To say the Buccaneers have struggled defending the pass this season is being generous. The secondary seems like they get lost often which has led to several big passing plays from any of the quarterbacks faced to this point. They could be in for another long afternoon when they play host to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan had his way with the Bucs secondary during their Week 3 matchup in Atlanta. He finished 21-for-24 for 286 yards and three touchdowns. But most of the damage was down in the first half when 221 of those yards were in the first half as well as two of his three touchdown passes. Star wide receiver Julio Jones also had a big game with 161 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bucs will be challenged early and quite possibly often as they will be without cornerback Alterraun Verner. That will open the door of opportunity for others to try and make a name for themselves against the weapons Atlanta carries.
"For us, it’s next guy up," head coach Lovie Smith said. "Opportunity for the next guy and sometimes you get your opportunity and didn’t come around again, but sometimes you get another chance and if we have to go that direction for a guy like Brandon Dixon and Crezdon Butler – guys that have done a few good things along the line, then eventually they’ll have to show us exactly what they are and who they are. What better chance, if it comes down to that and Verner can’t go?”
And Verner will not go. That was confirmed when Butler told reporters he was starting. The last time he started -- which was in place of Johnthan Banks during their Week 6 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens -- he was getting picked on Joe Flacco early on. He was beat often on inside routes and slants and gave up two touchdowns.
But no matter who will be on the field for the Bucs secondary, Ryan and Co. may have a field day just like they did in Week 3. Especially if there is no pass rush.
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