WEEK 6: BUCCANEERS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Lovie Smith
On his impression of the Ravens' defense:"They're a good football team – a good defensive football team, like they've been for many years. From the same things you see, [they have a] good front seven; tough against the run; play hard every down; a secondary that can match up well. [They are] just a good all-around defense."
On why he split the nickel cornerbacks into a separate position group this season:"Oh no, not just this year. The last six, seven years, that's how we've done it. I just think [with] the nickel position now, a lot of teams use a third receiver as much as anything, and we ask the nickel position to do unique things. He's part-linebacker, part-safety [and] part-corner. We've had a specific coach that's coached them the last seven years or so. Just like the tight end position, a lot of times there's one tight end [and] there's one coach. We look at the nickel position the same way."
On if the players have responded well to that philosophy at nickel:"Yes, it's a non-issue, really, with them. It's another position, another position coach, another position group, and many more to that."
On how impressed he is with CB Jimmy Smith's development:"He was a good player coming out of college. [When you are] picked that high, you expect him to come in and be a force in the league. I've seen marked improvement yearly from him. He's a good football player."
On what Tampa Bay's biggest challenge will be facing Baltimore:"Handling the front seven [will be a challenge], starting off with that. From the outside 'backers [to] the inside players, it's tough to run on them. We would like to run the football, so that presents challenges for us. On the offensive side of the football, there's a commitment to the run. I think the offensive line is playing good ball, especially Jeremy Zuttah – a player that was here for many years. But to us, we need to be able to stop the run [defensively] and try not to let them get where they can run the football and pass the ball. Steve Smith … Steve Smith Sr., I guess I should say, has been a great player for a lot of years in our league. It seems like despite every year I've been coaching with one team or another, he's been on the other side of the ball, and he's just been a special player in the league for a long time. [Baltimore can] create a lot of problems on both sides of the football."
On where he's seen his team make the most improvement over the last couple of weeks:"I think just overall play in general. Three weeks ago when we were blown out in Atlanta, we had some players out, but [we] just didn't play [as expected]. We're a new program starting up and finding out exactly who we are, and we just didn't play good across the board. [With] both of our losses, you can look to the turnover ratio, like it is with most teams. The last few weeks, though, our running game has gotten better, we've gotten really good play from our quarterback position from Mike Glennon, and our receivers are catching the ball. On exactly who we want to be offensively, that's more of what we've seen the last couple weeks. On the defensive side of the football, we've gotten takeaways lately. Of course, [we had] a big one against the Steelers early. And of course this past week, we were able to score another touchdown [on an interception]. Taking the ball away on the defensive side and just maintaining drives on the offensive side [are areas where we have improved]."
On what it means to have a "balanced offense":"Well, generally speaking, you get in every game, and then you see exactly what you need to do, but you don't know for sure what you might have to lean on in any given game. That's why you need to have [the] balance to be able to pass the ball if you need to win the game, and be able to run the ball if you need to do it that way. But I think it always starts with the commitment, though. We're committed to being a running football team. A lot of times by the commitment, you just look at the amount of rushes you had on the offensive side of the ball. So it starts with that, and then, of course, your game plan, and then you adjust during the game."
On if he will be watching WR Torrey Smith carefully:"We watch all of their players. He's a good player. He's a starter for them, so we're keeping track of what he's doing. John [Harbaugh] could talk more about that. We're preparing for the wide receiver position, and [we] know that there will be a good player there."
On how pleased he is with QB Mike Glennon's play the last couple weeks:"Very pleased. He's played good football for us. He was ready. For players that aren't in the starting lineup early on, we tell them to be ready. You never know when you're one play away; some players take that to heart. They prepare each week like they're going to have to play the entire game, even if they're not starting. That's what Mike has done. We have a good quarterback room. Josh McCown has been great showing leadership to some of our younger players like Mike. Mike answered the call, and he's put together two very good football games. Last week, we saw improvement from the Pittsburgh game. [I'm] anxious to see him continue to play."
QB Mike Glennon
On Lovie Smith's "players' coach" reputation:"Yeah, I think it does [exist]. The players have responded extremely well to him. He knows how to get through to the players without saying a whole lot. I think his style of coaching has been effective for us, and guys are happy with him. I think, overall, we're pleased with him as a coach."
On how impressed he is with CB Jimmy Smith:"He's a good player. He's real big. He's bigger than most corners are in this league, and he's real physical. He'll go up and jam you, and he makes it hard on the receivers to get open. He's doing a really good job, as are the guys up front creating [pressure]. A lot of that has to go to the defensive linemen for creating a lot of pressure on the quarterback [and] not giving a clean pocket to throw the ball. They have a real talented group on defense. They have players all across the board who are some of the top players in the NFL."
On how RB Bobby Rainey is an all-purpose threat: "He's been a huge pickup for us. Starting last year and going into this year, he's done a great job on all aspects. Whatever we ask him to do, he's always performing and executing well – whether it's running the ball; he's great in pass protection; and he's a really smart back. He's so small and crafty that guys have a hard time bringing him down. We're lucky to have him. We have a great group of running backs with him, Doug [Martin] and Mike James. We're real happy with our running back group."
On rookie LB C.J. Mosley's ability to make plays:"Obviously, [he is] a high draft pick. He's done a great job for them right out of the gate, and I'm sure he's going to continue to develop throughout the course of the year as he gets more and more comfortable in that defense. Already, just through a couple games, he's making a lot of plays. He just has a knack for the ball, and he's doing a real good job for them."
On how the team has improved in an effort to turn around its season:"I just think we've been executing our systems better. From an offensive standpoint, we're doing better – running, throwing, just executing our offense. In the past, we were kind of getting down early and then rallying back. And then our defense – I can't speak for them as much – but from what I see, they're playing better [and] creating turnovers. That's a huge part of the game, both in the Steelers game and this past game. They had a turnover against the Steelers that got us the ball on the 10-yard line, and then this week we had a pick-6. Anytime the defense is creating that many turnovers, it really helps the team out."
On where he feels he's improved and can still improve:"I think I've gotten better just being more comfortable out there. [It's] my second go-around now, [so] it's not new to me. I can draw from a lot of experiences that I've had in the past, and [I am] a more comfortable and confident quarterback back there than I was last year. What I can work on? I think there's always room for improvement – be more accurate; make better decisions; don't miss any throws. I think there's always going to be room for that as I continue to grow as a quarterback."
On what he believes a "balanced offense" is:"I think if you're aiming to be balanced, you probably want to have 125 yards rushing and 275 yards passing or so. That'd be probably a coordinator's dream right there. Everyone wants to be balanced, but given every week, sometimes it may not turn out that way. Whatever the situation may be, whether it's the defense giving you certain things or the score – you might have to throw more to get back in a game – or you might have a big lead and run the ball more. Any given week it can change, but I think every offense would like to be balanced, because it keeps the defense unbalanced, really, because they don't know what to expect."
On the biggest challenge the Ravens present:"They're a real physical group. They're big, they're strong, and we're going to have to be physical with them as well. We're going to have to be strong in our run game and do a great job protecting in the pass game, because those guys up front and at the linebacker level are big [and] strong. That's the style of play they like. They like to be physical. I think that will be a big part of this week."