Two weeks ago, Tampa Bay’s secondary allowed Blake Bortles to complete 23 of 33 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns, including 94 yards on four passes during the Jaguars final drive.
Despite an extra week to prepare and the return of cornerback Johnthan Banks, the Bucs backend continued to have the same problems in Washington Sunday, as Kirk Cousins torched the defense that eventually folded in the fourth quarter. With numerous quick slants against soft coverage, Cousins completed 21 of 25 passes, many seemingly uncontested, for 206 yards in the second half.
Head coach Lovie Smith spoke on Monday about the easy completions, especially down in the red zone where coverage is always man-to-man in tight spaces.
“A couple of those plays weren’t long throws or anything like that. They were slants in the red zone,” Smith said. “That’s just not something we should have to talk about, but we are. We have to get that fixed. I’ve said that before in the past. There are a lot of techniques that you have [that] you teach a certain way, but the execution part of it is a little harder to do. That’s what happened.”
Later in the afternoon cornerback Mike Jenkins spoke on the secondary’s poor execution, chalking it up to lack of concentration while putting sole blame on players, not scheme.
“We’ve been giving up a lot of inside routes, and again, that’s on us,” Jenkins said. “We just have to focus, get mentally focused. It’s just a lack of focus on the guys, on our part. That’s something we can correct. But like you said, it’s the smallest thing (inside slants) that can hurt you.”
Jenkins went on to say that improvement comes with repetition, but after six games of the same problems, it remains to be seen if he’ll get more opportunities. Whether it’s technique or execution, the Bucs personnel in the backend is clearly having trouble adjusting and it’s costing the team.
While Smith didn’t reveal if there would be changes at certain positions, he admitted that their combination of players is still not working and needs to be corrected if secondary woes continue.
“If we’re making changes and we’re looking at different people, we are not satisfied with what we have gotten,” Smith said. “It’s as simple as that. If something isn’t right and you feel like there is another option that you haven’t tapped into, you have to look at that. That’s what we’ve been doing.
“I think we’ve looked at just about everybody back there that we have on the roster to see if we can get the perfect combination, but we’re not there yet. We weren’t there for the last half of the game. The first half those same guys made a couple plays.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s Jenkins talking about focus again.
Dude, there’s two minutes left in the game and Washington is playing toss and catch against you for the winning score.
If you can’t get focused at this point, I mean really, when can you.
These guys are just incredible.
I’d rather blitz the whole team and leave this idiot out on an island and I still think we would have a better chance of stopping the pass.
I know, that excise is just pitiful. How the hell are you not focused? Its the final damn drive of the game and you can’t focus? This has Lovie’s BS coach speak written all over it. I would rather two practice squad players have a shot than these clowns we have back there. AT least they would “focus” Just pitiful.
Right on cgmaster and drdneast!
I don’t think “struggling” is a strong enough word
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