Buccaneers' surging pass defense prepares for Blake Bortles

TAMPA, Fla. -- In recent weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' pass defense has become one of the NFL's best. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier credits a number of factors for the rise.

"I think our rush has been a little bit more consistent, especially the guys inside, Gerald [McCoy] in particular," he said. "He's doing a good job there. But also, you can't discount the talent on the back end. I think our free safety position with Chris Conte has really upgraded our defense. And then having Tim [Jennings] out there also -- [he's] a guy who's capable of making plays and taking some throws away. A healthy Mike Jenkins definitely helps.

"But [it's] a combination of our rush and coverage working together. Hopefully, we can keep improving as the year goes on."

The improvement has been noticeable so far. Tampa Bay is tied with the New York Jets for second in the league in pass defense, allowing 185.5 yards per game. Only the Denver Broncos are better.

The Bucs' placement in the category is impressive, considering their competition through four games. The New Orleans Saints rank third in the league in passing offense, the Houston Texans are sixth and the Tennessee Titans 14th. Only the unbeaten Carolina Panthers, who rank 30th, have proven largely ineffective through the air.

On Sunday, the Bucs will host the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are 20th in the NFL in passing offense with 241.8 yards per game. Frazier expects a test from improved quarterback Blake Bortles.

"Just watching his tape now and just remembering our first preseason game a year ago, you would expect him to make a jump, but he has come quite far in his second year, which you would expect him to," Frazier said. "He should just get better and better. He's a strong-arm quarterback who is pretty accurate with the football.

"The one thing that kind of stands out is his mobility. He's more mobile than [most] probably thought. We have to have a handle on that when we play him on Sunday. He has all the tools to be a very good quarterback in our league for a long time. Hopefully, we can contain him and not let him get going."