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Dirk Koetter, Jason Licht on the 2016 Combine

Posted Feb 24, 2016

Quotes from Coach Koetter and Jason Licht's press conferences as the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis - presented by Lazydays RV.

HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER



*STORY: INTERVIEWS KEY FOR KOETTER AT COMBINE

(Opening statement)

“Welcome to the combine, this beautiful Indianapolis weather.  I just came up from the weigh-ins and I’m ready to get started so let’s go.”
 
(On the status of Patrick Murray and the Buccaneers kickers)
“Pat is in Tampa rehabbing with our trainers as we speak. Of course we have Connor Barth as well on our roster. We are right in the middle of analyzing all of it right now, that is what we are spending all of our time on. We expect to have a healthy competition.”
 
(On the Buccaneers defense)
“I saw those guys every day in practice, so it’s not like I never looked at them before, but you know we had two players in the Pro Bowl, Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy and of course Kwon Alexander the outstanding rookie linebacker that we had, middle linebacker, those will be the guys that we build around.”
 
(On the style of the Buccaneers defense in 2016)
“We’ll be different some. As you know, we hired Mike Smith as our defensive coordinator. Smitty (Coach Smith) and I have a long history together — we were both at Jacksonville and Atlanta —and we have put together a terrific defensive staff. I think we will be a multiple team on defense. I think that’s one of the toughest things for an offense to go against so that’s what we’ll try to do on defense.”
 
(On the importance of the interview process at the combine)
“I think that is real important. Maybe the No. 1 thing from a coaching standpoint we get out of the combine is a chance to talk to the players one on one. I think that’s real important. Jameis was a great example of that. We weren’t the only team that were doing our homework on Jameis and its great to get those guys, not only at the train station with the coaches one on one, but also with the formal interviews with all the people from your club in there. I think it’s real important and Jameis did a great job.”
 
(On if the Buccaneers were convinced at the 2015 combine that the team would select Jameis Winston)
“I wouldn’t say just convinced here. Jason Licht and his guys did a lot of work on Jameis. That was a long, long, process, but the combine was definitely a part of that.”
 
(On the difference between now and his last job as a head coach, at Arizona State)
“Well I’m older. Hopefully a bit wiser. Older and wiser. Experience in the NFL, experience in anything, is the best teacher. Hopefully I’ve learned from the mistakes I made as a college head coach, but this is a different deal. Football is still football, but I think the last nine years as an assistant in the NFL have prepared me.”
 
(On if he is better suite to the NFL than college)
“I don’t know. That would be for someone else to judge but I’m not sure.”
 
(On if the perception of mobile quarterbacks has changed)
“I’m not sure. What Russel Wilson and Cam [Newton] have done getting to the Super Bowl, the way the spread offense has changed college football so much — I don’t know, that’s a hard question. I think the guys that can get you in the end zone is the bottom line. I don’t really look at it like that. We always just look at it — we are more of a pocket team in Tampa.”
 
(On if the definition of what defines a mobile quarterback is changing)
“I’d say that. Mobility comes in all shapes and sizes. Ben Roethlisberger is one of the toughest guys to sack in the NFL but I don’t think people would put him necessarily in that category. That’s why I said it goes back to guys that can get it done. I think Jameis is a good example of a guy that maybe people don’t think of as a mobile quarterback, but in some of the plays he makes his mobility does show up.”
 
(On how tough it is to keep secrets in the NFL)
“I think it’s impossible to keep a secret. I think it’s rough. Look at what we have here. Look at the following. We have a great game and the interest of the fans. Everybody is interested. That’s what makes the NFL great. I think its real tough to keep secrets (Laughs).”
 
(On his history with Cincinnati Head Coach Marvin Lewis)
“I do have a long history with Marvin (Lewis) and I think he’s a terrific coach and an even better person. Marvin is one of the several guys I hope to get some time with over the next few days. I have a list of questions for him but it’s a secret.”
 
(On Lewis’ strengths as a head coach)
“Marvin’s strengths in my opinion — first of all he’s just a great football guy and No. 2 how well he deals with people, how steady he is on an everyday basis. That’s how I look at it anyway.”
 
(On evaluating ‘lower-level’ quarterbacks in the draft)
“Define ‘lower-level’. I don’t think it’s that tough. The same skill set is there and there are some great examples. There’s a couple guys here… I just came up from the weigh-ins and the kid that went from Eastern Washington to Oregon Vernon Adams and there are some guys that are just good football players at any level. That’ll show itself over time.”
 
(On the health and role of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins)
“Well Austin, unfortunately in both of his years in the league so far, has just had a hard time staying healthy. I think Austin is an extremely talented player. There are not very many tight ends coming into the NFL anymore that are prototypical tight ends, guys that can do everything — they can block, they can catch, they play half wide receiver, half offensive tackle. I think Austin is one of those guys, can be one of those guys, but No. 1 thing he’s got to do is stay healthy.”
 
(On running back Charles Sims)
“Charles had a nice year for us and we think the world of Charles. The role that he played last year was more of a complementary role and he did a great job in that role. Charles is a guy who can do a lot of good things, not only if you hand it to him but if you throw it to him. When Charles was drafted in Tampa I know the feeling was he could be an every down back if need be. We’ll see how that plays out.”
 
(On General Manager Jason Licht and re-signing running back Doug Martin)
“You’ll have to ask him that. You’ll get a chance to ask him that later but hopefully we can get that done.”
 
(On if it’s more difficult to be patient with a highly drafted quarteback considering the pressure to win)
“I’m not exactly sure about that, but these guys getting drafted in the first round, they are drafting them to play them. I look back, my only other experience besides Jameis is when we had Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville. I think Blaine is a very talented player that is an example of a guy who maybe wasn’t quite ready to be a starter in the NFL as a rookie. He had been just a three year college guy but I also think every case is different. I think it depends on what type of team you have around him and what type of maturity that guy has, both physically and mentally. Let’s face it — nobody has patience anymore. They’re drafting these guys to play them.”
 
(On wide receiver Kenny Bell)
“Kenny Bell, another player that we feel like has a lot of talent, but missed the entire season with injury, so he’s kind of similar to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. We have to get him on the field.”
 
(On evaluating prospects from Ohio State and the talent entering the draft)
“I’ve watched a lot of college tape leading up to this and boy, three teams that jumped out were Ohio State, Clemson and Alabama. Huge, huge, talent on those football teams. I mean really, really, impressive. There are a lot of guys on that Ohio State team that are definitely going to have long careers in the NFL.”
 
(On the biggest difference between being a head coach and a coordinator at the combine)
“Both sides, just more players. I used to just sit in on the offensive weigh-ins, the offensive workouts, the offensive interviews and now it’s the whole thing. We have 60 interviews lined up over the next few days and I’ve been fortunate enough to watch some tape on all of those guys and I’m looking forward to meeting them.”
 
(On what the next step is for quarterback Jameis Winston)
“Jameis did have a nice rookie season. I think the great think about Jameis Winston is he always wants to get better. I think it was really fortunate that he was able to go out to the Pro Bowl and spend some time with the top players in the league at every position and I think all that did was motivate Jameis to continue to get better. As I said, with coaching I believe it with quarteback play as well — experience is the best teacher. So the fact that Jameis has a better idea of what to expect moving forward I think will enable him to continue to get better.”
 
(On if Winston mentioned any players who stood out to him at this year’s Pro Bowl)
“He did. I asked him that question and he had a lot of guys that he mentioned. Two guys he mentioned in particular were Russel Wilson and Julio Jones.”
 
(On where he stands on the NFL’s rules regarding reviewable plays)
“I don’t know where I stand on that. In college that was a rule, where every play was reviewed. I think it was a lot easier on the coaches. Having not been through it myself, I’m probably not the most qualified guy to answer that, but it seems like one of the hardest things on the coaches right now is knowing what is reviewable and what isn’t. We have the technology to get it right. It would make sense to me to go with the college rule, but again I’m probably not the most qualified person to answer that.”
 
(On the challenge of contending in the NFC South)
“I heard we might get traded to the NFC West, is that what you’re talking about?(Laughs) It’s going to be tough because there are good teams in there.”
 
(On the challenges facing the Buccaneers)
“We were a 6-10 team so we have a lot of challenges. We have to just try to get better every day.”
 
(On wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s cap number)
“The cap number question would be more of a question for Jason, but as a football coach I would love to have Vincent Jackson on my team any day of the week.”
 
(On being linked to positions with other teams at the end of the 2015 season)
“I can’t say. I was in the hospital having my hip replaced, so I hardly had contact with anybody, except my doctor.”
 
(On getting past Carolina in the NFC South)
“I think the Panthers are a great team for us to model ourselves after. They’ve hit on their draft picks, they’ve been patient with their coaches, they have excellent players and they’re very well coached. They’ve done a great job there and it gives us the pattern that we need to shoot for.”
 
(On if he visited the West Coast after the season)
“No I didn’t go to the West Coast. I went to Westshore Drive right by my house.”
 
(On Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach Todd Monken)
“We are thrilled to get Todd Monken from Southern Mississippi as our offensive coordinator. We worked together in Jacksonville. He’s a terrific football coach. He’s been the play caller, he’s been a quarterback guy, he’s a really, really, really, good wide receiver coach. He can help us in a lot of ways and we are thrilled with our entire coaching staff, but Monk is a good get for us.”
 

GENERAL MANAGER JASON LICHT
 

*STORY: A DIFFERENT PROCESS FOR LICHT IN 2016

(Opening statement)

“It’s good to be back in Indy. Fire away.”
 
(On the importance of character when evaluating players)
“Extremely important. You know, I would say 90 percent of the guys that the public deems – or we do – as ‘busts’ in the league, after you draft them, it all has to do with what goes on above the neck. Whether it’s a character issue or a mental issue or football intelligence or just being passionate about football, those are things that we put a lot of resources in to find out about a player.”
 
(On if the best way to gauge a player’s character is during the interview)
“You can’t gauge it from them doing skills drills and stuff out there. But you can monitor how they’re doing behind the scenes there. Then mostly when you talk to them face-to-face, look them in the eye, but then also obviously your research that you do, their background work that you do on them.”
 
(On the interview process)
“They are coached up on how to do these interviews. Just like most of us getting our jobs, we’re coached up how to interview with our bosses. But you can tell when a guy is genuine, usually. You look for some humility, a sense of humor – just being genuine and owning up to their mistakes, if they’ve made some, which most of them have. So, it’s just kind of a gut-feel, between myself, Coach Koetter and whoever is in the room doing the interviewing together.”
 
(On players having a sense of humor)
“You have to be able to laugh at yourself and you have to be able to own up to your mistakes and let things roll off your back – I think that’s important.”
 
(On what advice he would offer former Buccaneers Director of Player Personnel and current Tennessee Titans General Manager Jon Robinson)
“To make sure you realize that you can’t do it all on your own. You have to be able to delegate and you have to hire really great people. He has to hire a Jon Robinson, if that person is not on his staff already. When you’re young and you get a general manager job, the common mistake is that you think you can watch every player and make every decision on your own, but you can’t. You have to use all of your resources around you and have a great staff.”
                 
(On what will make Robinson and Detroit Lions General Manager Bob Quinn ready to lead a front office)
“Well, just all of those things we talked about with the players: having humility, having a sense of humor and realizing that you are capable of making mistakes. Bob knows those things and he knows that he’s got to have good people around him. He’s hired some great people already. He’s ahead of the curve already. He’s just a tremendous, very smart guy, very good evaluator and has put in his time, just like Jon Robinson – they are cut from the same cloth.”
 
(On Robinson and Quinn’s past experiences)
“They came in together in New England. They were very young, right out of school as scouting assistants. Very close to each other. They developed a strong bond, good working relationship and respect, based on their working relationship, not just hiring a friend that you knew growing up. It was a good, strong relationship based on the respect they have as evaluators and as workers.”
 
(Inaudible question)
“Absolutely. We all did. That’s what makes you a good decision-[maker]. You have to bounce things off of the people that you’re very close with in the organization.”
 
(On what he envisions for linebacker Kwon Alexander in Alexander’s second year)
“He’s one guy, he is ultra-passionate. He’s a lot like Jameis in a lot of ways. They want to win at all costs. It means everything to them. It’s team-first. Leadership – he happens to be a very explosive athlete as well. As you can tell by the way I’m talking right now, I hold him in very high regard and his future is very bright.”
 
(On if potential changes to the Buccaneers’ defensive scheme might impact the way the team evaluates defensive players)
“Every scheme is a little different, so there’s always tweaking every year. We tweak our grading scale every year, we tweak the way that we evaluate players every year, just to make us better – kind of self-scouting ourselves. But bottom line: we need good football players. We need guys with good football character. For any team, we’ll find a way to get a good player to fit into our scheme. If he’s a good player, we’ll find a way to make it work.”
 
(On if the Buccaneers will focus on defense in this year’s draft)
“We will focus on defense, for sure, this offseason. To say that for sure we will do it early in the draft, I can’t say that. The needs do match up, it is a strong group of players at certain positions that we do have a need at, but we’ve taken the approach the last couple of years of ‘best player available.’ We felt really good about our last draft and even 2014. We’re not going to sacrifice a really good player just to fill a need. That’s where a lot of mistakes are made.”
 
(On how much Licht takes from his experiences working for New England in his player evaluation)
“You take bits and pieces of everywhere you’ve been and that’s definitely – at the core, it came from New England. Find a way – Coach Belichick would always talk about, ‘Tell me what the guy can do, don’t tell me what he can’t do. We’ll find a way to put that positive skillset to use in the defense and not ask him to be in a position where he can fail.’ That’s going to be true here too.”
 
(On the challenges of finding the methods of success in today’s NFL)
“It’s not so much a challenge if you hire the right people, which I feel we have a great group, in both scouting and coaching, where – including myself – we know how to stay in our lane. We know what our jobs are and if you accomplish that – which I think we have – then the chance of success goes up pretty high. It’s not so much a challenge once you have the right people in place.”
 
(On if a team might alter their grade on a quarterback if that player improves a “flaw” during the NFL combine or pre-draft workouts)
“Most of it, a high, high percentage of it is what you see on tape. You can tweak a guy’s motion, that’s more of a coaching thing. If you work him out and you had questions about him being able to throw the deep out or whatever it is and then in the workout he shows that he can do that, maybe it was that he wasn’t asked to do it so much in college. It’s more of a question of, ‘Can he do it?’ and then you see that he can, then you’ll tweak the grade. In terms of just mechanical flaws and things like that, I think every quarterback has some sort of thing that they need to tighten up, but most of your grade is based off of what you see on the tape.”
 
(On if a team would be more reluctant to draft a tackle if he’s more suited to play on the right side of the line)
“Well yeah, you would put the left tackle, most of the time you would put those guys ahead of the right tackle, because it’s a more premium position. If a guy can play both, it goes up even higher. There is a value for a starting right tackle, a very good starting right tackle, but if he can play left as well, then you’re going to value him a little higher.”
 
(On if a team would be more reluctant to draft a tackle if he’s more suited to play on the right side of the line)
“No, I wouldn’t be reluctant to, but you’re always going to value the guy that you think has ability to play left a little bit higher. Wouldn’t be reluctant to, though.”
 
(On if Buccaneers guard Logan Mankins has given indication if he wants to return in 2016)
“Not yet. We’ll be talking to Logan in the next few weeks. His decision isn’t going to have any sort of hindrance on what we’re planning on doing for the future. You’ve got to build, you’ve got to look three years ahead, so his decision isn’t going to hurt us in any way right now, with what we’re planning on doing.”
 
(On if a player’s size affects how the team evaluates them)
“Maybe a little. We took Kwon last year. Although we took him in the fourth round, we feel like he’s a first-round type of player. He’s an undersized guy, but it’s more about their physicality and their ability to make tackles and their ability to run and play good football than it is size.”
 
(On if it’s harder to evaluate a quarterback who played in a spread offense in college)
“A little bit. With the spread offenses – not saying that that’s the wrong offense to have in college whatsoever, it’s been effective for a lot of teams – it’s a little bit more difficult to see. One of the terms of our offense, we want a guy that will sit in the pocket and doesn’t get nervous and can make plays when there’s chaos. It’s a little bit more difficult to find out if a guy can do that if he hasn’t been in that particular offense.”
 
(On re-signing running back Doug Martin before free agency)
“We’ll be meeting with Doug’s people here. We’ve got a couple of things going for us here on that one. I know he wants to be a Buc and I know that we want him to be a Buc. I’m sure there will be some obstacles – there always are in negotiations – but we’ll prepare for either way. I’m optimistic and we’ll continue talking with him.”
 
(On the role of Buccaneers Director of Player Personnel John Spytek)
“You know, just like I said before, with hiring a staff, you want guys that understand their role and are guys that you can bounce things off of. I have a lot of respect for John, working with him – I was there when we hired him in Philly and saw him rise through the organization there and go on to Cleveland and Denver. He’s been around a championship organization, which is always a positive – same with Jon Robinson. He’s a guy that I just really respect and I like having being one of my right hand men because he tells me what he thinks and sometimes I don’t agree with him, but that’s good, because sometimes he’s right, sometimes I’m right, sometimes Mike Biehl, our college [scouting] director, same thing. Mike Greenberg, in terms of the [salary] cap and all of those things – I have a great group of guys. I could go on and on. I feel very, very fortunate with the group of guys that are on our scouting staff.”
 
(On the difference in not having this year’s No. 1 overall selection in the draft)
“I’ve been able to spend a lot more time watching players, a lot more players this time of year than I was last year. So that’s good. Once again, great staff, so they’ll have all that covered and recommend to me who the players are that we should draft, but I’ve been able to watch, get ahead of the game a little bit more this time. Instead of focusing on two players, now I can focus on many, many more.”
 
(On how difficult it might be for Tennessee Titans General Manager Jon Robinson to keep his team’s pick a secret)
“I don’t think he’s going to have a hard time. He does a good job of keeping things close to his vest. That’s one thing I really respected about Jon – you could tell him something and you knew that it wasn’t going to get out. You guys will have a lot of fun trying to get it out of him. If I were a betting man, I would say you probably won’t.”