Immediately following their 48-17 loss to the Ravens, the Bucs received deserved criticism from most around the Tampa Bay area. My focus was on the lack of leadership for allowing a "loser" mentality to permeate through that locker room for significantly longer than it should have. A change needed to be made to their mentality, and that's just what Lovie Smith focused on during the Bucs bye week.
"They know what we need to do, but the talking part, we need to do less of that and it’s what we do out on the football field one day at a time, one play at a time, that’s the message," Lovie Smith said when asked about talking to his players about their mentality. "If there’s a message, one good play at a time and it’s as simple as that.”
The Bucs are last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed on defense, so starting to win individual battles wouldn't hurt either.
"It's a mentality thing," Gerald McCoy said on Monday. "I'm gonna be better than the guy I'm facing. I'm gonna be more physical than the guy I'm facing. I'm gonna play harder than the guy I'm facing. I'm gonna be smarter than that guy."
Yes, the Bucs need to win even more individual battles and for each player to be doing their own job, but perhaps there's a bit more to it than just that. For me, the mindset of a team and its players helps those same players win those individual battles.
"The mentality," McCoy said when asked what was missing from the team. "Coach gave us a couple keys, things we've been missing over the first six weeks.
The only mentality the Bucs have been playing with through the first six weeks of the season has been a soft one. Because they have thought soft, they have played soft.
Here's hoping that Lovie's new focus for the team works, but for that to happen, it must happen with the "leaders" first.
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