The defense must have done something right, holding the Panthers run game to only 10 yards in a 16-10 victory. And the key to that success were the linebackers. They were able to adjust to plays and stop the run.
Head coach Greg Schiano said that he was only unhappy with one play by the defense, otherwise the guys worked hard and looked good. Schiano said that one reason the defense was successful was because the “players are doing what we ask them to do” and they execute it.
He was also very proud of Barber playing in his 200th consecutive game, in addition to the way he played at safety for the first time. But Schiano told Barber the night before that no matter what the Panthers’ first play was going to be, Barber was going to start that one play at cornerback in the nickel package. Schiano kept his promise, wanting to make sure that all 200 starts were at corner.
Schiano said he liked how all three safeties, Ronde Barber, Mark Barron and Ahmad Black, played. Barber was happy to help Black get his first career interception. With Barber at corner for the start of the game, it gave Black the opportunity to play at safety, which he took full advantage of. Schiano feels that Barron “will get better as he gets more comfortable and faster.”
Barber is taking well to safety, saying, “I have never thought of myself as just a corner.” That attitude helped him lead to a sack and an interception in the game. He finds this to be another challenge and welcomes it. Barber credits cornerback Aqib Talib for the interception, saying that Talib got his hand up and he was there at the right time. The sack happened due to hustle.
Barber was unsure if he was going to play this season saying, “Glad I came back, it is a completely different experience for me and that coach has really pushed me into a leadership role and I’m enjoying it.” He likes helping to influence the young guys and looks forward to seeing them grow.
Rookie linebacker Lavonte David was a huge part of the win, making all the calls on defense. Schiano said he did the calls because he ended up being out on the field the most, and he “did it all spring (and training) camp.” He is not the first rookie making calls for the Bucs. Last season, Mason Foster did most of the calling. This season, the Bucs have a few players that are comfortable calling plays including Foster.
One player that fans have gotten used to making a big impact is defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Schiano said that “McCoy is real instrumental, disruptive force even when he does not make the play.”
Another key to continuing the defensive success is to keep preparing every week and believe in the one-game seasons that coach preaches.
If the Bucs defense plays at this pace all season, they will be unstoppable.
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Kyra Hallett is a freelance writer and a Multimedia Sports Journalist. She has experience covering Tampa Bay sports in many outlets including Examiner.com. Her dream job would be to work with the athletes and their fans. You can view some of her work at KyraHallett.com or here at Examiner.com.