Bucs nation went into panic mode two weeks ago when the defense allowed 39 points in a loss at Houston when Tampa Bay had just taken the lead with 46 seconds to go. The Bucs rebounded last Sunday by not allowing the Titans in the end zone in a 20-6 win at home.
So what gives when it comes to the Bucs defense? Has the team fixed all of its issues?
What has to be taken into consideration is that the Bucs lost to a very talented rookie in C.J. Stroud on the Texans, while taking advantage of a weak offensive line of the Titans and rookie quarterback Will Levis, who was only in his third start.
What made the biggest difference for the Bucs defense? Cornerback Jamel Dean had some answers.
Bucs Had More Fun In Last Week’s Win vs. Titans
“It was mainly an attitude thing,” Jamel Dean said. “We want to be great, and we just want to play for one another. But, the biggest emphasis was to go out there and have fun. I feel like the past couple of games, we haven’t been having fun out there. It feels like we got ourselves out of a funk. You could see we had more energy out there, and it was actually fun playing on defense out there.”
Bucs LB Lavonte David and CB Jamel Dean and Bears WR DJ Moore – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Attitude and effort are two things that Bucs players can control. What head coach Todd Bowles can control is who plays and who doesn’t. He clearly made adjustments on the defensive side – most notably giving more playing time to outside YaYa Diaby over Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Anthony Nelson, while also getting undrafted free agent rookie Markees Watts into the mix.
Other moves included playing defensive tackle Calijah Kancey more than ever before, and using Dee Delaney and Christian Izien at safety more than Ryan Neal throughout the game.
All of this made for a performance that the Bucs need to bring into their next game against the 49ers.
“Everybody has got a lot of pride,” Bowles said. “You don’t want to just have a bad game and not come back from it. You’re not going to go in the tank. You either attack it head on or you go back in the tank. Those guys have a lot of pride. We’ve played a lot of good football in the past. Everybody got down, put their nose down to the grindstone and got back to work as a group. We understand what we’re capable of and they came out and played the game.”
Tampa Bay Visits San Francisco Again
Bucs ILB Devin White, 49ers QB Brock Purdy and OLB Anthony Nelson – Photo by: USA Today
The Bucs have a rematch with the 49ers after they were embarrassed 35-7 in San Francisco last year. It was also the first career start for quarterback Brock Purdy at the time. He completed 16-of-21 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns, while running for a score as well, sparking an incredible first season that got the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game.
Tampa Bay will look to exact revenge at the same scene of the crime, but cornerback Carlton Davis III, who is expected to play this week, believes that a lot has gone on since they last played San Francisco, and that there’s only so much you can take from for last week’s performance.
“I don’t think it’ll make a difference in the preparation part because we played somebody last year,” Davis said. “Every year, they change a couple things and maybe he evolved his game a little bit more.
“You don’t ever want to go in there trying to underestimate him just because you think you know him. Go in there with the mentality of, ‘I’m going to study him and get to know him, just as I did last year.’ Don’t take anything for granted.”