Along with game planning and execution, the Buccaneers seemed to lack resilience on Sunday.
It took only one mistake on the first play from scrimmage – Major Wright’s personal foul for a high tackle on Bishop Sankey – to rattle the defense and send the Titans on a five-play, 74-yard scoring drive.
“We didn’t execute on defense better than they executed on offense,” linebacker Lavonte David said on Monday. “I don’t think the fire was there. We kind of let that first play, the penalty, kind of knock our momentum. We let that get to us. We have to look past that and keep going.”
Other plays that seemed to deflate the Bucs defense early on was a near interception by Kwon Alexander in the first quarter and an apparent fumble recovery in the end zone following Gerald McCoy’s sack. Both plays would’ve put the game within one score, but they didn’t and the defense never recovered.
That has to change soon for Tampa Bay, as the defense is expected to drive this team and bear most of the weight with a rookie quarterback and young offense.
“We (the defense) have to have that mentality every time,” David said. “When we’re on the field, it doesn’t matter (what the score is), we have to get the ball back to our offense. We have to have that mentality from here on out. We have to do a better job of helping each other out on defense and playing together.”
Bucs defensive end George Johnson took it a step further, saying it’s up to defensive line to set the tone. The front four applied little pressure on Marcus Mariota, as the rookie was often able to throw from a clean pocket within a couple seconds of dropping back. And while the secondary didn’t offer much help in giving the line time to get off blocks, Johnson still puts it on his unit to build momentum.
“On the D-Line, we always feel like we have to be the engine of the team,” Johnson said. “We feel like as we go the team should go. I think it all starts with our D-Line. If our D-Line picks it up, then everyone else will pick it up around us.”
Tampa Bay isn’t making any excuses, but dwelling on the first game won’t accomplish anything and they know that. They have to show more resilience throughout the rest of the year than they did on Sunday. With an entire season left to play, the mind set at One Buc Place – from head coach Lovie Smith on down – is “Just one game.”
“It’s the first game of the season and it didn’t turn out as we expected,” David said. “You know what, we have 15 more games left and we look forward to that. Now, we have to get ready for New Orleans, a division opponent and another hard football game for us. We’re ready to get up there and fight our butts off.”
“This is just one game,” Johnson said. “This isn’t college where you’re one and out. You have a lot of games to go and you have playoffs. You have to just take this game, learn from it and move on to New Orleans.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: email@example.com
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.