BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Since 2012, DT Gerald McCoy has recorded 15.5 sacks, tied for the second-most by a defensive tackle in the NFL during that timeframe.
There is little doubt that All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is the primary spokesman in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room. On Wednesday, he had a message for Buccaneer fans.
If the phrase "message for the fans" automatically makes you cringe a little bit, don't worry. McCoy gets it.
Responding to a question about the Bucs losing their opening game at Raymond James Stadium, where they are trying to re-establish a dominant home-field advantage McCoy empathized with fans who are more than ready for another winning season in Tampa.
"Much credit goes to our fans," he said, noting that the crowd was still very supportive in the fourth quarter, when the team was mounting its ultimately-unsuccessful comeback. "They didn't give up on us, they stayed loud throughout the whole game. One thing I will ask of our fans though: Just hang in there. I will say our fans have been patient. They just want to see a winner and we understand that. But just hang in there. We can't do it without them. So we need our fans to keep showing up, keep supporting us. It's okay to be upset when we lose – we're upset too. So we don't fault them for being upset. Just keep hanging in there with us."
In a similar vein, McCoy says it would be a mistake to underestimate the Bucs' Week Two opponents, the St. Louis Rams, based on their 34-6 loss to Minnesota on Sunday.
"People, please, don't base [your opinion of] the Rams off of last week's performance," he urged. "They can run the ball, they can run it well and they have a great running back in Zac Stacy. They can mix it up with Tavon Austin in the backfield. They can do a lot of different things."
The Buccaneers' home field advantage and how the Rams can overcome it were not the only topics being discussed at One Buccaneer Place on Wednesday. Below are additional thoughts from McCoy, Head Coach Lovie Smith, Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier and quarterback Josh McCown.HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"First off, some of the new guys: I think you know we've added Jacquies Smith, defensive end. Seen him play a couple of times, had some interest in him. We thought maybe he would be released at the 53-man count; he wasn't, so we went a different direction and got an opportunity to bring him on board. Of course we jumped at that. Crezdon Butler, a corner that's played in the league for a while, with Mike [Jenkins] going down, of course we needed some help at that position. Bringing back Larry English. Larry did some good things for us when he was here before. We do need to get a little bit more from our pass rush, so it's kind of good to get a couple of outside guys to rush a take a look at them. Beyond that, we had a few guys out today, which after a physical game like that, that normally happens. But Rashaan Melvin; Austin Seferian-Jenkins is getting better – he's still in a boot right now so we'll kind of see how it plays out with him; Logan Mankins is getting better. And availability for this weekend with the guys, we don't really know right now. Doug Martin didn't practice today also, and Michael Johnson. So we have a few guys. Adrian Clayborn and a few of the other guys were limited. Beyond that, when you lose a tough game like that, you can't wait to get to game two for us. St. Louis, of course, is feeling the same way losing the way they did at home. Great front, good skill guys on both sides of the ball, well-coached. Should be a big challenge for us. Another NFC opponent coming in. NFC home game. There are no must-win games or anything like that early in the season, but this is one we need to win. Kind of simple as that. I talked a lot about how we finished, and we need to start off that way this week."(On if he has an update about offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford)
"Jeff today had his scheduled appointment, so should be back out tomorrow and we'll go from there."(On the performance of the offensive line against Carolina and the challenge of facing St. Louis' defensive line)
"Big challenge this week. Our two outside guys played pretty good. Inside didn't play as well as we need to."(On what needs to be done to prevent another tight end from being so effective against the defense)
"[Carolina tight end] Greg Olsen is a good football player. But no, we can't let a tight end continue to catch balls like that. Tight ends, wide-outs, running backs, all of the above. Of course, it starts up front. We need to get better pressure. But when we play and put our guys in man situations, we need to be able to win. It comes down to a one-on-one game, whether we're playing man, zone, or whatever. We didn't perform as well as we needed to."(On if cornerback Leonard Johnson will get extra playing time at corner over nickel now that cornerback Mike Jenkins is out for the season)
"Playing the nickel position is a valuable position. Just anybody can't go in there. No, we're going to keep Leonard at the nickel position and play some other guys. Our starters are both still there. we'll keep developing the backups from other guys."
Take a look at practice photos from Wednesday, September 10th as the Bucs prepare for the Rams.
(On the performance of cornerback Johnthan Banks against Carolina and what he needs to do against St. Louis)
"Not trying to run away from your question, but Johnthan did some good things this past [game]. I thought he tackled well. But what he needs to do – like we all need to do – is just play better ball. We'll be challenged again this week with our skill guys. Whether it be some of their bigger receivers or some of their small receivers, Johnthan will have a tough matchup each week. It's tough playing corner in the league. Each week, somebody will pose different problems for you. But I wasn't displeased with how he played last week. We all need to play better."(On St. Louis defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn)
"They get great pressure on the outside. Chris Long has a nonstop motor, plus it's one thing to have a non-stop motor, but when you have talent with that, it's tough duty. Quinn rushes the passer as well as anybody in the league last year, you start with that and you have to deal with them. Most of the time you can't leave your tackles on an island with them all day or it ends up being seven sacks or something like that. Inside they have players too. We've liked some in the draft this year, it's just tough matchups and what you're trying to do is just get in one-on-one situations and now they're blitzing a lot more, creating one-on-one matchups which causes you trouble. For us now we have to change up how we block them, get the ball out a little bit quicker and when you do things like that you have to make money on the other end when you're throwing the ball."(On St. Louis running game)
"They would like to be a balanced offensive attack. Last week, when you get behind you can't get it going, you have to change and they threw the ball and passed the ball a lot more than they probably wanted to, but it starts off with a run attack, two-back runs. They're committed to running the football. Yes, we do have to stop that first. They have some quarterback issues – the easiest thing to do is to hand the ball off. It always starts with – it's a given we have to stop the run and put an offense in position where they have to pass the ball and then you earn your money."(On the team not being able to hit the goals he has set for them in games, last week)
"We didn't hit hardly any of the key elements and for our team and how we presented it to them. We had a chance to win a game at the end and we didn't hit any of the main goals that we had, but in order to win, guys see what you have to do. Defensively, you cannot play a game and not take the ball away and feel like you helped your team win and when you have bad turnovers – and I want to eventually move away from that game – but when you have bad turnovers, you normally don't win either. It's just not that: third downs, scoring, offensively from our tailback position we average less than two yards per carry – all of those things. It's not like I had to go up there and the guys didn't know it, they knew what I was going to say before that, we all knew what we didn't do. You go back on the field and you start working on it. It's as simple as that. No one is pointing fingers it's just self-evaluation and we don't like what we've seen so far."
(On how the defensive line was able to get pressure later in the game after not being able to in the beginning)
"We did have injuries early in the game, but we're not saying that's the reason why we didn't play well. We didn't play well alright, for whatever reason. I think as you look at every game, there are swings of momentum and it's hard for me to explain what it is, how it happened, but you have to hang in there. Sometimes you're not playing your best ball and you have to hang in there and give yourself a chance to finish the game, which we did. Most of the time I would like to think that it's our condition, it's working out down here. You asked about eight weeks ago, 10, 20 weeks ago you ask about 'Is it hurting us, is it draining us so much working out down here in this heat?' No, I think in the fourth quarter our work came out in the end where we had juice at the end to give ourselves a chance, that's how we're spinning it."(On St. Louis wide receiver Tavon Austin)
"I should've talked about him earlier. He does cause a lot of problems. First, you have to identify what are you treating him as – running back? He'll be in the backfield from time-to-time, but just in the open field he's a tough match up. In the slot one-on-one because he's got great quickness, he has great speed and that's what getting a running game going and then getting in positions where you one-on-one with him is just kind of – again, it's just tough duty, but it's something that we'll have to deal with. Hopefully we can get as many guys as possible around him and yank a few balls away from him."DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER **
"Good afternoon, everybody. Big week for us playing at home against the St. Louis Rams. I think all our guys are excited about this opportunity to get back on the field after a tough loss on Sunday and get back there and try to get to 1-1. That's our goal this week: to work as hard as we can to get to 1-1."(On why defensive end Larry English was brought back)
"Combination of having some guys banged up along with trying to add some more pieces to help us up front. It's something that will probably be ongoing. We're always going to be looking for players that we think can help us, and Larry and Jacquies Smith, we think they're a couple of guys that have the potential to help us."(On why they were not able to have an effective pass rush against Carolina)
"I think they did a really good job of getting the ball out of their hands. The quarterback did a good job of getting it out quick. We've got to do some things up front that we think will help us. There's things that we think we can do to offset the quick releases that we saw. Although, this week, we're probably playing against a guy who has as quick a release as anybody we're going to face. But there's some things that we're going to try to improve our pass rush. In order for us to be successful, we need to be able to get that rush out of our down four without having to do a lot of other things. But we saw some things that we think will be able to help us this week."(On if there is a specific St. Louis quarterback that the team is preparing to face on Sunday)
"Well they've got two guys that are up and a potential third with the signing of [Case] Keenum, so we're not certain at this point as we speak, but Shaun Hill had been the starter, so we'll wait and see as the week goes on."(On how it affects a defensive game plan when you prepare all week for a certain quarterback and you end up facing a different one on gameday)
"It depends on how different the quarterbacks are. You've still got to adjust as a defense and you've got to adjust to whoever's in there, and that's that has to happen. But it depends on how different the No. 1 is from the No. 2. There's one guy that scrambles more, one guy more with drop backs and vice versa. So that plays into it."(On the lack of takeaways against Carolina and the performances of safeties Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron)
"Not being able to balance the takeaways – the fact that they had three and we came up with no takeaways – that's probably the difference in the game. They get 17 points off of turnovers, and we didn't come up with one from a defensive standpoint. We've got to be able to get those turnovers, those takeaways, no matter how the game is going. It really gives you a chance to be successful. We know historically if you get three-plus [turnovers], you've got a ninety-five percent chance of winning the game, and we came up with zero. But Dashon and Mark, they're doing some good things for us. They've missed the entire offseason program and they've been working hard throughout training camp to get back into football playing shape and get ready for games, and I think they've progressed well. You'd like for Dashon to have caught that ball – he'd be the first to tell you. He wants to catch that football – it didn't happen. We're hoping that he'll have another opportunity this Sunday and he'll make that catch when the opportunity comes. But those guys have done a good job for us and they should just continue to improve as the season goes on."(On the performance against Carolina of linebacker Mason Foster and if we was matched up against Carolina tight end Greg Olsen)
"I don't think we matched up Mason at all in this game on Greg. He did catch some balls sometimes in our zones, and he did catch a couple of balls when we were in man coverage as well. But Mason, overall, he's done a terrific job for us. He's improved – all along, we've talked about him often as a staff – from the OTAs through training camp and then into the beginning of the season. He's had a tremendous camp and he did a good job for us in the ball game as well. He tackled well, he got the defense set up, he was instrumental on that last third down when we were trying to get the ball back to our offense and putting some pressure on the quarterback along with Lavonte [David] and Gerald [McCoy]. So he's done a lot of things that we've asked him to do, and he should get better as he continues to learn this defense and what we're asking of him."(On the team's depth at cornerback following the season-ending injury to Mike Jenkins)
"You hate to lose a guy like Mike. We didn't have him much in training camp. He got a few snaps in the ball game and now out for the season. So we're counting on some other guys that we've signed to come in and help us. Eventually, we expect to get Rashaan [Melvin] back – we need him back, we're getting pretty thin there now. But we're counting on the guys that we've signed this week and hopefully they can learn and get on the field and help us if they're called upon."(On if cornerback Rashaan Melvin will be able to play on Sunday)
"We'll wait and see. We'll know more about what he can and can't do this afternoon or tomorrow and the trainers will give us an idea if we'll have him for this ball game. I'm hoping that he's progressed enough by Friday that he can get some practice."(On defensive end Michael Johnson's ankle injury)
"He's walking without a boot now, so that was encouraging. He thinks he'll be ready to go on Sunday and we need him out there for sure, but he's making good progress."(On if they have seen the pass rushing ability from Johnson that they expected)
"Yeah we saw some things in the Buffalo game where he showed the get-off and the ability to beat guys on the edge. We've seen it in practice of course. So we know it's there, but second play of the game, a guy falls on the back of his ankle and he was pretty much limited throughout. To his credit, he finished the ball game, didn't take himself out, and we needed him because, as you know, we're thin without some of the guys that we'd like to have. So hopefully he'll just improve as the week goes on and we need him out there rushing the passer."(On what cornerback Johnthan Banks needs to do now that Jenkins is out for the season)
"He did a lot of good things Sunday: he tackled well and I don't recall him giving up plays in the passing game with them trying to pick on him or anything like that. He graded out well in the ball game. He'll really have to step up now; our rotation has gotten a lot thinner. In that ball game, we were able to rotate Mike in – he wasn't quite there physically and now we've lost him – so Johnthan will really have to step up and play well for us throughout ball games. Alterraun [Verner] had a good game for us, but we're going to need the both of them to play well. This week, the Rams have good receivers. Every week, we're going to face good receivers. We're going to need Johnthan to play well for us."(On the team's depth at linebacker, safety and cornerback)
"To be at game one and to be training new guys that weren't with you in OTAs and training camp, that's not ideal by any means, but those guys, they're pros, they're going to learn the defense, they'll get some snaps in practice today and the rest of this week. But the guys that are playing, hopefully they'll stay healthy and we'll be able to handle the things we'll have to handle. It's not ideal to be where we are depth-wise."(On if Carolina's 15-play drive in the second quarter affected the outcome of the game)
"I don't know if it factored into the outcome. Our guys stepped it up in that fourth quarter when you'd think that they'd be tired, and they shut them out with the one exception with that play with [Mike Jenkins]. So it's not what you want – you don't want to give up 15-play drives. It's something that we'll have to do better. There were a couple of third-and-shorts and we've got to get them in more third-and-longs. We were able to accomplish that a few times in that second half. You don't want to give people third-and-twos, third-and-threes; it's too difficult when that happens."(On what they are expecting from English now that he is back on the team)
"Well he flashed for us in the Miami game along with the Buffalo game when we played them in the preseason. So we saw some things there. With what has happened with our depth at end, he was one of the guys that was high on our list if he was still available to bring in. So he's shown that he has some pass rushing abilities from his days in San Diego and he showed it here with us in the short time we had him and that was one of the reasons we brought him back. We're going to need it if he has to play this weekend as well. So he has the ability to rush the passer and that's key for us in this league."(On what he anticipates in terms of offensive tactics from St. Louis)
"You don't know if they'll have the same tactics that they used in that first ball game, if they change things because of who we are. You only have one game to kind of look at a new quarterback as opposed to the guy who may have been the starter in Sam Bradford. So we'll have to see what their approach is going to be. Could be totally different because of the status of their quarterback situation."QUARTERBACK JOSH MCCOWN
(On if a backup quarterback has an advantage going against a team that prepared all week for the starting quarterback)** "If there is any, I don't know if there's ever any advantages a backup quarterback has other than that fact that they've prepared for somebody else, especially when you have somebody as dynamic as Cam [Newton] last week and it's kind of two different style of players, so maybe that helps a little bit. But I don't know really what advantage you would have from that standpoint because, if anything, and I don't know how their reps played out last week, but typically if it happened something like the way theirs' did where it's late in the week or whatever, you're at a disadvantage because you've not had reps."(On the positives that he can take from last week's game) "I think to start with, the way we finished the game as far as, offensively, the last few drives we had, and the touchdowns and stuff like that. Take from those situations, the things we were doing, the way we were moving the ball, and build on that, and take away those things that we felt like got us in a rhythm and got us in a comfort zone to play efficiently."(On if he is more comfortable playing in the hurry-up offense or the more traditional offense) "We'll see. We've got to be able to do everything. It's certainly a good tool to have. I feel comfortable in either one, but in that game on that day, it obviously gave us a spark and helped us. I don't know if it was more dictated by the situation because we were down 17 or what, but we started using the tempo a little more and went faster and moved the ball and got scores and that was a good thing."(On if the team plans to take more shots downfield as the season goes on) "We've got to take advantage of that for sure and we will. It's just sometimes, the way that they cover, they went about taking Vincent [Jackson] away and did a good job of that. So with both guys, we've got to plan on trying to get the ball downfield. Tied to that always is protection. When you're playing a team that had 60 sacks last year, you want to be cognizant of that. But we've got to find ways to do that and we will."(On how to practice not making mistakes in games) "I don't know if you practice not [making the mistakes]. It's just more mentally how you approach the game, and when you get outside of the pocket in those situations, just kind of thinking more about where we are as a team. We're in the process of growing and, - I say this all the time - finding out who we are and building our offense, and again, our whole team really. And along that way, you don't want to do those things. You get out there in the middle of those games and it's competitive, and you want to make plays. Especially on the first [interception], I got outside the pocket. You want to make plays and you want to save plays, on the second one. It's just stepping back, thinking about those situations and going, 'What's best for us right now?' And it's always best for you not to turn the ball over. But it is even more so for us to [play with] caution and protect the football. Again, I don't back off of those things – that's on me and I'll get it fixed."(On wide receiver Chris Owusu and his touchdown catch against Carolina) "He's come along really good. We talked about Chris throughout the spring and camp and really liked his progress and the way he was coming along. Strong player and good speed and good hands. So he's continuing to grow and progress. When you're in his role, when you're kind of the third or fourth guy – depending if Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] is on the field – the opportunity for balls is not significant. But when you get a chance, you've got to make them, and that was kind of case in point the other night in the game. The intent was to go a few other places with the ball to be honest with you. But coverage dictated something that we talk about but very rarely get to. So credit to Chris for running his route and staying alert because a lot of times, guys that get stuck in those situations, they kind of cruise down there and it's kind of for the love of the game and they don't really intend on catching the ball. He ran his route with intention and purpose and the ball game his way and he made a play."(On how the return of offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford will help the offense) "It'll be good to get him back, obviously. He's the leader of our offense, so to have him around helps us. From day one, his vision of where our offense needs to go, it's his vision because he's the coordinator. So when you remove that person, a little bit of that is lost, and everybody does a good job of picking up the pieces, but there's a reason why he's there. So it'll certainly be good to have him back."(On if there is an advantage for this offense to spread the ball out against opposing defenses) "We'll see and that's something we'll find out each play more and more. Sometimes you end up going one way or the other, so we'll see how that goes. But we would love to be able to establish an effective running game, like I've said, that we can use. So it's hard and I know there's urgency on all parts when you go out and you don't get the effective runs that you wanted. It's easy to go, 'Well forget it; let's do this.' But then we have to remind ourselves we're still early in building this thing and we've got to kind of weather the storm through these learning curves and processes and we'll get better. But we can't just abandon it completely because we're going to need to do it; we're going to have to get good at it. So it's that fine line between staying with it and then doing what helps you win that game. I trust the coaches to understand and figure out where that line is."(On if he feels more comfortable with Tedford coming back) "Yeah. I talked with Jeff on Monday and a little bit yesterday. It'll definitely bring more confidence. But again, the guys have helped kind of pull the extra weight that they needed to to fill in for Jeff. So hopefully that transitions – it won't be completely seamless – but it's pretty smooth. But again, there's a reason he's here, there's a reason why he's our coordinator, so it'll be good to have him back."(On how critical this game is against St. Louis) "Every one of them are critical. You know how important that last one was for us. You want to get that one and you want to get every single one of them. But absolutely, we've got to go out and get this one and establish kind of how we're going to win football games and what that's going to look like and learn how to win football games. That's all part of this process and this week is a great opportunity to get that started. So we're looking forward to it. I don't know if anyone is more ready to get out there than I am. I'm ready to play with the way we finished the game the other day and all that, and for myself personally just having the bad taste in my mouth over those two plays. Ready to go play, ready to go get after these guys."(On if he will need to release the football more quickly when facing a fast defensive line against St. Louis) "No doubt. You've got to. You're not dealing in reality if you say, 'Hey, we can use the same plays this week.' It's different. It just is. Robert Quinn is Robert Quinn – that guy is really, really good. The guys last week, really good. And here we are right out of the gate with probably the top two D-lines in the league, and front sevens for that matter. Absolutely, your clock has a speed up. It's an adjustment, but it's something that you've got to think about and really kind of plan throughout the week, and if you can do that, you can give yourself a great opportunity to continue to move the football and take care of the football and all those things you've got to be able to do at this position." DEFENSIVE TACKLE GERALD MCCOY
(On what is the most disappointing from the Week 1 loss)**
"Third down. Too many third downs. We allowed them to stay on the field too long."
(On his fourth quarter sack late in the game)
"Well somebody had to do something, whether it was me or somebody else, it didn't matter. A play needed to be made. It just gave us a spark and gave us a chance to win."
(On how much it hurts to lose the opening game at home)
"You always want to go undefeated at home. Much credit goes to our fans. They didn't give up on us, they stayed loud throughout the whole game. One thing I will ask of our fans though, and fans, don't crucify me for this: just hang in there. I will say our fans have been patient. They just want to see a winner and we understand that. But just hang in there. We can't do it without them. So we need our fans to keep showing up, keep supporting us. It's okay to be upset when we lose – we're upset too. So we don't fault them for being upset. Just keep hanging in there with us."