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 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.
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 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.
Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston
It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.
Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) February 25, 2020
Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.
Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,
Arians on Winston and why it’s still uncertain: “December wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:
“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”
“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option?
The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.
After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”
While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.
Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.
The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.
Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020
On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?
We heard you!
New uniforms coming April 2020. pic.twitter.com/e7qNUsNWZb
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 24, 2020
The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:
“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”
As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.
This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,
The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.
NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.
It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.
The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.
Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.
So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.