Look, I’m just going to cut straight to the point.
Mistakes are what keep teams from winning games in the NFL. You can barely beat bad teams if you make enough mistakes.
So what do you think will happen if you do it against a good team?
The Bucs know what happens, and they had the privilege of finding out what happens again in their 23-20 loss to the Texans.
But I mean, it’s not like they are unfamiliar with this type of loss. This is the same team that leads the league in turnovers and is top-3 in penalties heading into Week 16. They know all about making mistakes.
And there were plenty of them again on Saturday. Turnovers, penalties, dropped passes - you name it. If there was a way to screw something up, the Bucs got it done.
The Bucs helped Houston build a 17-3 lead in the first half thanks to three turnovers (which included a pick-six) and a first quarter that saw the Bucs get hit with five penalties for 40 yards.
#GoBucs have 131 yards and average 7.3 yards per play compared to just 15 yards and 1.5 ypp for the #Texans.— Evan Winter (@evan_winter) December 21, 2019
That’s what two turnovers, a pick-six, and five penalties for 40yds (so far) in one quarter will get you every time. pic.twitter.com/5kTEb00ez2
It’s easy to go back and see where this team screwed up. For starters, just look at the dropped pass by Cameron Brate on fourth down that prevented any type of comeback. Peyton Barber had his 17-yard run on 4th-and-2 called back thanks to a holding call. Instead of having a 1st-and-10 at Houston’s 11, the Bucs were forced to attempt a 54-yard field goal that was blocked. Jameis Winston overthrew multiple receivers throughout the game and should’ve had two more passes intercepted on the day. The coaching staff cost the team a timeout in the first half and made several questionable play calls.
It makes things worse when you consider that not only did it cost the Bucs the game, but the loss also takes away from an excellent defensive performance.
Todd Bowles and his crew came to play and completely shut down Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense. Watson finished with a 19-of-32 stat line for 184 yards and an interception. He added 37 yards on seven carries, but was held out of the end zone and was also sacked five times. The team scored just 16 points on offense and averaged 3.6 yards per play. DeAndre Hopkins was held to five catches for 23 yards. The Texans were 4-of-14 on third down and 1-of-4 in the red zone.
It has to be frustrating for this staff to witness such an unbalanced performance, even though they have a hand in everything. The mistakes that were made on Saturday should not be happening this late in the season and the worst part of the entire situation is no one will know if it’s just growing pains, a trend, or a systematic problems that’s causing these same issues to happen week after week.
The Bucs made a lot of these same mistakes during their four-game win streak, but the difference is that they played bad teams over that stretch. The Texans are not a bad team. In fact, they were awarded with the 2019 AFC South crown after beating the Bucs.
If Tampa Bay ever wants to get back to winning the NFC South and making the playoffs, then it’ll have to learn how to avoid games such as the one against the Texans, or else it’ll be early-season playoff exits and “playoff games” in early December for the foreseeable future.