Trying to get its defensive players on the right page, the Bucs put their defense play-calling in the hands of LB Lavonte David, who had handled those duties the last two years and finished with a game-high 14 tackles in Sunday's loss to the Saints.
"First two years I did it, so I was kind of used to it. I had to get back in the groove of it," said David, who took on a role that had been held by middle linebackers Mason Foster and, in the last two weeks, Dane Fletcher. "Today was a good thing to get it started, and we'll see how it goes from here. I'm used to it. It's just taking on a bigger responsibility."
David also had two tackles for loss, the biggest in the fourth quarter as the Saints, down three points, were driving for a potential go-ahead touchdown. On second down at the Bucs' 28, Drew Brees threw a screen pass to Pierre Thomas, and David dropped him in the open field for an 8-yard loss. That led to the Saints having to settle for a field goal, though they'd end up winning 37-31 in overtime.
"When it came down to the nitty-gritty, we didn't get it done defensively," David said. "We have to do a better job."
David said the defense needs to be better at getting off the field on third down. The Saints converted 5 of 8 third downs after halftime, after getting just 1 of 5 in the first half. And in overtime, the disappointment only got worse, as New Orleans was methodical in a 12-play, 80-yard drive that included a pair of conversion on third-and-9 or more.
"That last drive in overtime, they got the running game going and we couldn't stop it," David said. "They kept running down our throat. It's sad to say it, but they did."