No team’s season is ever defined by Week 1 results but that’s the approach many Buccaneers are taking leading up to Sunday’s opener against Tennessee.
“We didn’t win a game at home last year. None,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said Thursday. “So if we want to get to where we want to get, which is in California [for the Super Bowl], it starts Sunday.
“It really started in the spring, but as far as records go, it really starts Sunday. So it’s a huge game for us. A lot of people say, ‘Well, it’s the first game, it’s a long season.’ Not when you went 2-14 and didn’t win any games at home last year. Our fans, the greatest fans on earth, deserve to see a winner, especially at home so we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure they get it.”
Linebacker Lavonte David mentioned how the entire defense needs to pick up where it left off last season, which is playing much better than how it started. Tampa Bay finished 2014 ranked 25th in total defense, 28th against the pass and 19th against the run, but improved noticeably after its Week 7 bye while also avoiding embarrassments like losses of 42 and 31 points against Atlanta and Baltimore, respectively.
“Obviously, by the way we ended last year and the progress the defense showed last year, it showed we can come out fast on Sunday and basically have a fast start and try to get a win,” David said. “The main thing is that our team goal is to win all our home games. We’re starting out with a home game and our main goal is to win this football game.
“Every game we can’t lose. That’s everybody’s mindset, not just ours. We’re just going to try to go out there and dominate and end the game with a victory.”
Over the past 10 years Tampa Bay has won just three debut games (2012, 2010 and 2005) and it’s not just defensive players putting a little extra emphasis on getting out of the gate fast, either. Sunday can be a tone-setter with long-lasting reverberations this season, receiver Vincent Jackson said Thursday.
“Absolutely, it really can. Obviously we started putting a lot of emphasis probably about two or three weeks ago on Tennessee. For us there’s only one important game for us this week. As long as the season is, you can only win one every week.”
When asked why fans should believe in what players and coaches are saying until anything is proved, Jackson said it’s because he truly believes the team’s offseason changes are going to pay dividends.
“This ain’t the same Buccaneer team it was last year,” the six-time 1,000-yard receiver said. “You’ve got new coaches, you’ve got new players, it’s a fresh start and it’s 0-0. For us there’s nothing but one way we can go and that’s up. Guys believe in that, Lovie’s brought a consistent, positive message since we started this thing back when we showed up in April and it really has just carried throughout.
“I couldn’t be more excited to play with this group of guys in this locker room.”