Arians Calls For Improved Pass Rush When Buccaneers Play Man Coverage

The Buccaneers have let passing offenses get off to fast starts recently. Head coach Bruce Arians shared how he believes that issue can be fixed.
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have given up a season-high in pass yards in back-to-back weeks: 376 to the Los Angeles Rams, and 456 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

In fairness, performances like this past Sunday's aren't likely to linger. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a generational talent who connected with one of the NFL's fastest wide receivers, Tyreek Hill, for an astounding 203 first quarter receiving yards.

Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians doesn't anticipate facing such talents too often, but admitted on Monday what could lead to such issues for the Bucs' defense.

"We’ve got to cover tighter and we’ve got to get home faster," said Arians. "We can’t let a guy in man coverage have 3.7 [or] 3.8 seconds to throw a ball – it’s got to come out in three or less. We can cover for 10 to 12 yards, but we can’t give them that much time."

Arians said after the 27-24 loss on Sunday that the Bucs' deployed man coverage to begin the game, where press cornerback Carlton Davis III was simply no match for the speedy Hill. The Bucs would move towards some zone coverage looks to keep passes ahead of them, which worked to that extent but still allowed Mahomes to connect on a fair share of plays to extend drives.

The Buccaneers were able to make Mahomes uncomfortable, tallying 24 QB pressures according to Pro Football Focus. However, the Bucs were unable to finish plays given Mahomes' uncanny abilities under pressure, as he was sacked just twice for six yards.

"Again, Patrick [Mahomes] is an unbelievable guy and he just keeps backpedaling," said Arians. "He was backpedaling to his left for about 9.5 yards and then throws a dime."

Beyond unbelievable, backpedaling throws though, the Bucs' pass defense certainly hasn't played up to its standard as of late. In the Rams game, quarterback Jared Goff found wide receiver Cooper Kupp five times for 62 yards on the first drive, and completed 21-of-25 first half attempts for 187 yards and two touchdowns.

The week before, even though Tampa Bay defeated Carolina handily by a score of 46-23, Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater hit his first 13 passes in a row for 126 yards and touchdowns to begin the game. And of course against New Orleans six days prior to the Carolina contest, Drew Brees went 26-of-32 for 222 yards and four touchdowns on the night, as the Saints soared to a 38-3 victory.

Passing offenses are finding their groove early on against the Buccaneers, which is a big deal given the current state of NFL offenses. With the playoffs soon approaching, this isn't a trend Tampa Bay will want to carry into the postseason.

"When we’re playing man," proclaimed Arians, "we have to get home.”