THURSDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: BUCCANEERS – WEEK 6
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
There's been a lot of talk about WR/RS Jacoby Jones' confidence. How have you seen him bounce back this week? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Jacoby is a guy who is full of spirit. I've heard people talk about his confidence, but I haven't seen any difference in his confidence in the meeting room. He's still the same Jacoby that we all love. He's practicing hard. We all want to see him catch the ball. We're on his side, and we're going to give him more opportunities to do that, because we know he's an elite returner. But to be an elite returner, you have to have a ball in your hands. We need to get that fixed, and then give him an opportunity to run with it."
Jerry, was [WR/RS Jacoby Jones' muffed punt return at Indianapolis] just a case of him getting a bad read on the ball and not coming up soon [enough]? (Jeff Zrebiec) "That's very accurate. He did get a bad read on the ball. When he got up there, he thought he had it, but he really didn't have the ball lined up and the ball was cutting away from him, and that's what happened. It hit the ground and hit him."
[When you made the] decision to put CB/RS Lardarius Webb in there to take more punts, was it just to kind of let WR/RS Jacoby Jones get his [focus back]? (Ryan Mink)"That's a good question. We actually had 'Webby' planning on taking all the punts in that area even prior to that. That wasn't a change in the game plan at all, because 'Webby' is an experienced returner [and] very sure-handed. The punter [Pat McAfee] we were facing had some balls that wiggled around back there, so our plan was to use him on that part of the field. And when we had him backed up, we were going to have Jacoby in, so it played out just that way. Jacoby just didn't get another opportunity after that."
What's the advantage of using CB/RS Lardarius Webb in that situation? (Jamison Hensley) "What we like about him is he has a lot of experience against the different kinds of punts you get. You get knuckleball punts down there, you get rugby punts, reverse spin, and 'Webby' has a lot of experience. He is very sure-handed, and we've had him in there before in the past. We'll continue to use him that way."
Is it accurate to say that more punters are using the rugby-style punt – more of a higher punt with a long hang time, but shorter [distance]? (Ryan Mink) "More punters are using that in the pooch areas. It's really taken over the league. There aren't many punters that aren't using that anymore. Now what you're seeing more and more is some guys are using that even in upfield punting situations to fight the wind or perhaps place the ball better. You're seeing that as a more common punt."
Is it also just to prevent returns? (Ryan Mink) "It can be, [but] it depends on who's punting it. Some guys can't hit that ball high enough to make them prevent [returns], but some guys can. It just depends on the skills of the guys hitting the ball."
I know you're not going to give up anything strategic, but you have all the confidence in the world still in WR/RS Jacoby Jones. It's not [sounding] like you guys are considering changes in returners. (Jeff Zrebiec) "I have all the confidence in the world in Jacoby. I look forward to the next time he has his hands on the ball, because he's really good with his hands on the ball. We have to get him to catch it, and then block well and give him an opportunity to go do what he does best."
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak
Coach, one thing that's been talked about this week is run-pass balance. What's your viewpoint on that? (Ryan Mink) "I'm all for it, I can tell you that. We had a couple games this year where the balance hasn't been there – obviously opening weekend trying to come from behind. Last weekend [was] the least amount of plays we've run in a game and least amount of time we've been on the field, and it was self-inflicted. We were poor on third down, and if you're poor on third down in this league, you're not going to get snaps and you're not going to stay on the field. I'm disappointed with last week – everything we did wasn't good enough. But we'd like to be a balanced football team, and that's not going to change. And when it gets out of whack like that, [we're] probably not happy with the results. Hopefully we can stay balanced and get back to what we want to be." Gary, just in general, is there a ratio [that distinguishes a balanced offense]? (Jeff Zrebiec)"No. Every coach in football self-scouts themselves. I look at what we do, and I look week to week what [we are] doing – certain personnel and things like that. You're trying to be as unpredictable as you can from a run-pass ratio. It gets back to being balanced naturally. There are certain situations in certain … If you put five wide [receivers] on the field, you're not going to run the ball. There are certain things that are always going to be out of whack. The best thing for our football team is to be balanced and to be unpredictable and not have to sit back there and throw it too much, because if we're doing that, we're probably in a bad situation. We're always looking for balance. I have to do a better job than I did last week with that."
Was there any thought to giving T James Hurst more help throughout [the Colts] game? (Jamison Hensley) "First off, James [is] a good, young player. He's doing a good job. We had four sacks in the game: One came on third-and-one, one came on fourth-and-one, and one was a busted protection, which was a three-step max protection. It's not like we're getting sacks on third-and-eight, third-and-nine. We have to continue to protect our quarterback, but for a young player, he's doing a good job. Do you have to help guys sometimes? Yes, I think you have to help all of them. And one way you can help them is [by running] the ball. But the kid has held up well – he's growing. To be a rookie free agent playing on the left side in this league – [there are] probably not many of them. He's done a pretty good job."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Dean, one thing you guys did a lot last week was you moved around the safeties. What's the advantage of doing that, and is that something that injuries are forcing that? (Garrett Downing) "No, not really. [It] didn't have anything to do with injuries at all. We really felt like there [are] a lot of guys that have been playing well. I don't think there's a lot of separation in all the safeties. I think they're all fairly equal. They all have certain talents. So, the truth of it is we felt like, 'Hey, they all deserve a chance to play, rather than two guys, or three guys playing every on snap.' We played them all, and we found little spots and little rolls for them, and I thought they all contributed in their own way. So, the other thing that helps you is – down the road now – if somebody gets hurt, then the guys have been out there, and they played a little bit, and then all of a sudden you're throwing them into a game in a third quarter or fourth quarter, and that's their first snap of the NFL season. But really, the biggest reason was we think they're all fairly equal, and so they all deserve a shot to play."
Dean, Lovie Smith in the past has had an own separate coach that deals with the slot cornerback, and he's kind of treated it as a different entity. He's brought that over there. Do you guys coach slot cornerbacks any differently, or is that just part of the rest of the defensive back group? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, it's a different talent, but we don't have a special coach, or we don't have somebody that specially coaches that position. We don't divide it up that way. Coach 'Spags' [Steve Spagnuolo], and coach [Chris] Hewitt … I coached secondary for 20 years, and coached all of them. In fact, when we went dime, I had the six DB. And sometimes we went quarter, and I had the seventh DB, and I coached them all. So no, we've never done that. No."
As far as with CB Lardarius Webb, if he would have to take on a starter's role – with CB Asa [Jackson] down – from what you've seen, do you think physically he can handle that many snaps at this point right now? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, right now [Lardarius Webb made] a vast improvement from in this last game compared to a couple weeks ago when we played him, and he went [and] played a couple snaps. There was a drastic change. I think we kept him out even the week after that. I can't remember exactly what game we actually played him. Was it Cleveland? Cleveland for three snaps, and then we didn't play him at Carolina. And we kept him gone, and then we said, 'Well, we probably were pushing it too much. It wasn't ready.' Then we felt like, 'OK, now he's a little more ready,' so, we played him in a role. And I think he's coming back more and more all the time. So, I feel like he's going to be back to where he was in a very short amount of time."
**In your red zone defense, has it been as good, or better, as far as what you expected coming in? *(Clifton Brown) *"Yes, you hope you're No. 1 in anything, and that's what you're always shooting for. And to be honest with you, we're disappointed we gave up the two scores we gave up – the quarterback scramble, and really, the other play the guy took his eyes off of him for a second, and he got across our face where we could have had him, then off the field on that one. So, the guys are playing hard, they're doing well down there. I think it's about what we expected. We've been a good red zone team for a long time, and I think we have a good scheme. I think we have guys that believe in that scheme, and that's half the battle. It's when they believe that they're going to get them stopped, and so far, we've been able to do that for the most part."
**If WR [Mike] Evans plays, having two big receivers, is that more of a challenge in the red zone? *(Clifton Brown) *"Well, always when you have those big guys down there, the No. 1 thing is throwing [the ball] up. I don't care what defense you're in, at some point in time it becomes a one-on-one battle. You can't, no matter what. Anytime you get those big receivers out there, that certainly is a concern. And what you have to do is you have to be able to switch it up on them out there and not be able to play the same technique with the corner all the time. Sometimes you have to be able to get him help or at least know, 'Hey, I have inside help. If the guy runs outside, I can take him. If he goes inside, you have him.' You have to be able to help the corners. It's hard to line anybody up in this day in age against these big guys, and say, 'OK, well we're going to lock this guy down in the red zone.' That ball goes up in the air, it's 50–50. It's a jump ball in basketball. Somebody is going to get it. You have to be able to change it up and give the corner a chance, I think. But yes, it makes a difference when they're big like that, absolutely."
WR Steve Smith Sr.
On his familiarity with playing Tampa Bay: "It's a team I'm familiar with over the years, but at the same time, they do have some new players. They are running a different scheme. They are establishing a new regime and who they are. So, just because of that familiarity … Also, they have some guys that they infused in there that can help them out. So, familiarity is maybe with the stadium and the lay of the land. But I think they're a different team, so you have to be a little bit cautious with that."
On whether he is looking forward to playing another NFC South team: "No, because when you go somewhere, you're like, 'Aw, man I have to see those guys!' I saw them twice a year for 13 years. But that's just how it goes." On whether he has given advice to WR Torrey Smith and WR Jacoby Jones during a rough patch: "I think when you say, 'They went through a rough patch,' it's really us [that] went through a rough patch. Each game, each year, there's always a habit that you have to fix or you have to work on. Every week there is something of a new error that somebody may have caused – a defender – so you always have to be working on something. So, a lot of the times – like this week – [it'll be about] coming back to the ball, for me, [being] strong to the tuck – little things like that you have to work on, and I think that really keeps you focused with understanding that you have to work every day. And so, what may come easy one game may be actually one of the most difficult things for the next game. So, it's always a roller coaster."