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January 15, 2014 @ 7:02 pm
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Frazier: Bucs Have Pieces In Place On Defense To Build With

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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New Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier met with the media on Wednesday at One Buc Place and talked about a number of subjects, including Jared Allen, Gerald McCoy and even Josh Freeman. Frazier also talked about his journey from being fired to being hired in Tampa Bay.
Leslie Frazier was formally introduced to the local media at One Buc Place on Wednesday and talked about his time on Minnesota, the current Bucs roster and what he expects the defense to look like. Below is a full transcript from the press conference.

(Opening Statement)

“Looking forward to be in Tampa Bay, a lot warmer here than what I came from. This has been terrific the few days that I’ve been here. The reception that I’ve received from the people in the building has been outstanding. So thankful to coach Lovie Smith, and the Glazer family for inviting us on. Lovie has been a good friend for a number of years, we have never worked together but we’ve coached across the sidelines from one another and I’ve always had a great deal of admiration for his coaching style, and some of the things he’s accomplished in our league. Now to have a chance to work with him, this is a great opportunity for me and my family, so we’re excited about it, to get a chance to work with some very good players on defense. Looking forward to hopefully bring some things to the table to help us take that next step. This is a great time for our family, and a great time for the rest of our staff as well. Really impressed with the number of people that Lovie has on our staff at this point. He’s compiled a great staff, which will give our players a chance to learn and grow, and hopefully bring a championship here to Tampa, so I’m looking forward to it.

(On his overall impression of defense)
“I had a chance to see the defense a few times over the course of the year, we played some common opponents. I didn’t study them at the time, and I would just see some general things, and I thought that there were some pieces here that you could build with. Over the last few days, myself and the other defensive coaches that have been hired were watching tape and having a chance to evaluate the defensive players, and you can see that there’s the making of a good defense here. So, there are obviously some things that we will need to add along the way, but there’s a good foundation.”

(On what areas need to be improved)
“As a group, we are going tot talk about personnel here in a few days as the General Manager gets hired, and Lovie brings us together as a staff, but we will have those discussions here pretty soon.”

(On if he considered taking some time off)
“I thought about it briefly, very briefly. Some thing happened so fast, and when Lovie talked to be about coming down here, he didn’t have any idea that I would be available. When I did get the call, I wanted to talk it over a little bit with my wife, and just think about the things I wanted to do from a career standpoint. It seemed like a great opportunity, to work with him, to come to Tampa, I’ve always admired the organization form a distance, though that there were a lot of pluses here. So, it didn’t take me long to say ‘you know what, I want to keep coaching, as opposed to taking a season off.”

(On the differences in his and Smith’s defense)
“It will be very similar to what he did in Chicago, and what he did when he was working with Tony[Dungy] here years ago. So it wont be a whole lot different in that way, and he and I have talked about how the defense should look and what our goals are, and they’re very similar. So it wont be a whole lot different than what you saw in Chicago.”

(On adjusting to going back to being a coordinator)
“Its been a natural adjustment for sure, you wont have a final say in certain things, like you do when you’re the head coach, but that’s fine I understand my role, I’ve been a coordinator before, so that’s ok, I’m ok with that.”

(On if being a head coach has changed his view on defensive coordinator)
“I think so, to a degree, there aren’t a lot of similarities being defensive coordinator versus head coach.  It’s an all-encompassing position when you’re talking about the head coach. Just seeing the coordinators that I’ve had a chance to work with as a head coach, and seeing some of the things they have to do from a preparation standpoint, and just being able to get organized, and what they have to get done. I think it will help me coming back as a coordinator, I think that will help just being able to observe other coordinators.”

(On Darrelle Revis fitting in with the scheme)
“Darrelle Revis is a great player in our league, a great corner, has been for a number of years now, and as I’ve mentioned, I had a chance to watch some common opponents, and see some Tampa tape. He’s a terrific player without question, and there’s always room in any system for great players. So we are going to do all we can to maximize his talents and utilize his gifts. He’s going to be one of the key guys to our success without question. So we will do whatever we have to do to maximize his talents, he’s a great player.”

(On Adrian Clayborn’s position future)
“I want to continue to study him a little bit, he’s one of those guys who, along with the rest of our roster, we are going to spend a lot of time evaluate and get a good feel for and make sure we do the right thing by him. I remember him coming out of college when we were scouting him and had a lot of respect for his play at the University of Iowa, and I want to get a better feel for him as an NFL player, so we will continue to go through the tape and get an evaluation on him.”

(On the importance of an edge rusher)
“Extremely important in our league today, with the way the league has really become a pass-happy league, for the most part, and the numbers when it comes to offensive statistics are off the charts. So, you need someone who can rush the pass without always having to bring an extra guy. You need that guy who can be the offensive tackle, or if they want a chip with a back you can find a way to get to the quarterback, if you want to have a great defense. And in this system, you need that one guy, if you can find him. And they’re sometimes rare to find, but we had one in Jared Allen, Lovie had one with [Julius] Peppers in Chicago, and it really makes a difference in our league if you find a guy that can rush the pass without blitzing all of the time.”

(On his relationship with Jared Allen)
“We have a great relationship; I have a lot of respect for Jared as a player, and as a man. He did a lot to help me when I was a defensive coordinator, without question. I have a lot of respect for him and we will see what happens with his future.”

(On if any Vikings will join the Bucs)
“That will be something for our GM and our head coach to decide, I share whatever input I can, but they will have to make those decisions regarding our personnel.”

(On what Josh Freeman was like in Minnesota)
“Josh did a lot of good things for us in that short time that we had him. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out when we got him a lot of snaps, or ball games. He worked as hard a she could every week to try to prepare and be ready to go. He was a pro in every sense and word in that way. But we made a decision, to try to figure out where Christian Ponder was, also take a look at Matt Cassel as well as we trying to determine, and get some questions answered regarding our quarterback position. Josh got caught up in the shuffle of that, and it probably wasn’t the fairest situation for him. It made it difficult for him, and it made it difficult for all of us as we trying to evaluate quarterbacks during an NFL season, that’s not a wise thing. But, nothing to do with Josh though, he prepared and worked as hard as he could to get on the field, it just didn’t work out. He’s still young, and I think he has a chance to be a very good player in our league, he’s shown glimpses of it during his time here. So, I think he can be a solid starting quarterback in our league.”

(On some of the defensive staff he will be working with)
“Joe Cullen is going to be our defensive line coach, most recently with the Cleveland Browns. He’s had a chance to work with this system back in Jacksonville when he was there. His mentor is Rob Marinelli, who has a great history in this system, and had a lot of success here in Tampa, as long as his time in Chicago. So that’s kind of who Joe has learned from, that was one of the reasons Lovie was excited about him, as well as myself. So you can hit the ground running knowing that Joe understands what we are trying to get done, and really should help our defensive line continue to improve. At linebacker, all of you are familiar with our linebacker’s coach Hardy Nickerson, he’s going to do a terrific job. We could just put on some Hardy tape, and that’s going to make our linebackers that much better, so he’s got a good group to work with. Hardy is exceptional as a person, he’s going to be a terrific NFL coach as well, and so I’m looking forward to working with him. Our secondary coach, Gill Byrd, who had a long successful career in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers, he’s going to handle to cornerback position. So he will be able to lend his expertise, both from a player’s standpoint, and also as a coach with our players, and should help our corners, with all of the young corners, Banks, and even Darelle. Having a guy who kind of had the success that Gill had in our league.  And then at the safety position, Mikal Smith, I think with his background in the system, the fact that he have a chance to have a group last fall in Dallas, that’s going to help him continue to grow, and help our young safeties as well. I think it’s a good defensive staff, a good group to work with, don’t want to miss Larry Marmie, who’s going to work with our nickel backs. Larry has a wealth of experience in our league, he’s been a coordinator before, he’s coached secondary before. So now he will really be able to focus on one position, which in our league has become our starting position, a third corner on the field a lot. So its great to have Larry on the staff, it’s a staff with a mix of some youth, some experience, so we should have some good discussions in our defensive meeting rooms as a staff to be able to give our players the best chance to be successful.”

(On how much input on assistants did you have)
 “Coach had a real good idea how he wanted his staff to be and fortunately for me, those guys that I mentioned, I have some familiarity with all of them at some point or another. But he had a good idea what direction he wanted to go. He mentioned to me that he had an entire year to sit around and think about his staff, and I think he’s done a good job of putting together a good staff.”
 (On inheriting McCoy and David)
“Those two positions are critical to the success of this defense and Gerald now going to his second Pro Bowl, I had a chance to talk with him this morning and I’m really excited about getting to work with him. I know Joe Cullen is as well, in fact our entire defensive staff is, because in this system, without that component, it’s hard to be successful. You need a dominant three technique and Gerald is obviously on his way to being that and the accolades of being named a Pro Bowl player for the second consecutive year tells you he’s on his way. And then having a guy like Lavonte who has really come along. We had him in the Senior Bowl a few years ago and to see how he’s risen is impressive. There are not a lot of things that he can’t do on the football field so I look forward to getting a chance to work with him, but those two components along with the pass rusher and a corner that can tackle as well as cover will really help to solidify this defense. And you need a Mike linebacker than can function as well but we have two pieces in place with Gerald and Lavonte that gives you a chance now to add to some other areas. You’re not starting from ground zero with this defense. I think it definitely helps that you have two guys that are playing at a Pro Bowl caliber at those two key positions on the defense, but this game is the ultimate team game, so you do need those other pieces in order to get the defense to that elite level and that will be the challenge ahead of us this offseason whether it will be through the draft or free agency to fill in those other pieces and get the defense where we want it. But we have a great starting point with those two pieces, that’s for sure.”
(On his coaching style with the different units)
“When I was in that coordinator’s role I tried to trust the guys who coached the secondary to handle it and there were times when I tried to share some insight but you have to be careful about doing that because guys will start listening to you and not listening to their position coach. But I’ll talk to our position coaches as much as I can about what we expect, what we need without taking their jobs. Gil Byrd and Mikel Smith, those guys are going to do a great job coaching our secondary but I’ll share some pointers from time to time with our guys.”

(On the corner, do you have that special guy in Johnthan Banks)
“I had a chance to watch him in depth coming out of college and had some brief views of him up to this point and I’ll watch more over the next few days, but he seems to have the qualities that you look for in this system. I have to study him some more, but I just remember him coming out, he was one of those guys that we gave a high grade to. We liked him coming out.”
(On your message to Goldson and his personal foul problems)
“We definitely had to have some discussions about that. But the game has changed. Some of the hits you see now that once upon a time, they were good hits. You’d look back on a Monday after the game and say that was a great hit. Well now, some of those hits are finable offenses, so you have to understand how the league is calling personal fouls and what the target areas are. Otherwise you’re going to get fined and I understand why. We are very safety conscious in today’s NFL and for good reason. You hear about some of the guys that played many years ago and what they’re going through, post career, some of it is tough. So the message that we’ll give is, let’s do it within the rules of the game. We’ll understand what the framework is that we have to work within and we’ll make it clear to our players what hits are legal and what hits aren’t and we’ll try to coach them to adhere to what the league wants us to do. Easier said than done. You can see targets changing sometimes when guys are in mid-air and then dropping down but we’ll try to do as best we can within the letter of the law.”
(On the disappointment of being let go and moving on here)
“It was a challenge. I’m not going to like to you. It was a challenge; because you don’t feel like you’re that far away, especially when, at this time a little over a year ago you were one of those team’s competing in the playoffs. But in this business, in this career, you have to be able to adjust and move on, otherwise you can’t, you’ll get stuck in quick sand. You have to put it in your rearview mirror and get focused on the task at hand. It’s easy to get excited about this opportunity. I mentioned before that there are some pieces in place, but more importantly, the person I get a chance to work with, that’s as important as the personnel on the field. And having a chance to work with Coach Smith and the rest of our staff, that gets me excited. For things to end the way they did and have an opportunity to come to Tampa and work with this staff and this head coach, it’s easy to get excited, so I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.”
(On the kind of head coach Lovie Smith is)
“We always felt like, when we got ready to play Lovie’s team, that it was going to be hard-nosed, hard-fought football game where we were going to have to compete against a very good defense, where we were going to have to figure out a way to stop the run with our defense. But we just knew it was going to be a physical slugfest and a team that was going to be well-coached, well-versed in what it took to win in our league and we were always going to have to play our best football game to beat his teams. That was our mindset going in and that was the speech I would give my team every Wednesday. This team, we’re going to have to play our best game to beat them because they’re not going to give it to you. They’re not going to make a lot of mistakes and they’re going to be on point with everything they do and that’s his teams.”
How much does the fact all you guys were head coach help you?

"I have to believe it’s a plus. When you are able to see it globally as opposed to putting blinders on and just looking at a position or a role, but understanding what the head coach is going through, when he talks to you about whatever matters you’re dealing with, you can see his perspective. And I think that has to help you as a coordinator, and as a position coach as well, knowing when he’s making a decision, he’s thinking about the entire team, not just a specific instance, and you can accept that and move on and go on to whatever that’s important.”
(On the characteristics of a Leslie Frazier defense)
"A lot of what we’ll do will be similar to what they did in Chicago. We’ll have some wrinkles here and there that Lovie and I have talked about that we’ll put on tape and make people deal with that will hopefully enhance what they did in Chicago and make us better as a group. And some of the things you do, you have to cater to your personnel. And we have some different personnel than we had in Chicago, than we had in Minnesota, so we want to make sure we don’t just get so marries to a system that you forget about the people that are actually trying to execute the system. We have some quality players here, we just need to add a few more pieces."
(On if there are other standouts besides stars)
“There are some other guys that we’re taking a look at that are going to have value not just as defensive players but even contributing on special teams and may make the roster because of that. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but there are some guys that I look at and say, this guy is on the fringe of maybe becoming a very good starter in our league. Time will tell. We still have to go through out initial minicamp that we get as a first-year staff and evaluate them in our system as opposed to looking at them in the previous system, but there are some guys that do peak your interest and make you wonder if they’re ready to take that next step.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:50

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  • avatar

    I agree with Pinkstob on Mason Foster. I thought he was a natural for SLB when he came in. I thought it was a big mistake when they put him in the middle his first year, so I was very disappointed. I had high expectations for him. He may still become a very, very good SLB.
  • avatar

    Frazier looks like a great hire. The only knock on him that I've heard was from an ESPN analyst who said Frazier's demeanor is very low key. Consequently, Frazier was hesitant to jump on guys who were not playing well. Not sure if that will be a problem here...but it appears most, if not all, the new Bucs coaches are low key...including the HC. If I recall, that was also a knock on Lovie's mentor Tony Dungy (in addition to his inability to develop a good offense).
  • avatar

    @Kinderrt and FLBoy84 - I agree 100%. I didn't have much of an opinion about Frazier one way or the other prior to his hire, but based on this initial press conference I love him already. I feel exactly the same way about the current state of our defensive personel as he does. It takes a keen defensive eye and mind in a short period of time to look past Foster's INT's this past season and not endorse him as your MLB of the future in the Tampa 2 like he did McCoy and David. The same goes for Clayborn at DE. I think both Foster and Clayborn are solid NFL players but need position switches. Foster needs to move to SLB in the Tampa 2 and Clayborn needs to stay at LDE while he's on the field. Foster was in Cover 3 except when the team played Cover 2 in the red zone and in Cover 3 a safety covered the deep middle of the field instead of him. Clayborn "is who I thought he were" coming out of Iowa: a great run stopping DE who'll average about 8 sacks a year in the NFL. That's the recipe for a LDE in the Tampa 2. There will be RDE's available in FA and the draft, but I'm not sure about Tampa 2 MLB's like Kueckly.
  • avatar

    Very impressed with both coordinators during their pressers. The thing I liked about Tedford is he's worn the big hat, and now just wants to concentrate on offensive football. I don't believe he's looking for any head coaching jobs anytime soon, being he's been there done that. That's good for the Bucs. Anyone know when the players will be allowed to get their playbooks, and some coaching? Can't believe two mock drafts have us taking a L.B. at #7, since we're loaded there, I'd be shocked if that happened. Defensive end maybe, but I'd rather see us go heavy on offense.
  • avatar

    Did anyone else find this typo in a sentence about Freeman funny? "He worked as hard a she could every week to try to prepare and be ready to go." Lol
  • avatar

    I am very comfortable with our Defensive Coaching staff. I know that our Offense needs more help than our Defense, but I would spend some serious money in Free Agency on a DE like Allen or Bennett who still have a couple years left in the gas tank. I would like our fist round pick to be on Offense especially the OL, but I would still trade down several spots and pick up some more draft picks.
  • avatar

    "And you need a Mike linebacker than can function as well but we have two pieces in place with Gerald and Lavonte that gives you a chance now to add to some other areas." Curious to see how Foster grades out during the player evals the staff is doing. Always thought he was more suited for SLB, guess we'll see how it plays out. Wouldn't rule out the possibility they trade down a few slots to recoup an extra pick or two and grab Mosley.
  • avatar

    FLBoy84 Mosley can't cover and in this defense you need a MLB that can drop quickly over the middle and cover.
  • avatar

    @76Buc That's funny because practically every scouting report I've read says that coverage is one of his strong suits. I suppose I'll take your word on it though over all the national scouts that do it for a living, thanks for the heads up.
  • avatar

    It's good to hear that they know they need a few new pieces. I believe we will have a top ten D in a year or two. Sounds like he is already looking for a DE. The offense on the other hand is going to need a lot more than a few pieces. This team should make the playoffs in 2015 for sure with a couple of key moves.
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