Connect with us

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Big plays, third downs the issue for Bucs defense

Roy Cummings

Published

on

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

TAMPA – One of the keys to the defensive resurgence the Buccaneers enjoyed in the second half of the season last year was their ability to eliminate big plays, especially in the passing game.

After allowing 41 passes of 20 yards or more, including seven for touchdowns, in the first eight games last year, the Bucs cut that number virtually in half in the second half, allowing just 22 such plays, including just three for touchdowns.

The Bucs started the 2017 season two weeks ago in much the same way they finished last season, but that fast start in that area came to a screeching halt a week ago during their 34-17 loss to the Vikings at Minnesota.

After allowing just two long passes, (both of which went for 20 yards) against the Bears, the Bucs allowed Vikings quarterback Case Keenum to complete passes of 36, 45, 47 and 59 yards, that for a touchdown, against them last week.

Eliminating those big plays will be the key to the defense bouncing back from the struggle it had a week ago, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith said.

“When you give up close to 190 yards on four plays it really doesn’t matter what happens the rest of the game,’’ Smith said. “You’re just pulling and running uphill and you just can’t do that. But we did and we own it.’’

 Here’s something else the Bucs own. They’re not getting the job done on third down either. The Bucs allowed opponents to convert just 34.4-percent of their third downs last year, the lowest mark in the league.

Through two games so far this year, though, opponents have converted 51.9-percent of their third downs, including three on plays in which they faced third-and-10 or more.

“That’s (the one) that’s probably the most irritating,’’ Smith said of the three conversions the Bucs have allowed on third-and-10 plus. “You should win about 90-percent of the third and 10-plusses.’’

 The Bucs have won 70-percent (seven of 10), which isn’t horrible, but the fact that they’ve allowed 7 yards or more on several of the stops suggests they’re really not getting the job done the way they expect to.

“It’s a concern and it has to do with what we’re doing schematically,’’ Smith said. “We have to make sure we have our guys in the right position. And the guys that are out there, they have to get pressure and we have to get bodies on receivers.

 “You can’t let receivers run free. If they’re not bodied up in the paint like they do in basketball they’re going to have an opportunity to make it. So we have to be more physical with our play across the board.’’

 

 

 

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Peter King- “Bridgewater to Tampa Bay makes sense”

Florida Football Insiders

Published

on

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the start of another week, and speculation about “quarterback musical chairs” in NFL free agency continues. And a prominent NFL media member believes that current Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater might leave New Orleans and he sees a possible fit with the Buccaneers.

Peter King, now with Pro Football Talk, gave analysis on numerous quarterback situations and potential free agents to be in his Monday morning column. And, while he is not reporting that the Saints will allow Bridgewater to be a free agent and/or that the Buccaneers would be his destination, he does lay out a solid case for a marriage between the two:

Obviously, the Saints must first decide what to do with veteran Hall of Famer to be, Drew Brees, who is slated to become a free agent and cannot be franchise tagged. And, Bridgewater more than acquitted himself a year ago coming off the bench, when Brees was out with a fractured thumb. That included a four-touchdown performance in October in a a win at home against Tampa Bay.

King wrote in part, these thoughts Monday,

Teddy Bridgewater: Tampa Bay makes sense

I can hear it now: Bridgewater doesn’t have the deep arm Bruce Arians needs. I would dispute that. When Arians put Carson Palmer in the pilot’s chair in Arizona, his previous NFL yards per attempt in Cincinnati and Oakland was 7.2. Bridgewater’s career NFL yards per attempt: 7.2.

…..I noticed something with Arians this season. He defended almost every (Jameis) Winston miscue for the first three months of the season. In December, though, that changed. Tampa was 7-7 entering the last two games, both at home. In game 15, against Houston, Winston threw interceptions on two of the first five Buc snaps, and Tampa was down 10-0 after four minutes.

The Bucs lost by three. Next week: Overtime against Atlanta. First play, Winston somehow didn’t see lurker linebacker Deion Jones on tight end Cameron Brate. Pick six. “It smells as bad as it could possible smell,” Arians said after the game. The Bucs had a clear path to a redemptive 9-7 seasons, but six interceptions in the last two weeks ruined that. 

….. This is the story about Bridgewater I appreciate: After Drew Brees was lost with a hand injury in Week 2 and Bridgewater took over, Bridgewater hosted a dinner in Seattle—site of the next game—for all the offensive players, basically to say, All is not lost. We’ll be fine. Minus Brees, the Bridgewater-led Saints went 5-0.

Maybe the Bucs will think Winston deserves another chance with Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. But I won’t be surprised if they go after Bridgewater or Ryan Tannehill, the best free-agent quarterbacks on the market.”

Definitely a compelling argument, but, again, it still has to play out as to whether the Saints don’t re-sign Bridgewater and how, interested are the Bucs vs. other potential teams when the free agency mayhem begins?

As for Tampa Bay are obviously trying to decide what to do with their own free agent-to-be, Winston. As we wrote late last week, coach Bruce Arians remained non-committal on whether to bring back their starter of the last five seasons. This is mainly due to Winston’s inconsistent play, numerous interceptions and the fact the Bucs have had only had one winning season in his five years at the helm.

It this type of  “connect the dots” free agency talk will only continue to build until either Tampa Bay commits to Winston or free agency begins without the Bucs having signed Winston to a long term deal or given him the one year franchise tag. The clearest of indications that they’ve moved on and want a new QB.

And, everyone continues to wait on those decisions.

Continue Reading

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL analyst- Bucs DE Shaq Barrett top player in free agency

Florida Football Insiders

Published

on

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an amazing first season with the Bucs, defensive end Shaq Barrett is in line for a huge payday. And, a respected NFL analyst says Tampa Bay better be ready to pay, because he believes Barrett is the top free agent upcoming for the entire NFL.

Brian Baldinger, a former 12 year player and now analyst with the NFL Network, posted on social media Saturday evening what he loves about Barrett’s pass-rushing skills and then made his declaration:

There is no exaggerating that Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectations off of a one-year, modest free agent signing from the Broncos by Bucs GM Jason Licht. His four sack game in week 2 against Carolina put the entire NFL on notice.

And, Barrett continued to be a dominant pass rush force for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles the entire season. He ultimately broke Tampa Bay’s single season sack record held by Hall of Famer Warren Sapp in the final game of the season. Barrett finished with 19.5 sacks, which led the NFL.

Now, the Bucs and Licht have to decide whether they’re going to give Barrett a massive contract or perhaps, entertained putting the “franchise tag” on him to ensure that he’s one of the top five paid defensive ends in football. If Licht and the Bucs choose to do that, Barrett will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year.

One concern for the Buccaneers is that Barrett’s breakout 2019 with the 19.5 sacks is more than he had in his previous five years in Denver combined. So, naturally, there is some skepticism that he will be able to produce at that high of a level for multiple years.

Still, it’s going to take that kind average per year deal to keep him from being available via free agency for someone else to sign. And, a further benefit to the franchise tag is at the Buccaneers could always reach a long-term agreement later this off season after tagging Barrett, too.

Now, we wait to see what Tampa Bay can get done.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement Shop thousands of officially-licensed NFL items at NFLShop.com

Trending