The first time the Buccaneers faced a third down on Sunday in New Orleans, they released tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins from the right side of the line and sent him on a deep out to the sideline. Quarterback Mike Glennon delivered a precise between two defenders that could have moved the chains, but Seferian-Jenkins failed to haul it in.
The Buccaneers went right back to the rookie tight end on their very next play from scrimmage, though a potential 20-yard gain down the middle of the field was thwarted by a well-timed hit from two Saints defenders. The important aspect of that second play was not that it failed (the Bucs got a first down two plays later) but that there was no hesitation to go the way of ASJ even after that early miscue.
That's understandable. Seferian-Jenkins was extremely impressive in the Buccaneers' training camp, catching everything in sight and moving very well for such a big target. He looked at the time like a potentially explosive weapon in the Bucs' still-developing passing attack…and he still does, even with only five catches to his credit so far.
"He has the skill set," said Glennon. "The first thing you notice is how big he is; he looks like a grown man already and I think he just turned 22 years old. Just his ability to move, catch, how strong he is…he has all of the traits you want in a NFL tight end."
Jenkins gained 26 yards on his first NFL catch, early in the season opener against Carolina. However, he suffered an ankle injury and missed almost all of the Bucs' first three games. He returned in Week Four in Pittsburgh, and even with his ankle not fully back to 100 percent, caught three passes for 44 yards. While he was out, the Buccaneers leaned more heavily on veteran Brandon Myers, who was tied for the team lead with 13 catches after three games. Myers hasn't seen as many passing looks since the return of his rookie teammate, but the Bucs are very happy with a two-TE package that involves that duo. Seferian-Jenkins was on the field for all but three snaps against the Saints and he and Myers were in the formation together on roughly a third of the snaps.
"I think we've been getting to the tight ends," said Glennon. "I think through the first couple of games Brandon Myers was our leading catcher on our team. We're just going to go to the open guy and wherever the ball takes us. We threw to the tight ends a couple of times last game, Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] had a couple of big catches the week before. That's what's so good about our personnel is that we can spread it out and we can it to a variety of different guys."
Coaches don't want to see good passes dropped, obviously. Coaches also know that every pass-catcher in the league is going to drop a ball at some point. When it comes to Seferian-Jenkins, Smith has been more than pleased with his overall play.
"Guy shows up every day, nobody practices harder," said Smith. "For some players, it's hard for them to know the difference between pain and injury. He knew the difference between them and played with pain. He continues to get better, so he's going to help us win a lot of games around here."
The Buccaneers discussed a number of other topics during their first day of work for the Baltimore Ravens game. Below are some additional thoughts from Smith, Quarterbacks Coach Marcus Arroyo and several players.
Head Coach Lovie Smith
"Johnthan Banks had some soreness with his neck from the game, and Jonathan Casillas hurt his hamstring a little bit. So both of those guys weren't able to go. I think those are the only two new guys. Dashon Goldson – yeah also Vincent Jackson. Vincent Jackson too. Vincent Jackson has a rib injury; he was out today. Josh McCown is getting better. So we have a few players out right now, which isn't a good thing. But you've just got to make due. This time of year, you start getting a little more bumps and bruises. When you play that many plays in a game, you normally have some after effects from it. But beyond that, Larry English; Mike Evans was able to practice on a limited basis today, so some guys going out and, of course, getting some guys back, as well as Mason Foster coming back. Mason was able to do a little bit last week and was able to do a lot more today. Beyond that, [we have a] bad taste in our mouth, can't wait to play another game. We've been in this situation too many times where we've had an opportunity to win a game but we haven't been able to close it out. Just keep working is what you do, which we're doing. We're trying to correct some of the mistakes and hopefully next time around we'll get a chance to finish it out."
On how he thinks running back Doug Martin has played:
"I think like our football team has played. I'm not going to say – I mean we're 1-4 right now. Doug was part of that, [and] he'll tell you he can play better. But again, like we all can – we're not 4-1 right now. I'd give you the same answer with just about everybody you would ask me. But Doug's a part of that. But it's just not a running back; [there is] a lot of things that go into play for a running back to get yards. Just how we're playing up front, how our passing game is working at the time, so there's a lot of things that goes into that."
On the performance of quarterback Mike Glennon:
"For me, I've seen Mike play two games and he's made all of the throws in both of the games. Deep, short, comebacks, the passing tree – he's thrown. He's had to scramble out of the pocket. A knock against Mike is that he's not supposed to be mobile. But the touch pass in the [New Orleans] game, of course, not many people can throw that. So there's not a whole lot of negative comments I can give you on Mike's play right now. He's done a super job with just about everything we've asked him to do."
On the performance of linebacker Danny Lansanah and how he was able to earn a starting spot:
"You give a player some plays, a limited amount of plays, and if you do good things, you give him more. And Danny has played all three linebacker positions from time to time from the time we started our offseason program. He did enough to move into the starting lineup at the SAM position. And then from there, when you continue to make plays, we say, 'Hey, when there's two linebackers out on the football field, his play has warranted being out there then,' and he continues to make big plays for us. So it's pretty simple: if you get an opportunity for some plays and you do good things, you're going to get more. It's like that for every position. Danny has been solid on the run and, of course, he's proven that he can intercept the ball. Us getting takeaways has really helped too these last few games; that has to be a part of our eventual winning formula."
On the performance of safety Mark Barron against New Orleans:
"Mark played OK. Again, we, defensively, it's hard for me to say anybody played that well. Mark is doing some good things. We're not there yet, like our football team."
On why defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier made the switch from calling plays on the field to up in the booth:
"Different perspective. Sometimes, when things aren't going exactly how you want them to, you change it up. You change the lineup or you change the look that you're getting during the course of the game. That's what it was. As a general rule, I think there's something to be said about some guys being up in the booth, get away from it all. Now with this, it was a little different since we're – that communication part is pretty important. But Leslie has been up there the last couple of weeks and we think it's working pretty good."
On the status of linebacker Mason Foster's injured shoulder and the other injured players:
"Mason Foster was a full participant today. And with his shoulder, yes, in order to do that, we felt pretty good about that. Some of the limited guys, Larry and Mike Evans, were able to do most of the work today out there. And the other players we talked about: Josh, Vincent, Dashon, Johnthan Banks and Jonathan Casillas, all of those guys were held out. But back to your Mason Foster [question], yes, he was able to do everything today. And of course that's always a good sign whenever you can get your Mike linebacker out there. You miss your Mike linebacker; it's like a quarterback. You miss your quarterback. A guy that defensive players have been hearing; Mason knows the defense. Communication has been a problem for us a little bit."
Quarterbacks Coach Marcus Arroyo
On quarterback Mike Glennon:
"He's done a great job the last two weeks, done a really good job. Two opportunities, he's played well. Got some things he'd obviously like to improve on, like all of us. Excited about another opportunity for him to go out and work this week, get more chemistry with guys and continue growing. He's had two hostile environments that I think he's done a good job with. Obviously, as an ultra-competitor, there's always things we want back – everyone at this level [feels like that]. So we've got to make sure we're not just so focused on those things as an ultra-competitor that we lose sight of the really good things that he's done and that we've done as a group. So that's exciting, to go another week and continue growing with that again. It starts with today, having another good day. One day at a time."
On what he likes about Martin:
"I like how hard he works, I like how hard he runs, I like [that] he's trying to find ways to get it done. He has zero flinch. He's a team guy. I like those things."
On how you are able to account for protection schemes when backed up near the end zone and the crowd:
"The crowd itself doesn't actually have to do with the schematics of the protection. That's just one of those things that happens. I don't regret putting any of our guys – whether I'm throwing the ball deep to Vincent or putting our O-line into protection for our quarterback back there to throw the ball. I don't regret putting those guys in that situation. I believe in them wholeheartedly. It's unfortunate that happened at that time, and you'd like for it to not happen. If I can take the situation and not have it happen again, obviously we're going to do that. That's not what you do. But I don't regret trying to put the ball up to Vincent Jackson in that situation – not one second. Or putting our offensive line in position to block or Mike in position to throw it. Not one second."
On why the team has had problems establishing the run game:
"It could be one guy, it could be two guys, it could be the quarterback – I mean all 11 guys in the run game are important. A wide receiver blocking a safety on a force play is a vital play. That guy makes a play if you don't block him. A tight end with a tackle working on their double team, whether a quarterback in the mesh – all those things need to be executed at a high level and it's something that we're trying to obviously continue to get better at and really focusing on because that's going to be what we want to do. That's going to be the keys to victory for us. I'm optimistic we're going to find a way. I think they're doing a great job as far as putting themselves forward."
On if he has sensed any level of frustration from Martin about the run game:
"No. Zero. Zero frustration."
On if it was by design that most of the runs against New Orleans were between the tackles:
"I think each gameplan has what you'd call your emphasis, and if your emphasis is – not to say last week was, but I'll give you an example – some emphasis, you have direct runs, you're working between the tackles because the defense is allowing you to do that. Other teams will allow you to get outside on the perimeter and your emphasis might be more of a wide zone or more of a multiple outside zone type of scheme."
On the couple of drops made by tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins against New Orleans and if they can be attributed to rookie nerves:
"Yeah I mean the drops are something we need to get fixed up with everyone – we know that, as a group. And all those guys, we trust in throwing them the ball, we continued to throw them the ball, and we'll do that no matter who it is. It's one of those things, again, it beat us. We're just trying not to beat us. Whether it's something early in the NFL – first time doing it, I guess. Especially in a hostile environment first time, big game, you're going to pressure catch, whether you're going down to win the game and it's a big ball down the pipe for a third-and-fourteen and you're post-t-to-post and you're going to land on the three yard line, you're route was wrong – he's going to make that catch. We're going to come back and throw a touchdown to you right in the end zone and you're going to score. Again, my hesitation after that stuff is zero because I believe our guys understand [and] they take it personal. They do take it personal, obviously, because it hurts our team. But we won't stop working on it or putting those guys in position to make the plays because they're who we got and we believe in them. We really go."
On Baltimore's defense and what the team needs to do to penetrate their red zone defense:
"Baltimore: very good. Very good, solid defense. They're going to make you do things right. You've got to be able to find the seams in the run game, you've got to be able to block the back end because they'll come up in run support, they're going to fill the box up. Good run defense. On the back end, they've got good DBs. Jimmy Smith is a big corner, he's going to lock you down. You've got to find ways to create a matchup or create a seam in this defense and you have to press it because they're not going to be very big. They're going to be a little hole and you've just got to keep staying on it. So we've got our hands full. They're a good team obviously. Nothing we don't know. And in the red zone, as we move forward this week, we'll get a little bit more closer to that. As the week lines up, it lines up specifically to that emphasis. So Thursday, we'll have exact details."
QB Mike Glennon
On playing at home after three straight road games:
"It's definitely good to be back. We were joking around earlier during walk-throughs on what it's like to have cadence again because we've been going three weeks on the silent count and we're finally back to a cadence. It's going to be good to get back, it does seem like forever and then with a bye week next week, it will be a long span of just one home game. It will be great to be back in front of our fans in our home stadium and we look forward to it."
On how felt to be in a shootout against New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees:
"It was pretty fun. As a quarterback, you kind of enjoy those back-and-forth games, every drive is important and you really have to capitalize on every opportunity you get when you play a guy like that. Obviously we would have hoped for a different outcome, but those shootouts can be fun and we really got things going. As an offense I think we had three straight drives with touchdowns and that's what we want, that's what we want to continue to build on."
On if he feels that he's been unfairly portrayed as a quarterback without mobility:
Photos from the October 8th practice at One Buc Place.
"I get it, I get why, but at the same time there hasn't been – in the NFL against some of the most elite athletes in the world, there's been plenty of times where I've rolled right, rolled left and I've been able to get off a play. I'm not the fastest guy in the world, but I can step up in the pocket, I can roll out and make a play down the field. As far as I am concerned, that's all you need as a quarterback. Obviously it's a bonus when you can move around as well as some of these other guys, but as long as you can move a little and create a lane to throw, that's the most important thing. All these comparisons to these athletic quarterbacks, but I'll just stick to who I am."
On being able to keep his eyes downfield when he's scrambles:
"I think I've always done a pretty good job of that. The first thing that comes to mind is the Seahawks game last year, two times the same thing I was rolling to the left and made a play. I feel that I've been able to do that throughout – even last year against the Bills I had a touchdown of Vincent [Jackson] rolling to the right. There's been many instances, I don't think it's much different than last year, it's probably just one of the first times I've done it or had the opportunity to present itself this year."
On quarterback Josh McCown offering advice and acting as a coach on the sideline:
"He's still definitely a player, but he has knowledge that most players don't. He's much smarter than the majority of the guys, if not all of the guys on the team and he has that personality that he wants to coach guys up and he wants to make them better. He is always there right away to go over the series, talk about how things worked, talk about going forward and he is as smart as another coach, so it's great that I can talk with him, Marcus [Arroyo] and Mike Kafka on the sidelines to go over things. They've all been a big help."
On Baltimore's ability to rush the passer and him being able to focus downfield:
"They really do a good job of creating a muddy pocket for the quarterback. You watch on film and it doesn't seem like the quarterback ever has a clean pocket to step up in and that's something that we'll work on all week. With that being said, we've played some pretty good defensive fronts these past few weeks and the pocket has been really good. I'm confident that my guys will do a great job and at the same time they have really talented players too. I can't expect every snap to be clean and we will have to work on our movement and keeping our eyes downfield."
On the Baltimore's linebacker group:
"They've got a good group, like you said. When you think of Ravens football you think of their defense and particularly that front seven group, their defensive line and their linebackers. Historically they've got all of the great linebackers that have gone through there. C.J. Mosely is a first round pick, I'm sure that's what they envision him being and he already is a good player. Not only him, but they have guys everywhere you look it seems like their whole team is made up of Pro Bowlers or first-or-second round picks. They're a talented group and possibly the best defense we'll face thus far."
LB Lavonte David
On what all goes into utilizing a zone coverage:
"There's a lot of things. With zone coverage, there's certain zones you've got to protect in that defense. Certain passing routes change up the way you fill up a zone. So there's a lot that goes into it."
On linebacker Danny Lansanah:
"He's good. He's athletic like a linebacker, he's a big body that can move and he's a physical guy. He's just brings that extra asset when we're out there on the field together."
C Evan Dietrich-Smith
On Baltimore's defensive front seven:
"They're a good front, stout, lot of big body guys. They got [Terrell] Suggs over there, they got Haloti [Ngata], who's obviously a great player, [Elvis] Dumervil bring his own challenges, [Pernell] McPhee is doing a good job. There's a lot of big guys that can be real physical over there, so for us, it's just getting bodies on bodies in the run game and just make sure we're stout in the passing game."
On the communication of the offensive line:
"We're getting there. I think we've definitely been a lot better these past couple of weeks than we were when we first got in. Logan [Mankins] has definitely got the offense down a lot better, so it's easier to communicate with him. Patrick [Omameh] is doing a good job too. So right now – I guess the nice thing is we're playing at home. We've been on the road for three weeks, so that's actually definitely helped our communication because it's at such a premium on the road with the noise. So this is definitely going to be a little bit easier to talk to each other out there because we'll be able to use our regular counts and those kind of things."
LB Danny Lansanah
On playing multiple linebacker positions:
"Throughout, I've played MIKE. All the other places I've been, I get moved around, so I'm kind of used to it. I've played linebacker all my life so it pretty much went hand-in-hand adjusting to the formation."
On his interception returned for a touchdown against New Orleans:
"It's kind of bittersweet. I'd rather get wins than individual accolades. It's always a plus when you can go out there and make plays and help your team score points and things like that. It's kind of bittersweet but hopefully we'll pull out a win this week."
On if there was ever a point in his career where he felt like giving up:
"Yeah I tell the story all the time. The time I did think about quitting was when I was at about my fourth workout with a team and I had told my Dad I was done playing. I went home and he met me at the airport and made me get on that flight to my next workout, so that was a real big turning point for me to see my family and my friends pushing me to keep going. So I think that's what prepared me."