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FAB 1. Bucs Won’t Beat Themselves In 2020

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the best team in the NFL last year in a couple of categories – but some of those categories weren’t necessarily good.

While the Bucs led the league in passing yards with 5,127, passing plays over 20 yards with 75, rushing defense with 73.8 yards per game allowed, and rushing yards allowed per play with a 3.3 average, Tampa Bay was tops in penalties committed and had the most turnovers of any team in the league.

As a result, the Bucs were the best team in the league at beating themselves.

Although Cincinnati had a worse record at 2-14 than the 7-9 Bucs did, the Bengals were just a bad football team without enough talent to compete. Cincinnati started the season 0-11 and suffered six losses by 10 points or more, including four by two touchdowns or more.

The Bucs only had three losses by 10 points or more last year and six of Tampa Bay’s defeats came by a touchdown or less. Tampa Bay lost two overtime games to Seattle and Atlanta, in addition to a one-point home loss against the New York Giants and a three-point home loss to Houston.

One less mistake in a game here or there and the Bucs could have been 9-7, or perhaps 10-6 and in the playoffs as a wild card.

The first rule of football is to not beat yourself. The way to do that is to avoid turnovers and penalties. Let’s examine both from the 2019 Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay ranked 28th in turnover margin with minus-13. The Bucs had a league-high 41 turnovers, which came from a league-leading 30 interceptions and 11 lost fumbles. On defense, Tampa Bay recorded just 12 interceptions and recovered 16 fumbles to combine for 28 takeaways.

To put those numbers in perspective, New England ranked first in turnover margin with plus-21. The Patriots had only 15 turnovers, which came on nine interceptions and six lost fumbles. New England’s defense had a league-high 25 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries to account for 36 takeaways.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

The best team in the NFC South last year was New Orleans, which was second in the NFL with a plus-15 turnover margin. The Saints had a league-low eight turnovers, including six interceptions and just two lost fumbles, which was the best in the league. Defensively, New Orleans accounted for 23 takeaways, including 13 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries.

At the end of his first season in Tampa Bay, head coach Bruce Arians said that the Bucs wouldn’t be able to make the playoffs in 2020 if they didn’t stop turning the ball over.

“You’re not going anywhere – you’re going home,” Arians said. “You’re going home when you lead the league in giveaways. You’re never going to play in the playoffs unless you’re playing for the Steelers in the ‘70s.”

Not re-signing quarterback Jameis Winston, whose 30 interceptions were the most in the league, and whose seven pick-sixes set a new NFL record, in favor of adding Tom Brady should help the Bucs stop beating themselves. Brady, the NFL’s greatest quarterback, has never thrown more than 14 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. The six-time Super Bowl champion hasn’t thrown more than 11 INTs over the last eight years, and threw just eight last year in New England.

If Winston had thrown just half as many interceptions last year the Bucs would have been plus-2 in the turnover margin, which would have been tied with Indianapolis for 12th best in the league. By comparison, San Francisco and Kansas City made it to the Super Bowl last year with plus-4 and plus-8 turnover margins, respectively.

Due to his vast NFL experience, Brady seems more than capable of throwing 15 or fewer interceptions this year – even while learning a new offense in Tampa Bay. Swapping out the turnover-prone Winston, who also had six fumbles, for Brady should go a long way in helping the Bucs not beat themselves in 2020.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and NFL ref
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and NFL ref – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Tampa Bay should also make some headway in the penalty department. Arians has a reputation for not having penalty-ridden teams, and PewterReport.com’s Taylor Jenkins documented that fact in a recent article.

The Bucs committed the most penalties in the league last year, getting flagged 134 times for 1,111 yards – two penalties ahead of the Jaguars, who were penalized 132 times for 1,169 yards. Tampa Bay had 158 total flags called against them, which was tied with Jacksonville for the most in the league.

What concerned Arians were the 56 pre-snap penalties, which was the second most in the league behind Houston’s 57 last year. Pre-snap penalties are a sign of a lack of focus and concentration. The Bucs had six delays of game penalties, three illegal formation infractions and one illegal shift that weren’t assigned to any one player.

Here were the Top 10 most penalized Bucs in 2019. The total numbers represent only the amount of accepted penalties.

OLB Shaq Barrett – 10 (5 neutral zone infraction, 5 offside, 1 facemask)

RT Demar Dotson – 10 (5 holding, 5 false start)

CB Carlton Davis – 9 (5 defensive pass interference, 4 defensive holding, 1 illegal use of hands, 1 facemask, 1 disqualification)

QB Jameis Winston – 6 (4 intentional grounding, 1 false start, 1 illegal forward pass)

LT Donovan Smith – 5 (5 holding, 2 false start, 1 illegal use of hands)

OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – 5 (3 offside, 2 neutral zone infraction, 1 illegal blindside block)

TE O.J. Howard – 5 (2 offensive pass interference, 2 holding, 1 false start)

CB Jamel Dean – 5 (2 holding, 1 illegal block above the waist, 1 illegal contact, 1 pass interference)

DT Ndamukong Suh – 5 (3 neutral zone infraction, 1 holding, 1 illegal use of hands)

LG Ali Marpet – 4 (3 holding, 2 false starts)

Here are some observations about the number of penalties above.

Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Barrett and Pierre-Paul had a high number of offside and neutral zone infractions from trying to anticipate and jump the snap count. That’s an acceptable tradeoff when that duo combines for 28 sacks and eight forced fumbles.

Dotson, who is usually among the most penalized players in Tampa Bay each year, is gone. So there could be a chance for fewer penalties at right tackle if Tristan Wirfs comes in using great technique as a rookie.

Davis was flagged nine times during the first eight games of the season, but only three times during the final eight games, which is a sign of maturity and improved technique. Let’s see if Davis can continue to cut down on penalties in 2020.

Winston had six penalties last year, including four intentional grounding calls, while new Bucs quarterback Tom Brady had four intentional grounding calls in New England. So there is a chance Tampa Bay might be a little less penalized at the quarterback position in 2020 due to Brady’s experience.

Two players that made huge strides in reducing their number of penalties in 2019 were center Ryan Jensen and tight end Antony Auclair. Jensen led the Bucs with 11 penalties in 2018, including five holding penalties and four for unnecessary roughness.

Last year, Jensen had just three penalties, including two false starts, one holding penalty. There were no unnecessary roughness flags on Jensen in 2019.

Auclair had eight penalties in 2018, including four holding, two false starts and two unnecessary roughness calls. Last year, Auclair only had just three false start calls.
Football is a contact sport and penalties are going to happen. But Arians wants a smarter Bucs football team in 2020.

“I pride myself on having a smart football team and we were not a smart football team,” Arians said. “[That is] one of the areas we will address this offseason.”

The Bucs were good enough to win a few more games last year and avoid a losing season for the third year in a row. But committing the most turnovers and penalties in the league were self-inflicted wounds Tampa Bay could not recover from on certain Sundays.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and NFL ref
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and NFL ref – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Talent was never an issue with this football team,” Arians said. “I said that from the day I took the job that we have enough talent to win. We should have easily had 10 wins, but we beat ourselves.”

It was ironic that the Bucs were only penalized three times, which was a season-low, against the Falcons in Tampa Bay’s 28-22 overtime loss to Atlanta to end the year. But the Bucs defense allowed a 35-yard touchdown catch to Falcons lineman Ty Sambrailo on a tackle eligible play, missed three field goals in regulation, and were minus-2 in the turnover margin, including a costly pick-six by Winston on the first play of overtime to seal Tampa Bay’s fate.

“It’s a shame,” Arians said after the game. “This was a game we talked about all year of us beating us in all three phases, and we did. There wasn’t, ‘Hey, he lost the game. Fire him.’ No, because it was offense, defense, and special teams. We will not beat ourselves next year.”

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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BigSombrero

“If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas”. – Warren Sapp Bill Bellicheck teams have lead the league in turnover ratio many years. Bill Bellicheck teams have had the #1 ranked defense many times over the last 20 years. Bruce Arians teams have consistently given up sacks, had penalties and turnovers with the “risk it, no biscuit” vertical passing attack. Bruce Arians coached defenses never finish high because of the giveaways his offense produces. If Bruce Arians runs Bill Bellichecks system, then maybe every day will be like Christmas. I’m guessing he won’t and we’re… Read more »

Dave

And the BS trolling continues. Belichick defenses have had 3 #1 ranked scoring defenses in 20 years. Brady has also had 3 #1 ranked scoring offenses in his 20 years. BB has had 1 defense ranked 1st in yards. Brady has had 3 #1 ranked offenses in yards. BB has had 8 top 5 scoring defenses. Brady has had 11 top 5 ranked scoring offenses. BB has had 2 top 5 ranked defenses in yards. Brady has had 8 top 5 offenses in yards. BB has had 7 top 10 ranked defenses in yards, Brady has had 13 top 10… Read more »

Dave

Oh and to the other bs stat claim about the Pats always forcing the most TO’s. As far as the stat goes back which is until 2003. BB defenses had 1 season leading the league in forced TO’s(04) BB defenses had 11 top 10 takeaway defenses, and 7 top 5. Brady led offenses have had 5 #1 overall ranked giveaway offenses. 17 top 10 giveaway offenses, and 9 top 5. Since 2007 BB has no #1 ranked takeaway defenses, 8 top 10 takeaway defenses, and 4 top 5 takeaway defenses. Since 07 Brady has 5 #1 ranked giveaway offenses, 13… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Dave
BigSombrero

Like I said Dave, buy the guys jersey.

Me? I’m obviously skeptical. I think it’s a short sighted move that will be over in two years max. He’s a middle of the pack 43 year old QB at this stage.

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Dave

And like I said the last time you made this exact same stupid comment. I’ve never been a Brady or Pats fan. But I’m not going to sit here and pretend the guy sucks, make every excuse in the book, or explain off 9 SB appearances, and 13 AFC championship game appearances like it was a fluke, or all Bill. That’s what we call trolling. Like Brady or not, he’s the greatest QB to ever play. There’s ZERO debate on that

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BigSombrero

I didn’t say he sucked windbag. I said he will be 43, is only a short term solution, and is a middle of the pack QB at this point in his career. He is in the same class as Brees, Rivers, and Rothlisberger. I don’t see ANY of them beating the best QB’s in the game next year. Rivers didn’t make the playoffs. Rothlisberger didn’t make the playoffs. Brees got beat by COUSINS, GOFF, COUSINS the last 3 years! Brady got beat by TANNEHILL last year! TANNEHILL!!!!!!

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Last edited 14 days ago by BigSombrero
Dave

Oh I’m so sorry. You said he was awful. Last time I checked they both mean the exact same thing. And he’s in the same class as Rivers? Lol Jesus you really must enjoy being a troll huh? Sure seems like it. And Big Ben didn’t make the playoffs? Yeah that usually happens when you miss 14.5 out of the 16 games. Or do you not follow football. And Brady got beat by Tannehill? Lol nope he got beat by the Tennessee Titans. But if you really wanna go there. The Pats vaunted 1st ranked defense got beat by Derrick… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Dave
BigSombrero

Z-E-R-O touchdowns for Brady. Z-E-R-O points in the second half. OH, Don’t forget the PICK 6 TO END THE GAME!!

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Dave

Jesus you’re such a troll. It’s comical at this point. Congratulations, you picked one of the only playoff games he’s ever played without a TD pass. And who gives a crap about the pick six. He got the ball back on his own 1 yard line with 9 seconds left. I’m sorry, were you expecting him to drive 65 yards in 9 seconds with no timeouts? Had the defense done their job and forced a punt, instead of allowing 2 first downs, Brady would have gotten the ball back with a minute left. Instead of 9 seconds on his own… Read more »

geno711

Why the negativity? Sure Belichick is great! Arians is not great but based upon his win – loss record is pretty darn good. He knows more about coaching than everyone on this site put together. He was a wishbone quarterback on his college team. When he coached Temple, he was a run first guy. He has adapted and changed. If you think our offense last year was the same as the Arizona Cardinals offense or the Indy offensive, or the Pittsburgh offense when he was coaching those teams you just do appreciate the huge differences. Brady has been the GOAT!… Read more »

geno711

I just want to say for football fans. Go back and watch Arians on All or Nothing Arizona Cardinals. That offense was not the same as the Buc’s last year. It is amazing to see how Arians got the best out of Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. You know that Fitzgerald had gone 9 games in a row without a touchdown catch before Arians got there and in his first game with Arians had 3 TD catches for his 1st time in his career. We also should give Godwin credit for his great year last year but I… Read more »

BigSombrero

I’ve rooted for the Bucs for 40 years, but I’m struggling with this situation. Brady/Gronk is a marketing move. Great teams are drafted, not purchased. I just don’t think the Bucs are instantly better with 43 year old QB.

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Spitfire

That’s what I don’t get, it’s the same argument Buc-Ass used to make. I get that as a fan you don’t have to like or agree with every move, but comin on here post after post and trying to make fun of or tear down our players or situation makes zero sense as a fan. I don’t mind being the underdog, we have been most of our existence, but so what if Brady/Gronk was in part a marketing move even? We have become a forgotten team given no respect. If Ariana and Brady can turn things around here and we… Read more »

BigSombrero

You’re right. I should just be a better fan. I just hate tom brady. Ive always rooted against him. My hate for him is stronger than my love for the Bucs. I would be pumped if the Bucs did everything the same and kept Winston. I think he was on the cusp of being a great QB. He got screwed. If Brady has a bad season, and its a real possibility, I think Tampa gets the discredit. They ‘ll say even the great Tom Brady cant win in Tampa. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating+10 Rating: +1. From 1 vote.… Read more »

Dave

Now saying it like that, I appreciate. Just man up. I have zero issue if you would just say” I know the guy is good, but I hate him.” But acting like he sucks, is a league average QB, or only won because of Bill or the defense, just comes off ridiculous. Nobody asked you to like the guy. I’d bet my life I hated him and the Pats just as much as you. Try living in the heart of Pat Nation. 20 mins from Foxboro. Every single member of my family, and all my friends are diehard Pats fans.… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Dave
Benjamin

Bigsombrero do you even know what you are talking about? All i got from your comment was a bunch of hater BS. If you do not like anything about the Bucs why do you even waste time reading about them and then posting the most BS comments. I do not understand people who do nothing but talk shit about things they know nothing about.

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BigSombrero

New England had the #1 defense in the NFL last year. Tom Brady was AWFUL to end the year. Pick 6 two weeks in a row to end his career in New England. They couldn’t beat Miami at home week 17 to get a bye week. Then they got beat by Tennessee at home in the wild card round.

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Dave

By ranking, they were the #1 defense. That’ll happen when you have the softest 1st half schedule in NFL history. In the 2nd half, when they actually started playing competent NFL offenses, they were mediocre at best. Including 320 yds, 2 total TD’s, and 100 QB Rating to career backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, and those aforementioned Dolphins week 17. If that “#1” ranked defense did their job week 17, they would have had a bye. And Tom Brady who supposedly sucked in that game, did what he always does. Scored a TD with less than 4 mins remaining in the game… Read more »

Dave

He hates Brady. So he’ll look for any and all chances to try and make it seem like Brady sucks. And that Tom had nothing to do with the Pats success. It was all Bill. Lol. Yet the one season Brady missed(with an all time roster in place), the Pats went from 16-0, to missing the playoffs(for comparison, Brady missed the playoffs once in his 19 seasons lol) Trolling at its finest

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Last edited 14 days ago by Dave
76Buc

Let’s see…So you want to trade Bruce Arians for Bill Belichick? I don’t think that will happen so it’s irrational to fret about it.

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BucWonder

Scott, Bucs do not need $6 million to sign the rookie draft picks. They need less than half that amount. Remember that the draft class will replace 7 players currently counting against the cap. The bottom 7 players make about $4 million combined. Bucs need about $2million in net cap space. They have that right now. Greg Auman seems to be the only guy who understands this.

Go Bucs!

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geno711

Just want to say I totally agree!

Here is the way that I understand the Cap space.    The cap space counts for the top 51 on the Roster.      So when you go to the a place like spotrac and look at the salaries, yes – $610,000 is what each of those bottom 7 players are making.   

So yes there is $4.2 Million on top of what ever the rookies will be paid in salary because those bottom 7 guys will not essentially count anymore.
 

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BucWonder

Thank you. I use Over The Cap OTC as my source, but the result is the same. Bucs may still rework a contract or two for some flexibility but they don’t need to in order to sign the draftees.

Go Bucs!

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surferdudes

Yeah players like White missed the OTA reps, but there will be plenty of time to make that back up. Only two preseason games, so there’s more time for practice. If, and when that time comes.

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Naplesfan

Making predictions of what this season will bring – heck, predicting that there will even be a season is like 50/50 at this point with skyrocketing COVID infection rates in more than half the states – is always iffy. Theoretically, the Bucs should be much better this season on the give-aways, going by TB-12’s history alone. Whether we get better on penalties, it seems that most seasons this is a typical Bucs weakness. We have good reasons to expect a better performance this season – if there is a season. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please… Read more »