Arians points to Bucs’ secondary as the problem

by Gary Shelton on November 7, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Hargreaves is the most experienced defensive back./STEVEN MUNCIE

Thursday, 4 a.m.

After a new coaching staff got a view on tape of just how wretched the Bucs' secondary was a year ago, are you surprised it has happened again?

If so, sit on the couch next to Bruce Arians and compare notes.

Arians said Wednesday what has been apparent to the rest of us all season. The secondary isn't up to NFL standards. Arians, who proclaimed the secondary was "totally fixed" during the preseason, has reassessed his stance. When asked about the disparity of a team that is fourth in the league in points scored but 31st in points allowed, he looked at the unit.

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"It’s basically on the back end, where we thought we’d be very strong.," Arians said. "We’ve made errors mentally in technique and judgment and everything else, so (we’ve been) very disappointing in that way. To have a lead – I’m not used to giving up leads in the fourth quarter, and we’ve done it a few times now.

Asked about his lofty expectations, Arians admitted he was wrong.

"Totally, because of talent, but that talent isn’t showing up (and) playing that way," Arians said. "It’s playing on Sunday, not in shorts in spring. You get fooled sometimes in shorts in the spring, because that’s the guys that are out there playing. Big guys, you never know until you put pads on. Some of those guys, when the noise level goes up, it all changes too."

"I think the front seven is playing outstanding. It’s the back end – when Vernon (Hargreaves) is your oldest guy, you’re young. The simplest thing is play ‘Dude’ coverage – you’ve got that dude. You don’t (have) to think. Seattle had a really good plan of picking us and doing some things to get guys loose, but in our zone matchups and stuff, that’s been disappointing. When we played the Giants, for instance, we give up a first play missed tackle, jumping over a route. That’s just dumb and inexperienced.”

The Bucs have spent a lot of draft choices trying to fix this secondary. Hargreaves was a No. 1 pick in 2016. Injured safety Justin Evans was a No. 2 in 2017. M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis III were No. 2s in 2018. Sean Murphy-Bunting was a second-rounder in 2019, and Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards were third rounders last year.

And still, quarterbacks pick the secondary apart routinely.

Dean in particular had a tough day for the Bucs Sunday.

"For a young guy, (positives) what you have to take, and as a coach, that’s what you have to take," Arians said. "You have to take what he did really well and build on it, because he’s going to be a heck of a player. He’s a big, long, physical guy. He had [D.K.] Metcalf – that wasn’t an easy matchup, but he handled it pretty well. That long one at the end, we had zero coverage. Somebody’s got to get home and hit the quarterback – that’s not his fault.”

Arians did praise Murphy-Bunting.

Sean Murphy-Bunting’s playing really well,” Arians said. "He kind of dipped (but) he’s way back up.”

Arians said he was not "stunned" by his team being 2-6.

"No," he said. "I’m just pissed because we’ve had games to win and we didn’t win them. As a coach, you just keep flipping at why – what can we do better, how can we finish the last five minutes of games – because the last five minutes of games tells the whole season.”

The Bucs play against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday at 1 p.m.

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