TAMPA — You would not want to be defensive coordinator Jim Bates today.
Come to think of it, yesterday and the day before weren't that much fun, either.
The Bucs defensive coordinator is responsible for trying to stop QB Tom Brady and the Patriots today in London, which may be a little like trying to beat back the tide with a broom.
Not only did Tom look terrific in throwing six touchdowns last week against the winless Titans, but five of them came in the second quarter.
There's little chance that Bates thought his job would be this impossible when he took over after Monte Kiffin left. He had wanted to bring in some players — the Dolphins' Jason Taylor, for example — who had thrived in his system and could help show young players how to play it.
But GM Mark Dominik decided — out of respect to LB Derrick Brooks — that signing more 30-something veterans wasn't the way to go. Bates had to make do with DT Chris Hovan and CB Ronde Barber if he needed to lean on experience.
Then last week, the Bucs traded DE Gaines Adams to the Bears for a second-round pick.
Two days later, the Panthers rushed for 267 yards and three touchdowns. On the winning 80-yard touchdown drive, the Panthers ran 15 times for 76 yards out of 16 plays.
"They run the ball way too much," Bates said. "They're a good running team; they have a good line and two good backs. But we can't allow any team to run as much. … We had two turnovers and scored on defense. There were a lot of positive things, and then the last drive just left a sour feeling in our gut.
"I tell you, it was very, very disappointing for our football team. … Because at that time we had all the momentum in the world. We just scored on defense, and in that previous series, we played the run really well. What's hard is when a team can take it and just pound it in there 15 times. Anything we tried to come up with, we just couldn't make plays and we couldn't execute. I wish I could've called some plays to get them in a third down and give us a chance to get off."
Bates knew taking over for Kiffin would be tough, but it was made harder because he didn't have the players to execute his scheme.
"It definitely is a growing experience, and sometimes, you wish they'd grow faster with some players," Bates said. "There's certain flashes where we're getting good play. It's just a growing experience for all of us. It's not easy."
The Bucs secondary has had some good moments lately, especially CB Aqib Talib. At Washington, he had three interceptions and the past two weeks helped hold Eagles WR DeSean Jackson and Panthers WR Steve Smith to one catch each.
But stopping WRs Randy Moss and Wes Welker and Brady is much different.
"The guy is just a fantastic quarterback," Bates said of Brady. "Tremendous cool in the pocket, and he just makes it look so easy. And it's a real challenge. But the thing about the NFL, when we were in Miami, we had six guys on injured reserve and they played us on Monday night and we beat them. Anything can happen in the NFL, and you just can't lose faith because you can win. We have good players, too."
Just maybe not enough of them.
Happy return: One player the Bucs feel fortunate to have is S Tanard Jackson. In his second game since serving a four-game suspension, Jackson forced a fumble and returned an interception for a touchdown.
"Welcome back, T-Jack," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "T-Jack makes everybody feel a little bit better about everything. Your coverage unit, your players, your team. Any time anything breaks out, you always know you've got a guy like T-Jack who can get him on the ground and give your team another opportunity.
"He's so instinctual, you know he can make a play at any point of the game and change it. And he almost did."