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Sunday, Oct 23, 2016
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hasselbeck surprised by Bucs' defense

TAMPA - Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck turned on the tape to begin his study of the Buccaneers' defense this week and was immediately surprised by what he didn't see. The team that made the zone-based Tampa 2 defense so popular was seldom, if ever, playing the Tampa 2. At least not during last week's 35-26 loss to the Packers. "For a Tampa team, they play a lot of man coverage," Hasselbeck said. "They played Green Bay tight, bump and run, in-your-face man coverage the whole game last week. And you know what? They played really, really well." The Bucs are playing more man coverage schemes this year than at any time in their recent history. Hasselbeck isn't all that surprised.
"I think they're really, really good," he said. "I actually think the strength of their defense is their secondary. They're very, very talented, and it looks on film like they're not afraid of anybody." Hasselbeck singled out CBs Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib and S Tanard Jackson as players he thinks fit the man schemes well, lauding them for not just their talent, but their tenacity and savvy. "They're not just good in terms of skill and ability, they're also very crafty, and they're smart, and they know what they're doing," Hasselbeck said. "They're also very physical. "They are going to hold you and grab you at times, but they're going to do it the way (Packers DB) Charles Woodson holds and grabs and he's very good at it. They do it, but they don't get called doing it. There's a technique to it." Seeing red It hasn't shown up in the standings, but the Bucs have actually improved their efficiency inside the red zone in recent weeks. Four weeks ago, the Bucs were last in the league in red-zone production with only 36 percent of possessions inside the opponent's 20-yard line resulting in touchdowns. Since then, the Bucs have scored touchdowns in four of eight red-zone situations. Their overall red-zone efficiency rating has improved to 39.3 percent, which ranks 31st ahead of St. Louis. Despite the modest improvement, QB Josh Freeman said the Bucs still aren't executing well enough. "It still wasn't good enough," Freeman said of his team's red-zone play. "Good enough is whether you win or lose, and we're going to have to continue to improve in that area." No I in team Bucs WR Mike Williams is coming off his best game of the year — a seven-catch, 83-yard, one-touchdown effort against the Packers — but is still not playing at the level he thinks he should. More than a month after he said he was "playing terrible" after a 48-3 loss at San Francisco, Williams reiterated that opinion this week. "I still say I'm playing terrible," he said. "We haven't gotten a win (in a month), and you can't say you're playing great when you don't have a win, because it's not an individual game. If I was playing great, we'd be winning, so I say I'm still playing terrible." Injury update LDE Michael Bennett missed his second consecutive day of practice with a sore groin Thursday and remains questionable at best for Sunday's game against Tennessee. The Bucs are expected to start rookie Da'Quan Bowers in place of Bennett. There is also a chance newcomer Daniel Te'o-Nesheim will get some work at LDE if Bennett can't go. TE Kellen Winslow returned to practice after getting Wednesday's workout off, and DT Brian Price worked out despite a sore forearm. Roy Cummings