Bucs need to discover their passion to win

by Gary Shelton on November 18, 2021

in general

Barrett still believes in Bucs./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

It wasn't that long ago that their energy defined them.

They attacked. They marauded. They swarmed. They were quicker than their opponents. The results of each play seemed to matter more. They were fleet and physical and furious. There was an urgency, a hunger, to the way they played football.

Alas, that is but a memory.

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Two straight defeats, two re-defining failures, and there is a different feel to this Tampa Bay Bucs team. No longer are they the team that conquered the road on their way to the Super Bowl. They are slow, plodding, and it's a question whether they will fall asleep before those watching them.

They have lost to the Saints, with third-team quarterback Trevor Siemian, and to the Redskins, with journeyman Taylor Heinicke. Their offensive line has been beaten in two straight games. The secondary has been ineffective.

Now, they are a bunch talking about playing harder.

So what will it take for a team to talk itself into urgency?

"Each and every guy doing his job to his best ability," Bucs' coach Bruce Arians said. "I mean, that's all it is. You've got to be ready to play on game day, and there were some that weren't playing as fast they could or have [in the past]. Now, they thought they were. [There is a] big [difference] about thinking you're playing fast or really actually playing fast. For those eight minutes, we were playing really fast. So yeah, it's something you've got to see yourself do and keep learning from it, and hopefully we'll make those corrections this week."

Okay, if you're fair, injuries have played a part. Of course they have. But a lack of effort is perhaps the worst thing you can suggest of a football team.

" Monday it was a different meeting," said outside linebackers coach Larry Foote." I could see the focus. This morning in the meetings on the game plan, guys were a little different, and it should be that way when you lose two in a row. There’s a lot of pride in my room and in this building, so hopefully those guys will respond on Monday.

“Any time you lose two in a row, I know there [are] a lot of expectations – not only in this room but outside of this room. It’s definitely a wake-up call when you lose two in a row, no matter who we’re playing.”

The Bucs swear they will play harder against the Giants, traditionally a tough opponent for the Bucs.

“Just come out to practice and fix what’s been going wrong," outside linebacker Shaq Barrett said. Barrett had no tackles on Sunday. "Start by looking in the mirror and just get back on track and get back to the mindset that we have to go out there and earn every play. We have to grind it out. Nothing is going to be given to us. Nothing is going to be easy, so we have to work for everything that we want.”

We most definitely had a great week of practice, and we went out there and probably thought it was going to continue over, but we still had to put the work in by just focusing and executing everything. We didn’t do that at all. That’s why we’re on a two-game slide right now, but with the leadership we have and the coaches that we have, it should and will end right here. We’re going to go back to work through everything like we’re supposed to and come out and try to take care of business on Monday.”

Does it come that easy? Can team that admits it didn't play hard enough one week simply switch it on the next?

“We just have to come out with the energy because when we have the energy that we’re supposed to have everyone feeds off it and it gets us going for sure. We had energy at times in the game last week, but it wasn’t enough and it wasn’t consistent enough. That’s why we played the way we played. So, once we get our energy going and keep it going for all four quarters the plays are going to start happening. If we start making the plays we’re going to be back to [creating] turnovers [and] fun football again.

(On if he believes in the team’s ability to play as well as it did during its championship run last season)

“There’s no doubt in my mind( the team can play as well as it did during last year's title run), but we have to put the work in," Barrett said. "It’s not just going to happen because we did it last year. It’s a different team, different circumstances and different everything this year so we have to put that work in. We know everything that’s still in front of us. It’s not going to be just given to us. We have to take the coaching and put it on the field and execute everything. We have to execute because it’s not going to be given to us at all. After being Super Bowl champs last year, every team is going to give you their best week-in and week-out and we have to prepare for that.”

Said safety Jordan Whitehead:“I really think we will be OK. I just think we will [have] a little more preparation in practice this week. We’re ready. We’re there. It’s the NFL, it’s a week-to-week basis. Any team could win, so I just think we need to go out there from the start to the finish with that attitude that we play with.” 

The Bucs and Giants will play at 8:20 p.m. at the Meadowlands.

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