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Looking like worst Bucs defense ever
Posted Dec 26, 2011 by Ira Kaufman
Updated Dec 26, 2011 at 12:31 PM
By IRA KAUFMAN
TAMPA—Former Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson once told me that Tampa will always be an NFL city with a special appreciation for stingy defense.
Buc fans still remember an era when a swarming defense provided the winning edge for the franchise’s glory days.
In 2002, new head coach Jon Gruden challenged a defense stocked with Pro Bowl players. A veteran unit responded with a championship season, registering 38 takeaways before forcing 13 more turnovers in three postseason wins.
In 1979, a defense led by Lee Roy Selmon keyed a march to the NFC title game in the fourth year of the franchise.
As Saturday’s 48-16 debacle at Carolina painfully illustrated for Buc fans, those days of stout defense are long gone in Tampa.
Tampa Bay has allowed the most points (449) in the league and perhaps even more telling, the Bucs head into Sunday’s finale at Atlanta on track to set a franchise mark for the most yards allowed per snap. That dubious record was set by the 1986 club that went 2-14 and yielded an average of 6.0 yards per play.
The current edition of the Bucs is yielding 6.2 yards per snap and the rush defense, in particular, was atrocious in Charlotte. Through three quarters, while the Panthers were building a 41-10 advantage, Carolina averaged a stunning 11.5 yards per carry.
Routine off-tackle plays saw Panther backs running untouched until they were 15 yards downfield as Tampa Bay linebackers continually took poor angles and failed to shed blockers.
“We’re just trying to get it fixed before it’s over,’’ said Bucs rookie DE Da’Quan Bowers.
While the Panthers were breaking off eight runs that gained at least 13 yards, the Bucs averaged only 3.1 yards per carry.
“I wish we would have finished better,’’ said T Jeremy Trueblood. “Same old stuff, just a different day. There’s no excuses. Hopefully we have a better team next year because right now, we’re not very good.’‘
Trueblood was asked what message coach Raheem Morris offered after Tampa Bay’s ninth consecutive setback.
“Go to work next week, give it your best shot and quit playing like we’re playing,’’ Trueblood said.