Bucs Defensive “effort” being called into question

Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

The Buccaneers spent a lot of what they called their ‘mini bye’’ last weekend trying to figure out what’s wrong with a defensive unit that has been dropping like a stone in the statistical rankings.

That unit now sits a 28th overall in the 32-team league and the players and coaches have apparently identified communication, or the lack thereof, as their biggest problem.

There is, however, another problem that apparently played a big part in the Bucs 43-28 loss to the Falcons at Raymond James Stadium last Thursday night and that’s effort.

Former Bucs linebacker and Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks identified poor effort as an issue while speaking locally on WDAE 620-am on Wednesday and Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith confirmed that thinking on Thursday.

“When the score got to where it was, the effort was not where it needed to be,’’ Smith said. “When you don’t force them to punt, let’s be very frank, that’s not a very good defensive performance.

“But there are no excuses. It doesn’t matter what happened the previous week. We have to go out and play much better. And as I’ve said, let’s not pin it on the players. Let’s pin it on the coaches and on me.’’

It’s hard to pin a lack of effort on the coaches, and at least one Buccaneers defender refused to do so, saying the issue was the result of a weak mindset by some of the players.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said some players failed to push through the fatigue that came as a result of playing just four days after they had to turn in a 94-play game against the Raiders the Sunday before.

“It has to be a mindset,’’ said McCoy, a four-time Pro Bowler. “Your body can’t speak to you. When your body says I can’t go anymore, your mind has to say I don’t even feel that, I have to go.

“I mean, I’d be lying if I said in the second half I wasn’t feeling those 90-some plays (we played in the Oakland game). But so what? You have to keep going, man. That mindset has to kick in.’’

You got to push through it. You have to find a way. And as whole, as a group, we didn’t’ do that. But more importantly we were not on the same page. But we’ll get there.’’

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