In this league, the difference between the best team and the worst team is very small. It’s all a part of a process.
Coming into Tampa this season, I knew from a roster standpoint that we had some really good players. Going into it, I’m always extremely optimistic for the season and I knew that we had a solid team to go out there and compete on a week-to-week basis.
Coach Schiano did a good job of coming in, implementing his system, and creating an atmosphere where the expectation is to win and to play at a high level. It was a matter of coming in and building a culture where winning is expected, hard work is expected and the process is more important than the results. He wanted to focus on the process and not the result, and I think we took things like that into consideration as far as helping us get to where we want to be.
Coach Schiano did a good job of coming in an implementing his system, and creating an atmosphere where the expectation is to win and to play at a high level.
We know that we want to be a top team in the league, and ultimately, we want to win a Super Bowl. We want that for the city. But there’s a certain amount of work that needs to be done, and we can’t be fixated on the end result. We have to work on each thing, step by step. Lessons like that were huge for the guys on the team, and we learned a lot from Coach Schiano. I think he started something pretty good.
I can’t speak to what was here before Coach Schiano got here, but you are what your record says you are, and they were 4-12 the season before. We were 7-9. We’re still not a winning organization, but it’s a matter of trying to maintain a high level of play and maintain a culture where winning is expected and the standard.
It was kind of a roller coaster of a season. We started off fighting through the first few weeks, a little up and down and shaky, lost three of our first four. But then we got it together, went on a four-game winning streak and it was looking really good, everything was really positive. We felt at that point that we had a good chance to work our way into the postseason.
Then it just kind of fell apart toward the end. It was disappointing, just recognizing the talent that we have, the team that we have. We expected to do a lot more. But the margin of error in this game is so small, and that’s the difference between winning and losing. We lost some close ones and gave a few games away. We put in a lot of hard work, and I just feel that with the talent that we have and the work we put in, we could’ve done a lot better.
We can take a lot of things from this season and learn from them. We just try to move on and continue moving forward toward where we want to be.
It’s a bottom line business and that’s always the case, but there are some things you take away from the year. We got the win against Atlanta at the end of the season when all of their starters played. We lined up and played the way we knew we could play, and got a win. At that point, we’re playing for nothing and they’re getting ready to go to the playoffs, but just that fight that we showed, to end the season off with that win, it shows the character of the team. It shows the character of the guys in that locker room, and the type of people that I’m honored to call my teammates. We always went out there and put the work in that was necessary to win games. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen the way we wanted it to, but we always put that time and effort in. I thought we always gave ourselves a fair and legit chance at winning games on Sunday.
In this league, I think you learn how to win and you learn how to keep that going. You learn how to deal with different situations and adversity. You learn all that as an organization and as a team, so I think moving forward, a season like this is definitely a building block. We can take a lot of things from this season and learn from them. We just try to move on and continue moving forward toward where we want to be.
One of the things I learned from being in the presence of Ronde Barber, one of the elite defensive backs of his generation, was the meaning of being a professional.
We get paid to play a sport and have fun, but this is our job and we have to treat it as such. It’s a privilege to play in the league, and I think Ronde treats it that way. You’re not entitled to being a football player or entitled to be in the league. So respecting the game that means giving it your all, all the time.
That means cherishing the moments that you have playing this game because it’s not a given. I think Ronde embodies that because he goes out there every day and puts it on the line. Whether it’s at practice or in the game, in the film room, whatever it may be, he gives it his all because he respects the game that way and that’s what being a professional is about.
I do think I had that perspective before I got to Tampa, but it’s always different to see it from somebody of that caliber and that prestige, somebody that you looked up to for so long. Once you get around him, it all makes sense. You realize that’s why he is who he is. So even though I’ve known that and I’ve always approached the game that way, it felt different to have the privilege to see one of my favorite players handle himself a certain way.
Before I go I want to give a shout out to all my fans, Bucs supporters, Lions fans, Brown fans. I appreciate the love and keep checking me out on EricWright21.com!