Buccaneers Coaches Speak About How This Draft Class Will Help in 2022 and Beyond

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Via Sports Talk Florida
Special to Bucs Report

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made some of their positional coaches available to the media recently. The questions were predominantly about this year’s draft and free agent class and how they fit with the team.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR KEITH ARMSTRONG

(On drafting P Jake Camarda and what he likes)

“I think a lot of good punters go in the fourth – Penn State kid going before him (Jordan Stout). Obviously, we like him, think he’s a good player. I like some of his intangibles. For example, he’s a really good baseball player. I’ve always judged guys [by] what have they done in other sports. For example, Matt Bryant. Matt Bryant was a really good catcher. He was a baseball player, and a really good catcher. He had some extra stuff to him. He’s a tougher kid than most kickers. Matt Bosher, I did my research on Matt Bosher before we drafted him in Atlanta. And Matt Bosher was getting in fist fights in the locker room at the University of Miami with the linebackers. You see what I’m saying? Not with the specialist, with the linebackers. There’s something to this kid. He [has] some toughness. He’s a hell of an athlete, great hands, so it allows him to become a holder. He directional punts already, he can place the ball. So, he’s putting the ball outside the numbers – that’s the way you’re going to punt in this league. As a kickoff guy, he has a tremendous leg – does a really good job with that. And there’s still some room for him to develop, but I love all those things about him. Athletically, what he brings as a competitor and then also just him as a person in terms of his mental toughness, which shows up in other areas.”

(On P Jake Camarda’s 4.5-second 40-yard-time)

“Athlete – fast leg. There’s a lot of things you can do with him. He can throw. He obviously can run. I mean there’s a lot you can do with him.”

(On if WR Jaelon Darden is locked in as a returner)

“I think we have to take another chance with Jaelon and take a look at him. I like him as a returner. I know he had the big punt return against Chicago. I think it was for 43-yards. I think we can get that to happen more often. We have to do a better job of blocking for him.”

(On what disappointed him last season and areas special teams can improve)

“No blocked kicks, right? No returns for touchdowns. But the point is let’s get as many tackles inside the 20 on kickoff as we can. Let’s hold the punt returner to four yards or less per return. [On] punt return, let’s average 10 yards, so on a bad play, it’s a 10-yard return. On the kickoff return, let’s average 25 yards. Let’s at least get the drive started. It’s not the return yards on kickoff returns as much as it is the drive start, but let’s get the drive start to 27, 28 yard line on average, which means you’ve had some explosive plays. I think we have to get better in that regard, where we’re consistent. I want to get to where we’re getting after people, we’re coming after them, and we’re working towards that point. Now when you talk about having a gunner, a corner that can come in and play gunner, we have a couple guys on the roster that have done it, so let’s see what they can do here. You’re starting to build some pieces. You have a couple linebackers that can run, they like to go run and hit, but I want to continue to build upon that. Let’s go after some people and now you can start having some fun.”

PASS GAME COORDINATOR/INSIDE LINEBACKERS COACH LARRY FOOTE

(On splitting up day-to-day coordinator duties with Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers during game weeks)

“Probably during the week, I’ll handle more of the back-end stuff. A lot of time when we get into the passing situations, the [defensive] line will split from the back-end. So, I just handle that.”

(On how much he has enjoyed transitioning from coaching outside to inside linebackers)

“I like that – I played it. Then when I started coaching, I was coaching inside [linebackers]. I was playing with my wife the other day, ‘there’s a lot more work inside as far as making calls and more technique as far as in the passing game.’ The outside guys are a little easier, little easier. The days are a little shorter.”

(On continuing to groom LB Devin White)

“Well, it’s the NBA playoffs. Sometimes in basketball, you hear, ‘Let the game come to you.’ Playing linebacker, sometimes you want to make more plays and that will get you in trouble sometimes. He’s just got to calm down. I always remind him, ‘You’ve got the goods.’ He’s not a slow linebacker like I was. He’s going to make his plays, he’s just got to trust the defense. Sometimes, you might have a quiet game – it might be a couple of games. You’ve got to stick to the process. He’s going to make his plays. You just stay healthy and play 17 games – you’re going to make a ton of plays.”

RUN GAME COORDINATOR/DEFENSIVE LINE COACH KACY RODGERS

(On the addition of DL Logan Hall)

“When we start looking at measurables and what we would consider 3-4 prototype measurables, he is 6-foot-6, 285-290 [pounds with a] sub-five flat 40 [yard dash]. Those are ideal 3-4 measurables. Really, if you look across the board since we’ve been here, we’ve been a prototype team in terms of height, weight and speed. Then you throw in the fact that this guy is extremely athletic, and as he progressed in his career, he really started rushing the passer pretty [well]. Mix all of that together and we thought [he brings] an element that would really help us.”

(On his promotion to co-defensive coordinator)

“One, I was super excited and honored to be promoted. As we looked at everything and talked about everything, we really felt like a lot of stuff would stay kind of the same because of the timing and everything. The opportunity to keep coaching the front and be a part of the decision-making, working with [Larry] Foote and stuff – it was just a tremendous honor.”

(On who he expects to step up as the leaders of the defense this season)

“From the outside, I would say Shaq [Barrett], who is a steady player for us. He really would have to step up into that role on the outside, with [Anthony] Nelson, Joe [Tryon-Shoyinka] and Cam [Gill] being younger. Inside, Vita [Vea] would have to step up and assume the role, which he should. He comes to work every day, he’s here, he knows what we have to do and what we have to get done. Through attrition, Vita should step into the role up front. Then we still have two leaders at linebacker, so it will be by committee, but those guys would have big shoes to fill.”

(On the ceiling for NT Vita Vea as a pass rusher)

“I give him a hard time because I’m going into my 20th season coaching in this league – a lot of them spent up front – and he’s probably the biggest guy that plays third down in the history of the NFL. So, the thing is with 4.5 sacks – with his talent level, it should have easily been eight. As we went through our cut-ups some in the offseason and talking with him, there are some things we’ve got to improve, but 4.0 [sacks] should be a baseline. He should get more than that because we are leaving him out there on third down and he has the talent to do it.”

(On where Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles has changed the most from his time as the head coach of the New York Jets)

“Well, being with him there and watching the growth, I think the biggest thing is the learning curve from this and that – being a head coach for the first time in New York. In year one, we had a really, really good team. Then once the roster changed, you start going through those [challenges] and it became a tough situation. You have to be resilient and keep it rolling. To see the transformation until now and seeing the growth in him, but the thing about him is he’s the same guy every day. But just to see the growth in him being more in front of the team and everything. This time I think he really knows what he wants to do and how to do it.”

SAFETIES COACH NICK RAPONE

(On the additions of safeties Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal)

“The two additions – when you have two guys that have played in the league and have done a pretty good job of playing in the league [and] after losing Jordan [Whitehead], we just felt we needed to bring somebody in that has played in the league and has had some production in the league. We’ll look at Neal at strong safety and we’ll look at Logan at free safety and a little bit of nickel.”

(On S Antoine Winfield Jr.)

“I think Antoine [Winfield Jr.] just gets better and better. That’s the type of kid he is because of his father and his background. He’s just a blue-collar guy. The one thing with Winfield where I challenged him this year is – run-support wise, you’re beautiful –  and you’re beautiful in a lot of areas – let’s start getting six and seven interceptions a year. Let’s make that the next step where you’re going to get six or seven interceptions. The real good players and the best players love to get challenged. So that’s the challenge this year – let’s get six and seven interceptions. We know you can blitz, we know you can tackle. We know you can pass-defend – let’s get the football a little more.”

(On CB Zyon McCollum)

“He played for [Sam Houston State head coach] K.C. Keeler, who I coached for seven years. K.C. gave nothing but great reviews on the young man – just nothing but great reviews. A real good person, he’ll be a sponge, [and an] excellent athlete. I think when you get kids from college to the NFL, the biggest difference is [that] the wide receivers are all pretty darn good. So, you’ve got to start to use more technique instead of pure, innate speed at this level. K.C. said he was a really great football player, so we’ll see.”

CORNERBACKS COACH KEVIN ROSS

(On which areas he would like to see improvement in for cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting)

“I just like to see improvement every year. I think they’re on the right track – their mindset is really great. We still have goals of trying to get those guys to be All-Pro players and trying to get those guys in that mindset. We always want to lead [the league] in takeaways on defense, and they’re a big part of it.”

(On the addition of rookie CB Zyon McCollum to the cornerback room)

“He has excellent size, speed [and] good change of direction. He seems to be a very smart player and he fits into our scheme and how we do things here, so he should be a good fit for us.”

(On how far CB Carlton Davis III is from becoming an All-Pro caliber player)

“He’s not far at all. If Carlton would have caught half the balls he dropped last year, he would’ve been an All-Pro. That’s why he got rewarded by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first place because he’s very capable of doing that. He just needs to focus on the ball and finish, and he will be fine.”

(On the advantage of his cornerbacks getting to go up against wide receivers like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin)

“Well, they’re both All-Pros, so you’re not going to face anything better. You’re not going to face anything more physical than Chris or Mike. That’s good for us. It’s always good to have a big guy and a small guy – these body-type guys that these guys get a chance to practice against makes them better for game situations.”

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS COACH BOB SANDERS

(On coming back to coaching)

“I think once it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood and it’s hard to get out. When you have an opportunity, it was originally with Bruce [Arians] but now with Todd [Bowles], Kacy [Rodgers], and Larry Foote. I’ve worked with [mostly] everyone on staff at one stop or another along the way. Florida is a great place. Tampa has a great tradition as of recent, and just to get back involved with great people. And now Todd, who I’m so grateful for the opportunity to come back and have the opportunity to share and be a part [of this]. I’m excited about that.”

(On how OLB Shaquil Barrett can improve)

“He’s definitely an excellent, excellent player. He’s a great person too. He has a great work ethic. He’s coachable – he’s in the room, he’s listening. I think everybody – on all levels – every single year you want to get better fundamentally to do the little things. I’ve tried to tweak as much as I could just watching the tape, and I try not to tell him anything I cannot prove by tape and he’s been very receptive because he’s a coachable guy. He’s a leader. Like I said, his work ethic, not only on the field but in the classroom has been good. I think he’s in for another big year – I really do.”

(On what OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka needs to do to have success in a bigger role)

“He’s just experienced a lot of it, and actually learning some of the things that work. I tried to put together some things of like-bodied players that he can see that have been successful in the league – the fundamentals that work. I don’t think you can coach him the same way you do [Anthony] Nelson, or the same way you do Shaq [Barrett]. Everybody is different. The fundamentals are the same, but everybody is different. Again, I think with Joe, a lot of it is mindset too. Just angles and understanding what his advantages are and hopefully be able to look at an offensive lineman and see what their weaknesses are. So that’s what I’ve tried to work in the offseason with Joe – mainly some mental things. And because he has tremendous talent. He’s a tremendously talented individual, so trying to take those things and make him a better player.”

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