TAMPA – The Buccaneers started practice on Wednesday by practicing the end of the game. They went immediately into a two-minute drill and it didn’t start out well for the Bucs offense.
On the first three plays, quarterback Jameis Winston was hurried into throwing two incomplete passes and was reached for what would have been a sack by linebacker Kwon Alexander on another.
It’s been like that since came began late last week, the defense getting the better of the offense and the trend continued throughout the second day of padded practices.
“Yeah, the defense probably got a little bit of the better of it today’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “But that’s good. We’re going to have a good defensive team.’’
It really is starting to look that way. On that side of the ball, the Bucs are playing in a different gear than they ever did a year ago. The pass rush, in particular, looks better.
The Bucs are definitely making greater use of their linebackers than they have in the past and the defensive linemen just seem to be a bit quicker and faster.
Part of that is because they’re all healthier. By the time the Bucs finally began to understand what it was that coordinator Mike Smith wanted from them last year, a lot of their best players were hurting.
Gerald McCoy, Robert Ayers and Noah Spence certainly were and that impacted the defense and it especially slowed the pass rush. Nothing’s slowing the pass rush now.
And the secondary is benefitting. Wednesday was yet another day in which several passes were either broken up or intercepted and it’s been that way since the start of camp.
“Yeah, the defense is winning right now,’’ Koetter said. “But come Sept. 10, we’re not playing each other, we’re playing the Dolphins, so that’s fine.’’