Friday, May 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs must face Falcons powerful passing

TAMPA — From his new spot at safety, Ronde Barber has a bird's-eye view of the Falcons' three-headed passing attack. But no matter the vantage point, the Bucs' 16-year veteran is impressed.

Julio Jones has the speed and length to go deep. Roddy White runs precise routes and always seems to be open. Ageless tight end Tony Gonzalez is too physical for most defensive backs and too fast for most linebackers.

It's a given quarterback Matt Ryan will test the Bucs' last-ranked pass defense Sunday, and Barber expects feathers to fly.

"They're the best in the league, all three of them; numbers-wise and just skill sets," Barber said. "They've got a quarterback who gets them the ball. The guy is efficient. I look at it as our biggest challenge yet; not only because it's our next one, but because they're really good."

The Bucs have given up 47 pass plays of 20 yards or more and are allowing 312.6 passing yards per game. Since trading up to draft Jones in 2011, the Falcons have become air-centric, throwing the ball 63 percent of the time.

"We're going to have to put pressure on the quarterback," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "I think the perimeter pass coverage is getting better. Now we're going up in class, for sure. It's going to be some challenge."

White, 31, who has been named to four consecutive Pro Bowls, was second in the league in receiving yards with 1,389 in 2010. Jones, 23, is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound beast. Gonzalez, 36, needs 12 yards to be the first tight end with 14,000.

They ride the Ryan Express. The quarterback has a league-high 3,072 passing yards.

"He has the ability to throw the ball into coverage," Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said. "He doesn't get spooked out of trying to put the ball on the spot even if you might think you have it pretty well covered. He's very confident in his arm strength.

"In addition to that, they never shy away from throwing the ball down the field, no matter what coverage you're in. You could take your corner and have him run straight back. They think their guys can just go up and get it, and they do."

Three factors give the Bucs' pass defense hope.

First, it's coming off one of its best games pressuring the quarterback. Helping matters is Ryan, while athletic, wants to stay in the pocket.

Second, Ryan is human, throwing five interceptions Sunday (several tipped at the line of scrimmage). "Not a good day offensively and for me, specifically," Ryan said. "It's something that as an offense and as a team we talk about it all the time trying to win the turnover differential and protecting the football on offense. And we did a really poor job with that last week, myself specifically. But you have to move on and go forward."

Finally, for all their youth and inexperience, the Bucs have a sticky-fingered secondary, even without cornerback Aqib Talib (traded) and Eric Wright (slowed by an Achilles injury). Barber and undrafted rookie Leonard Johnson have three interceptions, and the Bucs' plus-nine turnover margin is sixth in the league.

"A lot of these guys have an uncanny ability to forget about the yardage and just go out and do their job on the next play," Barber said. "So they're always competing. It's just a new breed of player. You know teams are going to throw the ball all over the yard, so you're going to get some opportunities. Take advantage of them when they come, and we've done that."

Comments
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Two high draft picks that could earn starting jobs signed four year contracts with the Bucs Thursday.The team signed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to r...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Published: 05/24/18
Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

The dust has settled from another NFL draft, and Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made three promotions in his scouting department as a new year of player evaluation begins.Byron Kiefer, entering his 14th season with the Bucs and fourth as a nati...
Published: 05/24/18
NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

ATLANTA — The NFL and the owners of its 32 teams enacted a new national anthem policy Wednesday designed, they said, to compel players to stand if they’re on the sideline for the playing of the anthem prior to a game."Clearly our objective as a leagu...
Published: 05/23/18
Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Lakewood grad Bernard Reedy, who handled the Bucs' kickoff and punt returns for much of last season, is back with Tampa Bay again.Reedy, 26, was signed on Wednesday, one day after the Bucs began OTA workouts. Thomas Sperbeck, the former Boise State r...
Published: 05/23/18
NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL owners passed a new policy Wednesday with the hopes of moving on from boycotts and political turmoil related to some players protesting by not standing during the national anthem before games.Under the new policy, NFL players are not required to ...
Published: 05/23/18
New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

And you thought our headline would be "Mariota hosts NFL draft before Winston."The NFL owners are meeting in Atlanta this week, and that means a new batch of future Super Bowls getting announced for their homes.A year ago, Tampa got the huge news, an...
Published: 05/23/18
Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

It's hard to miss new Bucs center Ryan Jensen at OTA workouts this week, with his long red hair visible from across the field even when he's wearing a helmet."Any recommendations for anti frizz shampoo and conditioner?" Jensen wrote on Twitter with a...
Published: 05/23/18
Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

TAMPA — He's 30."I know. I'm getting old," Gerald McCoy said Tuesday, shaking his head.He's still a young man, of course. But in football years, McCoy has finally reached a black balloon birthday. This is his ninth season with the Bucs, which i...
Published: 05/22/18