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Despite rankings, Gerald McCoy says Bucs have to get better

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The numbers say the Tampa Bay Bucs have a solid defense. But defensive tackle Gerald McCoy doesn’t agree.

Not yet, anyway.

The Bucs have the fifth-ranked defense in the NFL, and they’re fourth against the pass. But the Bucs are next-to-last in points allowed and only 25th against the run, so there is work to be done.

“You can look at (the rankings),” said McCoy. “But it really doesn’t mean a lot because if you look at how many points we’ve given up, it’s pretty bad. Total defense is [an] okay stat to look at, but it doesn’t really tell the true story and the true story is we are not good enough on defense. We have to be a lot better.

“We’re giving up way, way, way too many points. We have to start holding teams to either nothing or a field goal in the red zone. It doesn’t matter where the opposing offense gets the ball. We have to be better on defense. It’s as simple as that.”

The Bucs’ fifth-ranked standings is based on yards, and the Bucs haven’t played a lot of great offenses this season. Still, too many teams have crossed the goal line.

“At the end of the day, it’s always about points allowed,” said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. “You don’t want to give up a lot of points. That keeps you in ball games. We need to continue to work on not giving up points, especially in sudden change situations (after a turnover) or when we are in ‘plus’ territory (on the opponents’ side of the field).

“We have to do a good job in those areas. It’s a point of emphasis from our standpoint. We’ve got to do a better job in that area, but you’re pleased with some of the other things we’ve done – the way our third down has improved, not giving up a lot of yards. Those are goods things. What we are doing as far as getting to the quarterback, those are positives.”

So far, the Bucs are tied for eighth in the NFL in sacks with 15.

Frazier said the Bucs have given up too many touchdowns.

“I think just looking back at it, there are some things we can do a little bit better than what we have,” Frazier said. “We don’t necessarily have to change the scheme so much. There are some things that we can play a little bit better and we spent some time over the last few days, we’ll do it again tomorrow. That should help us to improve. The personnel is the personnel that we have and we are pleased with our personnel. We just have to play some things a little bit better than we have and we think we will going forward.

“We look at yards after catch and there are some times where guys have caught the football and what should be maybe a four-, five-yard gain becomes a 10-yard gain. There are some things that we can do better when it comes to that. We talked about that. The only thing about our league [is] it’s so hard to work on tackling because of the limited opportunities you have. We are doing more tackling drills. We are doing some things to emphasize that, which you always want to do on defense. That’s one thing that we can do better and there are some other things we can do better as well.”

McCoy suggests there is more in the tank for the Bucs’ defense, which plays against Washington Sunday.

“We’re doing more, but we haven’t done enough,” McCoy said. “We are getting there, but if you look at the tape there are so many more opportunities that we could take advantage of and even change some things up. We got to go back to the drawing board last week and hopefully we can see the fruits of that Sunday and moving forward.”

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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