McCoy: Bucs haven’t turned the corner yet

by Gary Shelton on November 23, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

McCoy says the Bucs have a lot more work to do./CARMEN MANDATO

McCoy says the Bucs have a lot more work to do./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 2 a.m.

Two wins in a row is nice. But two wins in a row doesn't change things.

Ask nose tackle Gerald McCoy, for instance.

“We haven’t turned a corner yet," McCoy said. "It’s just two wins. We turn a corner if we win out – that’s turning the corner. Two wins is taking a couple steps toward the corner. We haven’t turned it yet. That’s how we feel.

"We are not on our high horse because we won two games. There is a lot of work to be done. How the defense played in the second half was terrible. We can’t be feeling good about what just happened.

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It’s a win and that’s the only number that matters, but we are going to play elite teams and compete [against] the top teams in this league (and) we can’t allow stuff like that to happen. We haven’t turned the corner yet. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

It gets harder for the Bucs this week. They travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons, a team that hasn't played well after reaching the Super Bowl a year ago. Lately, however, the Falcons have played better, beating the Cowboys and Seahawks in consecutive games.

For the Bucs' defense, one of the keys will be to play better on third down.

“We didn’t play third down very well at all," said defensive coordinator Mike Smith. "It’s been an Achilles heel for us. We did some things well in that ball game, but third down was horrendous. We fought like crazy on first and second down to get them in third-and-long and, especially in that second half, we didn’t do a very good job at all.

“We weren’t able to put a whole lot of pressure on the quarterback. We weren’t able to cover the guys. It was two-fold. It wasn’t just one thing. You fight like crazy to get into third-and-long and statistically you should win — if you are a good defense playing really good ball you’re going to win 90 percent of them when you’re third-and-10-plus. We can’t do that. We’ve got to do a better job and a lot of it had to do with the calls probably because we didn’t get it done.”

Coach Dirk Koetter said that despite the results, the Falcons remain talented.

"Like I told the team today, they have new coordinators on both sides," Koetter said. "Even though they’re running the same system, just like we talked about last week with Miami, every coordinator, if you’re the one calling the plays — now sometimes you’ve got a coordinator and the head coach is calling the plays, and I think Coach (Dan) Quinn did call the defense for part of last year at the end, but yeah, you can definitely see that these coordinators have put their own spin on it, but the talent that they have still remains the same.”

Koetter said that more pressure on third down isn't necessarily the answer.

“That’s a catch-22," Koetter said. "You live by the sword. You die by the sword. We definitely got on a bad streak in the second half where we were playing zone and he had too much time. Any play caller in the league, when you have the benefit of time and video tape or digital tape — whatever it is now — you always second guess yourself. I promise you no one second guesses more — even though you guys think you second guess more — the play caller himself second guesses himself the most. I try not to add to that because I know how hard it is. I think Smitty (Mike Smith) is calling it the same way he did last year when we were first in the league in third downs. We have to do better. We recognize that and that’s all of us — players and coaches alike.”

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will start his third straight game for the Bucs. A week ago, he led a game-winning drive that led to a field goal with four seconds to go.

“I think everybody has been in situations like that," Fitzpatrick said. "It was business-like in the huddle. We knew what we had to do. We knew in the second half we didn’t really carry our weight in terms of scoring any points. That’s a situation you love to be in. As a quarterback, even just as anybody in the offense, where you can control the outcome of the game with that last drive and it’s all on you — that’s why we play. Like I said after the game, my favorite part of it was how confident everybody was even before the drive started. To go out there and execute and do the things we did and for Chris Godwin to step up and have a couple big catches, hopefully that is a confidence boost for everybody.”

The Bucs have not run the ball well, however.

“That’s something we definitely need to get going," Fitzpatrick said. "We love running the ball. As a quarterback, it makes your job easier. As a lineman, run-blocking instead of pass-blocking every play — those guys love that. We need to get our guys going a little bit and that stuff comes, but every game is different. Sometimes it’s pass to open up the run. Sometimes it’s run to open up the pass. I think we’ve had a decent balance and you can’t just point to one thing as to why we haven’t been great some games and have been really good some games. That’s something that we’ve got to continue to work on and we will improve with that.”

The game kicks off at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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