Bucs defense has a chance to be better than decent

by Gary Shelton on September 14, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Wednesday, 6 a.m.

They gave up 24 points. A cynic would suggest that was too many.

They surrendered 322 yards through the air. A critic would say that's too much.

They came out ranked only 22nd. A pessimist would say that's too low.

Still, as a place to start, the Bucs' defense was decent in its first victory of the year, a 31-24 victory over Atlanta. And decent is a good place to start. Decent is a place where you can build. Decent is a place where you can hope.

Hey, no one expected the Bucs to turn into the '85 Bears overnight. This isn't

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the Ravens or the Steel Curtain or the Purple People Eaters or even the old Bucs. We have seen so many safeties chase receivers across the goal line,and too many linebackers who thought they were playing dodgeball, that decent seems like an upgrade.

Of course, the big kids get out of school this weekend when Tampa Bay travels to Arizona, who has the offensive talent to embarrass an opponent. Sure, that could happen.

Still, I think the Bucs have a chance to be a better defense this year. They have better competitors at cornerback. They have better athletes at defensive end. They have Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David, who combined for 25 tackles, at linebacker. They are coached better. There were games last year when the defensive backs played so far off you thought it was punt formation.

This time? It wasn't perfect. It was pretty good.

Break it down: Atlanta had the ball on 12 possessions. On nine of those, they picked up two first downs or fewer. They scored two touchdowns.

They averaged 2.4 yards on the run.

They had three sacks.

They allowed more than 50 yards on only one score.

Then there were moments. The Bucs' final play was a pass swatted down by -- who else -- Gerald McCoy. Four times, the Bucs were in the red zone; three times they forced field goals.

In the days to come, the Bucs will have to be better than decent, of course. They have the Broncos and Raiders, Chiefs and Seahawks, Charger and Cowboys. They have the Panthers and Saints and Falcons again. A bad defense can get pecked to death against those sort of teams.

This one? We'll see, The Bucs probably have as many quallity athletes on defense as they've had in years. Maybe since Monte's last defense crumbled down the stretch.

It has to prove it, of course. Defense is about proving yourself every week. But it starts off as decent.

And decent gives you a chance.

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