Below is a selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today's earlier media availability. Full video of press conferences can be found on Buccaneers.com.
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
Quarterback Jameis Winston
Head Coach Dirk Koetter
(On if quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is more experienced at the line of scrimmage)
"A good example – the double move to Mike [Evans] in the game. You're hardly going to get a guy that wide open. That was all Fitz. We had a play going to the left, Fitz saw what they were in, switched it to something going to the right and a double move. That's an impressive play. No more so than Jameis [Winston] does in our offense. Fitz has played longer. He's just seen more. I'd say where Fitz is – he recognizes stuff out of his past that may be un-scouted looks, maybe stuff that we didn't necessarily work on – but that's just experience."
(On how much he has to prepare for Sunday and make sure quarterback Jameis Winston is handling not starting)
"I mean, Jameis is a pro and Jameis knows how to handle himself. I think he's done a good job of that. He's not the only guy that's ever been in that situation. He's not the only guy on our team in that situation, so sure I'm concerned about all these guys. At the same time, our number one job is to get ready for Carolina."
(On the progress of some of the injured players)
"Gerald was missing today, other than most of the morning, Gerald had a non-injury related issue today and wasn't here for most of the day, was just here for a little bit in the morning. We'll put the injury report out and we're going to have enough guys to play on Sunday."
(On Fitzpatrick's ability to throw the deep ball)
"I think Ryan has just done a really good job of putting the ball on the money. On the deep ball, sometimes that's over the inside shoulder, sometimes it's over the outside shoulder, sometimes it's a back shoulder – like the one right in front of our bench last week to Mike [Evans]. Depending on what kind of a deep ball – just a go route and they cover it, back shoulder, go route he beats him, outside on the outside shoulder, the deep post over the inside shoulder – he's just consistently put the ball where it needs to be put. We have guys that have been getting open over the top on all those kind of routes and we have size to throw back shoulders and he's just hit them at a consistent rate, put the ball on the money and they've made the plays for him."
(On if it's 'easier' to do well in the second game against the same team if you were successful the first time)
"I'll take the word easier out of that question before I answer it. There is no easier, but it's just a quirk in the schedule that our first three division games are on the road. We're 1-1. Obviously, we put a lot of emphasis on road division games. They're hard to win and we have a tough division to start with. We have good football teams in our division. It would be great. That's our goal to go and get it, but no more so whether we played them on the moon."
(On if he's seen a change in the way the Panthers use running back Christian McCaffrey)
"I think Coach Turner has definitely put his own spin on [it]. You can recognize some of their stuff. The thing that jumps out at me watching their offense – they used McCaffrey a lot last year as a ball-carrier and as a receiver. The thing that jumps out the most to me is the speed they've added at other places like [D.J.] Moore and 13 [Jarius Wright], [Curtis] Samuel's back. Just when you watch them, they're throwing short passes, but what those guys are doing after they catch it – when they're getting people in zone coverage and they're sitting down a pocket – he's putting the ball on them and they're getting vertical. What might have been a two or three-yard run after the catch now is a 10 or 15-yard run at times. McCaffrey's part of that. He's their leading receiver. [Devin] Funchess is their big target down the field. The speed they've added is what jumps out the most to me."
(On if field position is less of a burden to worry about because of the team's success moving the ball)
"No, that's just proving that field position is important, and we do concentrate on it. That moving the ball thing, I've seen that faucet turn on and off before. I don't think you should ever come off of your field position and working on your field position."
(On how to limit someone like McCaffrey and Saints running back Alvin Kamara from a defensive aspect)
"I would say two ways – in zone coverage your guys are taught to drop – they're matching zones underneath, matching receivers or they're dropping the spot. When you're dropping the spots – we do both – if that quarterback's good at hitting his check down, which the quarterbacks on the teams you just mentioned are, and then now that guy is also an electrifying runner, that makes it tough. When you're in man coverage, that guy is almost always covered by a linebacker. Depending on if Lavonte David is a blitzer, then he's not the linebacker covering him. Just puts a lot of stress on your linebacker. They do stuff off of play action as well. It stresses you both ways – man and zone."
(On if why Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's success in the red zone is the reason why they're getting runs after the catch)
"I think they're doing a really good job with – the thing that makes them different from almost every other team is it's not just their run game, their pass game, but their quarterback run game. And they're running a lot of things where he's a threat to run it. I just watched their red zone tape this morning. RPOs, hitting the glance route – they've scored three or four touchdowns on that, so your defense is seeing run with a pulling guard and a back coming across. Then they've got Funchess running a glance in the back of the end zone – that's tough on a defense. Then you've got the pullers: McCaffrey and one of their backs coming across and all of a sudden Cam's pulling it and they've got a quarterback run off of that. Then they've got the bootleg where all the action's going one way, Cam is running the other. Cam Newton is part quarterback, part running back – super quarterback and part running back. They just have an added dimension of quarterback run that the defense has to defend."
Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken
(On what he's seen from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick)
"For the most part, he's played really, really well. The Steelers second quarter, we had a fumble by Chris Godwin, we had a ball where he could've thrown it better – Mike [Evans] stops on his route. We have another, we're backed up his arm gets hit. There's some of those things at the end of the half against the Bears – if Cam [Brate] doesn't get the passing interference we don't go to the next play – some of those things lend itself to that. I said when we first started playing Fitz in the beginning of the year when we went 2-1 last year, 'I have no concerns with Ryan Fitzpatrick as our quarterback.' He's a good football player like all of the guys that make our team are good football players. We've got to do better as coaches and as players."
(On how difficult it is for a backup quarterback to be put in a game)
"Hard. Hard because they don't get any reps. They get the scout team reps – your starter gets all the reps. It's very difficult to really prepare for that opportunity. To me it's a little easier for a guy that's played during the year some and that's played as long as he has. There's a lot of things that he's seen that allows him to go into a game and be able to function and he's been with us a year and a half now so that's good."
(On if he has noticed differences in the Carolina defense)
"Same in terms of how they align, but philosophically, what they do on third downs, red zone situational defense changes, how much they blitz, personality shows – can be the same offense, but who's calling it can add a little bit flavor of what they decide to do in those situations more than anything."
(On what makes Fitzpatrick's deep ball so successful)
"Experience, he's got tremendous touch, we've got good players, so that comes with it. I though Jameis [Winston] for the most part he threw really a couple really nice deep balls. One to D-Jack (DesSean Jackson) that they had been working on and then one to Mike [Evans] on a big third down in the wind I thought was really, really good. Then there were some other that wasn't good enough. That's what Fitz does. He does a really nice job in terms of his ball placement. I think that's probably the best way to put it."
(On if the running game has improved)
"I think it's improving. I think you see some of that. I think we've got to call it more. I think it helps – we're back on the turnover. If we stop turning it over and stop getting down so much, it won't put us in a situation where the numbers end up being where they're at. That's a big part of it where you're getting in two-minute situations often – well you're not running it. Early in that game the other day, the very first drive we were 50/50 – we were running it, we were throwing it, we got in that situation, we turn it over. You've got to put yourself in a position where you're able to run it – which we have done a much better job the last few weeks. We've gained more confidence that way. I've called it better, I believe. I don't think it was about scheme, it was just having a belief and confidence in it. Sometimes you fall into that rut in terms of wanting to throw it and getting explosive plays which, we do, but we certainly have to – we can't put ourselves in a position like we have."
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
(On what goes into his touchdown celebrations)
"I don't know. Something just takes over the body for a few seconds. Especially the guys up front, I like celebrating with those guys on the long touchdowns and any of them really. The secret with them is that a lot of times on the long touchdowns, they don't like to run all the way down to the end zone, so they stay back and celebrate with me and then saunter up for the extra point. That's part of the reason."
(On how much he changes the play that's called)
"Every time I'm going into the game as a starter, I'll sit down with Coach Monk (Monken) on Friday. What we did this offseason in terms of putting some different stuff into our offense that we could get to versus advantageous looks. We'll sit and we'll just talk about parameters because I think that's a big thing with me is I really enjoy that part of the game, but I also need parameters. We'll just sit and talk and I'll tell him what's on my mind and then he'll tell me what on his mind and things we like and don't like. We'll just have that open dialogue on Friday to make sure we're on the same page and go from there. A lot of it is stuff that we'll work on throughout the week. I think as an offense we've done a good job of that. With Coach Monken, I think he's done a nice job just the communication aspect with me and the rest of the guys."
(On his deep ball accuracy)
"I think it start with the talent we have on the outside and the playmakers and a tight end that can catch one and take it 75 [yards]. We don't have average players on the outside. I think that's a lot of it. The deep ball is something for a while in my career that I struggled with, just in terms of accuracy and other things. Throwing to so many different guys and getting it figured out just for me personally – I think it's different for every quarterback – but for me personally just getting certain things figured out those and the amount of people I've thrown to I think that's really helped me. I've gotten better and better as my career has gone on. I didn't have a strong arm to start with, so it's not like it's getting any stronger. I think I've become much more accurate on those 30-plus yard throws. That's just something I continue to improve on as I keep playing."
(On how fun it is being able to play)
"It's been awesome. The wins and losses are what matter. Not winning some of those games it makes it tough, but at the same time the guys that I'm coming to work with every day, some of the successes we've had on the field, just being out there and playing freely. I've had some great stops and a lot of fun in different places, but this has been a lot of fun. Part of it too is my boys are old enough to kind of enjoy it and really be a part of it. That makes it extra specials for me."
(On if he runs through the plays in his read when he's on the sideline_
"I just think since my probably my rookie year, you just start to look at football in a different way. I'll never be able to go to a football game again and just relax and observe and enjoy it for what it is. There's always a strategy involved to it. There's always that heightened awareness of what they're doing on defense and what we could do to combat it or make a play better. I've had a lot of time in my career to be able to sit back and to watch and to see things progress through a game and how I would do it or how I would do it differently. I think that's been helpful for me. That experience and then being able to go out there and have the freedom to do some of those things."
(On being in the same offense as very successful players)
"Being in the offense and in that huddle with the skill guys we have is exciting. Like we've kind of said the last few weeks, the numbers are nice, but the wins are what we care about. We've got to go out there and find a way to – first and foremost for me I've got to limit turnovers and get our team in the end zone. We've got to find a way to have more points than them at the end of the game. Those are all simple things sitting here and talking about it, but things that we've got to continue to focus on executing."
Quarterback Jameis Winston
(On if his confidence has been shaken)
"No, my confidence will never waiver. I know who I am as a person and as a player. This is just a trying time. God's got me. I'll get over this."
(On how he feels about his future with the Buccaneers)
"I'm confident about it. Right now, my main goal is to be a great teammate and be here to support these guys and still be preparing and be ready to step in when it's time."
(On if this situation could make him stronger)
"Yeah, definitely. What doesn't kill you will always make you stronger. This [is] definitely a humbling process. It's a chance for me to learn and sit behind Fitz kind of like I did last year. I learned so much from him when I was injured. I got a chance to just analyze his game and see how he does things."
(On if he expected for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to replace him)
"I didn't expect it, but one thing about me I can be honest with myself in terms of playing on the field. If you turn the ball over in any – college, high school – it's going to put your team in a bad position to win and we need to win as a team. I definitely understood why Coach Koetter went with Fitz."
(On if he feels pressure in this situation)
"I don't feel any pressure. Like I said, it's a setback, but it's a minor setback for a major comeback. Again, it just tells me you've got to continue to get better. Like you said, I've never been in this situation before, so I have to learn from it, I have to grow from it. I have no choice."