Dirk Koetter on Carl Nassib’s Success, Mike Evans in Best Shape of His Life

Sports Xchange

(On having five players with 500 receiving yards and six players with four or more receiver touchdowns)

“First of all, if you wouldn’t have told me those numbers, I wouldn’t even have known that – number one – because that’s not how we look at it. We just look at it as we’re game planning the defense and then based on our game plan we do the best we can to take advantage of match-ups in our favor and we try to move guys around to give guys different shots – give all of our guys somewhat of a chance to make some plays. After that, is it man coverage? Is it zone coverage? What kind of man coverage? What kind of zone coverage? Are they pressuring? Does the quarterback have to scramble? Are we in scramble rules? All that stuff takes over. So after the game plan part, then it’s up to the quarterback making decisions with the football and what the defense does determines who gets the ball. I think the only thing that says is that we have more than a couple guys that can make plays and when they get their chances, they usually do.”

(On wide receiver Mike Evans’ performance this season)

“Mike’s had a really good year minus a couple game stretch where he was banged up. He was hurt a little bit more than people know in that two-game stretch. One of those games was Carolina, the first game. [James] Bradberry, the corner, played a really good game against Mike in that game. Other than that, Mike’s had a fantastic season – 1,000 yards with five games to go. The fact that Mike’s targets I would guess are probably down a little bit compared to some other years. I think Mike’s having an outstanding season.”

(On defensive end Carl Nassib’s success this season)

“What I see is just a guy who plays really hard. Carl, as a defensive end, he come off the ball and he tries to get upfield and disrupt every play. And he’s not alone. There’s plenty of players that go to a different team. Sometimes they just need a different coach, a different system, a different change of scenery. We couldn’t be happier with the production that Carl has given us here.”

(On how important it is for Evans to take care of himself physically to get through the season)

“I think Mike knows all that, number one. I’ve said many times this year that I think Mike is in the best shape of his life. I think his stamina in the best shape of his professional life since I’ve been with him. I think his stamina is at an all-time high. I think one of the reasons Mike’s having the success he’s having is I think he’s playing in the 80-percentile range of snaps and he’s able to run more routes at top speed. With Mike’s size and speed, when he’s consistently able to go full bore, he’s tough to cover. I think for any NFL player at any position, as we get later in the season, taking care of your body. I think Chris Godwin went through that a little bit last year. He struggled at the end of the year. He was fighting off some injuries. Week-to-week what these guys have to go through, especially to then have to go out there and run fast, is impressive. I think Mike, I think that’s probably one of his best things he’s done this year.”

(On offensive tackle Leonard Wester’s progression)

“I think the thing about Leonard is his versatility that he can play on both sides. He would be the next guy in at left or right [tackle]. He was in the right last week. I think Leonard has really improved this year. You don’t want to see anything happen to your starting tackles, but when he went in there I thought he did a good job. If he is forced to play or start, then we’d be fine with that.”

(On how not being able to practice affects players)

“I think it’s different for everybody. You mentioned Dot (Demar Dotson). In Dot’s case, playing as long as he has, it probably affects him less than if say it was Caleb [Benenoch] that was having to miss time. The one thing when you have to manage guys, especially some older players, that is one way you can develop your depth along the way. That’s one of the reasons Leonard’s been taking a ton of reps this year in practice. Not only with the ones, but with the scout team. There’s a lot of days where Leonard takes almost every offensive play. He might be playing right tackle with the ones and left tackle with the twos. I think today our numbers were down on the O-line, so you’ve got guys moving to all kinds of different positions. That’s how you develop your depth.”

(On an update on cornerback M.J. Stewart’s injury)

“I glanced over there when he was running with the trainers today, and I thought that was by far the best that he’s looked. I know that he had a follow up appointment this week with a specialist. I think they feel like he’s getting closer.”

(On if he feels pressure from the fans to do certain things during the game or if he sticks with his game plan)

“Fourth-and-one the game plan probably would be to go for it. Whatever I decide is probably going to be wrong (laughs). Of course, the fans are into it. You know what the fans want you to do – that’s never a problem. You’ve got to play it by how you planned it, how you’ve got it planned out. We usually have all that stuff planned out in advance. It’s not hard to tell what the crowd wants.”

(On how quarterback Jameis Winston has evolved as a leader)

“Jameis has always been a really good communicator. He was a good communicator when he got here. Jameis is as passionate about playing football as any guy that I’ve been around. I do think that Jameis has worked to keep his emotions in check. Sometimes when you’re emotional, you can do things without thinking them through. At quarterback, that’s not a good quality to have. We’ve seen examples of that, so I think Jameis has worked hard on that. I like where Jameis is right now, but as you said in your question there, in your lead in – he’s still growing too. We go back to this all the time. Look at some of the top quarterbacks in our league and how long they’ve been doing this. Look at the season Philip Rivers is having. He’s a guy we don’t hardly ever talk about compared to [Drew] Brees, [Aaron] Rodgers. There’s so many older quarterbacks in this league having great years. There’s some younger guys having good years as well.”