Bucs finally hope to take success on the road

by Gary Shelton on November 16, 2017 · 1 comment

in general

McCoy wants to see a better effort on the road./JEFFREY S. KING

McCoy wants to see a better effort on the road./JEFFREY S. KING

Thursday, 2 a.m.

The thing about the Tampa Bay Bucs is this: You can't take them anywhere.

They are fragile. They are brittle. They are delicate.

At least, this season, they have been.

As bad as the year has gone for the Bucs, most of the damage has been on the road, where they have lost – badly – iin four straight games. In each of them, they have surrendered at least 30 points. In each of them, they have allowed at least 250 yards passing. In each of them, they have allowed at least 125 yards rushing.

And furthermore, ouch.

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David has become the Bucs' leader on defense/CARMEN MANDATO

David has become the Bucs' leader on defense/CARMEN MANDATO

“On the road, we haven’t been good at all,” said nose tackle Gerald McCoy. “We’re getting our tails busted on the road. We’ve got to go get a big win this week. It’s about stacking them.

“We’ve got to build on what we did this past week and just keep stacking them. We have everything we need – all of the talent. We’ve got 13 (Mike Evans) back this week. Number 3 (Jameis Winston) is working to get back as soon as he can, but we have what we need for right now to go get a big win.”

But how do you explain it? At home, the Bucs have been a decent team (3-2). They gave up seven to the Bears, 10 to the Jets, 17 to Carolina and 19 to New England.

Show this team a mint on the pillow, however, and it seems to go to pieces.

“Just inconsistent play,” said Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter. “It has nothing to do with the road. We’ve had the same issues at home. We also won five games on the road last year. We know we can win on the road. We’ve got to prove it this year. We haven’t done that yet. Inconsistent football, whether you are at home or on the road, is going to get you beat.”

In each game, the Bucs have fallen behind. They trailed Minnesota 28-3, and Arizona 31-0, and Buffalo 17-6 and New Orleans 30-3. It's no way to win.

The Bucs have also turned into starmarkers on the road. Remember the way backup quarterback Case Keenum dissected them, throwing for 369 yards. He hasn't come close to that 142.1 ranking since. Adrian Peterson? Only once has he come within 100 yards of the 134 he had against the Bucs. Tyrod Taylor? He's had only one game with more than the 268 yards he threw for against Tampa Bay. Even Drew Brees had his highest rating of the year against the Bucs (131.9).

“We haven’t been very consistent when we’ve played on the road,” said defensive coordinator Mike Smith. “We haven’t started fast and when you don’t start fast you can get behind the chains, so to speak. We’ve got to be a much tougher and more resilient team on the road. We have been a completely different team statistically, as you’ve mentioned, playing at home. It’s something that we have to make sure our guys understand that it’s going to be tough to play on the road, but it’s not that tough. We have made it way too easy for our opponents when we’ve played on the road.”

The numbers are disastrous. In four road games, opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 129.0. All four opponents have more than 400 yards. The four have combined for 132 points.

“We have given up too many points,” Smith said. “We haven’t done a very good job of stopping the run. I think that’s the common denominator. You can look back to the Arizona game. When you get yourself in unfavorable third-down matchups, it’s tough. It’s a lot easier to call a game. It’s a lot easier to go out and get after a quarterback when you’ve got them in third-and-10, third-and-nine, third-and-14 – even so when you have them in second-and-10 or second-and-11. That puts you into more of a pass mode and that gives you a little bit more flexibility in terms of what personnel groupings you can put out there on the field.”

Against Miami on Sunday, a game that was delayed by Hurricane Irma, the Bucs need the energy they played with in last week's win over the Jets.

“We’ve been playing terrible on the road,” McCoy said. “We can’t get excited about a home win and then just be like, ‘Oh, we won so…’ No, we haven’t done well on the road. We’ve got to go get a win. I think guys kind of have a sense of urgency about that.”

Game time is 1 p.m. Sunday.

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