Society usually defers to the benefit of the doubt when it comes to certain situations. However, that's not so much the case in the NFL.
The Buccaneers find themselves in a particular spot heading into Week 11: Back-to-back losses on the road mixed with dumb mistakes and bad turnovers have them sitting at 6-3 after a 6-1 start. All of a sudden, there are all kinds of questions surrounding the team, which is natural when you lose the way they did to a 2-6 team in Washington.
"They know the message," Bruce Arians told reporters when asked if the team realizes the current environment they are in. "I think they're all disappointed in where we were the last two weeks, and turnovers and penalties. There's no secret about it."
Many thought the loss in New Orleans would serve as a wake-up call, but that clearly wasn't the case last week. The question now becomes one of will the Bucs continue to hit the snooze button or will they actually wake up and get out of bed?
Based off what outside linebackers coach Larry Foote has seen, it's more of the latter this week.
"Monday, it was a different meeting," said Foote. "I could see the focus. This morning in the meetings on the game plan, guys were a little different, and it should be that way when you lose two in a row. There’s a lot of pride in my room and in this building, so hopefully those guys will respond on Monday [night].”
And he believes that the Week 10 loss will indeed wake this team up.
"Any time you lose two in a row, I know there [are] a lot of expectations – not only in this room but outside of this room," said Foote. "It’s definitely a wake-up call when you lose two in a row, no matter who we’re playing.
"I know those guys are going to respond.”
The players are aware of the change that needs to be made and the sense of urgency that needs to develop, as well.
"We’re coming off two losses so this week the preparation has to be very key, very tuned in," Jordan Whitehead told reporters Thursday.
“There’s no doubt in my mind, but we have to put the work in," Shaquil Barrett said in regard to the Bucs getting back to their championship-level of play. "It’s not just going to happen because we did it last year. It’s a different team, different circumstances and different everything this year so we have to put that work in. We know everything that’s still in front of us. It’s not going to be just given to us. We have to take the coaching and put it on the field and execute everything. We have to execute because it’s not going to be given to us at all. After being Super Bowl champs last year, every team is going to give you their best week-in and week-out and we have to prepare for that.”
And through it all, the Bucs are keeping a positive mentality. Because well, they kind of have to.
“I really think we will be OK," said Whitehead. "I just think we will [have] a little more preparation in practice this week. We’re ready. We’re there. It’s the NFL, it’s a week-to-week basis. Any team could win, so I just think we need to go out there from the start to the finish with that attitude that we play with.”
Actions always speak louder than words and at this point, the Bucs need to act, not talk. At the same time, however, they are saying the right things and showcasing the right mentality to get out their current slump. The NFL is all about the mental game and when players or teams win that side of the matchup, the physical aspect usually follows.
But for now, what actually happens on Monday night against the Giants is still up in the air, especially when considering what happened during last year's matchup.
And the Bucs can't blame anyone for doubting that.
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