|Coach Greg Schiano took the bye week to evaluate what went right and what went wrong in Tampa Bay's 1-3 start. (US Presswire)|
Coach Greg Schiano and the Tampa Bay coaching staff promised a top-to-bottom review of all that went right and all that went wrong in the first four weeks of the season. What he saw was likely encouraging and frustrating.
Despite the Bucs' 1-3 start after three straight losses, the team has done some good things on both sides of the ball. But there are still plenty of deficiencies Schiano and his coaching staff will hope to address in the weeks ahead.
Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune took on a position-by-position review of the team and came away with the impression that the defensive line has been the most impressive group, while "sporadic" offensive line play has hampered the team's ability to score.
The biggest defensive weakness? To no one's surprise, Cummings said it's the secondary.
"The Bucs rank 30th in total defense, and [the secondary] is the reason," Cummings wrote. "The secondary has left a lot of open space for opposing receivers and rival quarterbacks have taken advantage. This group has had a few splash plays, but not enough to make a difference. Lack of consistency has proved to be a detriment."
Once a feared LB, Bryan Cox now teaching Bucs pass rushers tricks: In his 12 years as an NFL player, Bryan Cox became known as one of the game's most intimidating and physical players, particularly in the pass rush. Now, as Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune wrote, he is attempting to pass on his knowledge to the Bucs' defensive linemen and linebackers.
"He's been very helpful," said one of Cox's star players, Tampa Bay DT Gerald McCoy. "From the jump, he told me he's got some ideas that can help. I'm using some of the things he taught me. It means a little extra coming from a guy who has been there and knows what it takes to get there."
Thus far, the results are showing Cox knows of which he speaks. McCoy has three sacks this year, and the Bucs have turned what was the last-place run defense in the NFL in 2011 into a unit that is the fourth-best (73.8 ppg) this season.
"You can know all the answers, but unless you can get the players to know all those answers, it doesn't matter," Cox said. "To me, coaching is getting players to see the game through your eyes. You don't need to be an ex-player to have great coaching ability, but it can help because we understand their mentality. I can call players out when they're trying to (fool) me."
Combination of offensive issues leading to struggles: Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times took his opportunity to assess the Bucs at their bye week, and while many fans have wanted to point to the play of QB Josh Freeman or a sputtering running game as the reason for the team's offensive issues, Stroud concluded it may be a combination.
Stroud noted that Freeman is only 25th in the NFL in passer rating at 75.3, but the Chicago Bears are 3-1 overall with QB Jay Cutler only one spot ahead of Freeman in that statistic. Part of the problem has been an offense that has been reluctant to be aggressive, with Freeman's best play coming late in games when the vertical attack has been more prevalent.
"It's more of we have this menu of plays. We don't need them all," Schiano said. "You can't run them all in a game. So let's just prioritize the plays that he's best at, that he feels the best at, and go from there. That's really what we're doing now; just kind of narrowing our focus."
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