Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs defense needs to buckle down in red zone

The Bucs ranking 31st in the NFL in scoring defense should be enough to illustrate what a misnomer it is to tout Tampa Bay as having a "top-five defense" for ranking fifth in the league in yards allowed.

But another glaring stat to show how much room for improvement there is on defense is this: 19 times in five games, Bucs opponents have gotten into the red zone, and 19 times, they've come away with points.

Fourteen of those times, they've come away with touchdowns against the Bucs — that's 73.7 percent, the second-worst figure in the league for red-zone defenses, with only the one-win Titans faring worse.

That means no takeaways in the red zone at all, no fourth-down stops — nothing to show the defense has stepped up in the most important area of the field.

"In key situations we've got to be good," nickel corner Alterraun Verner said. "When we're in the red zone, we're giving up touchdowns. Third downs, we've got to get off the field and get our offense back the ball, and we've got to take the ball away. Those are the things we need to worry about. The yardage sounds good and all of that, but at the end of the day it's wins, losses and points on the board."

This isn't a new development — the Bucs tied for 29th in red-zone defense last season, giving up touchdowns on 61 percent of opponents' trips inside the 20.

There's been some defensive progress in the past three games — the Bucs allowed touchdowns the first eight times opponents got in the red zone. Since then, they've held them to field goals (five) almost as often as touchdowns (six).

If there's a model for improvement, last year's win at Washington is a good start — the Bucs allowed only one breach inside the 20, and when the Redskins got there — recovering a muffed punt at the Bucs' 17 — the defense stepped up.

Washington got to the Bucs' 6-yard line, but after a penalty, Tampa Bay got back-to-back sacks from Gerald McCoy and Jacquies Smith, driving the Redskins back to the 29, where they would miss a 47-yard field goal.

Bucs defense needs to buckle down in red zone 10/24/15 [Last modified: Friday, October 23, 2015 7:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It is going to get interesting tonight when the Rays begin a four-game series against the Yankees in New York. The Rays feel they are good enough to win the East Division. These next four games and the four that follow in Houston will be a good measuring stick.