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Defense solid against Packers, but Bucs need much more than that

TAMPA, Fla. -- Last January, when he was hired to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lovie Smith shared one of his most basic philosophies of football. He said if you play strong defense and are solid on special teams, you basically are starting out with an 8-8 record.

It sounded good at the time, but Sunday's 20-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Raymond James Stadium ran roughshod over Smith's theory.

The Bucs (2-13) played good defense -- like they've done for a good chunk of the season -- and still didn't stand a chance. Even Smith was adjusting his philosophy after the game.

"This just goes to prove you need more than an OK defense," Smith said. "Defensively, when it's a day like that, you've got to do something and try to jump start the offense. A few more takeaways or something with the special teams. When one part is that bad, you need others to step up their game even more."

Against Aaron Rodgers and a high-powered offense, the Bucs held the Packers to 10 points in the first three quarters.

"[The defense] kept us in it," Smith said. "It was a 10-3 game for a long period of time with very little offensive production. This is where we are right now. We're not always going to be down like this."

Smith's optimism is nice. But there is little basis for it from an offensive perspective. And, despite Smith's philosophy, it takes a lot more than good defense.

"To see the defense play the way they played, it's frustrating," quarterback Josh McCown said. "We have to be better than that."

It's hard to be any worse than the Bucs were on offense. They went three-and-out on their first five offensive possessions. They finished with just 109 yards of total offense. They were 4-for-14 (29 percent) on third-down conversions.

"Offensively there was nothing," McCown said.

That's not an understatement. The Bucs finished with 16 yards rushing. Standout receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson were kept in check. McCown was sacked seven times.

"Who is it?" Smith said when asked what's wrong with the offense. "Who's the culprit? It's all of the above."

Smith is right. Tampa Bay's problems can be blamed on the entire offense. The play of the line has been poor all year. The running game rarely has gotten on track. And McCown (12-for-26, 147 yards) has been struggling to complete 50 percent of his passes.

"It's a combination," Smith said. "We're not playing good enough football up front, pass blocking or running. It's tough when you have less than 20 yards rushing. Of course, when you pass and you can't really protect, and quarterback-wise there's some decisions we'd like to have back. It's a combination of all right now. To blame it all on one particular area wouldn't be right."

Aside from Evans and Jackson, the Bucs need to overhaul their offense in the offseason. The defense is fine. But, as Smith has found out this season, it takes a lot more than defense to win.