Bucs defense has one takeaway in last 3 games
Turnovers are the catalyst of any Lovie Smith defense, so the team's struggles in the last three games go hand-in-hand with its defense forcing just one takeaway in the last three games, matching the lowest total in the NFL.
"(Opponents) protecting the football better. It's as simple as that," Smith said Monday after Sunday's loss to the Saints dropped to 0-5 as Bucs coach when his team doesn't force any takeaways. "The emphasis on how important it is hasn't gotten through yet. As we build our program, this is what we would like to do, and eventually I think you have to win, but we're not there yet. Our record says we're not there."
The Bucs had zero turnovers offensively -- they lost for the first time while doing that in more than two years. NFL teams going without a turnover have won 74 percent of the time this season, but the Bucs dropped to 2-1 this season when they don't have a turnover. The Saints are now 30-0 under coach Sean Payton when they don't have a turnover.
"You have to take the ball away -- it's as simple as that, and we didn't," Smith said. "It would have helped an awful lot in a 7-point game."