The Buccaneers were unable to apply pressure on Marcus Mariota Sunday, which in many ways reflects the front seven’s effort on first and second down. The defense got behind the eight ball too often and allowed Tennessee to take advantage from the beginning.
“When you normally get pressure, that’s when you have them in favorable passing situations,” said head coach Lovie Smith at his Monday press conference. “On first and second down when it’s a run-pass situation, it’s hard to get a lot of pressure.
“When there is play-action fakes and the run, that’s what we were dealing with. When we got them in the true passing situations, we had success. Stopping the run and having more success on first and second down, that’s what we needed to do. We’ll be able to do that in the future.”
The Titans controlled the tempo and were able to set themselves up in short yardage situations, putting the defense on their heels and preventing them from finding any rhythm. It’s hard to predict pass or bring pressure when the offense has a full playbook of options to move the ball.
On Monday, defensive end George Johnson talked about the difficulty of playing from behind while allowing a team to run the ball successfully.
“When you’re playing against third-and-3, they have a lot of plays they can run,” Johnson said. “They can go from pass to quick pass to deep pass, so when they’re gaining three or four yards on a first and second down, it’s kind of hard to stop them on third down when they don’t have far to go.”
The lesson here is that it’s important to stop the run and force an early incompletion in the drive to have defensive success. In order to apply consistent pressure the defense needs to get into third-and-long situations. The Bucs didn’t do that Sunday and had their backs against the wall all afternoon.
Smith attributed the defense’s effort to a combination of coaching, scheme and execution – “All of the above,” he said – and added that what was seen on the field Sunday is not the Buccaneers team that will be seen the rest of the year.
“There’s no doubt we did not show up defensively,” he said. “We have to play a lot better defensively. We did not play the brand of defense we will play this year. Our defense has to play a lot better and it will.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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