Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is happy his team is advancing in the playoffs, but he had some pointed remarks for the defense as they head into the Divisional Round. Arians described the defensive performance against Washington as “terrible” citing missed tackles as something the team needed to clean up. The Bucs coach used a question about Lavonte’s David’s clutch sack against Washington to sound off on the unit’s play.
“Yeah, it was great because we weren’t tackling worth a s— the whole game, and we finally got him when it mattered,” Arians said in his post-game press conference. “I don’t think this was the best our defense has played. I mean, it was terrible up until the last eight minutes.”
There were things to like about the Buccaneers’ win over Washington including Leonard Fournette’s stellar performance. Arians also praised Tom Brady’s outing and the offensive line’s protection against a stout pass rush.
The Buccaneers defense will face a much bigger test against the Saints this week but the good news for Tampa Bay is that help is on the way. Star linebacker Devin White and defensive lineman Steve McLendon are expected to return to play against the Saints.
White Is Expected to Play vs. Saints
White was sidelined for the Buccaneers’ Wild Card matchup against Washington after testing positive for COVID-19. The Bucs linebacker had a message for fans heading into the team’s playoff matchup with their NFC South foe.
“We have activated Devin White from that crazy covic 19 list!!!!” White noted on Twitter. “I’m ready to practice man ! LETS WORK.”
The Bucs officially activated White and McLendon on January 11 giving both players an opportunity for a full week of practice heading into their marquee matchup against the Saints. Arians praised Kevin Minter for filling in for White at linebacker against Washington but added “he’s not Devin.”
“First let me say how good Kevin Minter played in those two ballgames [stepping in for White],” Arians noted, per ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “He was outstanding, did a great job, tipped that ball and got an interception. But he’s not Devin, and to bring Devin’s passion, his energy, his speed, hopefully he can get after the quarterback some like he’s been doing so well — you’re bringing back one of the top players in the league.”
The Saints Scored More Than 30 Points in Both Matchups Against the Bucs
The Buccaneers struggled against the Saints’ offense in their most recent matchup, but some of these challenges were self-inflicted by their own turnovers. Tampa Bay lost 38-3 the last time they squared off in November, but the Bucs are hoping their recent hot surge will make it a different game this time around.
Tampa Bay’s defense allowed 420 total yards to the Saints, but limited New Orleans to 271 in Week 1. The Bucs also held the Saints to 82 rushing yards in their first matchup but will once again be tested in the Divisional Round by Alvin Kamara. Prior to learning the Buccaneers would face the Saints, Arians shot down the notion that his team did not want to play New Orleans.
“It doesn’t matter,” Arians said, per Yahoo.com. “We’re playing — that’s all that matters. We’re a better football team than the last time we played the Saints — if we go there. It doesn’t matter to me. …That part [a potential home game] I’ll root for. I will root for that.”