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Three years in and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is still experiencing growing pains

Late in 2009, Raheem Morris first installed this defense. New defensive coordinator Jim Bates was demoted and later removed entirely as the defensive coordinator. Raheem Morris took over and has run the same defense since then. But somehow we are now in the third year, and the defense is still a work in progress. 

This is a consequence of youth, of course. Raheem Morris and GM Mark Dominik have replaced many of the team's defensive players over the past years, but they nearly have all the right pieces in place. Having those pieces in place doesn't mean they are ready to play, yet, and this was evident against the Minnesota Vikings. The Buccaneers weren't dominated physically. Instead they were outmatched mentally. 

Small mistakes and inexperience killed the Bucs against the Vikings in the first half. Time and again the defensive line would pressure Donovan McNabb, but one guy would lose contain allowing McNabb to roll out and hit a wide-open player in a hole in zone coverage. 

On the back-end, you'd see Mason Foster and others do a decent job in coverage, but they'd be fooled by play-action. At other times an underneath pass would be completed and a few Buccaneers would miss a tackle, allowing a much longer play than necessary. Quincy Black was especially the culprit here. 

And in the run game you'd see the same thing. Gerald McCoy would get into the backfield and in Adrian Peterson's face, but one jump-cut and some speed later and Peterson was outrunning whoever had contain on the play because that defender was caught peeking inside. 

The good news is that all of this is correctable. The Bucs will not continue to play this poorly on defense for a long time, as this isn't a problem of a lack of talent as it was in 2009. The Bucs simply lack experience right now, and only playing time can get them that. The fans will no doubt have to sit through a number of ugly defensive halves while these Bucs learn to play in the NFL, but patience will eventually be rewarded.