Q&A with Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers introduced Lovie Smith as their new head coach Monday. CHRIS O’MEARA/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers introduced Lovie Smith as their new head coach Monday. CHRIS O’MEARA/Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH – Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith spoke The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via phone on Thursday.

The Bucs (2-4) are set to face the Falcons (6-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Here’s what Smith had to say:

Q: Have you all moved away from that devastating defeat to Washington?

A: You can live in the past. You have to move on. It would have been really been disappointing if we didn’t get another opportunity after what happened last week, but we do. It’s a division opponent that we have history with. There is not time to really dwell on the past. It also helps to get back out on the practice field today. It’s on to Atlanta.

Q: How is offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter doing with the development of quarterback Jameis Winston?

A: Dirk has just been outstanding from the moment that we hired him really for what he’s done. I’ve had the chance to be on other side of the field, unfortunately, when he’s been calling plays so I know and knew what he would bring to the table. Having a young quarterback coming in I wanted somebody with experience that can really had a quarterback background. Dirk has all of that. Our offense has really been rolling here the last couple of weeks. All of that has been led by Dirk.

Q: Was the Washington game Winston’s best game?

A: Yes it was. Statistically. Coaches evaluation and grade, yes it was. The week before he played good also. He’s put together two good weeks. In this past game we asked him to do some things. He had to throw some tough passes and make some great decisions. Scramble in the pocket. It was just an outstanding game by him. We’ve seen him grow. We can grow from it each week.

Q: What do you see from the Falcons defense?

A: Anytime that Dan Quinn is coaching is going to play hard. That’s what you see. They are playing hard every snap and they are taking the ball away. If you have a group playing hard….you have a chance to be successful. That’s what I think. The Falcons have found a way to win close games. They are finishing strong. That’s what we need to do.

Q: Do you see any difference in Matt Ryan?

A: We just hope those turnovers don’t stop. Of course, it’s about the turnover ratio each week. As I talk about what the Falcons have done, that’s what we need to do a better job of. We’ve had a defensive touchdown the last couple of weeks, but normally you feel good about what you’re doing if you’re plus-3 taking the ball away. On the offensive side, of course securing the football.

Q: How is defensive tackle Gerald McCoy playing for you upfront?

A: Gerald is a great player. You’re going to pretty much get the same type of play from him each week. As a defense, we need to play better. When you have a big lead, you have to be able to hold it and even add to it. We haven’t played our best defensive game by any means yet. That’s why we are looking forward to another challenge against a great offense. Atlanta offensively, I’ve been on the opposite side of the field against Matt Ryan for many games, probably more than I would like. Julio Jones is one of the best receivers, if not the best receiver in the game. Of course, running game wise they really have it going.

Q: How’s running back Doug Martin playing for you in the backfield?

A: Doug Martin has played outstanding football throughout the season. He had a great offseason. A great training camp. He’s really starting to feel it. …Every time that he has the ball he’s had a chance to do something with it. Whether it be running between the tackles, making people miss in the open field, catching the ball out of the backfield, he’s done everything that you want a lead, No. 1 running back to be. We have to keep leaning on him.

Q: Do you have an update on wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s status for the game after his knee injury?

A: He won’t practice today. I can say that. We’ll just see how it plays out.


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