The Tampa Bay Buccaneers allowed the New Orleans Saints to rack up yardage against them. They gave up 35 points over the entire game, even though the offense only turned the ball over once. Drew Brees threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns, and Khiry Robinson and company added another 140 yards on the ground. By all accounts, the Bucs defense was awful.
And yet, this was their best performance of the season. Because those 371 passing yards came on a ridiculous 57 attempts, because the Bucs forced three interception and pressured Drew Brees regularly, and because the team racked up tackles for loss like it was nothing.
This wasn't a good performance by any means, and the fact that this was the best defensive performance so far says more about the previous three games than about this matchup: Roethlisberger throwing for 314 yards on 40 attempts with three touchdowns, Austin Davis managing 235 yards on 29 attempts, and Derek Anderson throwing for 230 yards and two touchdowns on 34 attempts -- and then there was Matt Ryan. All of those performances were more efficient than what Drew Brees put up today.
So on the bright side, there was improvement. Even on defense. Even in a game where they gave up 35 points -- three turnovers and consistent pressure are a pretty big step forward. On the other hand, the defense was still objectively awful.
And that's a real shocker, because this defense was supposed to be good. It has Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy. It added Alterraun Verner and Michael Johnson this offseason. Sure, there have been some injuries -- but those happen to every team, every season. Lovie Smith is supposed to be a defensive guru, and Leslie Frazier a quality coordinator -- but the defense has been largely useless.
Hopefully, this is a result of a group of players getting used to a new scheme, rather than a complete breakdown of personnel. Because the former is easier to fix.