Coach Lovie Smith is calling the Bucs' defensive plays this season. But don't think he's not heavily in the headset of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, too.
After the disappointing debut of rookie QB Jameis Winston in Week 1, the game plan against the Saints in Week 2 was conservative even by Smith's standards. Excluding the touchdown drive in the final 1:15 of the first half, Winston officially attempted only three passes on first down.
Playing around their quarterback, the Bucs ran 22 times on first and second down. No wonder Winston called himself a "game manager" after the win.
When you win, there is no reason to justify anything. The goal was to prevent Winston from making an early mistake and wreck the game, as he did against the Titans in the opening loss.
But the easiest down to throw on is first down, when the defense is fairly predictable and geared with personnel to stop the run.
"Make no mistake, our head coach wants us to run the football and play good defense, play good special teams," Koetter said. "That's Coach Smith's formula for winning, and that's a proven formula in the NFL.
"Every game takes on its own personality. We were way out of balance in our run-pass ratio on first and second down, way out of balance. … I think it was something like 18-3, if I'm not mistaken. We were out of balance, but that was just what that game called for. That's just the way that game went. I do not think most games will go that way, but if they do and we have (seven) more (points) than them … then that's great."
Winston was successful on first-down passes. His attempts included a drop on a deep ball to TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a 40-yard pass interference penalty against Louis Murphy, a 1-yard touchdown run on a scramble and a 54-yard pass to Murphy.
"There's going to come a time with every quarterback (when) it's time to win the game for us," Koetter said. "Before that time comes, there is the time when you don't lose the game for us. Jameis did a really good job of hanging in there. He made some beautiful throws; he missed some throws. That's just where we are at (with him)."
DAVID STILL GETTING BETTER: LB Lavonte David is among the best players in the NFL. But in the first two games this season, it was obvious he has improved his ability to get into passing lanes and cover receivers. The two passes he defended last week at New Orleans got the Bucs' defense off the field in critical situations.
"When you are a special player, you should make a whole lot of special plays, and he can," Smith said. "We'll continue to put things on his plate, and just like everybody else, second year in the defense, he's seeing a lot of things. It's a defense designed for that position to be at the point of attack and make a lot of plays. When you have a special guy like that, it's fun watching him."
SIMS FLASHES: The Bucs didn't get much out of RB Charles Sims as a rookie last year. He missed the first half of the season with a foot injury. But in Week 2 this season, Sims displayed the burst and explosion through the hole the Bucs expected when they drafted him in the third round. "He's looking exactly like that guy that we drafted," Smith said. "He's a young player still. He should make more improvements this week (against the Texans)."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I don't want to hear about them being desperate. We're desperate." — Smith, asked if the 0-2 Texans would be desperate and dangerous today.