Bucs defensive players believe they did nothing wrong and that's a problem
The greatest shove of all, as it is being called in New York, was easy to achieve for Lavonte David. The Bucs linebacker pushed Jets quarterback Geno Smith as he was running out of bounds at midfield with seven seconds remaining in the game and the 15-yard personal foul penalty resulted in Nick Folk's 48-yard field goal and the Bucs' 18-17 loss Sunday.
David didn't think he did anything wrong on the play.
But in fact, he did. Once a quarterback is clearly headed out of bounds, he is giving himself up, much like sliding feet first on the turf while in the field of play. Those are the rules.
"That’s the way our defense is, we just play aggressive, we just play physical,'' David said. "You’re going to get those calls and you may feel like that’s not the right call but you can’t do anything about it. You can’t let it change the way you play the game.''
Earlier in the game, safety Dashon Goldson drilled Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland and was penalized for hitting a defenseless receiver. Goldson has been one of the more heavily-fined players in the league for hits like these.
"I don’t think I deserve the 15,'' Goldson said. "I think it was a clean hit.''
But it's not anymore. In the concussion-sensitive era of the NFL, a player in the act of making a catch is considered defenseless and therefore cannot be struck in the head or shoulders area.
Finally, safety Mark Barron was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct following a late hit on a Jets receiver.
Barron didn't think he did anything wrong, either.
“Do I feel bad about it? No,'' Barron said. "Because I was just playing football. I hate that it happened and I’m going to hate the letter that comes with it.''
The 'letter,' Barron is referring to is a FedEx letter sent from the NFL typically notifying the player he has been fined.
Bucs coach Greg Schiano doesn't want to take the aggressivenes out of his defense and that's understandable. And clearly, some collisions can't be avoided when players are going fullspeed and the receiver lowers his head, changing the target area.
“You’re emotions are in it,'' Goldson said. "You’re out there trying to win. You can’t think about it. We’ve got to play a little more under control but understand the circumstances and situations.''
That starts by understanding the rules.