The Bucs defense failed to record a sack against Drew Brees on Sunday. What type of grade does the D-line get? What type of grade does Tampa Bay's secondary deserve after surrendering 377 passing yards and four touchdowns? Find out in this Pewter Report article.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds offers up his analysis on how Tampa Bay's
defense played against New Orleans in the Bucs' 35-28 victory over the Chiefs, and dishes out the game grades for
each defensive unit and the Bucs special teams.
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy made his presence felt early on the Saints’ first possession. He deflected a Drew Brees pass at the line of scrimmage, which was intercepted by free safety Ronde Barber to set up Tampa Bay’s first touchdown. Unfortunately, that was it for McCoy and his fellow defensive linemen, who didn’t get close enough to Brees to pick him out of a police lineup.
The Bucs finished the game with any sacks or quarterback hits, which was disappointing and gave Brees plenty of time to throw the ball as he completed 27-of-37 passes for 377 yards with four touchdowns and only one interception.
On several third down situations, especially in the first half, Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan had the Bucs rushing just three defensive linemen against New Orleans on obvious passing downs and it backfired.
The defensive line did well against the run as McCoy finished with three tackles, while nose tackle Roy Miller had two stops. Defensive end Michael Bennett was invisible with one tackle for loss, and fellow end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim was active against the run with three stops.
But this was a game in which pressuring was Brees was paramount, and the defensive line failed miserably – even though the Saints were often in max protection situations with tight ends and running backs staying in to block.GRADE = DLINEBACKERS
Against the run, Tampa Bay’s linebackers fared well, holding New Orleans to 81 yards rushing and one touchdown on 26 carries (3.1 avg.), but this unit did little in pass coverage, especially on third downs where the Saints converted 60 percent of their third downs (9-of-15) en route to rolling up 35 points and 458 total yards.
With the Buccaneers in nickel and dime defense throughout most of the game, strongside linebacker Quincy Black didn’t play much, recording only an assist. Middle linebacker Mason Foster had five tackles, including a tackle for loss, but did nothing sensational. Rookie weakside linebacker Lavonte David was tied for the lead with eight tackles, including two tackles for loss, and performed the best of all of Tampa Bay’s linebackers, but appeared to give up a touchdown to David Thomas right before halftime.
The Bucs linebackers had an average day, but did not make any splash plays outside of a pass breakup by David on Thomas in the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay’s linebackers have to become playmakers – not just tacklers.GRADE = C-SECONDARY
A week after recording his second interception of the season, which was returned 78 yards for a touchdown against Kansas City, Barber picked off Brees and returned it 30 yards to the New Orleans 13. That takeaway set up Tampa Bay’s first touchdown.
Brandon McDonald had a lapse in coverage in the first quarter and allowed Devery Henderson to record a 40-yard catch. That wasn’t the only miscue by Tampa Bay’s secondary as Marques Colston was wide open for a touchdown in the first quarter and a 17-yard gain in the second quarter to move the ball down to the Tampa Bay 10.
Strong safety Mark Barron missed a tackle that allowed Henderson to break free for a 30-yard gain in the second quarter, and he and Eric Wright also missed a tackle on Josh Morgan’s 48-yard touchdown right before halftime. Barron, who had a bad game and finished with seven tackles, and Wright, who had a game-leading eight, kept biting on Brees’ pump fakes, which helped Morgan, Colston and Lance Moore get open several times throughout the game.
Moore finished with nine catches for 121 yards, Colston had seven catches for 73 yards and a touchdown, in addition to Morgan’s 48-yard score. The Saints receivers were just getting open too easily against Tampa Bay’s secondary, which failed to adjust and clamp down in coverage in surrendering 377 yards passing to Brees.GRADE = D-SPECIAL TEAMS
Roscoe Parrish was true to his average on his first punt return, which was a 9-yarder, but finished with 15 yards on two carries (7.5 avg.) and did nothing special. Kick returner Arrelious Benn got impatient and foolishly decided to return a kickoff from eight yards deep in the end zone out to the Bucs 8-yard line, which was a huge mistake. Once again, Tampa Bay’s return game struggled mightily and it’s becoming a recurring theme.
The Bucs coverage units were sound, allowing just a 15-yard punt return from Darren Sproles, which proved to be harmless. All five of Michael Koenen’s kickoffs were touchbacks.
Koenen did a superb job punting, averaging 51.3 yards with a 47.5-yard net. He had two punts inside the 20 and no touchbacks with a long of 57 yards.
Kicker Connor Barth missed his only field goal attempt, a 42-yarder, which was a disappointment. Barth nailed 25 kicks in a row dating back to last year before missing from 55 yards last week. He’s now missed two of his last three field goals.
The Bucs also had a couple of special teams penalties in the game, including a running into the kicker call, but none worse than an unsportsmanlike conduct call after forcing New Orleans to attempt a 51-yard field goal. That gave the Saints 15 yards and an automatic first down, which led to their final touchdown and that proved to be the difference-maker in the game.GRADE = D+
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