Bucs’ defense smothers hapless Bears

by Gary Shelton on September 18, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Noah Spence )57) has his eyes on Bears' quarterback Glennon./JEFFREY S. KING

Noah Spence (57) has his eyes on Bears' quarterback Glennon./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

For months, you have heard about the offense. For months, you have talked about the offense.

Blah, blah. Yadda-yadda. Jabber, jabber.

And furthermore, jabber.

Why, they can be a blur, fans agree. They are feared in the deep, and up close, too. They have this weapon and that one, so many weapons that you half expect opposing teams to talk about de-arming the teams rosters. Why, this could be the best Bucs offense in the history of ever.

Of course, somewhere along the line, someone should mention that the Tampa Bay Bucs can play a little defense, too.

The Bucs smothered the Chicago Bears Sunday, walking away for 29-7 victory in their (at last) season opener.

 Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

Lavonte David gives Jordan Howard no room to run./JEFFREY S. KING

Lavonte David gives Jordan Howard no room to run./JEFFREY S. KING

"Fantastic," said Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter. "Twenty yards rushing, four turnovers in the first half. You're going to win a lot of games if you do that every week."

Now, frankly, you can thank the NFL schedule-makers for a lot of this victory. The fact of it is that the Bears were dreadful. They couldn't keep from holding defensively, or from dropping passes, or from turning over the football. A truly sharp team would have overwhelmed the Bears on Sunday.

Still, when you consider the rust of the Bucs, and the recent inactivity, and the worry through the storms, it was a nice way to begin a season. The Bucs led 26-0 by the half — even though no one really had eye-popping offensive stats — and then ran clock throughout the second half of the game.

Winston threw for only 218 yards in the easy win./JEFFREY S. KING

Winston threw for only 218 yards in the easy win./JEFFREY S. KING

Throughout the game, the more impressive unit for the Bucs was the defense, not the offense. Chicago finished with only 20 runs on 16 carries, an average of 1.3 yards per carry. They committed four turnovers in the first half. Quarterback Mike Glennon, the ex-Buc, had an efficient night, hitting 31 of 45 passes for 301 yards, but he hit only one pass for as many as 20 yards.

"The big emphasis this week with Coach (Mike) Smith was to stop the run," said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. "We didn't do that well last year. For us, what we wanted to do was stop the run. You build off that. That two-headed monster they have (Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard) is going to hurt a lot of defenses.

"If you stop the run and take away the ball, it leads to wins. The formula doesn't change. That's how it goes."

A year ago,  Howard rushed for 100 yards against the Bucs. This year, he had seven

Evans runs after a catch vs. the Bears./JEFFREY S. KING

Evans runs after a catch vs. the Bears./JEFFREY S. KING

yards on nine carries. There were plays you wondered if he could see sunshine.

Perhaps that should surprise no one. In their last eight games last season, the Bucs were pretty darned good. They allowed the fourth fewest points over the last half and led the NFL with 13 interceptions. They tied for the league low with six touchdown passes allowed and allowed opposing quarterbacks the second-lowest rating in the league at 72.9. Their 21 sacks was the fifth most in the league.

And yet, all anyone wants to talk about is Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and the touchdown-makers.

Instead, maybe people should talk a bit about Gerald McCoy and Lavotre David and T.J. Ward and Brett Grimes. You know, just a bit.

How good was the Bucs' defense. Good enough that the first five questions to John Fox were about the possibility of changing quarterbacks. Good enough that the Bears scored only on their ninth possession of the game. Good enough to make you wonder how good this season can be if they can maintain it.

Gholston celebrates another stop./JEFFREY S. KING

Gholston celebrates another stop./JEFFREY S. KING

How good was the Bucs defense? Consider this: On the Bears first drive, Kwon Alexander intercepted a pass. On the second, Glennon fumbled when sacked. On the third, Glennon was intercepted by Robert McClain, who returned it 47 yards for a touchdown. After that, it was pretty much over.

The offense? Well, the offense played well in spurts. Winston hit 18 of 30 (a 91.5 rating). Mike Evans caught 93 yards worth of passes. Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 67 yards. But the team scored only three points in the second half.

"I could be a lot more pleased," said coach Dirk Koetter."We didn't close it out very good. You'd like your offense to make some first downs there in the fourth quarter. We had another drive going down there in the second half. You can't let up. You've got to stay on it. Don't get me wrong. I'd rather be where we are than the other way. But we have plenty of work to do."

Think about that for a moment. Koetter wasn't totally pleased with a season-opening 22-point win.Has there ever been a Bucs' coach who wasn't tickled by a 22-point win in his first game?

The Bucs built their lead, and afterward, they rarely attacked. Still, it was a comfortable victory to start the season. Things could be worse. Hey, Chicago's mistakes are on the Bears.

"That is what you have to do in this league," Winston said. "When your defense gets you the ball back, you have to capitalize just so you can keep that momentum going."

The Bucs take their first road trip of the season next Sunday when they travel to Minnesota for a 1 p.m. game.

Ayers was so ready to play he was spewing./JEFFREY S.KING

Ayers was so ready to play he was spewing./JEFFREY S.KING

 

 

Share with:Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: