Tampa Bay Buccaneers



(On DL Patrick O'Connor's blocked punt)

"We knew that they were a big fake [punt] team from the minus 40 [yard line] to the plus 50, and they were sitting right on the edge there, so we wanted to put an eight-box return out there so we had the eligibles covered, but I also didn't want them sitting back there and being able to throw the ball. The majority of their fakes, as went through the week, were all passes – typically they're runs. We were sitting there saying, 'Let's take Pat and put him on the snapper.' Then every return Pat was forcing up the middle. Long story short, we went into an eight-box return. We had their slots covered. They were both tight ends, so we knew we had to put some coverage people in there. We had Ryan Smith covering the PP (punter's protector) inside, so we said, 'Pat, you're going to be one on one.' Sure enough, he ripped straight up the field and then got the block. I was so happy for him. I would have loved for one of our guys off the edge to scoop and score, but you get greedy. It was a nice play [that was] well executed by him. [It brought] great energy and really got the guys going."

(On what is supposed to happen on a protection when the opposing team attempts to jump over the long snapper)

"If you're on the line of scrimmage, it's legal, obviously. So, what's supposed to happen is we typically ID the guys who do it because there's probably three [or] four guys per team that are going to do it, so you're looking for that guy. They disguised with No. 43 (ILB Joe Jones) down in a three-point stance. He's still legal though because he's on the line of scrimmage. Then what ended up happening is they came off and they pushed our guys down, which is legal. What's supposed to happen is first thing before the snap, we're going to talk about, 'Hey, leap alert. Leap alert.' You can't really put a lot of onus on the snapper doing anything. You try to tell him to bring his head back up, but you better make sure you get the snap squared away. What we've got to do is get an arm up and try to disrupt that guy's leg – try to get him off balance. By the time he lands, if he's off balance, he's not going to get up to block it again. They timed it up well and they got us on that one."

(On K Ryan Succop)

"I like his poise. He's a pro – very confident and he's consistent."

(On what stands out about practice squad K Greg Joseph)

"I'll tell you what – I know it's just practice, but he hasn't missed a field goal. He gets great height on the ball. His timing is on [and] he's quick. When you're quick, you get the ball up and you're accurate – I mean, I like everything about him. I like his attitude [and] I like his approach to the game. He does a really good job with our show teams during the week. [He's] more than willing to participate. He's done a really nice job."

(On what has allowed the team to start opponents deep in their own territory consistently the last two weeks)

"I think Bradley [Pinion] does a great job, obviously. He did a really nice job [Sunday] of hanging the ball, placing the ball outside the numbers and giving Ryan Smith, [Jamel] Dean and even [Jaydon] Mickens a chance to get down there and force fair catches in single press. When you're putting from that plus-50 area, you've got those gunners out there in single press and they end up doing a good job. I think what's happened is just the work over the last two weeks with the guys. The guys have really been grinding on it. We've made it a point of emphasis, obviously, after the first game. We obviously knew we were going against New Orleans in the first game and emphasized it at that time. But, the biggest thing we've had to do is – if we're going to be good in coverage, we've got to be good in protection. Just emphasizing little things and getting down to the details and being able to set practice up for each guy. You've got probably eight or nine plays, but if we can design it to where we can emphasize something in every play for even three or four guys, it's really started to help and the guys are really starting to pull together. The timing together, the maturity – the younger guys are starting to mature a little bit – and I think everybody's starting to understand their role and how important it is."

(On what RB Kenjon Barner adds to the special teams unit)

"I'll tell you what – I thought they were going to kick the ball in play, [but] then I think they recognized that Kenjon was back there and they put it out of the end zone. He had an immediate impact on the game [Sunday]. I really like him – he's not going to fair catch very often – he's aggressive. He's not going to fair catch very often, but he is aggressive and he will get the ball vertical. He's got great vision on the run [and] he's a guy that has that natural feel on kickoff return. He sets his blocks up well and he doesn't need a whole lot of blocking, which is what you're looking for in your kickoff return. Obviously, he does both as a punt returner as well. He brings value to the unit. He's a good returner [and] very professional, also."

(On WR Jaydon Mickens as a returner)

"I like him. He's got the natural quickness that you're looking for. He can make you miss. He made two guys miss in a very tight space [on Sunday]. He manages the game well [and] he's got enough speed to get it up the field. I like what he did [on Sunday]. He had a 13-yard return and made two people miss. The kickoff return after the safety, that was probably – besides the [punt] block, obviously – my favorite play on Sunday. We blocked that thing up clean for the most part up front and he hit it. Kenjon Barner came through and picked the safety and we almost got him on the kicker. It was a really nice play. Guys have worked on it – it's part of our Friday script. We're trying to get so much in on Fridays. When you guys are here at practice, you can see us out there just trying to hurry, hurry, hurry from each situation. The guys manage that situation – for the most part – well, and we come up with a penalty on the thing. He does a really good job. I've got nothing to say but good things about Jaydon. He's done a really nice job, he works at it, it's important to him [and] yesterday he jumped in there and got two gunner reps and forced a fair catch. He did a nice job."

(On how important CB Ryan Smith is on the coverage units)

"I'll tell you what – I don't know if people see it in games, but the past couple of weeks he's gotten vice and a third party. He gets triple teamed, so a lot of guys are free. When he's not around the ball, there's a couple other guys that are free. He requires a lot of attention. He does a really nice job, loves it, brings energy to the group, obviously [and] is a very good special teams player."


(On his interception against Denver to seal the victory for Tampa Bay)

"[The] interception was big. It all played a part. We got a long drive that drive – a 15-play drive – and we needed to get off the field. They were driving on us. They brought the new quarterback in – he was driving and making some dink-and-dunk plays – so it was a big play for us. Fourth-and-1 – had to get off the field and get the ball back to our offense."

(On the key to Tampa's young secondary playing with poise)

"We kind of look past that a little bit. Our defensive coordinator – Coach [Todd] Bowles – he kind of harps on us being young, but at the same time kind of having a lot of experience just being with each other a lot. We came in and had an establishment of 'We're trying to take over our secondary.' We know we're young, but at the same time, we have to go out there and grow with each other. We're going to make a couple of mistakes, but we have to make them fast and have to learn from them. That's what we're trying to do. I feel like we're making a lot of plays out there and we have to capitalize on them."

(On how the defensive front seven's success allows the secondary to be successful as well)

"It helps a bunch. The rush complements the coverage and the coverage complements the rush. I just feel like we have one of the best rushes in football. Our pass rushers are crazy. Us in the back end, we know they're going to get to the quarterback real soon, especially when we have a blitz on there. It definitely helps us, so we don't have to cover that long, and the ball is coming out really fast. It definitely helps us and we're trying to complement them, too, so they can get more sacks. If we can get the quarterback to hold the ball, they get a lot of sacks and get a lot of pass rush."


(On the defense's mentality entering the second half of games with a lead)

"We don't look at it like that. We just look at it – 'OK, it's zero [to] zero.' Halftime, we look at it as zero [to] zero – nobody's scored, even though we have a tremendous lead. We try to play defense like that, that way we won't give up the opportunity with that lead. So, we try not to take advantage of what we have."

(On how the defensive scheme keeps opposing offenses guessing)

"I think it's a big part, especially playing defense. Todd Bowles does a great job of getting everybody a piece of the ball – see the ball and go get it. I just think guys just trust him. We trust the plays that he's going to call [and] he's going to get us what we need to get. So far, he's getting us one step closer to where we need to get."

(On if the trust in Bowles grows after games where the defense is able to sack the quarterback often)

"For sure. Like I said, we're just building. We're building chemistry with the team. [We are] just getting great chemistry right now. I'm looking forward to this week. Each week is different, and the defense is pumped up each and every week. I'm ready to get out there."


(On how many reps he took at nickel cornerback during the week and how much attention he pays to learning other positions in the secondary) (0:00)

"Being back there at safety, you have to know what the other DBs (defensive backs) are doing, so I'm always taking mental reps – even when I'm at the safety position – just knowing what the nickel's doing and where he's aligning. Throughout the week I'll get a few reps of nickel and then most of it is mental – knowing where the nickel is and what my job is. I kind of just know what the nickel is supposed to be doing."

(On the key to sacking the quarterback from the safety position) (0:35)

"The key for me is just playing hard, playing physical, being fast and smart with my decisions and getting home."

(On what allows the defense to make big plays and have success in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles' scheme) (4:45)

"I think Coach Bowles is a defensive guru – he dials it up extremely well. For us to be successful, we have to have that play-calling that he provides – which has been amazing so far. Being able to use us in so many different ways because our defense is so versatile – we have pretty much everything in a defense. For him to just dial things up, it's just been a great look for us and it will be our success this year – just making sure that we're making plays out there on the field."

(On if he has always been the type of player who has consistently around the ball throughout his career) (5:45)

"I would say it's natural, but it also comes with a lot of hard work. If you do it in practice, you'll do it in the game, so my goal is always to stay around the ball in practice. Then, it shows up during game time. You have to practice it all the time for it to actually happen."