EDEN PRAIRIE (AP) -- Just like the pass yardage total given up by his young secondary, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice's frustration is growing.
The Vikings' pass defense ranks second-to-last in the NFL. After showing improvement in a 25-7 win against Chicago Oct. 27, the secondary digressed last Sunday in a loss to Tampa Bay.
"We just did not play with any level of confidence or knowledge or discipline when it came to coverage," Tice said.
The Vikings rank sixth in the league against the rush. But the coverage woes have dragged the team's total defense down to 30th.
"It bewilders you as a coach when you can go out and make a few subtle changes against Chicago, play so aggressively against a team that basically chewed you up the first time you played," Tice said, "and then come back the next week and play as if you weren't improving and you take a step backward."
Against the Buccaneers, Vikings defensive backs gave up 313 yards passing. The Bucs scored all their touchdowns through the air, three of them in the first quarter.
Through the first eight games of the season, the secondary has caved in against both veteran and unproven quarterbacks. They've not only given up big plays to bigger names like Drew Bledsoe, Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson, but lesser experienced guys like Joey Harrington and Chad Pennington have looked like savvy veterans.
"We have to play tighter coverage, which we didn't do against Tampa," defensive coordinator Willie Shaw said. "And with quick drops and Brad Johnson's accuracy, it was a tough day."
The frustrations are mounting at Winter Park.
"That's a fair assessment to say that we've had some letdowns and been a problem for the defense," safety Brian Russell said.
Five of the nine defensive backs on the active roster are either rookies or second-year players, and three veterans -- free safety Ronnie Bradford, cornerback Corey Chavous and recently signed free agent safety Jason Perry -- are in their first seasons in Minnesota.
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