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Turnover margin an instant explanation for Bucs' lopsided loss

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson returns an interception as intended target Mike Evans looks to make the tackle. Arizona forced five turnovers; the Bucs forced none. [Getty Images]

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson returns an interception as intended target Mike Evans looks to make the tackle. Arizona forced five turnovers; the Bucs forced none. [Getty Images]

TAMPA — As many things as went wrong for the Bucs in Sunday's 40-7 loss at the Cardinals, coach Dirk Koetter said the biggest problem was in turnover margin, as Tampa Bay committed five and forced none, rarely a recipe for winning.

"Everything is going to start and end with the turnovers — you can't turn it over five times and be 5-0 in turnovers," Koetter said. "I think there's something like three games in the history of the NFL where a team's lost the turnover margin that bad and been able to win. You're not giving yourself a chance when you turn it over like that."

It's a bit more common — 17 times since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, a team has overcome a minus-5 turnover margin or worse to win. Oddly, the past two times it has happened, Koetter was the winning offensive coordinator. His Falcons won in 2012 against Arizona, and he was with the Jaguars in 2010 when they beat the Browns despite a minus-5 turnover margin.

Tampa Bay is 0-37 with a margin of minus-4 or worse, and 3-90 when minus-3 or worse.

"Everything that happened (Sunday) spins off of those turnovers," Koetter said.

Tampa Bay is last in the NFL with a minus-6 margin through two games; Arizona is best in the league at plus-7. The Bucs are one of only three teams yet to force a takeaway this season, along with the Seahawks and Giants.

INJURY UPDATE: Koetter had no answers as to whether the four players sidelined in Arizona — RB Doug Martin (hamstring), DE Robert Ayers (ankle), TE Luke Stocker (ankle) and WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) — were likely to miss Sunday's game against the Rams or beyond. The coach said he'd know more after MRI exams, slated today. Stocker walked without crutches in the locker room Monday, but had what looked to be a hard cast on his lower leg/ankle.

TRANSACTION: The Bucs waived LB Josh Keyes, who played extensively in both games on special teams but hasn't taken a snap on defense. The move suggests rookie LB Devante Bond, inactive the first two games with a hamstring injury, is healthy enough to be active Sunday.

No corresponding move was announced, but it's likely the Bucs will use the opening to add depth to offset injuries suffered in Sunday's loss.

THIS AND THAT: With no takeaways by the defense, Tampa Bay had 12 of its first 13 drives Sunday start at its 25-yard line or worse. … WR Vincent Jackson had four catches on nine targets Sunday, continuing to have a low catch percentage from QB Jameis Winston to open the season. "We're talking about our two captains on offense," Koetter said. "The precision between those two players just isn't where it needs to be right now, and that's something we're going to have to get straightened out real soon." … WR Mike Evans had six catches on 17 targets Sunday. According to Pro Football Reference data, there has only been one game in the NFL since 2001 where a receiver had that many targets and fewer catches — Rams WR Brandon Gibson had five on 17 targets in a 2009 game.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

Turnover margin an instant explanation for Bucs' lopsided loss 09/19/16 [Last modified: Monday, September 19, 2016 10:16pm]
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