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The Bucs' defense collapsed because of turnovers

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Bucs defense were booted aside in the loss.
Bucs defense were booted aside in the loss.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

On the scoreboard, it looks as though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense was porous and could not stop the Dallas Cowboys offense. But two Bucs' offensive turnovers led to points that cost them the game.

Yes, I am talking about the game against Dallas, yet this was the same scenario with the game against the LA Rams. The Rams won with a score of 37 -€” 32.  Dallas won 26 -€” 20.

Before I continue, let us look at the By the Box defensive Preview of the Dallas game.

Dal Bucs
Off Pass      (yds/g) Off Rush   (yds/g) PF         (ppg) Def Pass      (yds/g) Def Rush   (yds/g) PA         (ppga)
Rank 20th 2nd 6th 16th 21st 16th
Yds/g 233.1 152.2 26.2 249.8 110.7 22.8
Diff (Def - Off)
Pass Rush PA
yards yards points
16.7 -41.5 -3.4

I want to recap the previous four games to show a pattern before the Dallas game.

Game 10: The Kansas City Chiefs scored 17 points.  Had four long drives of 60+ yards, but limited only 17 points.  Red Zone: 2/4.

Game 11:  The Seattle Seahawks scored 3 points on the defense (not including the safety). They had only two long drives, but none over 50 yards. Seattle never made it to the Red Zone.

Game 12:  San Diego scored 21 points on four long drives. Three of those drives were all 75 yard drives.

Game 13:  New Orleans scored 9 points. They had three long drives, but only one over 60 yards.  Red Zone: 0/2.

Both Seattle and New Orleans had starting offensive linemen injured. In both cases, the starting center was out of the lineup.

TB Defense vs Dal Offense
Qtr Drive Plays Yards Result RZ Pts Yard Drives
40 + 50 + 60 + 70 + 80 + Totals
1 1 10 38 Missed FG 0
2 11 65 FG 1 3 1 1
* 3 5 14 TD 1 7 0
4 10 64 TD 1 7 1 1
5 9 41 Missed FG 1 1
Half Half
6 4 14 Punt 0
7 10 58 FG 3 1 1
* 8 4 2 FG 3 0
9 1 3 Fumble 0
10 8 81 FG 1 3 1 1
11 4 19 Punt 0
12 1 -2 End 0
Total 12 77 397 4 26 1 1 2 0 1 5

Dallas was able to put up five long drives on the Bucs' defense. The odd thing is that of those five long drives, only 16 points were scored. The asterisks denote that there was a turnover by the Bucs' offense on those very short drives where Dallas scored.

There is a tale of two halves for the defense -€” kinda. In the second half, the defense was able to force two punts, a fumble, and only a FG after the ball was gifted near the 20 yard line. Actually, the defense did perform much better in the second half than it did in the first half.

Other metrics

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Explosive Plays
Game 14, Dallas
Drive Run (12+ yards) Pass (16+ yards) Drive Result
1 Elliot, 13 Missed FG
2 Beasley, 22 FG
Dunbar, 15
4 Prescott, 15 TD
Butler, 21
5 Bryant, 23 Missed FG
7 Elliot, 20 FG
Beasley, 17
10 Bryant, 19 FG
Elliot, 42
11 Elliot, 15 Punt

Koetter's Top 4 Metrics, T4M (used for offense, but applicable to the defense):

1.  Turnovers:                                    1 ( fumble )

2.  Reducing explosive plays:       Runs > 12 yards: 5, Passes > 16 yards: 6

3.  Getting sacks & TFLs:                                3 Sacks;  6 TFLs

4.  Be great on third downs:        5 -€” 13 (38.5% successful rate for the opposing team)

Conclusion

History, if one does not learn from it, is bound to repeat itself again. This game has shades of the Los Angeles game. In that game, there were a total of five turnovers -€” four of them interceptions. Two of the turnovers led to 14 points. Against Dallas, the Bucs offense gifted a total of four turnovers, two of which lead to 10 points.

Bucs' Offense
Turnovers
By Quarters
Team INT Fum Safety Total QTR Totals
1 Atl 1 0 0 1
2 Ari 4 1 0 5
3 LA 1 1 0 2
4 Den 2 0 0 2
10
5 Car 0 0 0 0
6 SF 1 0 0 1
7 Oak 0 0 0 0
8 Atl 0 2 0 2
3
9 Chi 1 0 0 1
10 KC 0 1 0 1
11 Sea 1 1 1 3
12 SD 1 0 0 1
6
13 NO 0 0 1 1
14 Dal 3 1 0 4
15 NO 0
16 Car 0 5

This defense did well against the Cowboys' high powered offense, but because it could not win the turnover game, it could not secure a win for the team. The defense only created one turnover.  In a clean game, our defense probably holds. Yet, it does have problems against teams with strong offensive lines as shown in the KC and SD games.

This game ended similarly to the Rams game.  The defense got the offense the ball back with ample time to score to win the game.  A similar conclusion occurred - the offense could not take advantage of the opportunity.  Still, the offense did gain a lead against the Cowboys and the defense permitted three FG's to lose the lead.