The Bucs' season has not been very good, but the Bucs' defense has been pretty good. A handful of players put up Pro Bowl numbers: Lavonte David, Gerald McCoy, Darrelle Revis, and Mark Barron. But this Bucs defense has a lot more to play for than a trip to Hawaii -- a win at St. Louis tops the list.
Anymore, a game without a Bucs defensive takeaway feels like a letdown. Bucs players truly celebrate each other's accomplishments.
"It's fun being able to see your brother make a play," Cornerback Leonard Johnson offered. "The offense feeds off the defense, and the defense feeds off the offense. So whenever something goes right, you know, we try to get each other going, so more plays can start happening."
The Bucs defense has a list of goals -- statistics to play for, in addition to two more wins. This unit ranks in the top 10 in the league, or close to the top 10, in a number of categories: takeaways, interceptions, and stopping the run.
Looking ahead to next season, the Bucs play for jobs and momentum. This defense improved dramatically since last season. Coaches credit top-notch free agents and back-ups.
Greg Schiano sees the potential for greatness and players already with Tampa Bay will be key.
"This is such the instant society, but sometimes you just got to develop guys. You coach them, they get better. They watch themselves on tape, they play in games, they learn, they get better. Physically they're getting better."
Mentally, too -- familiarity with schemes makes a difference for this defense.
The Bucs' mindset heading to St. Louis: play for the win, play for each other.
Bucs linebacker Dekoda Watson puts it like this: "Any other team, anybody individually would have just gave up. But one thing that I can say that is that, if anything, we stuck together."
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy plays for pride. "I got a name on the front of my jersey and a name on the back... I'm one individual, however I got 10 brothers I go out there on the field with, so if I don't give it my all or be at my best, I'm letting them down. So that's really what I'm playing for."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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