The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began the on-field preparations for their upcoming game in Seattle on Wednesday. After practice, Head Coach Bruce Arians spoke about the state of his team and the challenges that the Seahawks present. Here are some of the more significant topics on which Arians touched:
1. Anger is Fueling the Bucs This Week
The "48-hour rule" to which most teams subscribe is designed to avoid letting disappointment or overconfidence from one game's outcome to affect the next one. For losses in particular, the Buccaneers are supposed to learn from their mistakes in the immediate aftermath and then mentally turn the page to the next opponent.
The Bucs might be making a bit of an exception this week. As evidenced by Lavonte David's impassioned speech in the postgame locker room in Nashville, Tampa Bay players are taking their latest loss particularly hard and are determined to stop beating themselves and losing games they believe they should have won. Arians said the mood was palpable on the plane flight back to Tampa Sunday night.
"I think Lavonte set that tone about it not being acceptable, and having the game and then giving it away," said the coach. "Forget the referees – just having the game and giving it away. It's time to stop. I think they all feel that, and it's a very good feeling as a coach to come back on a plane that's angrier about losing."
Arians said that anger was still lingering on Wednesday – well past 48 hours after the end of the game – and it had a noticeable effect on the practice field.
"It did today," said Arians. "[It was a] very serious practice."
Arians' mention of the referees was a reference to the play on which Titans punter Brett Kerns was ruled down by contact, negating an apparent fumble recovery and return for a touchdown by safety Andrew Adams. Had Adams scored the Bucs would have had a three-point lead with under four minutes to play, but there were plenty of other moments not involving the officials that could have turn the game in the Bucs' favor. It's close losses like this one and the Week Three game against the Giants, which turned on a last-second missed field goal, that have the Bucs particularly frustrated about being 2-5 and on the outer fringes of the playoff hunt. David and company are using their frustration to try to turn the season around.
"I'd say we're two plays from 4-3, and everybody would be talking differently," said Arians. "The guys are fighting their asses off – [we've] just got to finish games and win them."
View some of the top photos from Buccaneers Week 9 practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.
2. Taking the Ball Away from Russell Wilson? Not Easy
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has a league-best and career-high 115.5 passer rating at the midway point of the Seahawks' schedule, and the main reason is his absurd touchdown-to-interception ratio. Not only does Wilson lead the NFL with 17 touchdown passes, but he's also the league's best at protecting the football, with just one interception in 250 attempts. Arians, who faced Wilson twice a year while head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, has a huge amount of respect for the Seahawks' heady passer.
"Russell's a really smart guy and he doesn't take many chances," said Arians. "He doesn't take a lot of chances, but he is a great deep ball thrower. When he throws it, it's coming down over the outside shoulder. When you get interceptions on him, or sack-fumbles – which have happened in the past – they're rare, but he's excellent."
Wilson also has 182 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground this season, so it's far from a win when opposing defenses flush him from the pocket. Since he can succeed by either tucking it away and running or finding an open man on the move, broken plays don't often lead to turnovers for Wilson, either.
"Russell knows when to run [and] he knows when to get it out of his hand," said Arians. "I think the really good ones – when you plug guys in – they'll take control of it for you."
3. He's Looking Forward to Playing in Seattle…No, Really
Seattle's CenturyLink Field can be rough for opposing offenses because the stadium design amplifies the crowd noise, and the "12th Man" is very good at knowing when to crank it up and when not to crank it up. Arians…likes that?
"Other than Kansas City, as far as an outside stadium, it's unbelievable," he said. "It's a soccer crowd, it's nonstop and when they crank it up, the whole place is shaking. It's a fun place to go for me. I enjoy that environment."
Perhaps that's because his teams have had success there. Arians was the head coach for five seasons in Arizona, which meant an annual trip to the Pacific Northwest. Even though Seattle was very good in that same five-year span (54-25-1 in the regular season, with two Super Bowl appearances and one championship), Arians' Cardinals had little trouble in Seattle. The Cardinals won there in four of those five seasons, the exception being 2014.
"It's kind of odd because when we played them every year, they'd beat us at home and we'd beat them up there," he said. "A lot of those games were really close games that we won at the end. If you can hang in there with the crowd and the environment and everything that's so unique about the place, and don't get overwhelmed, you'll have a chance to win the game."