When free agency began last March, not many Bucs fans had defensive end Robert Ayers on their list of favorite targets.
Names like Olivier Vernon, Charles Johnson and Jason Pierre-Paul excited most fan bases probably a lot more so than Ayers did at the time.
But after listening to Ayers speak on Monday following a quick trip to Tropicana Field for practice, Bucs fans are most likely getting excited to see what the former Giant and Broncos end will bring to a team in need of a little nastiness.
Ayers doesn’t see himself as an edgy player, but his words on Monday seemed to contradict his self-assessment.
“I wouldn’t say that, (but) I do feel like I’m a naturally pissed off person and sometimes things happen and fights break out,” Ayers said. ” I’ve never been a part of a team where there aren’t fights or guys going at each other’s neck. It’s the nature of the beast. I want to win. They want to win. Only one person to win so, with that being said … it’s part of the game. Sometimes you may see one guy and think, Oh, I don’t think I’m no different than Kourtnei Brown; he was out there throwing down first day of practice or Gerald McCoy, he’s out there the same way. Clint, he’s the same way. And Lavonte and Kwon. I don’t consider myself to be any different from anybody else, but sometimes that light is on you when you have to see it.”
DC Mike Smith and Robert Ayers talk during a recent practice – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Ayers said that playing in new offensive coordinator Mike Smith’s system, it naturally beings out an edge, as the defense tends to be aggressive.
“Definitely. Coach Smith, that’s the mindset that he brings,” Ayers said. “And not just that, but there are a lot of guys out here from last year that feel that way. Lavonte (David), he wants to win, man. That dude is a dog; I’ve seen him from afar. He’s a beast and one of the best linebackers in the game. Clint (McDonald), he’s played at the highest level and won a Super Bowl. Brent Grimes, he’s played at a high level and been on great teams. Even the young cats like Noah Spence, he played at Ohio State, the highest level of ball in college. The rookies and so on and so forth … there are guys who are hungry and want to win.
Not only is coach Smith bringing that, there are guys that already had that,” Ayers continued from the podium in the media studio. “Now, the more guys you have like that, the better. We’re hungry, man. I see it in a lot of guys eyes. The way Gerald McCoy is out there, that dude sets the tempo. That dude’s a monster. To the offenses credit, they’re competing with him. They’re not just taking it, they’re giving it back to them. You might see Gerald kicking a lot of ass but they’re going back after him and that’s a good thing. Me, I want to follow his lead. I want to kick ass just like him and Lavonte and Kwon (Alexander). You see Clint out there, and you see Cliff Matthews who’s been picking it up and it’s contagious, man. Competition is contagious. We want to get it, man. We want to win.”
Going up against your own teammates day in and day out can lead to tempers flaring, but Ayers said that is just part of the game.
“Yeah. I don’t necessarily see it as anything different,” Ayers said. “Just guys competing. Sometimes you get pissed off and they get pissed off at them. Hands may get thrown, but hey, the way I look at it is that’s how it’s supposed to be. You’re battling against someone every day. You’re supposed to be mad and responding with anger and emotion. It happens. The good thing about that is we have a lot of pros and it’s in the past. We’ll move forward and get better. If something happens tomorrow – if I get beasted – I’m going to get mad and try to respond. If I beast them they’re going to get mad and try to respond. That’s what I like about this unit – there are a bunch of guys going against each others neck and that’s a good thing.”
Bucs DE Robert Ayers – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Ayers told the media on Monday that he is looking forward to finally beating on someone in a different color uniform on Thursday when the Bucs travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.
“Definitely – it’s definitely a milestone, an opportunity to come out and take our frustration out on another team,” Ayers said. “It’s an opportunity to get better. They have a lot of talent over there and they’re expectations are high. Ours is high too. Definitely a chance to go out there and compete, get better and go against someone else on a different team. Now, when you win your rush, you don’t have to slow off. When they’re beasting you, they’re not going to pull off. This is an opportunity to go against some guys that don’t have that level of taking care of each other. There’s no more of that. It’s no holds bar. They’re seeking blood and so are we, so it’s going to be a good challenge. I’m looking forward to it.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com
DC Mike Smith called Ayers a “man’s man”. You can see why. Lord have mercy on anyone on the team who doesn’t bring it.
Nice! Need some dog and attitude on that D line been sorely lacking long time now.
Damn straight Fredster!!
OK, PR, this article needs to be pinned on the Red Board. THIS is my favorite preseason article of all time.
We NEEDED for years someone who has that Sappability to stay pissed off all the time. Now we have him. Just wow, I can’t wait for the first game of the season.
I agree fredster. I like McCoy and wouldn’t ask him to change his game. but like everyone else I always thought he could play with a little bit more of an edge.
Hell, even Mr. nice Guy himself Lee Roy Selmon admitted to getting angry at a couple of tackles who were, he was sure, allowed to blatantly hild him during games.
A little bit more angry on the defense would go a long way.
I hope it transfers to wiping that “I’m a great winner” smile off of Cam Newton’s face this season.
Indeed! Newton looks much better with the towel over his head.
I like his attitude of playing hard!
Listening to Ayers’ press conference made me think the same as everyone else that has commented. I like the attitude and the intense desire to win. But I couldn’t help thinking of the video piece I recently watched about Coach Dungy; Uncommon success. In the video I believe it was his first year as the Bucs coach that they started something like 1-7 then went to SanDiego and had some kind of turning point game. The players interviewed said that the stuff Dungy was selling was beginning to pay off and the players were believing. The rest is history we all know well. My mind went to this story when listening to Ayers because, while I love the attitude now, what really matters is what the attitude is when you start 1-7 with a new coach and new players and a new defense etc… Do you have the killer attitude then and can you have a “turn it all around” game and make your own history from there? I don’t expect a 1-7 start this year but that’s not the point. Buying into a philosophy and attitude needs to be permanent and not dependent upon the record at the outset. Let’s go Bucs. Get it done.
Good point Twisted…I like the intensity!! As long as we aren’t talking about costly PF penalties during the season
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