Overemphasis On Takeaways

August 31st, 2015
Misplaced priority?

Misplaced priority?

Yes, a day after the sad performance by the Bucs against the Brownies in the last preseason home game (Yay!), it didn’t take long for Lovie Smith to lament (UH-gen) that his defense didn’t take the ball away enough.

In other words, not enough forced turnovers.

Yes, Joe knows Lovie is in love with turnovers. He’s absolutely and totally obsessed by them, not unlike the way Joe pines for Rachel Watson.

Joe only wishes Lovie would be equally obsessed with his defense — the one he calls the plays for now — getting off the field instead of getting dragged in the first half on scoring drives of 80- and 78-yards by the likes of Josh McClown of all people.

How in the tank is Lovie about getting turnovers? Woody Cummings of The Tampa Tribune gives readers a peek that suggests Lovie is Schiano-like obsessed with turnovers.

The stimuli are everywhere. Just inside the doorway of each defensive position group meeting room stands a tall, black steel pole. Connected to that pole is a heavy spring with a football attached.

“As soon as you come in, just to help program your mind to think ball, ball, ball, we’re required to give that ball a little whack like you’re stripping it,” safety Bradley McDougald said. “And then, after the meeting’s over, you’re supposed to do the same thing all over again, so that when you go out to practice, again, you’re just thinking ball, ball, ball the whole time.”

Maybe it is just Joe, but this priority of Lovie’s is misguided.

As Cummings correctly notes, the Bucs were tied for 14th-most takeaways with 25. Guess who they were tied with? The Super Bowl champion Belicheats. You don’t hear Belicheat crying about not enough takeaways after every stinking game, do you?

Is this a crutch of Lovie’s or just an excuse?

The team that was one play from winning the Super Bowl, Seattle, had even fewer takeaways with 21. Don’t hear Pete Carroll whining about not enough takeaways, do you?

Of the top seven teams in takeaways last year, only one was a playoff team, Dallass, with 31.

Rather than kvetch about turnovers, Joe wishes Lovie would put just as much time and emphasis into his team, his defense, his players getting heat on a quarterback.

Or here is a novel approach: How about good old fashioned fundamental tackling before a guy gets a first down? A three-and-out is better than a takeaway deep in your own territory, any day.

Forcing a turnover is really a game of chance. You are hoping a team plays sloppy. Joe is of the mind that playing good, stout, fundamental defense never has to rely on chance and is a helluva lot more reliable than hoping for turnovers.

And we all know what one of the greatest coaches in American sports history says about hope.

21 Responses to “Overemphasis On Takeaways”

  1. Destro44 Says:

    Problem is that most turnovers start with pressure on the QB. Either sack fumbles or rushed throws leading to interceptions. The rare stripping of a RB or WR is nice but unreliable

  2. jvato24 Says:

    Actually Patriots do emphasize it, every practice, here’s a random clip from espn article,“Every day,” Belichick said Friday. “We work on stripping the ball every day; recovering them every day. We talk about opportunities to get the ball out as we watch film. It’€™s no different than the way it’€™s been ‘€“ we’€™ve done that since I was with the Giants. It’€™s part of your defense.”

  3. buc4life1979 Says:

    Sorry bro. But one or both of U’s ain’t no True Bucs fans if u think Lovie’s turnover mentality is misguided. I seem to remember a certain 2002 SB Winning team that would have found itself NO WHERE EVEN NEAR THE PLAYOFFS if not for AN DEFENSIVE UNIT wit that mentality….Seem to remeber even ole #99 on the d-line being in on that mentality and lobbing the ball to#55 to secure the defensive touchdown….Better check yourselves Joe’s. Kudos for Lovie for insisting Buc Ball as the standard state of mind and way of life for the defense PERIOD.

  4. Rrsrq Says:

    I’m with you Joe, how bout just stopping the team from driving all the way down field, we all love take aways, but for this team lets just go basic, some three and outs. The D lets the team get a few first downs, then if they stop them from scoring, then they punt and the offense is starting with their back to the goal,line inside the 20. Then we blame special teams when the returner doesn’t have any room to run because his back is against the goal line and the punt team only has to run 20 yards to make a tackle cause their punting from the 40-50 yard line

  5. Tampa Tony Says:

    Lovie should emphasize 3 and outs and protecting the qb so he keeps his job

  6. DefenseRules Says:

    @Joe … “A three-and-out is better than a takeaway deep in your own territory, any day.”

    Wouldn’t a ‘three-and-out’ deep in your own territory result in the other team kicking a field goal to at least settle for 3 points? And wouldn’t a takeaway deep in your own territory keep the other team from scoring?

    I would think that preventing them from scoring would be the preferred outcome. Unfortunately, stripping the ball from an RB in that situation is hard to come by. Pressure on the QB to force a mistake would be better.

  7. Buccfan37 Says:

    Slapping at a ball on a spring. Yeah I’m sure that’ll work. Lovie is a genius and knows without turnovers his game is mud.

  8. pick6 Says:

    can’t look at the turnover policy in defense. the 2 teams you mention have extreme strengths (tom brady in NE and marshawn lynch in SEA) that help them limit their giveaways, especially via the INT. the bucs will have to be a little more realistic about the giveaways column with our young QB and overrated run game. we will need takeaways to compete because we are not yet capable of sustaining drives and protecting the football like some of the teams who succeed without forcing as many turnovers

  9. pick6 Says:

    *i meant to type “can’t look at the turnover policy on defense without considering our roster on offense”

  10. LargoBuc Says:

    If your defense does its job, pressure tje qb, tackle, etc etc, the takeaways will come. But when the chance presents itself, you cant miss. I think thats Lovies point.

  11. pick6 Says:

    their emphasis on winning the turnover battle is expressed in a different way – deflating the ball on offense. lost in the deflategate scandal is the fact that the WHOLE OFFENSE benefited from the rule circumvention, not just tom. their deflated balls have a fumble rate that defies all statistical reason. NE, Seattle, and GB were the 3 teams with the fewest giveaways in the league, and the Patriots led the league with only 4 fumbles lost

  12. pick6 Says:

    *their = the patriots, of course

  13. passthebuc Says:

    There are people that talk about doing and there are people that do. The latter does not need to explain. I believe we will be having this discussion 2 years from now without coaching improvement.

  14. Lakeland Buc Says:

    We need to focus on clock management, if we can control the clock. Then we will control the game, the takeaways will come. I don’t understand the mentality of some coaches. How can you win football games with your offense on the sidelines all of the time? That’s probably why Lovie is so stress about takeaways. But why not stress clock control to your offense instead? How can the opposing team score on you, if their offense is on the sidelines? A takeaway don’t necessary means taking the ball from the opposing team, as in a fumble or INT. This is the Webster’s definition of a takeaway…………….

    2.(in football and hockey) an act of regaining the ball or puck from the opposing team….. regaining the ball is the key, we have to focus on controlling the clock. Moving the chains, resting our defense, keeping them fresh so they can force a three and out. The bottom line is,when you win the battle of possession. Normally you win the battle, that alone should be our focus point.

  15. Fsuking Says:

    It is kinda a ridiculous defensive game plan we have. Sack the quarterback and take the ball back instead of covering someone. On nearly every play, a linebacker is standing in the flats like an idiot alone. We need to be blitz happy and play some man every now and again.

  16. DefenseRules Says:

    Lakeland Buc … agree 100%. In decisively beating the Bengals, we had the ball for 39 mins. In decisively losing to the Browns, we had the ball for 23 mins. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which is preferred.

  17. Rrsrq Says:

    Would love to see the Defense get some rest, the problem is they let teams drive down the field from the freaking opening kickoff, so they tire themselves out, it seems that the opposing teams we play no how to stop us with a three and out, way too much

  18. rjhurst813 Says:

    IMO, the play calling was not that bad. They blitz and stunted. The execution was horrible. Miss tackles and blown coverages. On the first drive letting McCown escape the pocket after the initial pressure by McCoy. Speaking of McCoy this guy has excellent get-off, but he is below average in changing direction and closing speed. Finally, the media needs to stop protecting guys, on one of those big runs, LVD over-pursued and was washed out by the Brown’s lineman. On the replay Barber tried to act like he did know what happen, LVD overplayed the gap and got beat. Playaction is gonna kill our linebackers if they don’t smarten up.

  19. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    I basically agree with Joe’s points. But I think this is being overexamined.

    I cannot remember a coach who DID NOT emphasize takeaways. EVERY freaking coach from Pop Warner to the SEC to the NFL EMPHASIZES takeaways.

    Here is what I want Lovie to EMPHASIZE on defense this year. Find the effing TE and cover him!!! Can I get an amen?

  20. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    “The execution was horrible. Miss tackles and blown coverages.”

    YES!!! At the fundamental core of it all….MAKE A FREAKING PLAY!!!

  21. BFFL Says:

    The Pats and Hawks were 3rd & 4th in turnover differential so turnovers are absolutely critical. In fact, a turnover was the difference in who the SB champ was.