Answers elude all Bucs
The Bucs defenders have no answers. They cannot figure out how to stop the run. They have been unable to stop big plays. And they continue to struggle with tackling opponents.
The Bucs' defense gave up 397 yards in Sunday's 24-0 loss to the Giants, and likely will remain among the NFL's worst defenses after entering the game ranked 31st. And the players seem stumped for solutions. "I really don't know what the problem was," defensive end Gaines Adams said.
With six new starters on defense, one problem appears to be young players struggling to play consistently throughout four quarters. The Bucs have been outscored 30-0 in the first quarter through three games. The Giants scored on their first possession, a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, and led 14-0 one play into the second quarter.
Stopping the run is another problem. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw rushed 14 times for 104 yards, including a 38-yard run that set up New York's second touchdown. Brandon Jacobs added 26 carries for 92 yards and one touchdown as New York gained 226 yards on the ground.
"It was tough for us to find a way to stop the run, and until we do, there are going to be games like that," cornerback Ronde Barber said. "We've been inconsistent for three straight weeks."
Generating a pass rush is another problem. The Bucs failed to sack quarterback Eli Manning, who completed 14 of 24 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Raheem Morris expressed his disappointment with Adams, a former first-round draft pick, and even contemplated benching him before Sunday's game.
Morris and Adams met last week, and the coach gave his player another chance. After the game, Morris said he saw improvement from Adams. "He played harder," Morris said. "I saw him chasing the quarterback better."
But the results were largely the same. Adams finished with one tackle, two quarterback hurries and no sacks. Still, Adams does not believe the constant criticism is unfair.
"Not at all. It is what it is. It's football," Adams said. "Some guys get drafted higher than others. Some get more pressure put on them than others. It's just the nature of the beast, so I don't feel any pressure at all."
Against the Giants, Tampa Bay's stagnant offense also was a problem. The Bucs' offense produced only 86 yards and, as a result, New York ran 76 offensive plays compared to Tampa Bay's 36. New York also dominated time of possession, 43:38 to 16:22.
Many defensive players for Tampa Bay said they would watch film and figure out how to improve. They all have questions, but not many answers.
"I wish I had the answer," said Bucs defensive end Stylez G. White when asked what more his unit could do. "If I had the answer, you wouldn't be asking me the question."
Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune 27 September 2009