Buccaneers: Tampa'd Expectations - D needs to step up
It’s fair to say Lovie Smith has not had the start that he expected to have in Tampa Bay. People who remembered his tenure in Chicago thought that the Buccaneers would be the perfect front for Smith to showcase his defensive prowess. Led by Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy and ably supported by Alterraun Verner, Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron amongst others they were meant to impose themselves on the league. Instead they’re 0-2 with losses to Derek Anderson and Austin Davis. Clearly, something is wrong.
The team will need more, especially if Gerald McCoy (our top ranked defensive tackle in 2013) is ruled out with a broken hand that threatens to derail his campaign for Defensive Player of the Year. They’ve got the good play they’ve come to expect from Lavonte David (+4.3 rating against the run), but Mason Foster has struggled, particularly against the run where Atlanta will try and impose themselves. He’s managed just six tackles on 48 run defense snaps and needs to be more visible. With him out it’s something of an opportunity for Dane Fletcher to impress.
While Atlanta will again try to establish the run (especially if McCoy is ruled out) it’s through the air though that the Bucs will face their biggest challenge. Matt Ryan leads the league in passing yards and is, despite a poor showing by his standards in Week 2, our top ranked quarterback. With a team coverage grade of -12.6 which is second worst and the eighth lowest ranked pass rushing grade, things have got to step up. It hasn’t helped that Michael Johnson is battling an ankle knock, or that Adrian Clayborn has been placed on injured reserve, but they simply have to pressure Matt Ryan. His passer rating drops to a 55 score when pressured, from 102.4 when not.
If they don’t rectify this then the Buccaneers could have a winless month to begin Lovie Smith’s stay on the gulf side of Florida.