2010 Buccaneers - Swagger Included
The 2009 Buccaneers were an inexperienced bunch from top to bottom. New GM, new Head Coach, new Co-ordinators left, right and centre, a large number of rookies and coming off one of the worst ends to a season in 2008 you could imagine.
Monte Kiffin, the mad professor of the Tampa 2 was gone and Jon "Chucky" Gruden's Super Bowl win was in the past. The Glazers pulled the trigger on multiple targets and that caused a large amount of uncertainty amongst players, fans and staff alike. The 2009 documented that fact perfectly.
2010 is a whole different story. Raheem Morris took over the defensive play calling at the back end of 2009 and it installed a new attitude in our young defenders. We no longer looked afraid to make a play for the fear of making a mistake.
Men in pewter and red were once again seen flying around the field at top speed hitting everything that moves. All of sudden Bucs lineman were recording sacks, alright its not Jared Allen/Mario Williams numbers but it's better than the numbers we'd seen before. But the most noticeable thing about the team as a whole, optimised by the D, was the swagger was back.
In the days of Lynch, Sapp, Brooks etc the Buccaneers D literally walked about with a chip on their shoulder and with a swagger that said, "Bring what you've got it still ain't enough". That attitude is back in Tampa. Players like Aqib Talib, Tanard Jackson and Kellen Winslow have more than a swagger, they have an nasty streak.
Like all the best sportsmen do. Randy Moss, Chad OchoCinco, Terrell Owens and the likes are all of the same school of attitude, "I'm better than you and now I'm gonna prove it!". That attitude puts opponents on notice before you even get on the field, there is a fear factor. People will soon be once again fearing the Tampa 2 defense, or Tampa 2 Version 2.0 as I've named it.
As we ride out of Carolina waving to the Panthers fans crying into their Nascar hats you look back on that game and run down the checklist of old skool Bucs attitude. Multiple sacks? Check. Gang tackling? Check. Multiple takeaways? Check. Big goal-line stands? Check.
And at every step their was a team of guys united under Raheem Morris fighting for one another. This group is amongst the youngest in the NFL and this could be just the beginning of something very, very exciting. Super Bowl exciting.
The offense are getting their own swagger too. Josh Freeman is manipulating defenses, rushing for key yards and demonstrating the poise of a veteran. Mike Williams already has a chip on his shoulder and K2 speaks for himself. During Sunday's game I heard the Buccaneers right side of the line described as "The Nasty Side of the line". Joseph and Trueblood are nasty and do have an attitude and a swagger that you can't deny.
Jeff Faine and Donald Penn could both be found in the face of Panthers defenders after their cheap shotted "Their QB". That type of camaraderie is just another example of the type of attitude change that Raheem Morris has installed in his Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
At 2-0 the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers roll into RJS with a large number of fans waving yellow flannels. Their D is the league's best, bad news. However every cloud has a silver lining as Bryon Leadfoot is likely to make a swift return to Tampa and start for the Steelers. A man so immobile that its like shooting fish in a barrel. With our defense bringing the heat who knows what's possible. No-one thought we'd win in Carolina?!?