TAMPA – Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter, who encouraged his players to “talk softly and carry a big #$%&^%*(#@%$* stick’’ last year, ultimately wants the Bucs to be known as “a bad-ass football team.’’
It will likely take some time for the Bucs to develop that reputation but for now Koetter should be content with the fact that he has one very confident, though not quite cocky, football team.
That’s the word from Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, who on Monday officially became one of the 30 best players in the NFL according to the NFL Network’s rankings of the league’s Top 100 players.
Speaking after the final OTA workout of the offseason last week, Evans said he’s noticed a healthy change in the overall attitude of the players on the offensive side of the ball this offseason.
He added that it’s still too soon to know just how much the Bucs have improved offensively, but he’s confident the unit will prove to be a force to be reckoned with this season.
“In OTAs it’s hard to tell if there’s a bunch of improvement and things like that but guys are playing with a lot more swagger and having a lot more fun out there,’’ Evans said.
“We’re used to Dirk now. This is my third year with him, and so there’s a good feel And you know, having a guy like D-Jax (wide receiver DeSean Jackson), he brings a lot of swag and is fun to be around, too.’’
It’s not just on the offensive side of the ball where Evans is detecting a little more swagger. He said he’s noticed the same thing over on defense with one player in particular.
Evans said second-year cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs first-round pick (11th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft, is looking and acting like a different player this year.
“I’ve noticed that he’s talking more,’’ Evans said. “At first, he was real quiet. But now he’s talking more; he’s showing out and he’s making plays.
“I mean, like every pass breakup now he does this where he nods his finger. A lot of corners, they do that even if they don’t make plays but he’s making plays. He looks good.’’
This can only be good for the Bucs. After all, you might have to go all the way back to the Super Bowl team to find a Bucs team that actually played with a little bit of swagger.
And while too much confidence, especially for a young team that hasn’t made its mark yet, can be a bad thing, the right amount is always part of the foundation of a successful team.