-Defensive Coordinator Mark Duffner had his first press conference in his new role yesterday. The Bucs’ studio was a packed house of media members eager to be among the first to talk to Duffner in this new context. Here’s a couple things that stood out from what he said:
-His coaching philosophy ties into his overall life philosophy, which centers around positivity.
“My philosophy is to be upbeat and positive I don’t see what you gain from not being that. Some people chose to do that. We all have that choice. Mine is to – shoot, let’s go after it with gusto whatever we’re doing and I think that you come away from it better after the result.
-That energy also translates into a true emotional connection with players, which in turn has led to long-lasting relationships with former players. It’s also helped in free agency recruiting. After the NFL draft, the ensuing flurry of signing undrafted free agents is much like normal free agency in that teams kind of have to ‘woo’ these unsigned guys to sign with them. Duffner makes a point of getting to know an array of players at the combine each year, according to Head Coach Dirk Koetter, and he almost instantaneously makes a connection with these young men. Enough to where he’s been directly responsible for some players’ decisions to sign with the Bucs over other teams. He also maintains relationships from decades ago with former players, he cares about each and every guy he coaches, and it’s readily evident in his words as well as his actions.
“Anything you’re involved with, I think it’s all much better for everybody involved if you show care. If your players know that you care about them, I think they’re going to respond in a positive way. They know if it’s genuine or not. I love what I’m doing. You get a chance to see people in a lot of different scenarios where you can assist them in terms of whether it’s off the field or on the field in terms of interaction with them and really getting to know them. How lucky have I been? Geez. It’s been unbelievable.”
-Ok, so far it sounds like Duff is a big softy, right? Don’t let that fool you into thinking that’s how he operates on the sidelines or at practice. He’s positive, yes. I’ve heard him yell at players in what sounds like a very angry tone, only to realize that he’s actually saying things like, ‘GOOD JOB!’ or ‘THAT’S HOW YA DO IT!’ But he’s tough. I’ve had a former player describe him to me as ‘a dog’ and ‘a savage’ when it comes to his coaching style. It’s what earns him respect along with how much he cares about his guys; a juxtaposition of coaching styles that makes him an enigma.
“Our approach has always been we play defense as aggressively as we possibly can. That doesn’t necessarily mean blitz or pressure — it means you play hard, you play physical, you play smart. … Defense has no room for being soft.” I love that last part. For more on his aim for the defense, check out what Scott Smith has for you here.
-Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said something on Monday’s Bucs Total Access that he kind of echoed yesterday about Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield. Though he’s a rookie, Mayfield has a lot of raw talents and falls into the whole ‘mobile quarterback’ category – something JPP hates. He talked about how he wishes quarterbacks would just stay in the pocket so he can get to him easier. I mean, same, JPP but I don’t think guys want to wait around to see your 6-foot-5, 275-pound frame hurling toward them at impossible speed with their impending doom on your mind. Just a hunch. Mayfield doesn’t exactly have a choice other than to be mobile. He’s facing pressure 30.59% of the time and has been sacked 13 times so far this season. That number might even be higher if he didn’t have the ability to escape the pocket and make plays. The Bucs will definitely try to contain him on Sunday so JPP can get his wish.
-In news around the league, the NFL is investigating the Miami Dolphins’ reporting of quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s shoulder injury last week. Tannehill was a surprise scratch from Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears with quarterback Brock Osweiler starting in his place. It’s worth noting that the NFL’s investigation of injury reporting isn’t uncommon, especially for quarterbacks, but Tannehill had gone from full participant on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, to limited on Friday and then wasn’t a scratch until right before the game on Sunday. Since we do get a lot of questions surrounding the injury report here, let’s review what’s involved according to league language. Throughout the week, players who appear on the injury report must be listed under one of three designations:
· Full Participation – means 100 percent of a player’s normal repetitions
· Limited Participation – means less than 100 percent of a player’s normal repetitions
· Did Not Participate – means zero percent of a player’s normal repetitions
On Friday (for a Sunday game), players are assigned one of three statuses after the league did away with the ‘probable’ designation:
· Out – Will not play
· Doubtful – Unlikely to play
· Questionable – Uncertain if player will play
Simple as that. Since it’s up to the clubs to give these reports, the league has a checks and balances system in place and will investigate from time to time. It’s pretty routine at this point and usually not a cause for concern at all.
View photos from the Buccaneers' practice Wednesday at AdventHealth Training Center.