Should we start worrying about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass coverage?

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: Brandon Pettigrew #87 of the Detroit Lions rushes during the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Some have pointed to the defensive line as the worst unit against the Detroit LionsI've already explained why I disagree with that assessment. Others were supporting the idea that the offensive line had a horrible day. After watching the game three times, I can't agree with that assessment either. The line wasn't perfect, but they did a pretty good job in pass protection against a very good defensive line. Specifically Donald Penn and Davin Joseph had good games. And that despite Joseph going against Ndamukong Suh for most of the game. 

No, the worst performing unit on the team was without a doubt the back seven in pass coverage. The defensive line couldn't get much pressure on Stafford because he threw that ball quickly. And he was able to throw that ball quickly and complete passes doing so because coverage, especially over the middle, was entirely absent. 

It's easy to blame this on Mason Foster. After all, the Bucs didn't have much trouble in pass coverage over the middle last year and the only new player in that department is the rookie linebacker, who is replacing Barrett Ruud. But that's too easy, and largely incorrect. Foster wasn't even on the field for the majority of the snaps, as the linebacker was absent in the nickel packages the Bucs ran most of the time to stop the Lions' spread attack. 

Instead, we must blame other players for those gaping holes in coverage. Quincy Black is a good scapegoat here - he has never been all that great in coverage, and this showed on Sunday. But it isn't just one player, as the back seven as a whole seemed to fail on multiple occasions. None of the safeties made a play - although that doesn't necessarily mean they were playing poorly. 

Without watching the all-22 tape it's very hard to judge how pass coverage performed. But Matt Stafford did not pass for 9.2 yards per attempt because the coverage was good. Last year, pass coverage was a strength of the team. Early returns suggest this year will be different. 

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