Mixed results after Morris challenges Bucs secondary
Just as coach Raheem Morris took a decidedly aggressive approach with a pair of onside kicks, the Bucs played with an equally assertive attitude in the secondary – with mixed results.
Morris knew it would not be pretty, but the standard fare Bucs defense would not suffice against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bat machine.
“I asked those guys to go out there and play man to man versus the Green Bay Packers,” Morris said. “(Greg) Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley. Versus some really good wideouts, you’re going to have up and down moments.”
The good moments included Aaron Rodgers’ first interception since Oct. 16 and just his fourth of the season. He was picked off by CB Elbert Mack in the fourth quarter, setting up a Dez Briscoe touchdown minutes later.
But the unfortunate moments for the secondary will overshadow the positive ones. Like, for example, the three penalties committed by defensive backs on a single Green Bay possession. Two came against E.J. Biggers and another against Myron Lewis.
“Aaron Rodgers has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” Mack said. “You can’t sit back and play zone all day. He’s smart enough to dice that up and put the ball where it needs to go. (Morris) put the challenge on us to play hard on the back end. We competed and they just made a couple good throws and catches.”
One of the biggest came against Lewis – seeing his most extensive action this season – when he gave up the game-clinching touchdown, a 40-yard bomb to Jordy Nelson. Lewis was paired one-on-one with Nelson – with no safety help – and lost the matchup.
“He kind of used a little stutter at the top of his route,” Lewis said of Nelson. “That made me look back (at Rodgers) because I thought the ball was coming. That was bad technique by me. I should have had my hands on him at the line. I didn’t do that.”
The aggressive approach, the Bucs say, won’t change despite the flurry of penalties from members of the secondary.
“We’re not going to change what we do,” Mack said. “We’re going to attack it the same way. Hopefully the next couple of weeks we’ll get a couple calls to come our way. It’s the nature of the beast. When you’re out there competing, things happen fast. The refs make the call and it is what it is.”