The Buccaneers have moved on from their week one win over the New Orleans Saints, which means the team is in full preparation mode for their game against the defending champs. The Eagles will visit Raymond James Stadium this weekend and both teams will have an opportunity to get to 2-0.
There were many positives to take away from Sunday’s win for the Bucs, but there were negatives as well, mostly on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon and acknowledged that his defense still has a way to go.
“When you have your first game of the season, you usually have a lot of work to do. Not all the time, but a majority of the time,” Smith said. “I thought that there were periods of that game that we played solid defense. We did some things very well, in terms of taking the ball away, scoring on defense and defending the run.”
After the first three Saints drives, many fans were calling for Smith to be fired on the spot, but the takeaways his defense created, turned out to be what decided the game. Without those two forced fumbles, Tampa Bay is likely to be on the other end of the stick.
“Taking the ball away in the NFL is the number one indicator of whether you are going to win or lose. When you score on defense, there is a good chance you’re going to win the game,” Smith said.
News broke on Wednesday morning that Vernon Hargreaves will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury suffered in Sunday’s win. With Grimes also dealing with a groin injury, rookies M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis, will now become full time starters. Smith is confident in their ability moving forward.
“Those young guys [Stewart and Davis] that we drafted last year in April, we knew that they were going to have to come in and contribute. We didn’t think that it was going to be week one and week two, but they have a good understanding of what needs to be done in the secondary,” Smith said. “They are resilient guys, their tough guys and that’s what you have to be when you play DB in this league.”
While preparing for the Eagles, the Buccaneers have turned to Vinny Curry and Beau Allen for a little insight on their former team.
“They are a great resource for us. They know a bunch of guys on that team,” Smith said. “They have been able to give us some information and we think that will help us going forward. It’s going to be an emotional game for those guys as well, and we want them to be even keeled as much as possible.”
There is no secret that Doug Pederson is one of the more aggressive play callers in the entire NFL. We saw it all last season and once again in week one, when he called the “Philly Special.” When facing these types of teams, Smith emphasized the importance of being on top of your game.
“You have to really have good eye discipline. They are probably one of the league leaders in going for it on fourth down and again, when you have to defend four downs instead of three downs, it completely changes the dynamic of the game,” Smith said. “He [Pederson] will also go for it on two point plays and we got some experience there as well in game one in terms of ‘hey we are defending two yards guys we have to get it done.’ We didn’t get it done last week and we have to be able to do it this week.”
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the Buccaneers and Mike Smith combat the RPO’s and the aggressive play calling of the Eagles. The defense must be better this Sunday if Tampa has aspirations of starting 2-0 for the first time since 2010.