Despite a disastrous season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Da’Quan Bowers and Michael Bennett said today a lesson can still be learned. What can a team learn from being on a nine-game losing streak and being 4-11? According to rookie Da’Quan Bowers – several things. One lesson is to just play where you are supposed to play and not try to be a hero.
“There are a lot of lessons to be learned this year,” Bowers said. “It is just all about playing technique football [and] playing your assignments. Not trying to make every play. Play within the scheme of the defense. Don’t try to be superman. Don’t try to force yourself to make plays that aren’t there for you because then it causes a slip in the defense for somebody else to miss an opportunity. We just got to learn how to grow as a defensive team. Not only as a defense, but a whole team and you know we will be alright.”
Third-year defensive end Michael Bennett agrees with Bowers in that lessons can be learned from a season that has not gone quite as planned. When asked what can be learned from this season, Bennett couldn’t decide on just one at first, but does believe this team needs to mature.
“I don’t know,” Bennett said. “So many I can’t even tell you all. You got a big piece of paper? I don’t know. One of the lessons [is] just need maturity. Maturity. We just need to mature as a team and [we] really can’t hold being young as an excuse anymore because there are a lot of young people doing great things right now. So we just got to keep going and keep grinding.”
The six-foot-four defensive end out of Clemson looks forward to him and fellow rookies such as Adrian Clayborn and Mason Foster growing as a unit. Even though it has been tough, it does allow the team to grow.
“I think we all made great strides [with] myself starting the last couple of games and Adrian (Clayborn) being in the starting lineup the whole season along with Mason (Foster),” Bowers said. “You know it just goes to show you what this team is going to be capable of in the future. Got a young team and hopefully we can get everybody back in next year and make a decent run at what we need to be on like the Super Bowl and all those type of things. Been a tough year, but [with] us being so young it is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives you a time to grow as a team and as a unit.”
Veteran players are reminding the young rookies to never forget how losing feels so they can do whatever it takes to improve.
“Oh definitely it is a bad taste in our mouth,” Bowers said. “A lot of those veterans [are] saying [to] just remember this feeling, the other day in Carolina. It stuck with me remember the feeling of being on an eight or nine-game losing streak. Remember the feeling of being blown out. Remember your own fans turning against you. It’s a bad feeling so you never want to experience that again. So we need to do everything in our power to change it.”
Not only are there consequences for head coaches or coaches in this league for not playing well, but also for players as an individual. Players need to realize that not playing well can hurt themselves as a player in the future. According to Bennett, players need to make plays to help not only your team, but themselves as well.
“Everything is just like your résumé,” Bennett said. “Every time you [are] put on film people look at the plays that you make or the plays that you don’t make. So the best thing to do is always when trying to make plays and playing for the team is going to help yourself anyway. It is not being selfish to want to do well or want to do what you can. At this point in the season it is about time for us to not even worry about the plays anymore just beat who is ever in front of us and make some plays.”
Bennett understands that in order to be an NFL player, one must have character. And not just physically, but mentally as well. He really doesn’t have an answer as to the way the team has played on the field either.
“It is always about character in this sport,” Bennett said. “You got to be a tough person to play football and you got to have great character to overcome some of the things that happen [here]. It shows in the game sometimes. Everybody is talking about [how] they want to play for Raheem (Morris) and do all these things and then when we get on the field it doesn’t seem that way. It doesn’t seem like we want to do those things. It seems like a bunch of chatter really. So I don’t know.”