Former Bucs safety D. J. Swearinger celebrates an INT last Sunday – Photo by: Getty Images
There are three teams in the NFL that have yet to force a turnover through two games and Tampa Bay is in that small group.
Joining the Bucs are the New York Giants and the Seattle Seahawks. Not exactly terrible company, but it’s a statistical cellar none of the three want to dwell in for much longer. Turnover differential is one of the few stats even the most old-school, games-aren’t-played-on-paper coaches concede to wanting to win every game day.
That’s because teams that make it a habit of causing turnovers and not committing them tend to also have a higher percentage of success in another statistical differential: points.
In the past five years, teams that finished the regular season in the top five in turnover differential own a winning percentage of .728 (291-109). Of those 25 teams, only three failed to advance to the postseason but they all still finished above .500: Houston in 2014 (9-7) and Chicago (10-6) and the New York Giants (9-7) in 2012.
The last time the Bucs finished in the top five came when they were plus-15 in 2007, their last playoff year. As an interesting side note and reminder that outliers usually exist, the team that beat Tampa Bay in that NFC Wild Card game, the New York Giants, carried a minus-9 turnover differential into the postseason. They went on to slay the then-unbeaten New England Patriots and win the Super Bowl.
So much for sure things.
But that was then and the Bucs are sitting at minus-6 in that department right now. Six giveaways to zero takeaways. It’s not impossible to hold steady at that rate and still win games, but good luck.
After Sunday’s turnover-fest in Arizona, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has an NFL-worst five interceptions. He was also saddled with that game’s lost fumble, but running back Charles Sims should get as much or more of the blame on that play.
With a night to sleep on it followed by watching a little film, head coach Dirk Koetter said that Arizona’s top-tier defense did its share in making life difficult but that the giveaways still can’t come in bunches.
“It was both, it was a combination of both,” Koetter said at One Buc Place on Monday. “That game started off a lot like the Atlanta game. Our defense holds them, they punt it, we get the ball, we’re in no-huddle, we pick up two first downs and then we take a shot. And Jameis took a shot, but we were trying to throw a deep post to [wide receiver Mike Evans]. Mike had inside position on [Arizona cornerback] Patrick Peterson and you’ve got an elite corner and a top-flight wide receiver going against each other. If you really look at that play, Patrick Peterson looked like he was the receiver. He used his body to bump Mike off. If that was an offensive guy doing it, they would’ve called offensive pass interference, but they’re not going to ever call that on the defense. That was really a pretty good throw by Jameis and Peterson made a great play. The interception at the end obviously was a desperation throw where Jameis has to give him more of a chance. We tried the quick screen to Sims. Jameis needs to throw that ball a little higher. It got tipped by the defense end and then Charles Sims tipped it up again in the air – pick six.”
The Tampa Bay defense failed to flip the field on its opponent four times last year and on three occasions in each of the four years prior. That number’s at two already after being unable to take away possession from Atlanta or Arizona. While the Bucs need to start doing more to pressure offenses into making mistakes, the defense could use a little assistance from Winston and Co., too.
“My biggest concern about the defense is that the offense is putting them in too many bad positions,” Koetter said. “That’s the main thing. It’s one thing if it’s just the defense against their offense on a long field versus turnovers that are putting the defense at a disadvantage. Sudden change situations, we’re in too many of those right now.”
Turnovers help. So does a pass rush…..agree with Koetter quit turning ball over would help them too!
We need Ayers back. We cannot lose two starting DE’s after two games and expect to have a good pass rush.
The turnovers will start to come our way. They tend to even out over the course of a season. Jameis was a bit streaky in that area last year. After that dreadful opening game against the Titans, # 3 bounced back with a great game against the Saints. What this team and we fans need is to put a butt spanking on the Rams by scoring of of turnovers.
I see it as just one game and it was against a very good team that beat us that day. I like the way Winston keep trying to win. Many QBs would make sure they did not hurt their record in a lost game…not take chances. Five interceptions or none the results are the same if you lose.
Winston was really terrible, I’m actually surprised how off his throws were. A lot of inaccurate throws and some poor decisions I was very surprised because I know he’s much better than he shows sometimes, but I know he’ll learn from his mistakes, somehow. Nevertheless, I’m super worried about how the offense will fare without Dougie, and considering we’re going up against 2 great defenses and another good one in the Rams, I am just hoping beyond hope that we make it to the bye week at 2-3… It’s not gonna be easy.
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