pieces are going to develop into being dominant players. We have some young kids here who I think have the upside to be special. Our whole philosophy is draft and develop anyway, and that’s really what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to continue to do that.”

(On if losing tight ends to injury has affected the run game)
“I think all the tight ends have had a significant impact. People don’t count tight ends as [part of] the run game, but when you’re connected to the [offensive] tackle and you’re blocking a front seven force-unit player, or involved in a double team with that, that’s a significant part of the run game. To lose Luke [Stocker], and then [Nate] Byham, and then [Tom] Crabtree, that’s had a hit, for sure. But that’s the way it goes, so figure out another way. We’ve gone [with] some big people; you see [offensive lineman] Gabe Carimi in there sometimes at tight end. Timmy [Wright will] be in there, sometimes, at tight end. We’ll basically go and try to mix-and-match and figure out a way to replace those guys.”

(On if Crabtree blocked well before he was placed on injured reserve)
“Yeah, he was. I think he was solid in all phases.”

(On what pieces the defense needs to become dominant)
“I’m not going to get into all the particulars, because then you start getting into all the offseason stuff, with free agency and all that. I think you’re probably pretty much in-tune to what it is. But again, I think it can be developed within, as well as outside. I think we have some really fine young prospects in our building right now. [Defensive end] Will Gholston’s a prime example: six weeks ago, you’re not talking or thinking the way you are about Will that you are now. Again, I keep coming back to it – this is such the ‘instant’ society, but sometimes you’ve just got to develop guys. You coach them, they get better, they watch themselves on tape, they play in games, they learn, they get better. Physically, they’re getting better. I think we have the best strength coach in the National Football League [with] the job he does – Jay Butler. [If] we just keep developing these guys, I think they’re going to continue to get better.”

(On St. Louis wide receiver Tavon Austin)
“I remember, when I recruited him out of high school, he reminded me of [Washington wide receiver] Santana Moss when I had Santana at [the University of] Miami. He had that kind of quickness and speed. That’s who I was likening him to to our staff at the time. He’s a very talented guy. He loves the game of football; football is it, he’s all about it. I’m anxious to see if he’s playing or not.”

(On safety Mark Barron)
“I think he’s made significant development. I thought he was a good player a year ago. I thought he was a really good player this year. I thought he made a lot of plays. I think he’s a physically dominant tackler. He’s made some plays in third-down defense where the guy’s right at the stick and he just physically man-handles him and bends him back. I think Mark’s going to be just as good as he wants to be, I really do. He’s a driven player. He’s a smart player, physically gifted. We just need to keep developing him, too.”

(On the significance of gaining yards on first and second down to avoid third-and-long)
“It’s critical. It’s really important. We’ve got to keep ourselves in manageable third downs so we don’t have to stand back there too long. The longer the yardage you have to get, the longer you have to stand in the pocket or roll out or whatever your plans are. To do that, the more yards, the more time you need. With this [defensive] front [in St. Louis], there’s not a lot of time to be had. Certainly you can run it on first and second, throw it on first and second, and the other thing you can do is get first downs on first and second and never see third down – I’m not opposed to that either. We’ll try to do all of the above.”

Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan

(On safety Mark Barron)
“I think the biggest thing I see in Mark is a level of confidence that you wouldn’t normally see from a rookie in his rookie season. But I think now that he’s been through a season and the better part of two seasons, he’s had enough success on the field on Sundays that he realizes his own talent level and that he not only can play and compete at this level but be very good and very competitive – I‘d say that’s probably the biggest thing. Of course he’s more familiar with our defense and all that kind of stuff and more familiar with the kind of offense of attacks that we get against us each week. But the biggest thing, I think, is his understanding that he can not only play at this league but excel.”

(On if Barron’s confidence is shown in his performance)
“And knowing that he can run guys down and get them on the ground, I agree, it shows itself in the way he tackles. He’s a very physical and decisive tackler. He knows he can close on guys and he can get them down. He’s not hoping for that or trying, he knows he can just run a guy down and close down into him and crunch him down to the ground.”

(On if he is excited about the progress of defensive end Will Gholston)
“Very much so. I think that’s why we took Will but I think Will’s getting a lot better and he’s only going to get better by getting into games and so I think the more he plays the more he’ll develop and you’ll see that going into next year as well. He’s a talented player and he just needs to play a lot. He’ll play a bunch this weekend. He’s only going to get better. It is very encouraging for sure.”

(On Gholston’s skill and future)
“I think on first and second down you will, on third down , he’s a very good power rusher and I think down the road even, we’ll use him in that role on third downs. He’s more than adequate off the edge on first and second downs and that’s what we’re lining him up as a defensive end. But I think on third down, down the road, you’ll see him like he is now, playing on the inside.”

(On If Gholston is making a case to be a starter)
“Those positions are always being competed for and he has not been near relegated to just as a reserve player so, again, we’ve only got two games left but no, he’s going to play more and if he ends up being a starter down the road that’s great.”

(On the coverage against San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis’ touchdown)
“We were actually in a two-deep zone coverage there and I wish I could tell you something more sophisticated other than we just didn’t play the coverage well. They got on top of us, they caught us flat-footed off of play-action and before you know it, the guy’s on top of you and because of his speed, he got behind our two back end safeties. But no, there wasn’t, it wasn’t because of ability, it was we got flat footed on a play-action pass and that’s how, and a guy like that can run by us. It was more incorrectly played than a mismatch.”

(On if Tampa Bay has progressed as a defense and where they are now)
“I think the biggest thing you’re seeing as far as an improvement is two things: One is familiarity with the scheme, at least the guys who were here a year ago and then the second thing is [general manager] Mark [Dominik] and the personnel department went out and acquired excellent free agents for our defense and those are the guys in our lineup right now and have made us a distinctly better defense than we were a year ago. Those two things and you’re counting on the same thing as you go forward either through the draft or the free agency coming up here in the offseason, as well as, again, another season under our belt of playing hard defenses scheme with our coverages, pressures and guys being more familiar with what they have to do in there and how they want those executed. So those are two biggest things I think why you’re seeing that and I imagine it’ll continue to get better and better, again, with the acquisition of new and better personnel at certain positions like everybody’s trying to do in the whole league as well as just familiarity with our defense.”

(On what he thinks of St. Louis’ offense without quarterback Sam Bradford and what he thinks of quarterback Kellen Clemens)
“I can only reflect back on when we played them a year ago, getting ready for when Sam played because we hadn’t watched them prior to when Sam got hurt because he got hurt quite a while back in the season. But, honestly, I don’t think it’s that much different. They’re more of a conventional pro-type offense; run, play-action and drop back and they’re not doing the gun-run stuff like you see a lot of the teams doing. Sam wasn’t that kind of a guy nor is Kellen. I don’t think they really deviated from their big picture schemes of how they’re going to try to run the ball and the pass concepts. I may be wrong on that but my impression is they have not.”

(On defensive end Adrian Clayborn)
“I think the more guys like Adrian play and they get more familiar with the techniques we’re going to ask them to do, the stunts that we run with him and the type of blocking patterns that he gets. And now, this year because we’re flip-flopping our ends based on how we line up our front, he’s just gotten more and more reps at the things that he’s seen and he’s just playing them better. He’s always been a very physical and hard charging guy so I think that’s probably why you’re seeing that.”

CB Darrelle Revis

(On facing St. Louis quarterback Kellen Clemens)
“Yeah, we were former teammates in New York and he started a number of games up there during his career and tried to lead us to victory. I saw him in practice every day, so I’m very familiar with his game and I’m sure he’s very familiar with my game as well. It’s good; I’m going against [St. Louis Offensive Coordinator Brian] Schottenheimer, as well. He was there in New York, as well. I’m going to be good to see those guys.”

(On defending against St. Louis’ speedy wide receivers)
“I’m not going to tell you the game plan, but, looking at them on film, they’re very fast, it’s still up in the air with [St. Louis wide receiver] Tavon Austin if he’s going to play or not, but their receiving corps are very fast. I just say, for our secondary, we just have to stay over top like we’ve been doing for most of the year, just staying on top and not letting balls over our head.”

(On how he’s adjusted to having been with a new team for the first time in his career)
“It’s been great. We’ve got some great pieces to this team. We’ve got some great core guys, we’ve got some talent, and we’ve just got to keep on building. Now we can get to your question, looking to the future and next year, we can add on to this team because some great core guys and some great talent. We’ve just got to build around the guys, the core guys we have here.”

(On defending Austin)
“He’s a special player, man. When the ball’s in his hands, he does special things. He does miraculous things on the field. Coach [Schiano] has just been stressing all week, even on special teams and on defense, it’s know where he’s at at all times. Screens on offense, reverses, gadget plays, any trick plays, anything; just know where he’s at at all times and, especially in the kicking game, he’s dangerous as well. If he plays, I don’t know when, and if we’ve got know where he’s at.”

(On sending a message to the younger players on the team)
“The message [is] just continue to – just think of it as if it’s Week 1, a regular week, don’t fold under the tank. I know it’s a lot of young guys, rookies as well. They call it the rookie wall, [but] I think guys have been doing very well throughout the year of just taking care of their bodies and making sure they’re prepared every week. Just tell them to stay with the same routine you’ve been doing and just finish strong. I think the words that we’ve been talking about these last couple of weeks are just finish strong. We know there’s no playoff hope for us, but one thing we can do is we can transfer that energy to these last couple of games and finish strong.”