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. Family a driving force for University of Tampa pitcher David Lebron

    College

    TAMPA — For University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron, baseball reminds him of family. He uses it to help honor the memory of his father, who taught him the game. One day, he hopes his career can help support his mother and allow her to rest.

    University of Tampa junior pitcher David Lebron (Courtesy of University of Tampa)
  2. L.A. delay could re-open Super Bowl chance for Tampa in 2021

    Blogs

    Construction delays on the NFL's new stadium in Los Angeles mean the Rams and Chargers won't be playing there until 2020, a year later than expected, and the ripple effect could give Tampa another chance at landing a Super Bowl in February 2021.

    Tampa and Raymond James Stadium last hosted a Super Bowl in 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers edged the Arizona Cardinals.
  3. Bucs' Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston honored in NFL top 100

    Blogs

    Helping fans pass time through the offseason each summer, NFL Network has been unveiling its top 100 players for 2017 as chosen by the players, and the Bucs' Gerald McCoy and Jameis Winston are the first Tampa Bay players revealed, coming in at No. 52 and 57, respectively.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis WInston and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, shown in the 2016 season finale against the Panthers, have both been named to the NFL Network's top 100 players for 2017.
  4. The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.
  5. Former Gator Caleb Brantley paying a steep price for nothing

    Bucs

    It turns out Caleb Brantley isn't quite the dirtbag that millions of people presumed. It's too bad the damage to his reputation and bank account is already done.

    Caleb Brantley, who dropped to the sixth round of the draft, works out during Browns rookie minicamp. [Associated Press]