After giving up 371 yards passing to the Saints last Sunday, on the surface you would be hard pressed to say the Buccaneers secondary is showing much improvement. And while a loss is a loss, Tampa Bay’s defense did show some signs of life with three interceptions and 11 pass breakups, two stats that were desperately suffering.
Last Sunday free agent corner back Alterraun Verner contributed with three passes defended, including a fourth quarter interception. On Thursday, Verner spoke with members of the media about sustaining that success.
“Yeah definitely,” Verner said about the importance of getting their first few turnovers. “That was a question that was being asked a lot: turnovers. We hadn’t had any interceptions. Nobody in the secondary had gotten one in the regular season. When I had the first opportunity, I was thinking how it could’ve been big for the first one.
“But then Jonathan (Banks) started it off and made a great play. It just seemed like it was starting to go after that. It is a positive sign that we’ve gotten the taste of it (interceptions). We’ve gotten to see what it looked like and how it can help the team.”
Verner had five interceptions last year as a member of the Tennessee Titans. More impressively, he led the league in breakups with 23 and the lack of early season production in those categories through the first four weeks was surprising. However, some of that can be attributed to attempting to becoming more accustomed to a new system, as well as developing chemistry with his fellow defensive backs.
“I would say to a certain extent that’s true, Verner said about getting used to the defense. “(We’re) definitely getting more familiar with just everybody’s ability. With me being new, this is the first time I’m working with everybody. Dashon (Goldson), this is his second year, Mark Barron third (year) and it’s Jonathan’s (Banks) second. All of us are relatively young and getting to know each other. I just think building that camaraderie and trust is definitely allowing us to make more plays because we’re getting familiar with what we can and can’t do.”
The Tampa Bay secondary will have a tough test on Sunday trying to force turnovers against a protective Baltimore offense. Joe Flacco has thrown 191 passes with only three interceptions. But the Bucs were able to rattle an elite quarterback last week, and Verner believes that it’s given them confidence moving forward.
“It is a positive sign that we’ve gotten the taste of it (interceptions),” Verner said. “We’ve gotten to see what it looked like and how it can help the team. We know how valuable those things are. I think it is going to help from here on out. It’s definitely good to get the first one.”
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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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 [email protected]
Strides? Maybe. But I’m not going to be satisfied with key penalties and TERRIBLE tackling late n the game coasting the Bucs a loss that should not have happened. Let’s see how they cover and tackle against the Ravens. Let’s actually win a game at home for the first time since December 8, 2013. THAT would be something positive to type about.
I expect that eventually they will get used to the defense and each other and the stats will improve, when? No clue.
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