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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs defense headed for all time dubious records

Florida Football Insiders

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Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s become apparent with each passing week since his firing, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith wasn’t the only real problem with Tampa Bay’s defense.

With the understanding that they’ve had significant injuries to key personnel and have been playing inexperienced and young players because of it, the Buccaneers defense is still no better under interim coordinator Mark Duffner.

And at the rate that they are going, the Bucs may about to be setting some dubious all-time NFL records for bad defense. Really bad defense.

In the midst of a now four game losing streak that has dropped them to 3 – 7 on the season, it’s staggering that the Buccaneers continue to play a game after game after game without registering a single takeaway from the other team.

How staggering?

How about: the Bucs have not had a defensive takeaway since their Monday night game with Pittsburgh in week three. That night, safety Justin Evans intercepted Ben Roethlisberger, and that’s been it for a long dry spell defensively, ever since.

The Bucs did get a special teams take away in the overtime during their victory against the Cleveland Browns on October 21st. So, that’s the only time they have gotten a turnover in two months of football.

Almost unfathomable for an NFL team.

Further, Evans’ interception is also the only one of the season for the Buccaneers, which is also approaching an all-time dubious record.

So, let’s take a look at the record book with six games to go:

The Bucs currently stand 31st in the NFL with six measley total takeaways. Only the 49ers, their opponent this week, have fewer with five. If you are wondering about the fewest takeaways in a season, that number is 11.

Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in the late ’70s, three teams: the 2013 Texans, the 2015 Cowboys, and the 2016 Bears have had the fewest of 11 takeaways in a season. The Buccaneers have six more games to get 5 more takeaways defensively or they will own the record.

Likewise, with only the one interception to this point, that is also in danger of becoming the worst ever for an NFL defense with a 16-game schedule. The fewest by a club playing 16 games is the 1996 Atlanta Falcons who had only six interceptions that year.

The 1961 Houston Oilers of the AFL had three interceptions in a 14-game season and the ’72 Oilers (post merger) had six interceptions. The 1982 Baltimore Colts registered just five interceptions in the strike-shortened season that was only 11 games.

So, Dufner’s defense essentially has to come up with two more picks in the next four weeks or else they are worse than the ’61 Oilers. And they have to come up with five more interceptions in the final six games to match the ’96 Falcons.

That appears, at the moment, to be a tough task with a team that simply cannot create takeaways.

Meanwhile, it’s not helping on the other side of the ball, as Tampa Bay is giving the ball away at an astronomical rate. The Bucs have 29 giveaways, including 23 interceptions, both of which lead the NFL.

In fact Sunday, they had four more interceptions, and obviously no takeaways, which dropped the plus-minus ratio to – 23 on the season.

That turnover margin is the worst since the 1970 Buffalo Bills were at -24 through 10 games in a 14 game schedule.

There have been some awful teams in the 2000’s in turnover margin at the end of the year. That list includes the 2006 Oakland Raiders who were – 23 and the 2005 Saints and Packers, who were both – 24. And, the all time worst in this century is the San Diego Chargers, who were -28 in the turnover margin.

The all-time NFL record for turnover margin is -30, which came in a 14 game schedule for the Pittsburgh Steelers of 1965.

The Bucs defense is still giving up the most passing yards on average and the most points overall per game (32.9) this season in the NFL.

So, it’s going to be a tall task for them to try to create some takeaways, but they need to soon or this 2018 season will go down in history for a lot of wrong reasons.

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