It was an interesting and slightly tumultuous week in Tampa Bay. Following a late loss to the Giants, one that saw them squander a big lead, Bucs coach Greg Schiano saw his end-game tactics widely debated. He was a target.
How did his team respond? Were they focused. How ready are they to play the Cowboys?
That’s one of the things I asked Schiano when we spoke yesterday.
“I’m just honest with them,” Schiano said, answering my question about how to get the team to react properly. “I’m as disappointed as they are, but this is the National Football League. It’s not like you’re going to win every game, that doesn’t happen. We just gotta get back to work and I think they did. Initially, they’re sore, they played over 80 plays on defense. So, the Wedneday practice, we had to get it going. But I respect the way they approached this week. They worked hard, and the key is, win or lose, you have to be able to put the game behind you, the team you’re playing, they don’t care about anything. They don’t care how many plays you played, how tough a loss it was, they don’t care if there was any kind of external distractions as a result of the game. They care about one thing, they’re trying to whip your butt.”
That’s what Schiano expressed to his team about the Cowboys. They will be at their home, coming off a loss, with a lot of fire. Be ready, because the opponent will be.
“It’s their home opener, they had a not-so-great performance up in Seattle, and they certainly are a motivated group down there,” Schiano said. “I don’t spent a lot of time on the opponent and their mindset and all of that, but I think it’s important that our guys understand what we’re walking into: 102,000, crazy Dallas fans.”
Schiano used crowd noise this week in practice… which he always does. I didn’t realize that. Each week, he uses it on a different unit. He explained.
“We use crowd noise,” Schiano told me. “We use it every week. If we’re playing away, we use it on the offense. If we’re playing at home, we use it on the defense, because when you’re at home, especially on third down, you can’t hear a thing. There’s a lot of communication that goes on defensively, too, so we use it different times at practice every day.”
As for the focal point, and whether it filtered down to the players, I asked WR Vincent Jackson, a captain.
“I don’t know if it’s this week, we’ve had the tone even before what happened last week, just about finishing,” Jackson told me. “It’s always about starting fast and finishing the game. And obviously, we’re not really concerned about what happened last week. You learn from it you break it down and learn from it, as far as moving forward, nothing has changed for us. We’re still going to do things as we’ve done things, the tone in practice has been the same since training camp as far as maintaining the ball, executing on third down, the defense getting off the field, getting down in the green zone or red zone, trying to come way with points, all those things. Take away big plays from other teams offense and of course, we need to make big plays. The tone hasn’t changed no matter what happened last week, and we’re going to continue that ideally for the rest of the season.”