Dirk Koetter: Gerald McCoy Sets Example for Other Players

Head Coach Dirk Koetter spoke to the media on Wednesday during Week 17

(On the injury status of wide receiver DeSean Jackson)

“He got stepped on in the game. We’ve just got to see how it goes this week.”

(On if any tests were done on Jackson)

“Yeah, they followed up with all the stuff. They do that with everybody. No matter how minor it might seem, they’re checking on all of it.”

(On defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul battling through injuries)

“I’d say he set the tone for our team. He set the bar extremely hard for everybody else. All the guys that have played significant time are hurting this time of year. They’ve got different aches and pains. JPP probably has four different things that could keep him out on their own. He’s set the bar very high for everybody else.”

(On if he knows wide receiver Mike Evans is close to breaking the single-season franchise receiving record)

“I do know that, yes, I do know that. Nelson [Luis] and his staff put out different stuff every week, so yeah I am aware of it.”

(On if he thinks Evans will be able to break the record)

“It depends on what it is and how away it is. I think there’s decent chance we can get this one.”

(On what he sees from the Falcons)

“It’s well-documented even way back when we played them the first time, they got hit pretty hard on defense with injuries. They lost two really good players at safety. Lost their middle linebacker and they’ve had a lot of other guys in and out of the lineup. Losing Freeman, their running back. Running back on offense, they’ve had some shake-up in their offense line and then kind of the middle of the back end of their defense. They played a lot of guys this year and they’ve kind of got it righted right now. They’re coming off two wins back-to-back. They went up there and got beat at Green Bay a couple weeks ago, then coming off two wins. The one thing that’s remained pretty constant though is their passing game. Their passing game with Matt [Ryan], that wide receiver group and then the tight end [Austin] Hooper has had a good season for them. [Tevin] Coleman as a runner has done a good job for them. They play a lot of guys on defense – partly due to injuries and partly due because they sub a lot of guys depending if they’re in base defense or nickel defense. They’ve still got speed pass rushers. [Deion] Jones back now in the middle I think has really solidified their defense here the last few weeks. I think this is his fourth game back.”

(On if he thinks about what would’ve happened with the defense if he would’ve made the change at defensive coordinator sooner)

“No. I don’t.”

(On if he doesn’t think about that because there’s nothing he can do about it)

“If you had it that way, then every time we had a bad game, we’d be firing somebody. I don’t think that’s the answer. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s easy to second guess that and we’d be second-guessing every decision. That’s just not how I look at it. You guys can do whatever you want, but that’s not how I look at it.”

(On the main focus being the team and giving the players the best game plan for Atlanta)

“Yeah, absolutely. I have talked to the staff about it. I’ve also talked to the players about it. This is pro football. We’re all paid to be doing a job and we’re all paid well to do our job. There shouldn’t be nobody think about anything else but putting their best foot forward. Everybody is always being evaluated. Every game you’ve got a ton of guys that are either contracts up, they’re going into free agency, guys that are on the fringe. Same thing applies to coaches. That should never be something you’re thinking about.”

(On if it ever crosses his mind to think ‘what if quarterback Jameis Winston wasn’t suspended the first three games’)

“No. What does cross my mind is what if you didn’t ask me these kind of questions – that crosses my mind. Like, what if I didn’t have to answer stuff that you know how I’m going to answer it – that crosses my mind. You can’t play the ‘what if’ game. You just asked, and I answered. I do not play the what if game, ever, because it doesn’t do any good. You can’t change what’s already done.”

(On what has led to the decrease in production of tight end Cameron Brate this season compared to last season)

“A combination of things. Number one, the emergence, the second year of O.J. Howard and the fast start with that wide receiver crew basically we said from day one we felt like we had four starters at wide receiver. Cam’s been playing hurt this whole year. He hasn’t been healthy from day one. He’s done an unbelievable job of fighting through it. He’s another guy that if you knew the amount of rehab Cam does on a weekly basis just to be able to play, it’s pretty remarkable that he’s out there playing at all. There will probably more information on that after the season’s over. I think Cam, when he gets healthy again, will return to form very quickly.”

(On if Brate is expected to have surgery)

“I’m not going to say more other than I already answered what I’m going to say.”

(On wide receiver Adam Humphries taking hard hits)

“If you see Adam, Adam’s a little bit more rocked up than you might think he is. He might be small in height compared to Mike Evans or compared to O.J. Howard, but he’s pretty rocked up. He’s a powerful guy. He has taken some hits, but for any receiver if you want more targets, guess what? You’re going to take more hits. Guys want the ball and Adam has no fear going inside for balls. That one last week, that was a route concept that Dallas sees a lot based on the coverage they play. We added to it. We ran different variations of that route concept more than once in the game the other day. The safety got a good beat on it and came up there put a lick on him. Of course, we’re trying not to put our guys in positions to take those, but this is football. Sometimes that’s going to happen.”

(On how the defensive line has done overall this season)

“The main thing that people were complaining about [last season] was the sack number. The sack number is significantly higher. The first half of the year we were strong stopping the run. We’ve fallen off in stopping the run a little, but I think we’ve got consistently good pressure. Just the way the schedule worked out in this back half of the season, we’ve run into these running quarterbacks where the ends have to be able to make plays on the edge and know the responsibility of football. Do I have dive? Do I have quarterback? Do I have pitch? That’s where Carl [Nassib] has made some nice plays. JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) we already talked about him. He’s been steady throughout the year. I think our D-line – the main thing with our D-line – we’ve mentioned this several times in here – the rotation that we envisioned being able to have when we signed all these guys, drafted Vita [Vea], that just hasn’t really worked out the way we thought. We didn’t go into the season with the intention of JPP playing 90 percent. I’m pretty sure he had the intention of playing 90 percent, but that’s not how we looked at it. All the evaluation for the season will come afterwards. Right now, we’re trying to focus on how to put our best foot forward against Atlanta.”

(On how much better the team is with the example defensive tackle Gerald McCoy sets)

“Actually, our CR (Community Relations) department does a little piece every Wednesday in the team meeting and goes over different stuff that the players do in the community. I’ll talk just about the community part first. Sometimes those things get publicized more than others. Not that it should, but all of our guys do a good job of doing things in the community. Gerald as a humanitarian and what he does with giving of his time and money in the community sets a huge example for our players. As far as on the field, this is the first year in a while since Gerald hasn’t been voted to the Pro Bowl. His play speaks for itself. Gerald’s another guy that fights through injuries a lot more that people know and could easily be on the shelf right now. He continues to fight through it. He’s right up there with JPP as far as setting the bar for our team. When it’s in the trenches like that, whether it be O-line or D-line, and we have guys on both sides. That makes it tough for anybody else to opt out for something that some guys might.”

(On if quarterback Jameis Winston is finding that balance between risk taking and playing it safe)

“We’re a vertical passing team, so we’re not basing what we do on offense on competition percentage even though overall in the league completion percentage is through the roof this year – Jameis is included for his career. We believe in throwing it down the field. Coach [Dan] Quinn said in his press conference, teams know that what we try to do. What are team going to try to do against us? They’re going to try to force us to check it down. That’s been something that has not been maybe the biggest strength of Jameis in his career where he came out of a system that also threw it down the field in college. That’s one of the reasons we thought he would be a great fit in our system here. I think that’s something that he has grown in. I put that number out there just because Dallas did do a good job of trying to take away our explosives. Even though we had a pretty good yardage number, we only had six explosives in the game. I think we’re top two or three or three in the league right now in explosives. We were top one there for a while – I’m not sure if we still are. When teams are committed to stopping our downfield throws, you’ve got to be able to take what they’re giving you and check it down.”

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