Buccaneers Cornerbacks Happy With Win Over Falcons
September 11th is a day of remembrance and a time to take stocks of the individual blessings in all our lives. For the Buccaneers in 2016 it’s also a day this team can celebrate their first win and a first place standing in the NFC South.
As the Buccaneers prepared to get “Atlanta Ready” for opening day a lot of speculation swirled around whether or not this defense was really better, as it seemed to be on paper.
Only the play can prove the speculation right or wrong and for Week 1 in the NFL most of the speculation seemed to measure up.
In a 31-24 win against the Falcons, the defense allowed Matt Ryan to throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, but never allowed him to really take over the game.
A newly reinforced pass rush rang up three sacks including one from former New York Giants’ defensive end Robert Ayers. They also hit Ryan four other times while they didn’t quite make it for the sack.
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It was bend-don’t-break day for the Bucs though as they allowed plenty of yards while forcing Atlanta to settle three times for field goals. As any fan of this franchise knows, field goals won’t get you wins they’ll just make you lose by less.
Perhaps two of the happiest players after the game were veteran cornerback Brent Grimes and rookie Vernon Hargreaves III.
In post-game interviews the elder of the two downplayed the emphasis of playing his former team as a division rival by saying,
"“It’s just a football game. All football games are fun..”"
Grimes did acknowledge the importance of the game later though stating,
"“It was a big win. It was a division game and we got out of here with a win so [we’re] happy.”"
For the former Falcon who is also a former Dolphin this game marks the official beginning of his 10th season as an NFL corner, and he showed veteran savvy at some key points late with the game on the line.
For Vernon Hargreaves III, the 2016 first-round draft pick didn’t start off so hot as he was fooled
completely by an early play-action by Ryan which opened up the door for a big gain by new Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu.
About the game Hargreaves had this to say,
"“It was a great experience. For me personally I’ve got some things I need to work on, being the competitor I am, but it was a great win for us.”"
Both players emphasized the play of the defense late in an effort to slow and stop the comeback attempt by their division rival. Hargreaves pointed to preparation by saying,
"“In the NFL games come down to one play, one drive, one series and that’s what coach Koetter preaches. That’s what we do in practice, and we came out there and executed, and got the win.”"
The questions surrounding the Falcons franchise this season focus more on the defensive side of the ball as their offense contains arguably the NFC South’s best passing duo in Ryan and receiver Julio Jones.
Grimes didn’t hesitate at all when asked about how they were able to contain the two who connected for 66 yards and one touchdown, but never really got a consistent flow throughout the game.
"“You can’t say enough about Julio or Matt, they’re great players, but you have to beat them as a team. That’s what we did, and we played as a team, helped each other out and got out of here (with a win).”"
The team mentality and improvement in areas they know they need to grow in will be crucial moving forward.
This year has just started and it’s only getting harder from here. Next the team travels to the desert to take on Carson Palmer and his trio of receivers along with a running back duo in David Johnson and Chris Johnson who can do damage out of the backfield as receivers as well.
The Cardinals play Sunday Night against the New England Patriots so you can believe the coaches and players will have their eyes on the game as they look ahead to next week in Arizona.
If there’s a theme of the game it’s teamwork. From the head coach to the team captains they’re all speaking the same tune, and for the two newest Buccaneers cornerbacks, they’re taking all the positives as motivation to improve on the negatives.
What kind of grade do you give the team as a whole and especially the secondary? Did they do well enough to convince you they’ve improved or are you reserving judgement until we get further than one game in?
Next: Immediate Reactions to the Bucs' Win
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