TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Buccaneers’ 2022 season kicks-off Sunday evening, as Tampa Bay puts all their preseason practice to the test against the Dallas Cowboys. It’s the first step on a season-long journey to reach their ultimate goal — win another Super Bowl.
How the team executes on game days week-in and week-out is yet to be determined, but Bucs Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich, said one thing is for certain about this group — their will and their drive is there.
“I think this has always been a hungry team,” Leftwich said. “We were hungry too last year. It’s just when you don’t win, it [doesn’t] mean you weren’t hungry. This group has been that way. Like I said, this group comes to work. Every day they come to work. Whatever we ask of them as coaches, whatever we think that the game plan [has] to be for us to get the job done that week, they come ready to prepare that week for that and try to get it done on Sunday.”
Come Sunday night, the Bucs will be up against the same opponent they opened the season with last September. In that game in 2021, the Bucs defeated the Cowboys on a last-second field goal to win it 31-29. The Bucs know this is a new season and both teams are bringing different teams to the table, but nonetheless, are expecting a tough test right out of the gates.
“They’re a good football team,” said Bucs quarterback Tom Brady. “They have a lot of dynamic players in the pass rush, at linebacker. In the secondary, Trevon [Diggs] is a great player. [He] led the league in interceptions last year. Micah [Parsons] is a hell of a player all over the field. They line him up at linebacker, defensive end. He rushes a lot, covers well. DeMarcus Lawrence is a great player. They rush the passer. I think they have a good scheme. They mix things up quite a bit. We’re playing them at home and they’ve got a very good offense, so they’re a tough team to beat. It’s going to be a big challenge for the opener.”
“They definitely improved from the 2020 season to 2021,” said Bucs receiver Mike Evans. “They got way better. Diggs got way better. They like to create turnovers. They’ve got a really great pass rush and the DBs know that. So, [we need to] hold them up front and run good routes, also.”
“We’re just getting ready to try to play our best football that we can play,” Leftwich said. “[We] understand that we’re playing a great opponent, understand they have great players on all three levels of their defense, so we’re just trying to get prepared. We’re not really focused on one guy. We’re trying to focus on a good group that they have. We understand the type of group they have so we’re just trying to make sure we’re ready to roll.”
Sunday’s kick-off between the Bucs and Cowboys is set for 8:20 p.m. ET on News Channel 8.