Tampa Bay Buccaneers


The Bucs discuss Warren Sapp’s NFC Defensive Player of the Week award, won for the third straight time by a Tampa Bay player

So the question is obvious. Who's next?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are working on an unusual sweep, with one of their players winning every NFC Defensive Player of the Week award so far this season. LB Derrick Brooks took the prize after Week One, CB Ronde Barber followed in Week Two and now DT Warren Sapp has finished the team hat trick this week.

Any volunteers for next Wednesday? John Lynch?

"Let's hope so! " said Lynch. "That would be fun."

And not necessarily far-fetched. Lynch has won the award once before (in 1996) and Buccaneer players have combined to take the honor eight teams since Week Two of 1999. With the Tampa Bay defense operating at perhaps its highest level since Head Coach Tony Dungy's arrival in 1996, it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine the Bucs making it four weeks in a row.

"I feel like if we can have a defensive player win that award every week, that means we're playing well on defense," said Brooks, who got the ball rolling with his 15-tackle effort at New England on September 3. "We kind of feel like that award belongs in our locker room, so hopefully someone will step up and win it this week. We're off to a good start and we want to keep that going."

Brooks envisions a sort of traveling trophy moving from locker to locker. "We obviously don't go out there and focus on winning that award," he said, "but it is good that an individual is recognized off our defense, because we're playing well defensively right now."

As Lynch noted, the Bucs' three awards have gone to one player each from the three main defensive divisions: defensive line, linebacker and defensive back. "It's just indicative of the type of ball we're playing," he said. "It's nice to get someone from each unit recognized, because each unit's playing good football. It all works together.

"I think it's outstanding. Three weeks in a row. We've joked every week about keeping it going, and we'll try to do that again this week."

That would match the four-week streak posted by the Bears in 1990, the last time any team had as many as three straight defensive winners. Even if the Bucs can't grab that fourth consecutive award, they've already accomplished something special.

"I've not been around an organization where we've had three guys win it – offense, defense or special teams – three in a row," said Dungy. "That's kind of nice and I guess it speaks to how well our defense is playing."

Perhaps the least affected person in the Bucs' locker room on Wednesday was Sapp, who appeared to have his game face on already. "It doesn't play a part in anything that's going on," he said. "We're just playing well. We just want to keep it going. It doesn't mean anything.

"Been there, done that."

Sapp warmed to the topic, however, when his fellow award winners were thrown into it.

"We always felt like we're a good unit," said Sapp. "It's just indicative of how we go out and play. Every week, it's going to be somebody different. I had a game this week, and some other people had some good games. Anthony McFarland had two-and-a-half sacks, too, so we're all playing well and we just want to keep that going."

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