Head coach Greg Schiano has been a bit loose in recent weeks and that mood has been displayed through the players in locker room sessions. On Tuesday, talking to the media in his day-after-game press conference, Schiano was more than loose after the Bucs picked up their first win of the season.
The Bucs 22-19 win over the Miami Dolphins was a total team effort as for the first time this season players on both sides of the ball appeared to have done their jobs collectively. Schiano talked about the effort put in to the win, especially from the running back position.
"I think a lot of it is that, number one, the patience,” Schiano said. “[Offensive Coordinator] Mike Sullivan being patient. As I said, it was going to be hard not to have any negative plays with that front. When they did dial up some run blitzes it was tough. But our offensive line, again, the credit goes to them. Persistent, believing in what they are doing and then the running backs running the plays the way their supposed to. I even forgot, this morning, [general manager] Mark [Dominik] and I were talking and [running back] Mike Smith got hurt so long ago, we don't even remember him. So it's four tailbacks ago that we're playing right now. But, as I often stand up here and say, nobody cares, right? Who do you got? Put them out there and let's see if he can do it. That's what I talk to our team about.
“I'm just grateful that Mark and our personnel people, a couple weeks back when(Bobby) Rainey became available, there really wasn't a pressing need at that time, but to get the best 53 guys on your roster, that's where the whole team effort comes along. Personnel, and coaching, everybody's working together, because he certainly showed up big last night and is going to have to show up big the rest of the season."
Another big part of the victory was the defense’s ability to close the game out. All season long the Buccaneers have allowed a lot of production in the second half. It almost led to another loss for Tampa Bay but the defense held their ground with help from their running game.
“I think when you look at last night, our Pro Bowl players, [linebacker] Lavonte David - who I believe is playing as well as any linebacker in the league - [cornerback] Darrelle [Revis], [defensive tackle] Gerald [McCoy], [safety] Mark Barron, those guys, on a big stage, showed up and played at a high level,” Schiano said. “But I think as important is guys that maybe people weren't expecting, like [offensive lineman] Jamon Meredith, [running back] Brian Leonard - who wasn't even here before the beginning of the spring - [tight end] Timmy Wright, [safety Keith] Tandy, guys that I just think about that stepped up - obviously [running back Bobby] Rainey - those guys have stepped up.”
It was only a matter of time before Tampa Bay got their first win. Whether or not this is a turning point of the season, Schiano remained humbled in his response.
"Well first, getting that win. I think as weeks - I don't care when it is, when you get your first win, you get it out of the way,” Schiano said. “In this league, it's hard to win every game - it's only been done once, right? So it's really hard. I don't care who you are, as the losses mount, that one win becomes harder and harder [to get]. I hope now our guys can go out and play. Although they said there was no additional pressure, I think human nature puts that pressure on yourself. Now I hope - yeah, we're banged up, we're playing without a lot of the original starters, but again, there's a lot of good players still out there playing. We're going to have a chance in every football game, we've just got to go out and execute."
Execution has been something the Buccaneers as a team have been talking about and is something they have struggled with. Taking the season week by week would eventually lead to even more wins and that is something Schiano is planning on doing. But now that they have their first win of the season under their belts, preparation can be that much easier – including their sleep routine. And after beating the Dolphins, it surely helped Tampa Bay’s head coach sleep that much easier.
"Great, but I always sleep [well], I'm tired,” Schiano said. “I didn't realize I had a pep [in my step] because right now I'm a little bit gassed, but it certainly makes it a little better the day after."