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Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles evaluates Week 1 against the Saints

He talks game plan, player readiness, and the Brady effect

NFL: NOV 17 Saints at Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles walks the sidelines during the regular season game against the New Orleans Saints
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the Bucs prepare for week 1 against the Saints on Sunday, the Buccaneers defense is expected to carry a heavy load, but that’s not something defensive coordinator Todd Bowles takes lightly. Its all work and no play for this old ball coach.

In Thursday’s press conference, Bowles spoke to the defense’s preparation and game plan. Here’s what he had to say when asked about getting butterflies for the first game.

The first game, opening day, is always important, especially as a coach because you don’t know what to expect from the other team. And partly, you have to make sure your team is taken care of, so it’s always butterflies [waiting] to see what happens.

Despite the nerves, Bowles’ defense needs to be prepared for a high powered offense they’re all too familiar with. They have to cover the best wide receiver in the game, twice. They have to stop one of the best running backs in the game, twice. And they have to defend against one of the best quarterbacks in the game, twice. None of this comes easy, so preparation is the key to success.

NFL: NOV 17 Saints at Buccaneers
Saints running back Alvin Kamara gets tackled by Carlton Davis III in week 11 of the 2019 season
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bowles responded to what he took away from the two games last season against the Saints.

The biggest thing is that we lost the games – that’s what sticks out the most to me. All nine games stick out to me in the loss column. There are no two games that separate [from] the others.

You don’t like to lose as a competitor, but you learn from each experience and you grow from it. You should be pissed off just to play ball anyway. They’ve gotten better mentally, but you’ve got to put it on the field obviously. Every game is an important game and this is the first one so it’s the most important one.

Bowles was asked what it takes to prepare for a quarterback like Drew Brees.

Every game is different. I think the first game of the year, it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is because nobody has seen each other play in a year.

You have to cross your ‘T’s, dot your ‘I’s and play fundamentally-sound football because they have a lot of play makers all over the field. We just have to do what we know how to do, play ball and trust our instincts.

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Saints Drew Brees calls a play during week 11 of the 2019 season against the Buccaneers
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Linebacker Devin White was voted captain for the 2020 season. Bowles says, “it’s not just his leadership skills......he can flat out play.”

He has physical tools and athletic tools that help him play the game. The fact that his leadership skills are there just plays a big part of it. The guys believe in him [and] we believe in him as a coaching staff, and I think that’s a credit to him.

White will be key to Tampa’s success this year. Many of us at Bucs Nation have already stated he will be the difference maker. Our very own Bailey Adams reported that Peter Schrager of NFL Network picked Devin White as the No. 1 breakout star of 2020. He understands the defense more, the game has slowed down for him and he has had a lot of lessons learned.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp
Bucs linebacker Devin White during training camp at Raymond James Stadium
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The secondary was a key area of improvement for the Bucs. They particularly needed an upgrade at the safety position. Justin Evans gets put on the Active/PUP list which left Jordan Whitehead as the only starting safety.

The job was given to Antoine Winfield Jr. out of Minnesota. He was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. In Thursday’s press conference, Bowles was asked what his confidence was in the rookie.

He’s a good football player, regardless of this situation or any situation. He’s a football player [and] he’s earned that right. He’s smart, he’s heady, he makes plays and he makes you trust him. He just goes out and plays football. That’s all he has to do on Sunday

He was then asked how many roles Winfield Jr. will play within his defense.

That’s yet to be determined. Obviously, in this short amount of time right now, he’s concentrating on safety. As the season goes along, we’ll see what kind of things we can pull out from a game plan standpoint, but that will be determined at a later date. Right now, we’re just concentrating on safety.

NFL: AUG 20 Buccaneers Training Camp
Tampa Bay’s rookie starting safety Antoine Winfield Jr. during training camp at the AdventHealth Training Center
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Since Tom Brady came to Tampa, there’s been nothing but hype and excitement. The players are excited, the fans are excited, the media are excited. It all comes down to winning the ball game and how each player makes an impact week in and week out.

Brady should have an impact on all sides of the ball. “The Brady Effect” is in full effect and we’ll see it on defense more than ever before. Winston threw 30 interceptions last season versus Brady’s 8. Brady also didn’t throw a pick in 8 of his games last season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady throwing a pass during training camp at Raymond James Stadium
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Todd Bowles was asked about potentially being on the field less this season with quarterback Tom Brady’s ability to limit turnovers.

If we’re not on the field, we’re not making plays. That’s our job to be on the field and try to get stops and turnovers for the offense. We don’t mind how long we’re out there, we just have to have results while we’re out there.

That’s our focus and that’s our goal – to get the ball back and get as many stops as we can to give the offense a chance to score.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, September 13th at 4:25pm ET on FOX. The Week 1 contest is slated as America’s Game of the Week. This is one of the most highly anticipated showdowns between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. The Bucs defense includes the 2019 sack leader, Shaq Barrett, and potentially the biggest breakout star of 2020, Devin White. With an improved secondary, we should see a very good and close game against these two rivals.