For the second straight week of OTAs, at least the media viewing days, the Bucs revamped secondary has shown they are determined to have a bounce back year.
And boy do they ever need to.
While it is still a long way away from the season opener in New Orleans, Tampa Bay’s secondary again stole the show – and a number of footballs – at Thursday’s OTA practice. And of the passes that weren’t intercepted, many were contested balls that fell harmlessly to the ground.
Mark Myers, Javien Elliot, Kwon Alexander and M.J. Stewart all got their hands on interceptions on Thursday, something that was few and far between at times last year.
Alexander and Stewart not only had interceptions, both were returned for touchdowns. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves also dropped what should have been the fifth interception of the day, a number that would have equaled last week’s total from the defense.
Dirk Koetter – Photo by: PewterReport.com
Last week Buc head coach Dirk Koetter talked about the interception issue.
“I think they might have broken the One Buc interception record today (May 24),” Koetter said last Thursday. “Too many interceptions today. This time of year everything’s 50/50. Of course you want to see the defense take the ball away, but you don’t want to see the offense turn it over.”
Tampa Bay was middle of the pack in interceptions last season, tied for 15th, but hope that number improves, along with the rest of the defensive stats.
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith recently said the team knows what needs to happen defensively in 2018.
“It’s got to be a hell of a lot better than what we put out there last year,” Smith said. ‘ I’ve said it many times, the numbers are not anywhere close to what we’ve to go to do. We’ve got to be more consistent in everything that we do and it starts in the meeting rooms and building trust with one another across the board. I think that’s the most important thing.”
Part of the success in the secondary so far in OTAs may come from the defense being more aggressive in coverage.
Koetter said on Thursday that is part of the plan.
“Oh yeah,” Koetter said, dripping with sweat following practice on Thursday. “Yeah, absolutely (the team will play more press coverage).”
As you almost expect this time of year, the defense appears to be ahead of the offense. Having seen the same routes and formations a number of times already in just this offseason, the defense should have a distinct advantage. Is it concerning that Bucs’ quarterbacks have thrown nine interceptions in the last two Thursday practices? You bet, but making sure these interceptions really are just testing their limits and not showing tendencies will go a long way in determining how the Bucs fare in 2018.
Scott Reynolds, Mark Cook and Trevor Sikkema discussed the interceptions and practice in detail on the latest podcast. Click this link to listen.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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