Brand-new QBs? Bucs have lost six straight against them
It's a difficult thing, jumping into the NFL as a young quarterback, so you'd think the chance to face an inexperienced passer would be a successful proposition for an NFL defense.
Not so for Tampa Bay.
As Denver's Trevor Siemian comes to town for just his fifth NFL game, the Bucs have struggled against young QBs in recent years. Since the start of the 2012 season, quarterbacks playing in their first five NFL games are 6-0 against the Bucs -- in the same span, no other NFL team has taken more than three such losses.
It's a mixed bag of quarterbacks in the six that have beaten the Bucs -- the Titans' Marcus Mariota last year, the Vikings' Teddy Bridgewater and the Rams' Austin Davis in 2014, the Jets' Geno Smith and the Eagles' Nick Foles and Redskins' Robert Griffin in 2012. You'd think a young QB would be interception-prone, but those six combined for eight touchdown passes against the Bucs, with just one interception in 210 pass attempts.
Across the league, QBs playing in their first five NFL games have won just 28 percent of the time since 2012 -- they're 0-6 against the Eagles, 0-4 against the Chargers and Titans, 1-5 against the Colts. Against the Bucs, it's been 100 percent wins.
Before those six, when the Bucs defense was better, young quarterbacks had practically no chance to win against Tampa Bay. From 1998-2011, QBs playing in their first five NFL games went 2-16 against the Bucs, held to 10 points or less in 12 of those 16 losses. They combined for 12 touchdowns and 22 INTs.
Those last six young QBs, in going 6-0 against the Bucs, each completed at least 57 percent of their passes against the Bucs; of the previous 18, in going 2-16 against the Bucs, only one was able to complete 57 percent or more of their passes.
When Simien -- a 2015 draft pick who spent last season on injured reserve -- threw for four touchdown passes to lead the Broncos past the Bengals on Sunday, he became just the ninth QB in the last 40 years to throw four touchdowns in one of his first five NFL games; the last, of course, was Mariota against the Bucs last year in his NFL debut.
And yes, the Bucs have changed personnel -- both in coaches and players -- since some of those losses against young QBs in the last five years. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith, in his last five years as Falcons head coach, went just 4-4 against QBs playing in their first five NFL games, with losses to Bridgewater and Geno Smith, like the Bucs. His defense in those games allowed eight touchdowns and one interception in 199 passes.