Head Coach Sean McDermott
Q: Do you have an update on Jordan Poyer and his health status right now?
A: Yeah, both he and E.J. [Gaines], right now are day-to-day, we’re going to list those guys as day-to-day. We’re still going through the evaluation process right now, and we’ll just take it one day at a time right now.
Q: Is it Jordan’s knee?
A: It is.
Q: That sounds better than we thought, given how he got hit and how he walked off yesterday. Is it encouraging to you that you’re not saying week-to-week instead of day-to-day?
A: I believe it is, Sal, but again just even for me, it’s still early, still getting information coming from the training room. We’ll get a little bit more this afternoon, and so early signs are positive, and the important thing is that anyone who’s hurt, Jordan in this case, that they maximize those treatment opportunities to come back as quickly as they can. I thought Micah [Hyde] did a good job with that a couple weeks ago. Our players have been phenomenal with taking care of things off the field, and that’s been one of our keys to our success to this point.
Q: It did happen on that last play, though, specifically? It wasn’t something that was kind of lingering or anything, it happened on that last play?
Q: Coach, E.J., he’s had a few of these soft tissue type of injuries now over the last several weeks. Is that concerning to you, like maybe he has to have his body treated differently, or something that he can do differently to kind of avoid that? Maybe compared to anybody else?
A: Right, just, availability is important for us, that we can get a guy out there that can be out there consistently. You know, things happen though, too. This is a contact sport, and these guys are professional athletes that play at a high level. Speed, power, physicality, so things happen and the next guy has got to be ready, and Shareece [Wright] did a good job of that last week.
Q: As the hits kind of accumulate over the course of the season, and having guys in and out of the lineup at corner, do you have to kind of take a closer look at your numbers there overall, knowing it’s a battle at the position, well at every position?
A: No, yeah that’s a fair assessment, we do. We’ve looked at it all season long, really, from day one. We met earlier this morning, Brandon [Beane] and myself, and some other members of the staff, so it’s just, you always want the best 53 football players you can find, and try and keep things, numbers and balance, at the same time, which is a day-to-day deal. Brandon and his staff do a phenomenal job with that, again with what they did with D.T. [Deonte Thompson], Brandon and Joe [Schoen], and the entire staff back there.
Q: Sean, what have you learned from your team six games into the season, given how they’ve been able to pull out some close games and rally through tough situations?
A: Well, you know I think, like I said before, we’ve got a lot of work in in a small amount of time. What I saw, really the first couple of games, what I wanted to see was: can we win close games, or can we win the first game? That was, ‘hey, check the box’, and we were able to do that. You continue to go through the season and can you win back-to-back games? We were able to do that. Can you come from behind? And we did that yesterday. So, a lot of heart, the guys continue to play extremely hard, and coaches are making really, really good adjustments throughout games, so it’s a total team effort.
Q: Over the next six weeks, I think you face five Pro Bowl quarterbacks. How much of that do you take into effect when you mention looking at the numbers in the secondary? Is that a consideration too, that you might need reinforcements there for the upcoming opponents?
A: It is, I mean biggest picture right now really is that we continue to grow, evolve and prepare ourselves for whatever may be down the road. Who knows what that is, exactly, because things seem to change week-to-week around this league. That said, the schedule, [I] faced a similar schedule, if not almost exactly the same schedule a year ago in Carolina, so I know what type of schedule this is. It’s a tough, competitive schedule, like all schedules are, this one in particular. A lot of big tests ahead, and right now, we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and continue to grow and improve every day.
Q: Maybe not saying it in particular but, you’ve got guys like Matt Milano and Logan Thomas, a lot of guys that, names people don’t know outside this building. What does that say about how this team has been built?
A: Well, number one, and you’ve heard me talk a lot about this is, just having the right people on board; the building in itself, having the right people in the building. Getting the right people in the right seats. With the team, the character element that goes into it, we spoke a lot about that in the early month or two on the job. You mentioned Logan Thomas, here’s a young man that’s played quarterback. As short as a year ago, he was throwing passes, now he catches a touchdown pass in a big time moment in the game. Extremely tough physically also, [and] mentally tough individual, and what more can you say about the way he’s developed and embraced his role. That’s a part of who this team is, and that’ll carry us going forward.
Q: Sean, along those lines, and I spoke with Micah yesterday, he said ‘we’re a bunch of misfits’. How would you kind of describe this team because, in speaking to a few of them, feel like they’ve been kind of pulled off the street everywhere, but they’ve got this collective mindset.
A: Well, I think that’s great. It’s great that they feel that way about themselves, that they’re a team, and I think that that’s the key part: is they don’t really put too much stock in what, maybe, is said about them outside of this building. I love that. I think that the greatest part about it is that they’re unified on everything that they do. We went through adversity all the way back from when we first got here. Multiple things you look back at the history and say ‘hey, that could’ve taken this team apart, or pulled it apart’, and they continued to persevere. If that’s the name they want to give themselves, that’s fine, but the biggest thing I think is the four-letter word of “team”. There’s a lot of different ways to build a team; at the end of the day, in this case the most important key here is the word “team”.
Q: What concerns do you have given the fact that your defense has given up something like 712 yards passing over the last two games? And how much of a concern is that, do you attribute that to anything?
A: Well, it is a concern; I don’t take those things lightly. We’ve got to look at everything. From what we’re doing schematically, personnel, and that starts with me and making sure we’re doing the right things there practice wise as well. We’ve got to make sure we’ve got some things buttoned up on that end, and we continue to affect the quarterback. Quarterbacks drive this league, and we have to do a good job of affecting quarterbacks.
Q: Have you done enough? We see the sack numbers it’s been one, one, and one for the last couple of games. Have you gotten enough pressure on the QB to help your defensive backfield?
A: At times we have, and, you know, sacks are obviously a stat that a lot of people look at. To me, and to us, it’s most importantly: do we affect the quarterback? Sacks are obviously gravy on top of that, sack fumbles like we had yesterday, and that was a big play in the game by Ryan Davis and the defense to get the ball back. That said, we’ve got to affect the quarterback, you’ve got to be able to affect the quarterback with your front four, and then also add pressure on top of that. That’s important that we can do that going forward.
Q: Talking with Tre White after the game in the locker room, I mean he was hard on himself about the catch Mike Evans made. I mean it was a great throw and great catch. He tends to be really hard on himself, and then he comes back and makes a big play, but he didn’t take solace in that. Do you talk to him at all to make sure that he’s not, I mean, because he seemed pretty hard on himself?
A: Well, to a point that’s what you want. You want players, as we go through the scouting process, and Brandon and his staff do a really good job of this of, the DNA. We want a certain type of DNA baked into our players in that they care, and it means enough to them, in this case Tre. The great part about it is, his very next play, I think, or the second play after that, maybe it was the very next play was the forced fumble and the fumble recovery. Then there’s got to be mental toughness, an element of mental toughness, and so that’s also part of the scouting process before we bring the players in here and the DNA that we look for. Games, as you saw yesterday, can ebb and flow. There were moments in the game yesterday where you’re saying ‘hey, this one could be slipping away’ and I think we all felt that. The great part about it was [that] these guys stayed after it, and they remained mentally tough and you saw the offense, when we gave up the score, the offense came back and got us right back into scoring position. Evolving as a football team in all three phases is key.
Q: After seeing the film, what happened on the second O.J. Howard touchdown where he was running down the field, was it more of alignment, was it communication, was it physical, what was going on there?
A: Just awareness, those are awareness-type plays and that’s something we have to learn from. We have to grow off of that and continue to identify personnel groups, groupings, formations, and indicator that come off of those situations.
Q: When you see the type of production that Deonte put up, after just three days in practice, and the trust that Tyrod [has] seemed to display in him on that 44-yard pass down the stretch when you guys needed a play, is that indicative of a player that needs some more time on the field, as the more practices he gets. I think he had 30%, is that something that you guys are anticipating doing?
A: Well we’re not that far in our new week, if you will, in this week of turning the page to Oakland. We’re just getting through the film, reviewing the film, going through [the film] with our players right now. We’ll take it one day at a time. What he did was very impressive in his first week with us. I know Tyrod has a lot of trust in D.T. We’ll just take it one day at a time, continue to grow and make sure that everything we’re doing is built upon a solid foundation, as a team, and no different on an individual basis also.
Q: What went into the decision to play Dion Dawkins only 11 snaps? I know Cordy [Glenn] is back, but Dion’s been getting a lot of time, was kind of surprised he didn’t play as much yesterday?
A: Well we had a plan to play him a little bit more Sal, with Cordy coming back. Cordy felt good during the game, I thought he played extremely well. Actually, Dion jumped in at guard at one point, so my hat goes off to Dion, he’s a young player that, in one game, played multiple positions across the offensive line, which doesn’t happen every day, so that’s somewhat unique. To be able to be physical, execute and play well like he did, again, I don’t want to call it a problem, but that’s a good issue to have. We’re still looking for our best five, and I thought the offensive line did some good things yesterday, gave Tyrod a clean pocket. Tyrod did a nice job [of] stepping up in the pocket at times, and converting on some critical third downs, in particular.
Q: You said you thought Cordy was moving into the right direction last week going into this game, in light of your review of his game on Sunday, do you feel that’s still trending that way, he’s getting closer to maybe starting to finish out games?
A: Right, I do. The early review from the film, would suggest that at this point, so we’ll see.
Q: After looking at the film, the defensive tackle position, what did you see from that position?
A: Well I like the competition inside. Each week, it’s maybe a little bit of a different crew inside, and those guys practice extremely hard. When you develop the habits during the week, the game tends to follow suit. The competition that’s going on there on a weekly basis is healthy, it’s good for all of us, it brings out the best in all of us, myself included. I thought they did some good things in there yesterday, I thought Marcell [Dareus], he was the one that made that tackle in the last play of the game, that’s an effort play and that was good to see.
Q: Did Jordan Matthews aggravate that thumb, I saw him with wrap on [it] after?
A: No, not to my knowledge.
Q: I saw, even you, in getting the crowd up, it seems like your whole team is very aware of how much that crowd can affect a game possibly. I’ll tell you [in] my four years of sidelining [games], [that] was some of the loudest crowd I’ve witnessed yesterday. How much of an impact can that be for you, and how much was it yesterday?
A: Playing here, and number one, I’ve told you before I’ve come in here as an opponent, and it’s not easy to play here. Being on the other side of it now, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the support of the fans. From everyone in the RV lot to where they park in the backyards of the houses that line Big Tree [Road] and Abbott [Road], it’s a unique setting. It’s so unique, that it’s refreshing in a way, the fans get into it in the things that go on in the parking lots, some of which I don’t even know about. Like I said before, they’re special, and we sincerely appreciate their support.
Q: This was the first time this year we saw Shaq [Lawson] get a little bit of lower playing time than he had in his previous four games, was there a reason for that? Did he get dinged up somewhere during the game, was it because the Buccaneers were throwing mostly exclusively down the stretch, what was the reason for that?
A: Just the role of the defensive line, nothing in particular. Just how we roll guys, trying to keep them fresh and everything. You saw some other guys come in and do some good things, Ryan had some good production there for us, so that’s the good part about it. We have some depth up there, we can roll some fresh legs in there.
Q: I know a lot of Tyrod’s runs are not scripted, but it seems when his count at the end of a game is somewhere between 8 and 10 runs, it really throws the opposing defense off, whatever their plan might be, spy, otherwise. I know it’s only been five, six games here, but do you see that same thing in reviewing the tape, because it really seems to throw them for a loop when he’s taking off early?
A: You guys are in the analytics approach this morning, I can tell. He [said] 10, 30%, whatever it is (joking). We’ll just take it one game at a time and see. Certainly, he’s an athlete and a weapon, and baked into that quarterback position with his legs, so we’ll just take it one game at a time, at this point.
Q: On that point, would you agree that if a team is in man defense, in the passing situation and they’re going down field with their man, he really becomes a weapon. If he can step up, a lot of times, the man coverage dictates if he can run right through the middle, and he’s so good of an athlete, do you encourage that when your meeting with Rick [Dennison] to put the plan in, ‘hey, this is this, let him do this?’
A: They tried to play some man yesterday and Tyrod does a good job of identifying those situations based off of coverage. A lot of times when you play man, you turn your back to the quarterback, maybe Chris that’s where you’re going, so it does open up lanes, and you saw Tyrod exploit some of that yesterday, which was a benefit to us. [And] Field position, I think there was a couple times on third down and what not, they tried to put a spy on him and he broke through it, so he’s a weapon that way.
Q: As impressive as it’s been, that all three phases have worked together in the four wins, is it difficult to maintain that type of blueprint where you get equal contributions almost from all three phases like that, and how difficult is it to maintain that equilibrium?
A: It’s difficult, it’s a challenge. There’s another team on the other sideline that tries to obviously, negate that or limit that. You want to be able to win at all three phases, that’s somewhat unique, but to stay balanced and evolve as a football team, we need to continue to strive for that every week in practice, in our game plans, in the comprehensive plan we put together, and what we execute on the field on Sundays.
Q: How much of the game plan was Gerald McCoy [scouted in], he only had one tackle, a few pressures in the backfield, but you guys did a really good job on him, especially in the run game?
A: Yeah, he’s a special player. Like I said, going into the game, he made his fair share of plays yesterday, the factor-type plays, even though he wasn’t credited with certain stats. He was a factor, and I thought our offensive line and Rick did a good job in game planning, and what they do upfront. We did a pretty good job overall, you’re never going totally to take a guy like that away, but overall, pretty good job.
Q: There was a time where DeSean Jackson had a few things to say to you, I know you guys go back quite a ways, can you fill us in on what that discussion was like?
A: Yeah, that was one of those, I didn’t think about it again honestly Josh until the drive home because you’re so in the moment. He likes to play around. I think he was talking about ‘hey, why am I out on the field calling timeouts.’ He was just trying to bust my chops basically. We do go back, he’s a phenomenal player and a great competitor. Just at that time I couldn’t give him the time he probably wanted to, or maybe he wanted me to, and he was trying to distract me I guess. Anyways, it was fun, he’s a good competitor and a great player.
Q: You guys are 4-2, top of the division in the playoff picture, why does this team have that underdog mentality every week, and speaking of players, they feel it? I’m wondering if you feel that way and if so, how does this team that has a winning record feel like it’s back is always against the wall?
A: I don’t know if I have an exactly [right] answer on that, I just think that’s probably more of what’s been said about these guys outside of this building. What was said in preseason, where we’re tanking, all along we said we’re building a team and not tanking. I think that guys they embrace that, they embrace that underdog mentality, that underdog role, and honestly, I think that’s how they approach every week. Like I’ve said, and you heard me say this in the locker room yesterday, there’s guys that have been told they’re not good enough by other teams. I know this, I’ll take them on my team any day of the week.
* * *
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Great win for us, and [I] liked the way we finished on defense with Tre’Davious [White] coming up with that punch out, that was a big deal that really helped put us in a position to win that game. Excited to be sitting at 4-2.
Q: Coach, I know that you’re not at the top of the food-chain here in deciding the numbers at the positions, but with your cornerback spot a little thin the last couple of weeks, walking a little bit of a tight rope there, is there a number you feel comfortable with, obviously, you’d like all the guys you can have, [as a] DC, but what’s your outlook on that, I mean having been a head coach yourself, trying to find the right numbers?
A: Yeah, probably leading up to Brandon [Beane] and Sean [McDermott], you know we have those discussions talking about numbers, and who’s up, who’s down each week, and they’re looking at the entire roster, and you’re right, I’m looking at it from a defensive standpoint. I have my opinions, but I don’t have the final say on those. At the end of the day, we all agree that, whatever number we decide on, that’s what we go with and we figure it out. We’re making some strides. Now this week, we’ve got some injuries, so we’ll see. We’ll see what happens as the week goes on, who’s available, who’s not available, and try to make good decisions about who’s up, and who’s down.
Q: Is it safe to say that there are maybe more contingency plans than usual, in light of the way some things have gone in the first few weeks?
A: Yeah, that happens in our league, it happens. You’re right, we’ve had to have some contingency plans, and it happened yesterday. We’ll see what happens this week, hopefully the guys that got banged up yesterday will get better as the week goes on and we’ll get them back sooner than later, but we’ll see.
Q: Leslie, Tre’Davious [White] is very critical of himself, I’m sure you know. He didn’t want to talk about the fumble after the game yesterday, he’s only talking about the Mike Evans touchdown grab. How do you balance between you helping maintain his confidence, but embracing him being alter critical so that he continues to work?
A: Well, you do need a balance, especially at that position. You can’t get so down that it effects the next play, and in his case, although he’s thinking a lot about what happened on that one play, which wasn’t in totality all his, when he came back and did the next series, that’s what we’re excited about. At that position, there may be a play that they’re going to make and there are good wide receivers and good quarterbacks in our league, so they may make a play on a corner, especially a young corner. The way he has bounced back from adversity is what you need to have at that position, which tells us [that] he has a bright future at that position. We’re excited about his play. There is a balance that needs to be struck when you’re playing that position. Although he may give you the impression that he may be really down, I think he’s sensible enough and has a real good awareness about not getting so down that it affects his play over the course of a game, which is a credit to him. You don’t see him sulking on the sidelines if something negative happens; he processes the information and gets right back on the field and plays as if nothing has happened the previous play, so that’s a really good thing for a corner.
Q: How does his mental aspect maybe stack up against with other young cornerbacks that you’ve coached and been around during your time?
A: [I’ve] been very impressed from day one. You know, we’ve talked about this before, just going back to the offseason, when we were thinking about letting him work his way into the starting role, but right away, we saw how composed he was when we put him in situations and tried to stress him a little bit. The way he handled those early on, we knew that he was going to be a little bit different than some of the rookies when it comes to maturation, his maturity. That’s been proven to be true. This game is not too big for him as a rookie, he’s lined up now against some of the best receivers, week in and week out, and he’s held his own. He’s done a really, really good job. His maturity has proven out.
Q: What has been the difference the past couple of weeks between some of the numbers that Jameis [Winston] and [Andy] Dalton put out compared to, let’s say Matt Ryan and then Trevor Siemian, in terms of performance there?
A: Probably a combination of things. You know [we] probably got to get a little tighter coverage and figure out a way to get a little more pressure on the quarterbacks, but it could happen in our league, when you mention the names that you just mentioned. We’re going to face one that’s more than capable this week of putting up big numbers as well, but the key is, even if some of those guys get their numbers, we’ve got to find ways to take the ball away during the course of a drive and either score on defense or put our offense on the short field. It can happen, but we’re going to try to do some things to slow some of these great quarterbacks down as much as we can.
Q: Sean got a big smile when he was told that Micah [Hyde] and the DBs refer to themselves as ‘misfits’ and it might even apply to the entire team. He talked about how this team took it to heart, some of the doubters and the critics and people [that] thought they were tanking. Do you get a sense that they’re wearing that as a badge of honor?
A: I haven’t paid that much attention. I’ve just kind of seen the guys work day-to-day to try to improve, and try to get better, and try to prepare for every opponent. I haven’t noticed that they look at any opponent different than another, just seems like their preparation has really been – the tunnel vision that you have to have, the focus that you need to prepare each week, that’s what I’ve noticed. I haven’t noticed a group wearing a badge or really being concerned about what’s been said on the outside. I’ve noticed more guys really focused on their jobs and trying to prepare each week.
Q: Shaq Lawson played a little bit less yesterday than what he has been; [he] hasn’t had a sack in a couple of games. Just where do you see his game right now?
A: You know, I think Shaq has done some good things. [He] had the injury a few weeks ago, and he bounced back from that. I think he’s just about where he needs to be, this will be a great opportunity for him coming up. He’s doing some good things in the run game, I think the sacks will come. There’s a lot more football to be played, and his opportunities will come and I think the sacks will come over time. He’s playing good football for us, although the numbers may not be there, he’s gotten some hurries on some quarterbacks, but he’s really stout in the run game, and we need that.
Q: In your experience in the NFL, and even football, have you see a team that has relied upon this model of success and sustained it with all three phases contributing? Whether it’s Stephen Hauschka doing what he does, what happened yesterday with the throw to Deonte Thompson, or even the takeaways. How difficult is it to sustain that model of success with the three phases and what do you make of how this team has done it so far?
A: You know, it’s been a point of emphasis from Sean [McDermott] from day one. He always talked about: it was going to take all three phases in order for us to be successful as a team this year, and I think the guys have really bought into that. They feel like, and you hear them talk about it sometimes, that ‘I’ve got your back’ I mean they were talking about it before the game yesterday, and after the game, that ‘we’re going to all be one, and we’re going to stand together as a group’ as opposed to offense versus defense, or defense versus offense or special teams. It’s the team atmosphere, the team aspect of it, the guys understand it and it’s a credit to Sean really emphasizing that and not letting it become any type of division. If one group plays a little bit higher than another group one week to another, which can happen, it’s going to happen over the course of a season. There’s going to be sometimes [when] one group might have to play at a higher level or end up playing a higher level than the next group, but everyone feels like we’re in this together, we can carry one another, and that’s the sense that you get with our team. That has to do with having high character guys who are very good players as well, but just high character individuals.
Q: Leslie, what happened on the second O.J. Howard touchdown when he was running down the sideline?
A: We had a coverage that we thought we should be pretty good in. They ran a crossing route, we got our eyes in a bad place, and we end up losing sight of- it was a trick play by them, and it was a good play, a really good play. A good call where the tight end just kind of leaks out behind the line of scrimmage when they, you know, roll everybody away. We took our eyes off our coverage and we end up giving up a big play.
Q: Leslie, how has Matt Milano’s play stacked up to maybe your expectations when he got thrust into filling in for Ramon [Humber]?
A: Man, Matt has really done a heck of a job. Yesterday to come up with the interception, had a couple tackles for losses, [there are] obviously some things that he needs to clean up as he goes forward, but for a rookie to come in and step in and play the way he has, it’s really been encouraging for us. He ended up getting the game ball yesterday for that pick in the two-minute drive and the tackles for losses that he had. That tells you, as a rookie coming in and stepping up and playing the way he has, that we’re all recognizing it and we’re encouraged by it. He’s worked hard in the time that he’s been here, he spends time away from the building working on his craft and it’s showing up in his play.
Q: What have you seen from the defensive tackles position after looking at the film?
A: [I] was really encouraged by Marcell’s [Dareus] play. He stepped up, gave us some inside rush, did a really good job in the run game, separating and getting his hand off of blocks and Kyle [Williams] was his usual; was solid throughout, played a really good game for us. Adolphus [Washington] came in and did a good job for us, and then having Jerel Worthy up this week, he was a factor as well. I thought our tackles played well enough for us to get them in a situation where we thought if we tried, we’d get them to throw it 35, 40 times, [which] they did, they got some yards, but we didn’t want them to be a balanced offense. We wanted them to have to throw the ball a lot to win the game. I thought the way our defensive tackles played, our front in general played, did a good job of limiting their run game to what I think they averaged 2.8 yards a carry, which gives us a chance as an overall defense.
Q: How did Marcell’s play compare to his last couple of games?
A: He really played the way we need him to play yesterday. Just a great effort, as I mentioned, just solid when it comes to pass rush, did a great job in the run game using his hands, separating off of blocks. It was all the things- and he had that type of week at practice too, he had a really good week of practice. We all could see that he was headed in the right direction, and it showed up in the game. I’m sure when Oakland takes a look at it on tape, they’re going to be mindful of it. Just really good, really good job by him [in] the way he prepared throughout the week and then what he did yesterday in the game.
Q: Coach, Jordan [Poyer] and Micah [Hyde] have pretty much played every snap, I think, at safety this year. Now, we might be down Jordan, we’ll see where that goes obviously throughout the week, but just even in general, the depth at safety: who would be the next man up, I guess, and how do you feel confident with guys who haven’t really played much this year there?
A: Yeah, right now Trae Elston would probably be the next guy up, but we’ll see as the week goes on. Those other guys haven’t had a snap, you’re right. Jordan and Micah, they’ve taken every rep at the position, but if one of those guys have to play, someone else has to play. I think they’ll step up and they’ll play well for us. We’ll do what we have to do to get them prepared, and give them a chance to go out and compete. Our players understand that injuries could happen, and it’s next man up mentality. The next guy up will go out and compete and make plays for us.
Q: What was going through your mind on that last play of the game?
A: Oh man, make the tackle, somebody get him on the ground. I mean, that’s one of those plays, we’ve all seen it, where they lateral the ball forever and just about trying to get them on the ground. I remember watching a game, you guys may have seen it, that Miami-Pittsburgh game a few years ago when Antonio Brown went down the sideline on one of those lateral plays and he ended up stepping out of bounds, but he scored, and they weren’t sure if he scored or not. All kind of things go through your mind, but fortunate for us, we ended the game on that play, which is good.
Q: Do you practice those at all?
A: We do, we do. We go through it and we have certain defenses we want to play, but you can’t tackle. You know, you just get in position, you [are] just talking to everybody about spreading out and creating a net for the defense so the ball goes left and right. You know, you’re not getting everybody to one side versus staying spread out, but eventually you’ve got to tackle them, but we can’t tackle in practice.
Q: Is the point to hold back or is it to try to get up there and stop them?
A: Well, the guys on the front, they can get up and try and tackle, but the guys on the backend, they’ve got to stay wide and everything inside and in front and not get sucked up or pulled to one side and leave the other side open, that creates problems as they throw it across the field. We can talk about it, we can’t actually execute it in practice, but we do talk about it, we do walk through it, just can’t tackle.
Q: You practice recovering fumbles during the week and Preston [Brown] was kind of kicking himself for not picking that one up, but how much do you guys practice it? It seems like you guys are very opportunistic in that regard.
A: We practice it a lot, daily. Intercepting balls and scooping balls, punching balls out, we do it daily. We talk about it all the time, but we don’t want to just pay – service, we want to go out and practice it. So we do, we practice it.
Q: What’s the technique of recovering a fumble when the ball bounces funny?
A: You’re right, ball is shaped different, so it’s not easy to pick up when it’s moving, especially as evidenced by what happened with Preston yesterday. We teach them to put their thumbs down and try to scoop the football and cradle it to the body. Preston was trying to do that, but it was bouncing and was a little more difficult. Fortunate for us, we covered it. Would’ve loved to see him scoop it and take it down the sideline though.
* * *
Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison
Q: Tyrod [Taylor] has said after self-scouting himself through the bye, he felt that some of the negative plays you referenced were on him. Obviously, he took off and ran a little bit more yesterday, I know it’s not scripted, but it really seems to throw defenses for a loop when he’s out there making a couple of runs early or converting a couple of first downs with his legs on third down. How do you strike a balance there so he knows that he has the freedom to do that, but at the same time, get what you want to get out of him?
A: It’s the same timing that we talk about on most of the throws, if not all of the throws. His feet, he starts taking a couple of hitches, and he has to make a decision with the ball, so we tell him [to] carry it through one, two hitches, then after that, you either check the ball down or get out. I think he’s done a good job with that, he understands that [it’s] timing. Certainly, he’s athletic enough to get out into space, and he did a good job escaping a couple of spies yesterday. They did a nice job of trying to keep one guy, to keep him in the pocket, but he was able to avoid.
Q: Don’t you almost like it when it’s on tape now, that he can beat a spy, that really has to confound some defensive coordinators, right?
A: I don’t really look that far into it, I’m just making sure we get first downs and keep moving the ball. It’s good for him.
Q: You had a great third down percentage yesterday, what was the key on those third downs?
A: Well obviously, he [Tyrod Taylor] converted it, but then he stuck within the scheme. The first time, he held with his progressions, took his two hitches and got [it] to Jordan [Matthews]. We ran the ball on some of the third downs, we did a good job converting on those. It’s an equal balance of running and throwing, and keeping within the scheme. Obviously, Taiwan [Jones] came in and made a big third down at the end of the game, with a little bit [of a] different play. Just mixing it up, making sure that we keep a good balance.
Q: What do you make of the instant chemistry, between Tyrod and Deonte [Thompson]? And not instant, obviously they know each other, but still the four practices [days] leading up to this?
A: Well I think their history goes, just like you said, before, but D.T.’s had experience in the league. He’s had some experience when we had him just a little bit in Baltimore. He knows the depth of routes and what’s expected, and they did a good job. I think, in general, everybody was in the right spot yesterday, we didn’t have many mistakes, we tried to focus on what we do well and tried to do that based on our self-scout.
Q: How reassuring was it to, after failing against Cincinnati and also Carolina, to come back in the clutch and to produce the way you guys did, to drive down the field and play a big contributing role in that win?
A: Well I think that’s our job and we expect to do it every time. Be that as it may, whether we do or don’t, we expect to go out there and do it every time, that’s what we practice. Coach McDermott has had us practice quite a bit, and we’re out there to operate, so they did a good job.
Q: How would you summarize the adjustments that you made during the bye week to the blocking scheme in the running game?
A: Basically, what we said was, [after] looking at stats, not just stats, but also our scheme, and what we’re asking our players to do, this is what we need to focus on. That’s what we did, whether it was zone gap, or the quarterback stuff. [What] We tried to do and narrow it down to exactly what we thought was best for our guys and our team. I think that’s what we isolated on them, between Juan [Castillo] and I.
Q: How much input were you receiving from players [on the scheme] from the first five weeks of the season?
A: Obviously, you always want to know what they think. We had some discussions, don’t know how far I want to go into that, but we had some discussions. [We’ll] make sure we’re comfortable with that. I think everybody [being] on the same page, that’s the key. The look in their eyes yesterday, they were determined to win that game.
Q: I know he probably doesn’t have it all down just yet, but just the maturation of Logan Thomas, in that position? Up until last year, it was brand-spanking new to him?
A: Obviously, he’s made some great strides. I think the biggest thing is he’s getting more confident in what he’s doing. I think he’s obviously a talented guy. Now, spatial awareness as a tight end as opposed to quarterback is a little bit different. Bodies around you all the time, you have to mix and match with those bodies. He’s done a very good job as far as being confident and being in the space of a tight end; how to deal with defensive ends, how to deal with linebackers, he’s done a nice job with all of that.
Q: When Dion [Dawkins] went in to left guard, the play Richie [Incognito] was out, was that a planned spot for him, or did he just kind of run out there and you guys had to mix and match it?
A: If you notice, Richie went out, and Ryan’s [Groy] our substitute, but he was an eligible receiver the play before, so he cannot be an ineligible [player]. But certainly, Dion’s experience and his talent allows him to play different places. That’s great for us, the more versatility you have, that’s what we ask our wideouts to do, that’s what we ask our tight ends to do, and certainly that’s the same thing as a lineman. If he understands the scheme, we can put him in there. He was very successful, obviously, that was a big play for us.
Q: In that play, with both of those guys getting out and leading the convoy, does that make you even say ‘hmm that’s something we can look at?’
A: We’ll worry about that, we’re just happy that it worked out for us.
Q: It’s been a bit of a weekly discussion, but where do things stand with Zay Jones and his development at this point?
A: Well he made some plays yesterday, had an opportunity to make a couple more. I think the same with everybody out there, the more experience they get, [the better]. I tell you what, you watch, there’s not a play he’s not busting his tail, and the same with practice, he’s busting his tail, and he’s doing a good job. We’ll get things going, obviously, we add D.T., move some guys around and keep working, trying to get the best 11 out there every snap.
Q: So if he’s working so hard, and obviously the talent is there, what do you think is missing there to bridge the gap between talent or work and the production?
A: Just time, and he’ll produce. He made some plays, and he’ll make more. We keep hanging [with] him in there, and he will continue to work at it.
Q: What led you to decide to put in some of that QB-driven running game?
A: Well we’ve been doing it off and on, maybe not as much, maybe [in] not the biggest variety. Having a couple of extra days to work on some of those things through the bye week helped us to do that. But there’s nothing that we did, I think there was one play that we kind of made up during the week last year. Everything else is basically in the playbook that we’ve been working on, different formations and what not, but there was really everything that we’ve done from training camp, it’s just a matter of running them in the game and installing them through the week.
Q: Was it your intention after the Bucs appeared to grab momentum with that touchdown, to be aggressive and take that shot downfield right away, to try and blunt what they were doing?
A: I think you try to be aggressive all the time. It’s a mix and match, whether you’re going to control the game, control the ball running it, or taking a shot down the field. Tyrod and I had talked about that play for a couple of series, we have a chance on this because of the coverage they were playing, it just happened to [be] ‘hey, let’s go out and give that one a shot.’ They did a god job, good throw, great catch.
Q: Would you describe a little bit more as you mentioned right there, you spoke to Tyrod, and as John had said, things started to go Tampa’s way, can you just describe how Tyrod reacted to LeSean’s [McCoy] fumble, you guys end up being down, where was his mindset?
A: His mindset was on winning the game, completely. When LeSean fumbled, that’s one of those things. He’s done a good job of taking care of the football, Tyrod was the first one to go over and tell him, look we’re going to count on you making another play. You have to learn from that, move on, came down and sat down, we’re just going to have to move the ball between that series. Then right before, we had talked about, and like I said, the play that we had run, I said how do you feel about that one, how do you feel about this one, he said I don’t like that one let’s try this one. There’s always been a great interchange between he and I, about what’s going on next, what he feels about a certain play, and he’s been very honest with me. He didn’t like one play I really liked, he said ‘nah, I don’t feel good about that,’ I said alright, if you don’t feel good about it, we’ll move on and go to the next one.
Q: Does that help that you are on the sidelines with him, because I know you experimented being up top, that interaction, do you need that?
A: I think I do right now. I’m still wondering week-to-week. Maybe if it gets cold, I’ll want to be upstairs (joking). No, I’m playing it game-by-game really, but he told me after the first game or going into the first game, he’d like me to be on the sidelines. I have enjoyed that interaction because it does keep me in tune, not just with him but the rest of the guys. I go talk to lineman, talk face-to-face with Juan about where we want to go in the run game. We’ll still work with that, game-to-game situations, but right now it’s worked out really well.
Q: How much of your focus was on Gerald McCoy in this game, because you guys did a pretty good job on him, especially in the run game?
A: That’s a big focus, he’s a heck of a player. Certainly, his take off is as good as you’re going to get, so we had to make sure that our cadence wasn’t varied at times. We caught him one time, but we made the play with D.T. over on their sideline. It’s always a big focus, and our guards new that they would be challenged this week with him.
Q: With Cordy [Glenn], and I know he’s been out of the lineup for a while, with his extended amount of time as he had, your assessment?
A: I think he did well. Certainly, pass protection wise, he’s gifted with his length and size and feet, and I think he did a good job. I think we’ll keep progressing, obviously, you feel pretty secure with Dion having played as much over there. We’ll get a good balance and make sure we get the right guys out there.