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Arians high on the defense after big win against the Panthers

Also talks about what the offense left out on the field.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers won their first game of the 2019 season Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers. In his day-after-game press conference, head coach Bruce Arians talked about what went right as well as some things that the team can still work on.

(Opening statement)

“Obviously, watching the film, I was very pleased with how hard we played. There’s this old saying that whoever plays harder the longest will win games – I think that was true in that one. Was it perfect? By no means, but we made enough plays to win the ball game. Game balls – Chris Godwin got one. Obviously, you saw his stats, but he blocked as good as any wide receiver I’ve ever seen in a game, blocking linebackers, defensive ends, safeties – he was a huge part of our running game. Peyton Barber, who I thought ran extremely well. He had the hot hand, we stuck with him and RoJo (Ronald Jones II) stung his toe on that really good run he had, but it was Peyton’s night. Vernon [Hargreaves III] for the game-saving tackle after I screwed up the double timeouts. Kevin Minter got two of them for stepping in and playing really, really well at middle linebacker, running the defense, and one on special teams. Again, I’m really proud of our guys.”

(On ILB Devin White’s status)

”So far, it looks like a grade-one, medial MCL [sprain], so it’ll be day-to-day. As strong as he is, I don’t know how much time he’ll miss.”

(On if White’s injury will keep him out for at least one game)

”Probably. Knowing him, it could possibly be back, but he’s walking without a brace right now, so [we’ll] keep our fingers crossed.”

(On the second of the three defensive fourth-and-one plays)

”They went to a jumbo package – brought in an extra offensive lineman. Todd [Bowles] had a really good plan for that, got everybody lined up and guys executed the defense extremely well.”

(On Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles getting results out of the defense early in the season)

”I watched him do it in Arizona. We knew we had talent, we knew we had speed here and he’s just an amazing teacher. If you ever had the privilege of being on the headset, he’s calling out the plays before they’re run and telling guys, ‘They’re coming.’ Sometimes, we still don’t stop them, but he’s telling them what’s happening. He’s very sharp.”

(On the trust needed to allow CB Vernon Hargreaves III to decide whether to play press or to back off a receiver)

”You have to have a lot. I think mixing it up – playing man-off is really hard, but if you’re talented enough, it’s a good mix-up for you. We press then we press-bail and play zone. Vernon’s such a smart, heady player [that] it’s really good for him.”

(On if he thought that OLB Shaquil Barrett would have this kind of impact as quickly as he has)

”Yeah, we were hoping. When we evaluated him, whenever he was in, he flashed. He’s a slippery pass rusher but he’s also got power, so yeah, I think we were hoping that he would give us that and he’s delivered – and he got a game ball, I forgot to mention that obviously.”

(On what has been the key to the Bucs’ good run defense so far)

”It starts in the middle with really the front four, attacking, penetrating and freeing up those linebackers. But it’s really hustle. It’s just everybody getting to the ball. I thought we played extremely hard on defense last night.”

(On if Breshad Perriman having nine targets but just 10 yards through two games is a matter of developing chemistry with Jameis Winston)

”Yeah, I thought he was going to – that was a great throw into the end zone and I thought he’d make that catch. He slipped on a couple routes, but we’re going to keep targeting him because he was wide open [on a different play] and we underthrew him. It is some new chemistry but it was funny because in the spring it just clicked automatically. Jameis never missed him deep. But in real bullets it’s different.”

(On holding offensive focal points George Kittle of the 49ers and Christian McCaffrey of the Panthers to low totals)

”Again, Todd [Bowles] does such a great job of targeting what we have to stop and how we’re going to stop it, and the guys buy in. If that’s your assignment, that’s your assignment – let’s go. Christian is such an unbelievable back, catching and rushing, I doubt he’ll be held to that again. That was a hell of a job by our guys.”

(On Kevin Minter stepping in for an injured Devin White)

”He’s the ultimate pro. Playing special teams – and even after he played every single snap on defense [he said], ‘I’m not coming off special teams. I’m still staying out here.’ Deone Bucannon’s the same guy; he did it for Lavonte [David] when Lavonte was down. That inside linebacker depth – Jack [Cichy] came in and made a nice play in that goal-line stuff – it’s a good room, a really good room.”

(On if Vernon Hargreaves is normally man-to-man on the goal line, such as the play in which he stopped McCaffrey short to clinch the game)

”No, we set a zone scheme up because of all the gimmicks down there. It was really assignment quarterback: Who had the quarterback? We were ready for the option.”

(On a couple of just-missed big plays that could have given Jameis Winston a huge game)

”Yes, indeed. Those were two great balls; those guys have to come up with them. They’re talented enough to come up with those balls.”

(On if it gives him confidence to see the team bounce back after Week One on a short week)

”Oh, there’s no doubt. The staff did a great job getting the guys ready in that short week. We went inside, we stayed in the air conditioning, I thought we were a little bit fresher than we’d normally be on a Thursday night, for that reason. I thought they handled the lightning delay and all the things, those long-ass replays, really well.”