Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
It may already sound like a broken record from Head Coach Lovie Smith, but another glaring example of what turnovers (or giveaways) can do showed up last Thursday night. Even though Atlanta was off to a hot start offensively, 14-0 is not insurmountable in the 1st quarter. However, the interception in his own end zone by Josh McCown that was run in for an easy Falcon td followed by the first of two more Bobby Rainey fumbles deep in Buc territory, quickly made the game out of hand at 28-0. While the team turnover margin is only -2 through 2 games, the 7 giveaways in 3 games is too many. They must cut them down or out all together.
Confusion in pass coverage leading to open receivers
It is also early in the season for the defense learning Lovie Smith¹s new scheme. As our analyst on the Buccaneers Radio Network Dave Moore has repeatedly said: it is a complete "Night and Day" opposite from the defense last year in terms of coverages and responsibilites. Clearly, there are too many big pass plays and key third downs being given up through the first three games. The Bucs defense is allowing 15 first downs per game passing which is almost at the bottom of the league. And there have been too many moments on third downs in the first 3 games where the defense could not get off the field. The emphasis is on a better pass rush, but coverage has to be a lot better starting this week.
Finally, develop the vertical (long) passing game
For all the weapons that have been brought in (but with the understanding that Doug Martin & Austin Seferian-Jenkins missed both the last two games due to injury), the Bucs must improve picking up chunks of yardage downfield. While it's early and they were able to move the ball and score touchdowns the first two weeks, the passing game ranks next to last in yards per completion at only 8.2 on average (the leaders average 12 ). Now stats don't tell the whole story with being able to pass, but there haven't been nearly enough successful pass plays downfield to not only pick up big yardage, but put the opposing D on it's heels. This is another thing to keep your eyes on for improvement.
Photos from the Bucs-Falcons game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.