Johnthan Banks: Worry about Bucs' secondary 'overreacting'

Johnthan Banks believes Tampa Bay has the talent to be a top-5 defense. AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

TAMPA, Fla. -- To cornerback Johnthan Banks, all of the criticism directed at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' secondary isn't warranted.

"We really had probably one bad game in the secondary," he said Tuesday. "Everybody is really overreacting. I mean, Houston game, maybe. There were a lot of things we could have done better. But in the Jacksonville game, we kind of shut those guys out. Honestly, they had two or three big pass plays. But I think we played a good game.

"I mean, it happens. It's football. They get paid like we get paid. So we've just got to go out and try to eliminate these big plays and get wins."

Some of the concern Banks is referencing came from Bucs coach Lovie Smith, who said, when asked about the secondary last week, "We haven't played well enough. It's as simple as that."

Tampa Bay ranks fourth in the NFL against the pass, allowing 202.4 yards per game. But Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw for 303 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in the Bucs' Week 5 victory, leading to questions about the Bucs' pass defense entering the bye week.

"In key situations," Bucs cornerback Alterraun Verner said, "we've got to be better."

Added Smith: "That last game, we didn't play as well as we needed to. But we feel good about our group as we go forward. Every group needs to make improvement."

Tampa Bay's secondary will receive a chance to correct mistakes Sunday against struggling Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. He has thrown eight interceptions this season, including two in each of his last two games.

The Bucs (2-3) must take advantage of Cousins' inconsistency in their attempt to reach .500 for the second time this season. Collecting more interceptions would help. Tampa Bay has just three picks this year. Only the New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars have fewer.

Banks has faith in Tampa Bay's ability to recover. He said the unit has the talent to be a top-5 defense.

"Most definitely," said Banks, who hasn't played since sustaining a knee injury against the Houston Texans in Week 3. "I look around at our guys -- I'm not even going to name Gerald [McCoy] and Lavonte [David] -- but you look at Jacquies [Smith], he's one of the tops in the league in sacks. You look at George [Johnson], the plays he's made. Look at Kwon Alexander and especially Bradley McDougald and the plays he's making and the things he's done.

"Then you've got me, Mike [Jenkins], Tim [Jennings], Vern[er] -- I honestly think we have a top-5 defense. If you look at these guys' history and their past, that tells you we have a top-5 defense, and we can be the best defense in the league if we really go out and put it together."