Will the Bucs be better against the Giants?

by Gary Shelton on November 19, 2021

in general

Pierre-Paul and his teammates need to be better./TIM WIRT

Friday, 3 a.m.

For those who haven't been paying attention, a recap.

A week ago, the Bucs played on the road. This week, ditto.

A week ago, the Bucs played a bad team from the NFC East. This week, same thing.

A week ago, the Bucs talked a good game about energy and bouncing back. This week, no difference.

So should we really believe the Bucs will fare better against the struggling New York Giants than they did against the struggling Washington football team?

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The suddenly mediocre Bucs will once again try to stop the misery Monday night. The Bucs, losers of two in a row, had a tough game against Washington, leaving with suggestions of not playing hard enough, physical enough energetically enough.

This week, will the Bucs finally play like the defending Super Bowl champions?

“I don’t think we have given any team our best shot yet – as a defense, offense and special teams," said Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. "We try to forget that we’re the Super Bowl champions, but you’ve got to understand that all 31 teams are looking to play their best game against us. Even if they’re sorry because there is no sorry team in the NFL. Any given Sunday a team could lose, easily.

"That’s why I don’t ever go off the hype or anything. You’ve got to actually go out there and play your best ball. I don’t think we’ve been playing our best ball, but we’re capable of playing our best ball. I think, right now, the whole team is trying to get in sync and play as one. Once we find a way to do that, then you’ll see the true Buccaneers come out. Everybody is going to give us their best shot. I knew that from the get-go since we came back in here. They’re going to give us their best. We’ve just got to figure out a way to give them our best shot – better now than never.”

The Bucs are 6-3 and hoping to catch fire the way they did last year when they were 7-5.

“It’s just holding each other accountable," said tackle Donovan Smith. "We’re out there to do one thing and one thing only and that’s to win. Everybody doing their jobs and clicking. We look forward to that. All of it includes playing physical, playing fast, playing with passion, playing smart, playing all of those things. So, you have to make sure you come to work and have all of those things out there on Sunday. For guys like me and other guys, you have to rally around the younger guys or whoever it is and get them up to speed. That’s the cut and dry answer there, so just have to do more of that.”

A bad start didn't help, said running back Leonard Fournette.

"It’s a mental thing," Fournette said. "It all happened when O.J. [Howard] jumped offsides and I dropped the ball. It was like a domino effect. You just go out there to play. Those first 12 plays a lot of guys were doing the wrong thing, making the wrong decision and that’s not us. We had a perfect practice last week and that’s our big emphasis for these upcoming practices, just little things and getting back to what we know. When you do win you kind of do get comfortable and we know what it takes to go on that run and just to play.”

Still, there are patches of the game the Bucs have to clear up. One of those is playing better on defense on third down.

"We’ve been doing pretty [well] on third downs except for last week," defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. "We had a tough day last week. Again, I can make better calls and we can play it better. It goes hand in hand. You move on and you get better from there.”

Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich wants to see more explosive plays.

“It’s unusual for us not to have the explosives," Leftwich said. I" think everybody is used to us having the explosives. We’ve been in games before this year and we didn’t have as many as we would normally have, according to the way teams have planned for us really to be honest with you. But I think that’s our next growth for us really as an offense. It allows us to be better at it on Sundays. The way teams plan for us, you can’t control the way teams plan.

" We don’t really care to be honest with you. We don’t care what they put out there. We’re just trying to execute versus whatever the defense is and sometimes you may not have as many explosives. It may be eight, nine, 10-play drives. You can’t be mad at that. We’re not mad at that. We just have to do what we need to do at the end and it’s ultimately coming down to scoring points. We talk about it. We need to do a better job of scoring points.”

As far as energy, Pierre-Paul says his team will play better.

I" think when it comes to energy, you’re going to feel it," Pierre-Paul said. "I’m the type of dude that I can’t give fake energy. I can’t tell our players let’s go do something that I’m not going to do. The energy comes from with inside of you. You’ve got to know you’re coming to play to win the game. I feel like the energy wasn’t out there [last week], but at the same time, you’ve got to focus on yourself and make sure you’re ready. That’s what I always do. I’m not going to always show my energy, it might just come off with the way that I play. Energy is something that you’ve got to find within yourself and bring it out.”

After that, of course, there is performance. That was lacking when Washington made a 19-play scoring drive to seal the game.

“I kind of put that on me too because he scored on my side, as well," Pierre-Paul said. "What I say is it all comes together. When you’re playing great ball, we’re all sticking together. That’s how you win a championship. It can’t be individual at all. We’ve got to be one core. I think that’s when the best comes out in a team. It’s offense, special teams and defense. I know coach talks about it a lot, but that’s when you really get the true [best out of] guys when everybody starts lighting up.” 

The Bucs play the Giants at 8:20 p.m. on Monday night.

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