Bucs defense struggles against hurry-up offenses

Published December 14 2012
Updated December 14 2012

TAMPA — The Bucs defense has struggled trying to slow down the oppositions' hurry-up offense, blowing fourth-quarter leads in four games this season.

Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said Thursday that Sunday's 23-21 loss to the visiting Eagles was another prime example. Rookie Nick Foles passed for two touchdowns over the final 3:55, including the winner to Jeremy Maclin as time expired.

"Just continue to execute in the critical parts of the game," Sheridan said. "Obviously, those are all no-huddle, up-tempo, on-the-ball (situations) like the last one was. We didn't have any busts, per se, but it's the technique, execution in the critical parts of the game. They hit some plays at the end, and we didn't. That's how they got the ball down the field in scoring position.

"I wish I could give you something very clever and magical. But just execute the techniques in the critical parts of the game when it's on the line and they're not huddling up and they're on the ball and running consecutive plays."

Sheridan said to reduce assignment errors in those situations, the Bucs mostly play their base defense. As a result, they are fairly predictable.

"It's not really a change of scheme. We're really playing our bread and butter," Sheridan said. "That's what you don't want to do, pull out a different package in that critical part of the game and then the players haven't been playing it. So they are calls we'd been playing during the game, and you can always second-guess your call afterward.

"We didn't have a lot of variety. We got a sack (early on the second) drive. So you're not trying to fool them and do something different because you don't want to fool your own guys. You're playing stuff you'd been playing during the game."

MUSCLE Onesie: As if being called "Muscle Hamster" wasn't enough, rookie RB Doug Martin has become a bit of a social media sensation with pictures he posted modeling a onesie jumpsuit.

"I've been promoting the onesie suit, and I just gave a shout-out to the company," Martin said. "I put it on Twitter, and I didn't know it was going to blow up like that."

QB Josh Freeman said he's not a fan of Martin's wardrobe choice.

"That looks ridiculous," Freeman said. "He actually showed it to me right after he took it. I don't know what's worse: that you're wearing a onesie or that you can fit in a onesie."

BREES rebound: Saints QB Drew Brees has struggled this season, throwing 18 interceptions. But he seems to save his best for the Bucs.

In New Orleans' 35-28 win over Tampa Bay on Oct. 21, Brees passed for 377 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.

"What we didn't do a great job of in our first game was eye discipline in our coverage," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "We had eye mistakes probably three or four of those plays, and they amounted to plus-30 (yards) plus-40, plus-whatever it was. The big plays that came were directly a result of that."

TRANSACTION: The Bucs re-signed G Derek Hardman and released G Hayworth Hicks.

Practice report: G Jamon Meredith returned Thursday despite a sprained ankle. DE Da'Quan Bowers (hamstring), excused from practice to attend to a personal matter Wednesday, returned. DT Roy Miller practiced for the second straight day after missing Sunday's game with a concussion.

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud @tampabay.com and heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.