Buccaneers say they'll put disappointing start behind them
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren't concerned about a slow start mushrooming into another disappointing season.
Coach Lovie Smith said Monday he is confident the struggling team is headed in the right direction, despite suffering one of the most deflating losses in franchise history in Jameis Winston's debut.
The Bucs went 2-14 a year ago for their worst finish in nearly three decades. They have not made the playoffs since 2007.
If a four-touchdown loss to the Tennessee Titans is indicative of what is to come, they are in for another long season.
Winston had his first pass as a pro intercepted and returned for a touchdown. The offense gained more than half of its yardage in the fourth quarter, and the Marcus Mariota-led Titans scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions against what was expected to be an improved Bucs defense.
''One disappointing game doesn't define our season. We won't let it,'' Smith said.
''If we had been on the other side, we wouldn't be printing up Super Bowl tickets right now either. It's just one game. The season isn't made on it. ... You have to keep that in perspective,'' he added. ''It's not all bad to have more of a sense of urgency early on.''
The Bucs (0-1) travel to New Orleans to face the Saints (0-1) on Sunday.
Coaches and teammates talked at various times during training camp and the preseason about Winston's resilience and ability to put poor plays or subpar performances or practices behind him.
He was 16-of-33 passing for 210 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions in the opener - outplayed by No. 2 overall pick Mariota, who was 13 of 16 for 209 yards, four TDs and no interceptions.
The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, sacked four times, said he will learn from the experience.
''Confidence has never been a thing for me. ... I'm always going to be confident. This is just one game, I always can bounce back,'' Winston said.
''Things didn't happen like I wanted it to happen, but you don't get down on yourself. You don't start, saying `boo-hoo' and feel sorry for yourself,'' he added. ''Nobody really is going to feel sorry for you. All you've got is yourself, so you've got to bounce back and continue to play. I believe in our team ... and I believe we're going to bounce back. That's what we do.''
Without discussing specifics, Smith said teams that start poorly like the Bucs typically make the greatest amount of improvement between the first and second games.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins liked the way Winston and the offense continued to compete, even after Tampa Bay fell behind 42-7 in the second half.
The Bucs finished with 273 yards after being limited to 134 through three quarters. Seferian-Jenkins had five receptions for a career-best 110 yards and two TDs.
''What's done is done. We have an L. It's 0-1, but what we do have control of is where we go from here, and the work that we put in from here,'' the second-year pro said. ''It's in the past, and we've got to move past from it ... go towards next week. The most important thing is getting better.''
The Bucs announced a couple of roster moves Monday, signing former Atlanta Falcons center Joe Hawley and waiving guard/center Eric Kush.
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