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

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.

 

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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 mark@pewterreport.com
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Alldaway 2.0
3 years ago

Elliot and Stewart are always making plays while VH3 is “almost” making plays. VH3 has an uphill climb to win any CB spot IMVHO.

Devasher
Reply to  Alldaway 2.0
3 years ago

Recurring theme of 1. Lots of picks 2. Near pick by Hargreaves.

The guy has 1 INT to his name in two seasons, despite QB’s giving him loads of throws in his direction so I can’t say I’m surprised.

But it’s OTA’s, wake me up when it’s training camp.

DT25
Reply to  Alldaway 2.0
3 years ago

The fact he’s getting his hands on balls at all is a positive. Also without any context whatsoever compared to the INT’s by the other guys (who was throwing the ball, how contested was it, etc) I’m surely not going to say it’s unlikely he wins a spot. I still think he’s the best option in the nickel given his performance there last season and it seems like he’s been running with the 1st team still, so I’m just glad he’s making plays even if that means disrupting passes. As Devasher said, still early. Training camp will really sort everything… Read more »

Jlog
Jlog
3 years ago

I keep hoping Winston will prove me wrong, but I don’t honestly see it happening. Meanwhile Cousins looks like he’s worth every cent Minnesota.

Sneedy16
Reply to  Jlog
3 years ago

How can he be worth every cent when he haven’t played a down in Minnesota?

Jlog
Jlog
Reply to  Sneedy16
3 years ago

Well I said looking and he’s making it look easy vs one the best defenses in the NFL in practice

Brooks Dunn-Winston
3 years ago

Playing more press coverage. Now there’s a concept.

makski
Reply to  Brooks Dunn-Winston
3 years ago

Dilly Dilly!! It’s about time!! Most of our CB’s are MUCH better at press coverage, VHIII included. Maybe that is the real reason for him actually starting to make some plays. Everyone should give him a little time to re-adjust this season. His confidence is probably shot from Smith calling all of that soft zone coverage. Hopefully, he will be up to speed by the time preseason rolls around and then we can decide whether to play him in the slot or outside.

Tighe Fighter
3 years ago

9 picks…

I know kwon had two at least. Evans I think has two. But can someone tell me the stats of all 9? I think the rookies also have multiples but don’t remember.

Tighe Fighter
Reply to  Tighe Fighter
3 years ago

Also, I’m not worried about the picks too much. Winston tries to make throws he shouldn’t during practice but always dials it down during the season.

Do I wish he would practice not throwing picks? Absolutely. You play how you practice. If he would practice checking it down in those situations I would be a lot happier but he’s a competitor and I would much rather someone who competes than mike Glennon.

DT25
Reply to  Tighe Fighter
3 years ago

It’s not only him throwing the picks. I’m sure a majority were actually not by him. Don’t forget we have several other QB’s throwing the ball in camp.

thewbacca
Reply to  Tighe Fighter
3 years ago

Agree. I’m fine with Winston pushing boundaries. That said I’m also glad we have DB’s that cash in on iffy throws – that’s the way it should be. The fact that VH3 isn’t feasting in this environment though is telling.

DT25
Reply to  thewbacca
3 years ago

The Fab 5 said he’s been impressive in coverage. The fact he’s dropped a few INT’s isn’t a concern to me. His coverage is, and the fact he’s been impressive means more to me than one or two balls he could have caught.

makski
Reply to  DT25
3 years ago

I agree DT25! He will be much improved from last year if we just put him in more press. It sounds like Smith has FINALLY figured that out.

plopes808
3 years ago

So I guess there are 2 ways to look at this…either our secondary is improved, or our QBs are turnover prone…

I tend to think that playing a more aggressive style of coverage is the biggest factor. Not only does it make the defense better, but Jameis and co. are not used to seeing this kind of coverage in practice. I’m sure they’re used to having that extra 10 yards of space to work with.

Maybe Mike Smith started reading the PR boards where we’ve been saying for a long time that we should be playing more aggressive coverage.

Mike.Seven
3 years ago

With 3 years of near league leading interceptions, with all the focus work and talk about it and it still occurring does any one think it could be a problem with the QB throwing form and style, how many years do you give a QB to develop, This is only a question, would like the experts at pewter to answer or have discussion, As of now the 4th year is already in works if at the end of this season Bucs losing continues and INT near or at the top of league is it time look elsewhere or do you… Read more »

Ja'crispy
3 years ago

More aggressive press coverage? Yes, Please!

owlykat
3 years ago

Thrilled to hear we will do press coverage this year! That will force QBs to hold the ball more which ups our Sac rate. With Vea breaking through double teams with his extraordinary strength the QB can’t step up and will be run down by PFF and Vinny and I expect double digit sacks from McCoy and Spence too. Add some timely blitzes too and we should be competitive with the top three teams we start with this year! And as far as losing weight bringing injuries to Spence and Gholston, remember me last year warning about Jameis losing weight?… Read more »

makski
Reply to  owlykat
3 years ago

Some injuries occur when players try to add weight also, you can’t say that they got hurt because they lost weight. Injuries usually just happen…

Mike Wright
3 years ago

This team will only go as far as Jameis and the Defense has improved. The running game will be improved. But will Jameis improve? Thats the question. And will our Defensive line get mean and nasty and start knocking people on their A’s. These are the questions. Do these things and we could win 9 to 11 games this season. If not? SOB’S (same ole Bucs)