Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, it doesn’t matter, the Buccaneers have no chance of competing, thanks to their defense.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on pace to make history, for all the wrong reasons.
So far this season, the Buccaneers have allowed a whopping 275 points, which translates to 34.4 points per game. If the Bucs continue that pace, they will surpass the 1981 Baltimore Colts’ NFL record for most points allowed in a season (533).
Tampa Bay has attempted to turn the defense around. The organization moved on from defensive coordinator Mike Smith a few weeks ago. But all the coaching changes in the world cannot fix the issues that litter the unit.
Sunday’s loss to the Panthers provided the Buccaneers defensive blueprint for the 2018 season. An embarrassing first-half effort, followed by a handful of solid drives and finally snapping at the end of the game when the game was on the line.
Tampa Bay allowed 35 points against Carolina in the first two quarterbacks. Then, they opened the second half with three stops to open the second half of play. Then, when the Bucs sat down 35-28, the defense let Cam Newton drive down the field and extend the lead to 14 points.
Slowing down the pass has been the Achilles heel for the Buccaneers. Through nine weeks, Tampa allowed 307.1 passing yards per game. The Bucs kept Andy Dalton, Baker Mayfield and Newton under 300 yards, but every other quarterback found tremendous success.
The defensive backs also haven’t made opposing quarterbacks pay for their mistakes. Their lone interception came all the way back in Week 3. Then again, it’s hard for NFL-caliber quarterbacks to turn the ball over when receivers are running wide open down the field.
Tampa’s inability to force turnovers has become a massive problem. So far this season, the Bucs have managed a measly six turnovers.
Injuries have also hit the unit hard. Chris Conte and Vernon Hargreaves, a pair of starters in the secondary, landed on the injured reserve early in the season. That forced a pair of rookies into the starting lineup.
Sadly, the front seven has been extremely disappointing. Aside from Pierre-Paul, who is among the league leaders with eight sacks, nearly every player is having a subpar season.
McCoy missed a handful of games due to injury, but he hasn’t been able to generate much of a pass rush. With an improved supporting cast featuring first-round selection Vita Vea and Beau Allen, the interior defensive line made little difference.
The Buccaneers pass rush certainly improved, compared to last season, but the pass rush is far from consistent. Pierre-Paul gets the job done, but Carl Nassib, who joined the team just days before the season began, has the second-most sacks on the season.
It’s nice to see Nassib have some success, but he is best suited as a situational player, rather than a player defensive coordinator Mark Duffner needs to rely on.
There isn’t a reason to think that the Buccaneers defense will see much improvement as the season moves along. The optics of the Buccaneers season are changing and for the worse. Bucs fans has the defense to thank for that.