Dirk Koetter: LBs Kwon Alexander and Jack Cichy Have Torn ACLs, Done for Season.

HC Dirk Koetter spoke to the media the day after the game against the Browns.

(On injuries suffered by linebackers Kwon Alexander and Jack Cichy)

“Unfortunately, the MRIs confirmed that both Kwon and Jack both have torn ACLs and will be out for the year. Unfortunate; Kwon was playing so well and he’s the heart and soul of our defense. Just very unfortunate and our locker room at halftime was extremely emotional last night. Kwon came out of the training room right about the time that we were getting ready to go back on the field, so it was emotional. You could tell that the guys really care. Kwon talked to the team there for a couple minutes right as we were going back on the field. Then Jack same things later on.”

(On if this is the same ACL Cichy tore in college)

“[No].”

(On what Alexander brings to the team)

“What the players love about Kwon and everyone that is around him is just his passion for playing football. Kwon goes hard every play and he wears his emotion on his sleeve. He’s a terrific competitor and he brings energy to our defense. We would always like guys to communicate more, but Kwon’s a talker out there. He’s the guy that’s trying to amp everybody up.”

(On linebacker Adarius Taylor stepping in for Alexander)

“Yeah that’s what we did yesterday. Adarius came in and played Mike and Lavonte [David] stayed in his same spot there at Will. We’ll get something figured out here. We’re working through that today.”

(On if he loses sight of the fact that the players don’t want to let each other down)

“I don’t know if you do, I don’t. I don’t lose sight of it at all. I can’t speak for anyone else. These guys care about each other and that’s what you would want in a teammate – someone who wouldn’t want to let their teammates down. That’s exactly what you would want, so shoot, I’m proud of those guys for that.”

(On if the timing of Alexander’s injury is disheartening)

“Absolutely. A guy’s second contract is big. Terrible timing as far as that goes. I also think that good football player in this league are always going to get rewarded. Guys are coming back faster than ever before. Guys have overcome this, but it doesn’t make it any easier what Kwon’s about to go through. You feel bad for a guy like that – a guy that’s done what he’s supposed to do. You‘ve just got to hope for a happy ending and I think good football players will always get what they deserve.”

(On if the Buccaneers have an advantage in following his progress at least into March)

“I haven’t thought about that for one second. I don’t know.”

(On what stands out to him from quarterback Jameis Winston’s two interceptions)

“The first one in the first half – they were in zone coverage. The linebacker took a deep drop and Jameis [needs to] get off that and go somewhere else with the ball. That goes in the bad read category. The second one they were in man coverage. We actually checked to a man route and we had another receiver run the wrong route and actually Jameis was trying to throw it to Chris Godwin who had beaten his man by about five yards and the guy who was running the wrong route took his man right into the throw. That’s one of those ones that the quarterback get the blame for because he’s the guy throwing the pass, but there’s usually other things at work there and there was on that play.”

(On if Winston could’ve protected the ball better on his fumble)

“The defensive end got a great jump on that play. He timed the count perfect. First of all, that guy’s a good football player too. First pick of the draft and Donovan [Smith] played pretty well against him for most of the day. He got a little jump on Donovan on that play. Donovan tried to run him around the horn. The only thing Jameis could possibly do is step up there to step up into the pocket, but Jameis I don’t think was thinking that the guy was that close to him and he got a hand on the ball right as he was throwing, as you said. No turnovers are good. I think you also have to give Cleveland a little bit of credit on that play.”

(On the stops in the red zone)

“First off, that Lavonte play it was somewhat easy to see, but I don’t know if you can appreciate how good of a play that was. When {Baker Mayfield] broke out of there, not only did it look from where I was standing that he was going to get the first down, but like he might score. When you really see it on tape on the end zone shot, the fact that Lavonte tomahawked him and got that ball out and it went out behind, that was a heck of a play by Lavonte. The second one, we had been switching personnel and I was actually thinking about using a timeout there because we were a little bit out of kilter there when they were trying to go fast. They ran that sneak on fourth down and the one thing about those sneaks nowadays is since the let the running back come up and push, it’s next to impossible to stop it. Again, when you look at the end zone copy of that, we just got a really good charge from our inside guys and our outside linebackers really did a good job of squeezing that down. And then Adarius was one of the guys in the middle of that. We did a good job of not letting them push the pile which is tough to do. That was a huge stop.”

(On linebacker Lavonte David being one of the top linebackers in the NFL and not getting as much attention)

“I know how good he is and I appreciate it, but I just think 4-3 outside linebackers are just – that’s just kind of the way it is. You’re rewarded for sacks in this league, that’s why the pass rush guys, the guys who get the sacks in 3-4 defense outside linebackers are going to get a little bit more notoriety. I think everyone on our team appreciates what Lavonte does and that’s just the way it is. I don’t really know how to answer any more than that.”

(On how tough it is to play more snaps than average)

“It was really tough because even thought we had a little breeze and it seemed a little cooler yesterday, when that breeze wasn’t blowing, it was hot. I thought we were lethargic in the second half on offense. I think we were tired, but we always think even though the defense can substitute that their hurting just as bad as we are. Defense they’re not really subbing their corners. They’re subbing some positions, but their linebackers are playing every play. I thought we did get a little bit tired on offense and I did think it hurt us, but I also don’t think that’s a very good excuse.”

(On if the Browns ran up the middle in order to expose the Buccaneers defense without Alexander)

“Luckily we had the lead. Usually when you’re in the second half and you’re behind, the inclination as a play caller is to throw the ball. They did try to run it a little bit more there I guess it was in the fourth quarter. Is that what they saw? I’m not sure if that’s what they saw, but they did have a little success running the ball. We were able to still get off the field on third down, so when you have the lead, you’ll give up some yards as long as you’re not giving up points.”

(On coverages being simplified and if defenses can thrive with simpler coverage)

“I’d say it probably depends on who your guys are. I think that you can do both. We actually tried to simply quite a bit coming out of the bye, going into Atlanta. We actually did simplify quite a bit. This week was just carry over from that. We did have a lot better coverage yesterday. We were a much tighter in our coverage. On scramble plays, we plastered better yesterday. I thought the rush and the coverage worked probably in sync the best that they have yesterday. Even though we got five sacks, we probably left some sacks out there that we could’ve had. To your question I would say the fact that we do have young inexperienced players, but I think either can work. You’re seeing some other teams that are pretty complicated having success as well too.”

(On if this past game was one of the better ones for the rookie cornerbacks)

“Sure, yeah. Definitely.”

(On if running back Peyton Barber is injured)

“We’ll be putting that injury report out on Wednesday.”

(On Ronald Jones adding another element to the running game)

“We played all three running backs approximately the same yesterday. It was about a third, a third, a third. Just the way it worked out. Peyton unfortunately had a touchdown called back. It was the same exact play that flipped over to the other side the Jones scored on later. We had the penalty on Peyton’s. Peyton was in and out of the game a couple times. He got banged up a couple different times in the game, so some of those he would’ve been in there more had he not had to come out. He had to go get checked at least once. All of our backs did some good things. We do have a lot of weapons on offense. I think Ronald is continuing to carve out a little bit of a niche. I think his progress – everybody can see that he’s making progress. The two things that he’s improved on a ton since he’s been here is catching the football and in pass protection. He’s a stout guy when he steps up there. The last two weeks he’s done a good job of running the football and he’s made a couple nice runs.”

(On if offensive lineman Alex Cappa is getting closer to being active on a Sunday)

“We’re always going to dress the guys we think give us the best chance, but I think Alex is making adequate progress. Once you get in the season and you get into your rotation, the guys that aren’t active or the guys that are on your practice squad, their chance to improve and show their progress is during Wednesday, Thursday and Friday practice and Alex is doing that.”

(On if why he thinks the team hasn’t found success in the running game)

“Not being on the same page. When you ID a run and you don’t have everybody blocking the same way, that makes it tough – that makes it tough to run the ball efficiently and that happened too often to us yesterday.”

(On if the team could have ‘salted the game away’ with a better running game)

“I think we could’ve salted that game away with two minutes and 47 second to go in the second quarter. We’re up two touchdowns, we’re across the 50-[yard line] and we throw an interception. I think we score on that drive – ball game over in my opinion. We can point to whatever we want here. We can point to this play, that play – that’s my opinion. We’re in two-minute offense at the end of the second quarter with a two-touchdown lead. If you go up three touchdowns, seems like you have a pretty good chance.”

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