The Buccaneers have been penalized 23 times in the first two games, with several of those flags coming on members of the defense for hits that officials have judged to be personal fouls.
All of those penalties have served to undermine an otherwise strong body of work by the team’s defense. The Buccaneers have nine sacks through two games, tied for the most in the league, and they’ve held their opponents to 3.4 yards per carry on the ground, a performance that they’d surely like to see continue throughout the regular season. That would explain why defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said that the team isn’t going to change the way they play because of the flags they’ve received this season.
During an appearance on WDAE on Wednesday night, McCoy said that the team hasn’t been doing anything differently in practice in order to eliminate the penalties from the game. McCoy said the team’s coaches have made the players aware of what they need to do, but that the team is otherwise approaching things exactly the same way.
“We’re not a dirty team and we’re not going to slow down. You know, we play on the edge and we’re going to continue to play on the edge. That’s just who we are,” McCoy said, via JoeBucsFan.com.
Playing on the edge requires a lot of balance. The reality in the present NFL is that defenses that play aggressively are going to run into flags even if the intent isn’t dirty. They can probably live with that as long as they eliminate the more blatant disregard for the rules that safeties Dashon Goldson and Ahmad Black have shown so far this season. No matter how good the defense is, the team doesn’t have much of a shot if they hand over hundreds of yards every weekend because they can’t be bothered to stop taking head shots whenever they present themselves.