Bucs QB Jameis Winston has struggled with turnovers through four games. – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
There are a lot of words that could be used to describe Tampa Bay’s turnover differential after four games.
Atrocious. Unacceptable. Inexcusable. Embarrassing.
They all work and they all fit. More unfortunate is that those adjectives are appropriate for more than just one area on this Bucs team, but we’ll focus in on turnovers at the moment.
Tampa Bay’s three turnover, zero takeaway performance against the Denver Broncos on Sunday dropped the Bucs to minus-9 in the turnover differential department. Thanks to Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s rocketing up the most-interceptions-thrown list the last two weeks, New York’s minus-11 keeps Tampa Bay out of last place in the NFL.
It would be one thing if the Bucs were offsetting all their turnovers with takeaways, or at least a few, but that’s not the case. Sunday was the third time in four games the defense failed to cause a single turnover, while Denver flipped possession three times.
And if that feels familiar, it’s because it should. The Bucs have rolled over last year’s inability to grab interceptions or jump on fumbles. Four of the last six games in 2015 were played without Tampa Bay registering a takeaway and the defense recorded three total over that span. So that’s seven games without a takeaway in the last 10 regular season games played.
That’s a tough way to win football games and the trend plays into why the Bucs have managed celebrate only two victories in that same 10-game span.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter has mentioned the need to flip that statistic around in recent weeks, but his players have failed to respond on the field.
“Pretty much like last week, [I have] very similar comments to what I had to say last night,” Koetter said Monday afternoon from One Buc Place. “The story of the game, from where I sit, is offense putting the defense in bad position. Three turnovers in the first half leads to two scores. The fumble possibly could be a field goal. We were in field goal range. We can’t put our defense in that position. We’re hurting ourselves. We’re just not playing good complimentary football and being minus-9 on the turnover ratio for the season is killing us right now.”
The only takeaways created by the Bucs defense this season came during the 37-32 loss against Los Angeles. They were an interception returned for a touchdown by linebacker Kwon Alexander and a fumble caused by linebacker Lavonte David and recovered by safety Chris Conte.
Players could do more to force opponents into making mistakes – being more disruptive rushing the passer, ripping and punching at the football – but they also need to capitalize on situations that have already presented themselves. Fans saw a few of those opportunities squandered at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, including a pair of potential interceptions. Rookie cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III didn’t get his hands up in time cutting across the middle to be able to pick off or at least tip up what turned into a 19-yard completion to Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman. Then at the end of the first half, veteran corner Brent Grimes had a ball go through his hands in the corner of the end zone. Making that play would have kept three Denver points off the board at a time when the Bucs trailed 14-7.
So what’s the soluntion? DB’s play closer to the line and we blitz more. Our DB’s are so slow we can’t play them so deep. This is the same defense I have seen for a couple years now. As to Winston, give him some simple passing plays on 1st & 2nd down especially in our 1st series at thebeginning of game and after the half. We will have to have some luck to win this game and our team believing they can win. Go Bucs!
Horse, you made me think of Brad Johnson. I remember watching him throw the ball out of bounds more than I’d seen anyone else before. Now I also remember hating watching the Gruden passing offense because I couldn’t stand seeing the ball dumped to the RB so often and I wanted to see WR’s actually moving when they got the ball instead of curls and button hooks. But the point is that Brad took care of the ball. He, of course, had a much better defense to rely on so he’d throw it away, punt, and live to try again on the next series. But I think Jameis needs to throw the ball away a bit more. Or at least check it to the RB more. I like his aggressive nature and I’ve seen him make some amazing throws down the field. But he can’t push it that often. He needs to know when the situation calls for being less aggressive and when to squeeze one in there. He doesn’t have to make every play work. I was just think about how Brad Johnson was a better protector of the ball and a better decision maker and game manager. But I believe Jameis will be fine. All of this is a learning experience and he will learn.
I’m not ready to call Jameis Winston a bust … yet it’s often (but certainly not always) been the case that NFL quarterbacks who throw a lot of INTs in their first couple of seasons continue to have that tendency throughout their careers. Their actual TD/INT ratio season to season may vary depending upon other factors, such as the quality of the offensive line (fewer sacks, hits, and hurries usually translates into fewer INTs), quality of receivers, and quality of the defense (QBs tend to take fewer risks with the ball when they can rely on the defense to stop the other team).
Jameis Winston threw a lot of picks in college, especially his second season at FSU, and that was one of the biggest question marks in drafting him, so this is not a new issue for him. He certainly CAN learn to tone it down and throw it away .. but his tendency is his tendency, and when things are not going well, such as having a poor offensive line and a piss poor defense, and no running game to speak of … Jameis’ tendency to sling it is not likely to diminish.
Gee, it was all supposed to be better once Lovie was fired. The team is worse this year.
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