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Is Bruce Arians part of the reason why Tampa Bay has struggled in prime-time in 2020?

Taking a look at BA’s history in primetime games.

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bruce Arians and the Bucs have not been good in primetime games this year.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

NEWS FLASH: The Bucs are struggling under the bright lights in 2020.

This is evident not only by Tampa Bay’s record in prime-time games (1-3), but how the team has performed when all eyes are on them, as well. The Bucs average almost 36 points per game when they aren’t on the big stage compared to just 18 points per game when playing on either Thursday night, Sunday night, or Monday night.

I’m not usually one to dive too far into trends (and sometimes borderline superstition), but there’s a different feel about this scenario. It’s evident that there is some kind of disconnect when the Bucs are nationally televised and that’s also backed up by a long history of stinking it up on the NFL’s biggest stages.

The Bucs are 23-33 (.411) all-time and just 7-15 (.318) from 2003-2018 when playing in primetime during the regular season. They’ve never been good in this context.

Despite the poor history, Tampa Bay was awarded a franchise-high five prime-time games after signing Tom Brady in the offseason. The hope/thought was that Brady’s presence would uplift Tampa Bay, but that clearly hasn’t happened.

So, it’s obvious the Bucs have a problem, here. But does Bruce Arians have a prime-time problem as well?

Arians’ overall record was 10-4-1 in prime-time games during his time as head coach with the Indianapolis Colts (2012) and the Arizona Cardinals (2013-2017). A (.656) winning percentage is obviously a very good mark, but that record is bolstered by five prime-time wins in 2015, when the Cardinals were rolling and finished the regular season with a 13-3 record. I’m not taking that year away —that wouldn’t make sense and could easily be chalked up as illogical and unfair— but is that one year more the exception than the rule?

Outside of 2015, Arians is 5-4-1 in prime-time (.550), which includes a 2-3-1 mark over his last two years in Arizona. As the Bucs head coach, he is 2-3, which brings his record to 7-7-1 when you leave out 2015.

And these numbers don’t include playoff totals, where the Bucs’ second-year head coach is 1-3 and has been outscored 100-40 in those three losses.

This is football, so it’s a team sport and everyone shares in the blame. Part of Tampa Bay’s issues in 2020 have been a lack of discipline, focus, and poor in-game adjustments. Those aspects fall on the players, but they also fall on the coaches and all of that starts with Arians.