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Todd Bowles on the Bucs woeful defense: "We’ve got to fix it.''

Tampa Bay is allowing 31.5 points per game, second only to the Miami Dolphins

TAMPA — Halfway through the 2019 season, the Bucs defense is allowing 31.5 points per game.

That’s the biggest reason why the team is 2-6.

Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles started four rookies in last Sunday’s 40-34 loss at Seattle. But the team’s lowly points allowed ranking — just one notch above the 32nd rank Mimi Dolphins — doesn’t concern him as much as improving enough to win games.

“It’s frustrating losing,'' Bowles said Thursday. "We’ve got to win. It’s frustrating losing, it’s not so much of being a top defensive coach, it’s about getting these guys experience and getting them to play together more than anything. For me, it’s about losing. If we win these ballgames, it’s not a factor. We’ve got to make sure we cut down on the mental mistakes. Getting beat physically, that’s one thing. But getting beat mentally, and beating ourselves, that’s what we’ve got to stop.

“We’ve got to keep the score down one point lower than the offense scores, whether that’s 10-9 or 31-30. You want them to play great defense. You don’t want them to get into the end zone. But when they get in the red zone, we’ve to convert more field goals than touchdowns and I think that’s where we’ve got to get better.''

The Bucs are playing on an uneven football field. Tampa Bay’s offense is fourth in the NFL in scoring, averaging 28.8 points per game.

But a young secondary that has been torched by opposing quarterbacks for an average of 293 passing yards per game, second only to the Raiders. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw five touchdown passes ― three over the head of rookie cornerback Jamel Dean.

“It’s a little bit of everything,'' Bowles said. "We’ve just got to fix it. We’ve got to make plays. It’s a play here or there. Sometimes we play well then one guy messes up whether it’s mental or physical and then they costs us the ball game. We’ve got to make plays and we’ve got to make sure we’re focused the whole time. They play hard. There’s no complaint there. They come with a lot of energy, there’s not a complaint there. We’ve just got to make plays. Football is about making plays. We either make them or we don’t.’’