Bucs' Mike Jenkins: Secondary's lack of focus is 'something we can correct'

Mike Jenkins feels that a collective lack of focus is to blame for the Bucs' issues in pass defense. Rob Foldy/Getty Images

TAMPA, Fla. -- Cornerback Mike Jenkins has a simple explanation for a difficult question troubling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' secondary: Why have quarterbacks moved the ball so well of late?

"I would say a lack of focus," Jenkins said Monday. "We've got to hold ourselves to higher standards, look in the mirror and just get it right. It's just a lack of focus."

The lack of attention to detail was clear Sunday, when Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins diced the Bucs for a season-high 317 yards passing and three touchdowns as Tampa Bay squandered a 24-point lead. That followed what Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles did in Week 5, when he passed for 303 yards with four touchdowns and one interception at Raymond James Stadium.

The Bucs' defense has allowed an average passer rating of 110.6 this season, which ranks 31st in the NFL, only better than the Detroit Lions. Cousins posted a 124.7 passer rating Sunday, a season-high total for him. It marked just his third game without an interception this season.

Cousins' comfort was evident on Washington's 11-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in the go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds left. He completed nine of 11 passes for 80 yards, capped by a 6-yard pass to tight end Jordan Reed on a slant route that beat safeties Bradley McDougald and Chris Conte, plus linebacker Lavonte David.

Next for the Bucs is a visit to Atlanta, where they have to contend with Falcons receiver Julio Jones, who already has 730 receiving yards this season. Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Tampa Bay's coaching staff still is tinkering to find an effective combination in the secondary. An answer remains elusive.

"On the back ends, yes, it's unacceptable on what we got," he said. "You mentioned down in the red zone -- a couple of those plays weren't long throws or anything like that. They were slants in the red zone. That's just not something we should have to talk about, but we are. We have to get that fixed. I've said that before in the past. There are a lot of techniques that you have [that] you teach a certain way, but the execution part of it is a little harder to do. That's what happened."

Jenkins knows covering slant routes remains an issue.

"Yeah, we've been giving up a lot of inside routes," he said. "Again, that's on us. We've just got to get a little more mentally focused. It's just a lack of focus on our part. That's something we can correct. It's the smallest thing in the league that can hurt you."