TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After two weeks on the road to start the season, the Bucs are poised for their home opener Sunday afternoon against the Packers.
A big reason the Bucs are (2-0) heading into this week three meeting with Green Bay, is because of how their defense has been playing. They only gave-up three points to the Cowboys, and didn’t give-up a touchdown for seven quarters to start the season. The one touchdown they’ve given-up, came in the final minutes of the Saints game.
“The guys are trying really hard,” said Bucs Co-Defensive Coordinator Kacy Rodgers. “They’re going out and trying to go out and execute the game plan, and so far it’s worked out for us.”
“It’s been a while since you start the season off hot like that as a defense,” said Bucs linebacker Lavonte David. “It definitely goes to show the work the guys put in—the off the field stuff they do as far as understanding the defense, understanding what Coach (Todd) Bowles wants out of the guys, understanding who they’re working with, who they’re playing with. We’ve been doing an awesome job of communicating. We’ve got to keep that up and see where it goes.”
The Bucs lead the league in points allowed per game (6.5), sacks (10) and fewest opponent touchdowns (1). Devin White leads the team with three of their 10 sacks.
“I think they’re sacrificing for each other,” Bucs Head Coach Todd Bowles said about their pass rush. “Again, it’s more the pressure than the sacks – trying to get incompletions. The sacks are great but we’re trying to get incompletions and pressures and turnovers. Turnovers (are) the name of the game. I think they do a good job of helping one another and sacrificing for one another when somebody has to blitz or run a game.”
“Right now, they’re playing together,” Rodgers said. “That’s the thing really. Nobody’s playing outside of their scheme. Everybody’s stepping up and making plays. The (defensive backs) are covering. The edge guys are rushing. The linebackers are flying around, and you can see everybody contributing. I think that’s the thing that stands out.”
The Bucs are also third in the NFL in takeaways (6) and are plus-four in turnover differential. Jamel Dean leads the team with two interceptions, while Mike Edwards came-through with a pick-six in the Saints game.
“It’s a confidence feeling knowing that you trust every man on defense is going to do their job,” Dean said. “You have that trust now and confidence in one another. So it just makes you want to play for each other. So now it’s just like, OK, we did it the first game and then we were like maybe it was just the first game. Then we did it the second game so we were like OK now we’re actually showing that we can do this consistently.”
“Defensively, our whole mindset is that when we’re out there we want to dominate,” David said. “We want to score if we can. We want to get takeaways, get the offense the ball as much as we can. We want to get off the field as much as we can. That’s just our mindset and we’ve got a great group of guys to do it. We’ve got leaders from the top down. That’s what I really like about this defense—from the coaching staff to the players– everybody takes from the classroom and puts it on the field. They don’t just talk. They put it out there too.”
Heading into Sunday, the Bucs are one of six undefeated teams in the NFL and have the chance to improve to (3-0) Sunday at 4:25 p.m. when they kick-off against the Packers (1-1).