Battered, bruised Bucs hoping for health

by Gary Shelton on October 7, 2021

in general

Sherman likes what he sees./TAMPA BAY BUCS

Thursday, 3 a.m.

The only thing surprising about the runaway number of injuries in the secondary for the Tampa Bay Bucs is this:

So far, there are no reports of burn marks.

The Bucs are hurt, and aside from that, they aren't very good. It's the old two-headaches-in-one deal. And right about now, the guy who may feel the best in the NFL is Miami backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who gets his shot at the group of them this week.

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Brissett, who has a not-so-stellar quarterback rating of 77.8 in three games (two starts), gets to go up against the slightly overmatched secondary of the Bucs. After four games, the Bucs have given up the second-most passing yardage in the NFL, and third-most touchdowns. Opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 100.3 against them.

The reason? The Bucs pass rushed showed up for the first time this season against New England. The defensive backs seem to play mostly a soft coverage, which means tackling the receiver after the catch. It leads to a lot of check downs and short passes.

So far, the Bucs have given up a game of 403 yards passing, one of 300, one of 343 and one of 275.

And so it goes. Carlton Davis has a quad injury. Sean Murphy-Bunting has a dislocated elbow. Antonio Winfield is in concussion protocol. Jamel Dean is just returning from an injury. Richard Sherman just got off the plane.

“Hopefully, Jamel Dean will be back," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians. "We’ll see what he can do today. Richard [Sherman] will have another week under his belt, Pierre [Desir and] everybody else, Mike [Edwards] and Jordan [Whitehead] will start at safety if Antoine [Winfield] can’t come back. We’ll just see how the week plays out, but we have enough guys. We’ll be more than ready.”

Sherman compared picking up a new defensive scheme to learning a new language.

“It 100 percent is," Sherman said. "T.B. (Todd Bowles) has a lot of variety in his packages and what he likes out of his corners, corners over and the movement of the disguises and things like that. It did take a second. It took a lot of hours of just going back and forth. A lot of questions that may have been dumb for other guys to ask, but I didn’t know. Even throughout the process of the week, there would be checks. It’s just human nature to assume [we all knew what’s going on] because we’re in the season. It’s not like you’re doing installs anymore. They’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, we just make this check, this check and this check.’ I’d be like, ‘Hey, uh, what does that mean exactly? So, I’ve got him? Okay, perfect. Sorry.’

"It was just a lot of extra time. Shout out to Kevin Ross, the corners coach – he did a great job taking his time and explaining things. Shout out to the safeties ‘Twon’ (Antoine Winfield Jr.) and ‘J.White’ (Jordan Whitehead) and Mike [Edwards] – they made sure they signaled throughout the game and communicated. The linebackers – Devin [White] and Lavonte [David] – they did a great job of communicating. It was comfortable out there. It wasn’t like you’re like panicked. I felt like I could look around, meet eyes with someone and they’d be like, ‘Hey, we’re in this,’ and we’d deal with it.”

Sherman says he likes what he sees.

"(Todd Bowles) runs a great scheme," Sherman said. "The safeties here are incredible. The safety play by ‘J.White,’ Antoine [Winfield Jr.] and Mike [Edwards] – they play high level football. ‘J. White’ – some of the plays he made last week were really All-Pro plays. He went into the backfield blowing up run plays, taking on three blockers and still making the play, etc. I think they’ll be fine. I think P.D. (Pierre Desir) is a veteran who has played a lot of football and he’ll be fine. We’ll communicate and go over the indicators and the keys and find spots where we can find success with this offense. They’re doing things a little different with [Jacoby] Brissett under center than they were with Tua [Tagovailoa]. They were running a little more RPO (run-pass option) and they still try to do some of the RPO stuff with Brissett, but not as much. It’s really about just being detailed, understanding your indicators and trusting them.”

The Bucs play against the Dolphins at Raymond James Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.

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