<
>

Bucs' secondary an area of concern after victory over Jaguars

Allen Hurns totaled a game-high 116 yards receiving with one touchdown on five catches against the Bucs. AP Photo/Brian Blanco

TAMPA, Fla. -- Despite the positive vibe from One Buc Place after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers improved to 2-3, one major area of concern remains for coach Lovie Smith.

Too many points were allowed in a 38-31 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5, and the secondary's poor play was to blame.

"We're not happy about it, and there are reasons for it," Smith said. "Sometimes, a few positions cannot play exactly the way you would like for them to, and an entire defense looks bad. We're making too much progress [for that to happen]. We're going to be a heck of a defense this year, but that many points is too many, simple as that. We need to get that down."

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed 23 of 33 passes for a season-high 303 yards with four touchdowns and one interception at Raymond James Stadium. The 31 points were a season-high total for Jacksonville. By comparison, the Jaguars had scored a combined 30 points in losses to New England and Indianapolis in Weeks 3 and 4.

The Bucs rank sixth in the NFL against the pass, allowing 202.4 yards per game. But the defense is surrendering a league-worst 29.6 points per game.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier shares Smith's concern about how the Jaguars were able to threaten well into the second half.

"Very much so," Frazier said.

"We did a lot of good things against their run game, pressuring the quarterback, the takeaways, those were huge in the ballgame. But you don't want to give up those points, especially the last two minutes of the half and the last two minutes of the game. Those are crucial moments, so it's something that we have to improve on. Our guys know that, and we're going to work to get that fixed."

Cornerback Tim Jennings, a 10-year veteran, had a particularly rough day. Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns totaled a game-high 116 yards receiving with one touchdown on five catches.

"There were some things that Tim can definitely do better," Frazier said. "It seems they wanted to come his way a little bit. Usually, he responds with some batted balls or even some interceptions. He struggled a little bit, but he'll bounce back.

"He's a veteran guy, he's been through the wars before, and he'll bounce back from that ballgame. He'll work hard this week in practice and next week as well. We'll evaluate the position and make a decision on which direction to go."

After studying tape from the win over Jacksonville, Bucs safety Bradley McDougald said the message from the coaching staff to the secondary was clear: Don't allow plays that produce large gains, and keep everyone in front of you. McDougald knows there's room to improve.

"I wouldn't say that we've been as consistent as we wanted to be coming into the season or we've done things that we've wanted to do," he said of Tampa Bay's secondary. "But I would say that each week we're progressing and getting better."