TAMPA – The always-accommodating Gerald McCoy did a pretty good job of aiding the media on Wednesday when he went in search of an adjective that best describes the way the Buccaneers have played the run on the road this year.
“I’m trying to give you guys like a headline word,’’ the five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle said. “So how about horrendous? Because we’ve been horrendous. We have not been good at all. We’ve been getting our tail busted on the road.’’
That’s no exaggeration. In four road games, all of which have been losses by the way, the Bucs have allowed 609 yards rushing, or an average of 152.2 per game. Horrendous indeed.
It’s been just the opposite at home. In five games at Raymond James Stadium, three of which have been victories, the Bucs have allowed a total of 380 rushing yard, or 76 per game.
“That’s been the common denominator,’’ defensive coordinator Mike Smith said of the struggles the Bucs have had on the road, which actually date back to last year, when the Bucs lost their last two road games.
“We haven’t been very consistent when we’ve played on the road,’’ Smith added. “We haven’t started fast and when you don’t start fast you can get behind the chains, so to speak.
“We’ve got to be a much tougher and more resilient team on the road. We have been a completely different team statistically, as you’ve mentioned, playing at home.
“It’s something that we have to make sure our guys understand that it’s going to be tough to play on the road, but it’s not that tough. We have made it way too easy for our opponents when we’ve played on the road.’’
The Bucs will head back to the road this week for their makeup game with the Dolphins in Miami coming off a 15-10 victory over the Jets as well as what was arguably their most complete defensive effort of the year.
In addition to allowing just 56 yards rushing, the Bucs recorded a season-high six sacks and did not allow a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter after a roughing the passer penalty gave the Jets new life.
That effort, McCoy said is one the Bucs have to find a way to build off of.
“Yeah, we were all looking at the film, saying, ‘What is going on (on the road?)’ McCoy said. “Whatever it is, I can tell you this. It’s not focus. We treat every trip like it’s a business trip. Guys are not going out.
“Everybody goes to have dinner but most people are sitting around the hotel watching film, preparing. You don’t see guys (arriving) late to meetings. You don’t have to look for anybody.
“We’re doing what we need to be doing on the road. We’re just not doing enough on Sundays. So we just have to take this momentum we got from this win last Sunday and keep it going.’’