Bucs Defense Fails Big Test

The Bucs defense is still a work in progress. That's what I took from the game Sunday against the Saints. There were plays that made you think this Bucs defense was turning the corner. Certainly intercepting Drew Brees three times in a game would support that claim. But too many times at key moments the Bucs defense couldn't get off the field.

The Bucs defense is still a work in progress. That's what I took from the game Sunday against the Saints. There were plays that made you think this Bucs defense was turning the corner. Certainly intercepting Drew Brees three times in a game would support that claim, but too many times at key moments the Bucs defense couldn't get off the field. Three out of the four touchdown drives for the Saints resulted in double digit plays (12,10, and 12). The Saints were also good on third down converting 6 of 13 chances.

Look, when your offense scores 24 points on the road, you should win the game. When your second year quarterback outplays a future hall of famer, you should win that game. When Robert Herron scores his first career touchdown, you should win that game. When Jimmy Graham is lost for much of the game because of an injury, you should win that game. I could go on but you get the point.

One thing is very clear after watching the game Sunday. The defense still has a ways to go to be considered elite. I use the word elite because that's what you think of when you describe a Lovie Smith defense. Some may look at the defense after Sunday's game and say that performance was good enough. Maybe it was, but my expectations are higher than just "good enough." I expect more. Think about it for a second. Who would have thought that the offense would be ahead of the defense on a Lovie Smith team? Not me.

The Bucs defense unofficially gave up 6 plays of 20 yards or more to the Saints. The Saints averaged almost 5 yards a carry on offense. Penalties also hurt the Bucs in this game. They were flagged 15 times for 113 yards. It's just unacceptable.

You see improvements with this defense. Lavonte David made 14 tackles and had his first impactful game of the 2014 season. Gerald McCoy continues to play at a high level. Michael Johnson is starting to pick up his play which is a good sign. But it's not enough. The Bucs defense is just okay right now. Three interceptions against Brees is a good way to start trending upwards, but if the Bucs have visions of being a playoff team, the defense needs to be elite.

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