In the midst of a five game slide at the end of another 10 loss season, the Buccaneers are looking for reasons why it has happened to a talented team on paper in August.
And while, there are several things that can be pointed to like: injuries, poor pass rush, and ineffective offensive line play, one obvious negative is turnovers from quarterback Jameis Winston.
In Sunday’s tough loss at Carolina, Winston fumbled three times, including on a the clinching final offensive play as he was sacked with under :30 remaining. Now, Winston did play an outstanding efficient game throwing the ball at 21-27 for 367 yards and a touchdown. However, no one can argue that the first two fumbles killed Buccaneer significant drives and cost them points in a three point loss to the Panthers.
Further, since his return from a three game break for rest and rehab of a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder, Winston has had turnovers in four of his five games. In one of those games, the 24-21 defeat by the Lions, Winston had two interceptions. That game combined with Sunday, means Winston has turned the ball over by interception or fumble, at least twice in a game, four times in the 12 games he has played in this 2017 season.
Even more disturbing, is that in 44 career starts headed into Sunday’s final game with the Saints, Winston has 15 games where he has combined at least two interceptions/fumbles lost in a game. That roughly a one in three ratio of games played.
As a reference point, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was taken #2 after Winston in the 2015 NFL Draft, has only nine games with at least two combined turnovers (interceptions/fumbles) in his 41 career games headed into Sunday.
Still, for the Buccaneers, they knew that Winston was turnover prone his final year at Florida State. There were six more games of at least two combined turnovers (interceptions/fumbles) out of the 14 he played in 2014. And his interceptions increased to 18 that season from 10 in 2013, his Heisman Trophy winning season.
Again, the Bucs have had many flaws this season, but taking care of the football is paramount. And if they want to get back to the wining ways of 2016, Winston has decrease them, especially in bunches.
Sunday, was the latest classic example that multiple turnovers, especially on the road, are almost impossible to over come and win the game.
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