TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Point out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the very first thing more likely to come to thoughts is Jameis Winston and an rising offense.
Perhaps it’s time an improved protection that keyed the group’s season-opening rout of the Chicago Bears will get a bit love, too.
“Protection wins championships,” Winston stated, reflecting on a 29-7 victory by which the Bears turned the ball over 4 occasions within the first half and have been held to twenty yards dashing.
“Once you’ve obtained a dominant protection,” the younger quarterback added, “it opens up each single factor.”
Robert McClain returned an interception for a landing. Noah Spence had Tampa Bay’s solely sack, forcing a fumble that led to a different TD.
Specials groups additionally did its half to assist Winston construct a 26-zero halftime lead, recovering a fumble on a punt return at Chicago’s thirteen-yard line.
“It was loopy through the second quarter,” tight finish Cameron Brate stated. “We acquired a takeaway, we scored the primary play after which the protection acquired a decide-six.
“So, we had run one play within the second quarter and we have been already up 23-zero,” Brate stated. “It was just a little bizarre as a result of we actually didn’t need to do an excessive amount of to construct that lead.”
Coach Dirk Koetter stated the protection primarily took up the place it left off final season, when Tampa Bay rebounded from a three-5 begin to end 9-7.
The group’s first profitable report in six years didn’t produce a playoff berth, however it heightened expectations for this season.
“In the event you take a look at that second half of final yr, they have been a dominant protection. For my part, they only picked up the place they left off,” Koetter stated. “It wasn’t actually that shocking to me as a result of we see them day-after-day in follow.”
“When you take a look at final yr, our protection, in the direction of the top of the yr they have been lights out,” the third-yr professional stated. “That’s why our offense had success.”
In addition to the protection performed towards the Bears, Koetter cautioned that there’s loads of room for enchancment.
The Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, and the coach stated it’s essential to not lose perspective.
“Once you play the right recreation, you possibly can cease worrying about what you must work on. However I haven’t seen it but,” Koetter stated.
“Every thing about (Sunday) was actually good. Thrilling approach to begin the season. Distinctive method to begin the season based mostly on the set of circumstances,” the coach added. “However on the similar time, that was only one recreation. All of us tend to be method excessive for the great or the dangerous, and actuality is someplace within the center.”
Three-time Professional Bowl security T.J. Ward joined the Bucs this month after being launched by Denver following the ultimate preseason.
Ward was a part of an elite protection that helped the Broncos win the Tremendous Bowl two years in the past. He’s impressed together with his new teammates, and thinks the Bucs have the potential of turning into a dominant unit, too.
“We undoubtedly could be primary,” Ward stated. “The expertise we have now on this room, they work arduous and it’s every little thing you might want to be a championship protection.”
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