Schiano: "Achilles heel has been the deep pass"
Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano believes there are lot of things his defense has been doing well, from recording tackles for loss to racking up interceptions and stopping the run.
But the one continued problem that's plagued them has been giving up big plays in the passing game, and that bit them again in a 35-28 loss to the Saints Sunday. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns, with long receptions of 48, 40, 35 and 20 among them.
Schiano said some instances are guys getting beat in individual matchups - which happens - but the more bothersome mistakes are the mental ones.
"You give Drew credit, he's one of the all-time greats at that position," Schiano said. "But we made too many critical errors that we haven't made. You may whoop us one on one and that's fine, that's part of the game. But we made errors where we turned some guys loose. And we can't do that at this level, with a quarterback like Drew, he's not going to miss the open man."
Schiano acknowledged that pass coverage and the pass rush go hand-in-hand, and they didn't have one of their better days in putting pressure on Brees. And there's no doubt that the absence of CB Aqib Talib has cost them; with him serving his four-game suspension for his Adderall use (according to him), corners like Brandon McDonald and E.J. Biggers get thrust into bigger roles.
The Bucs rank 31st out of 32 teams in pass defense, allowing 323 yards per game, including 28 plays of 20 yards or more, and an NFL-high matching seven plays of 40 yards or more.
"We've got to get it cured quickly, because you can't make mistakes like that in critical situations," Schiano said. "We have to coach it better, got to execute it better."
-- JOE SMITH