The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have routed the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round, but head coach Bruce Arians made it clear that he was not happy with how the defense finished the game. After the contest, Arians sent a message to the defense about blowing their shutout in the fourth quarter.
“There’s no doubt, I think they’re all disappointed in that little relaxation,” Arians noted during his postgame press conference on January 16. “When you have a chance to shut somebody out, you don’t relax, and I think we learned a lesson there. But yeah, for three quarters they were fantastic.”
ALL the latest Bucs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bucs newsletter here!
Arians to Bucs Defense: ‘You Can’t Relax Like That’
Arians had a similar message in the locker room as the Bucs released a short clip of the coach’s message to the team after their win over the Eagles. Tampa Bay had a 31-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter but allowed the Eagles to score 15 unanswered points. Arians encouraged the Bucs defense to continue to “be a little hungry” and finish the game with a shutout on the next occasion.
“Defense, when you get a shutout, baby, you got to be a little hungry,” Arians told the team in the locker room. “You can’t relax like that and give up points when we had a shutout, alright? You know it, you know, it’s just tackling. Alright, offense good job finishing, we had a lot of guys step in, step up. It’s going to be the same thing next week.”
The Buccaneers Defense Is Getting Healthy at the Right Time
The Buccaneers have been a revolving door on offense since the end of the regular season. Tampa Bay is shorthanded, especially at the skill positions, after Chris Godwin sustained a season-ending ACL injury and the team opted to release Antonio Brown.
The Bucs’ top two running backs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones are both dealing with injuries and did not play against the Eagles. Tampa Bay’s offensive line also sustained multiple injuries in the Wild Card round including starters Tristan Wirfs and Ryan Jensen.
The defense is now the much healthier unit with key players like Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David returning for the postseason. After the win, David reflected on what it was like to return to the field after his extended absence.
“Oh, it means a lot, it was hard going through that [injury],” David told reporters on January 16. “Just going out there like I’m used to, being out there with my guys and not being able to play football for three weeks, it’s real tough. You see guys out there having fun, and you’re not out there with them to have fun with them. You’re not out there to be the leader that they may need at certain moments.
“So, it kind of hit me, but I was able to just stick to my plan. Stick to the trainers’ plan to grind it out and get my treatment to be able to get to this point. I couldn’t miss [the] first home playoff game in a long time, and I couldn’t miss it. So, I had to put a lot of good work in, get to this point and all I’m gonna do is just keep trying to get better.”