-Good Morning Football's "Angry Scepter" is coming back to Tampa after not one but two Buccaneers players were nominated for this week's tweaked "Angry Round" segment. The catch? Neither of those players were running backs. NFL Network's Kyle Brandt nominated both center Ryan Jensen and inside linebacker Devin White, with the latter winning the award from a series of four finalists total.
And no, White wasn't used on offense. He intercepted New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and then took the ball 18 yards the other direction while fighting his way through attempted tackles. White had himself a day as a whole, registering 11 tackles himself, including one for loss, and a fumble recovery. White is now the second Bucs player to win the award this season after running back Ronald Jones won it for his performance against the Broncos in Week Three.
-Speaking of White, NFL.com's Dan Hanzus dubbed Sunday's game "The Devin White Game" as he ranked the Bucs fourth of the remaining four teams in the playoffs and has their opponent ranked and number two.
"Sunday's win over the Saints should forever be remembered as The Devin White Game," wrote Hanzus. "The second-year linebacker delivered a superstar performance, totaling 11 tackles, a key fumble recovery and the game-swinging interception of Drew Brees in the fourth quarter of a 30-20 win that sent the Bucs to the NFC title game for the first time since the team's 2002 Super Bowl season. Tampa Bay's swarming defense turned four Saints turnovers into three touchdowns, wiping away all memories of two regular-season losses to New Orleans in which Tampa Bay was outscored by 46 points. "Everybody always asked, 'What was our identity?'" White said after the game. "We didn't have an answer. But Coach BA (Bruce Arians) had an answer. He said, 'We're some m-----f-----s who are gonna find a way to win the game.'" They sure did.
-And while the Bucs' defense put on a clinic against the Saints, the offense put together maybe its most balanced game yet, with 33 passes and 35 rushes.
"Offensively, I liked the running game," said Head Coach Bruce Arians on Monday. "I thought our offensive line protected and blocked – the tight ends, you can put them in there too. Aaron Stinnie played his tail off. Defensively, it was the takeaways. Just getting the ball away from those guys, we knew it was going to be hard, but we did a great job of it."
The reasoning for that offensive success hinges on the blocking up front, which Arians included the tight ends in. But tight ends, like Cam Brate this last game, are stepping up in the receiving game, too. That's helped in moving the chains as well – especially on third down.
"I think a lot of it has to do with trying to establish a run and getting more tight ends on the field," said Brate. "It's hard to gameplan that way when you have the weapons that we do [and] the quarterback that we have. Just establishing the line of scrimmage, making sure the defense doesn't just pin their ears back and pressure us – that's been big for us and we've kind of been gearing that way toward the end of the regular season and now into the playoffs. It's worked out for me and [I've] just been able to make some plays for us, which is cool."
The Bucs have undoubtedly evolved as the season has gone on – which means they've evolved from the last time they played the Green Bay Packers in Week Six of this season. That game was a blowout win for the Bucs, who scored 38 points to the Packers' 10 behind another incredible team effort. But it's the playoffs now and therefore an entirely new ball game. One that requires a different mindset, which guys that have been here before, like Ndamukong Suh, can attest to.
"I think it's definitely having the mindset of understanding that you kind of control your own destiny from a standpoint of how we got into the playoffs and how we finished off into the playoffs being the fifth seed and controlling our mindset in that aspect," said Suh on Monday. "Then, knowing we needed to get on the road and take care of business against Washington and then see where the chips fell. That had us going back to New Orleans, which I was happy about from a standpoint [that] as a team, we needed to go out, challenge and beat [the Saints], which we were fortunate enough to do in a good fashion from the defensive side of the ball [by] getting so many turnovers. My intent is all about the keys for us continuing to play at a high level. I think for a young guy like [Devin White] to recognize that and see that as an important piece and knowing that we need to stay focused on that as well as executing, we should be in a good place going into this Packers game."
Bucs Tweet of the Day:
Oh yeah, and safety Mike Edwards also got some Good Morning Football love for his #ToeDragSwag.