Bucs lose to Saints due to ‘soft’ secondary

by Gary Shelton on October 7, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Godwin caught seven passes for 125 yards./CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 4 am.

Where, you might ask, would the back-pedaling defense of the Tampa Bay Bucs be without Shaq Barrett?

Well, they'd be in New Orleans, it turns out.

And where, pray tell, would the Bucs be without Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans?

They'd be in the Superdome, of course.

And where would they be if the team's secondary simply forget that covering a receiver was, technically, a good thing? Or that third downs were worth converting? Or that showing up against a backup quarterback would be a nice idea?

Without all of that, they'd be walking off of a football field, their heads sagging, after losing a 31-24 game to the New Orleans Saints. They'd be 2-3 on

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the season. They' would leave knowing they had given up 102 points in their last three games. They'd would be a porous offensive line, once again, after giving up six sacks.

Yeah. They'd be in trouble.


"We tried to execute, that’s it," said quarterback Jameis Winston. "They did a good job playing defense.”

The Bucs were fairly helpless in their loss to New Orleans Sunday. They allowed Teddy Bridgewater to complete 26 passes for 314 yards and four scores. They allowed Michael Thomas to catch 11 balls for 182 yards, which Evans didn't come up with one. They had the ball seven minutes fewer than the Saints because, as Bruce Arians said, they couldn't handle third down.

"I think the game came down to third downs," Arians said. "Our inability to get off the field (defensively) and our inability to stay on the field (offensively). A little better pass protection for us, offensively, getting into more manageable third downs. Defensively we’ve just got to make plays and we didn’t make them.”

Said quarterback Jameis Winston: "We just can’t go three-and-out. We’ve got to execute on third down. It is what it is. We fought hard. I think we ran the football effectively. They gave us a lot of different looks that we haven’t seen on third down. We’ve just got to be ready for whatever. When we’re preparing for the future, we’ve got to focus on us. We’ve got to make sure that were fine and not worry about them.

"We’ve got to focus on us and be the best us and try not to worry about the opponent. We’ve got to be best at what we do. If we can be good at what we do, then we’ll win football games.”

Most of the unmade plays were in the secondary, a familiar problem for the Bucs. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown for 1,137 yards in the last three games.

“We weren’t (good enough) today," Arians said. "We have been at times but we still are too soft. We’re too soft. I don’t know any other way to put it. When we’re in press man… Now, we’ve got some guys that are getting after it but we’ve got some guys that are just soft.”

Thomas, in particular, bowled over defensive backs after making catches.

"It was both man and zone," Arians said. "We just did a poor, poor job of covering him. He’s a big, physical guy and we know he’s going to push off so you’ve just got to be more physical than him.”

Arians challenged one catch Thomas made against Vernon Hargreaves, but the play stood as called.

“If that’s not (pass interference), I don’t know what the hell is," Arians said. A two-hand shove, it knocked the guy backwards. They said they were hand fighting. They were hand fighting but that doesn’t knock the guy backwards.”

On the other hand, the Saints didn't have a problem with Evans, who was targeted only three times and didn't catch a pass for the first time in 68 games.

Winston had a rating above 100.0 for the third straight game, but he wasn't as sharp as he had been. His rating was as high as it was because penalties erased two interceptions he threw.

The Saints scored at the end of the first half, then took the second half kickoff and drove for a score.

"Anytime you get a two-score like that it’s going to be huge," Arians said. "We talked about that at halftime, this is the third time we’ve come out after halftime and failed to get them off the field. It’s a trend. Maybe I’ll start deferring, we’ll see. We’ve been doing a pretty good job with the ball to start games, I like that, but defensively we’re just not answering the bell coming out of halftime.”

Another break that went against Tampa Bay was an apparent fumbled punt the Bucs appear to recover, but the officials said no.

"They blew the call.," Arians said. "It’s simple. It was a clear recovery on a fumble. Luckily we get a ball bounce, get an interception and score on it but he came out of the pile with the ball and they knew it before they went to replay. It’s all coming from New York.”

The Bucs travel to London for a game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

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