Buccaneers aim for more takeaways

TAMPA, Fla. -- One of the reasons the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the 32nd-ranked defense in the league has been a failure to come up with takeaways.

The Bucs have only 10 (four interceptions and six fumble) recoveries.

"We’ve got to take the ball away," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "Simple as that. We have to take the ball away."

Sunday’s loss to Minnesota was a good example of how the Bucs have come up short on takeaways. They didn’t have any while the Vikings had two.

"You have to lead the charge for taking the ball away," McCoy said. "You give up 13 points. They give up 13 points. The difference is they took the ball away and we didn’t. You give up 13 points and have two or three takeaways and your chances of winning skyrocket. We just have to be better at taking the ball away."

So how do the Bucs get better at taking the ball away?

"There’s ways to do it, but it’s definitely a mindset as well," McCoy said. "You go for the tackle, don’t just try to get him on the ground, try to get the ball out. Simple as that. You have to be thinking of that all the time. Even at the beginning of some of our defensive calls we put "strip" at the beginning of them just to remind you. You’ve got to constantly remind that we’ve got to get the ball out. You can’t always depend on the offense to make a mistake. You have to force it. You have to be thinking of it at all times."

Safety Major Harris played for coach Lovie Smith in Chicago when the Bears had plenty of success with takeaways. Harris said Smith has been emphasizing takeaways as much as ever.

"Each and every week, we focus on taking away the ball," Harris said. "I think we have to home in to it and go for more strips when the running back is holding the ball. The first guy comes in and makes the sure tackle and the second guy comes in and punches the ball out. That’s been the emphasis this week.

"It has to happen in practice. If it doesn’t happen in practice it’s not going to happen in the game because you’re not thinking about it. When I was in Chicago, Charles (Tillman) was the best at it. Every day at practice he’d get at least two and that carried over to games."