Takeaways Saving The Bucs

September 20th, 2018

Finding a way.

One looks at the explosive Bucs offense and smiles. Joe sure is happy as hell.

Obviously, when you outscore your opponent you win. Simple as that, as former Bucs coach Lovie Smith would say. And we all know how Lovie had a fetish for takeaways. That’s all he preached about, seemingly to the detriment of the rest of his defense.

Joe is convinced Lovie didn’t give a damn about forcing a team to punt (a fail) so long as his defenders were trying to knock the ball loose.

Well, Lovie might be smiling somewhere in Champaign, Ill., if he didn’t have such an ax to grind with the Bucs. Because takeaways have saved the Bucs this year, so types former NFL executive Michael Lombardi.

Pecking away at his keyboard for The Athletic, Lombardi notes that lost in the beautiful offensive explosion is that the Bucs defense is still horrid. And without the takeaways forced by the Bucs’ defense, the team easily could be 0-2.

The Bucs’ defense has struggled to slow down offenses — the unit is tied for 24th in the NFL in allowing over 20-yard pass plays, and it doesn’t have an interception. However, the Bucs have forced four fumbles and are plus-two in the turnover takeaway column, which has been their saving grace and the reason why they are undefeated.

Part of the reason Joe hasn’t lost it about defensive coordinator Mike Smith is, of course, the Bucs are winning. Victories are the greatest perfume.

Also, Smith is working with a short deck. He’s had to try to stop very good teams with two rookie corners and a depleted defensive line. Mitch Unrein is on injured reserve. There is no telling when/if first-round draft pick Vita Vea plays. Joe’s taken the stance of out of sight/out of mind with Vea. Noah Spence was inactive last week, which is a major red flag for second-round pick presumed to be healthy.

The Bucs have made key stops when the team needed it the most. So rather than be angry with Smith, Joe is actually giving him props for finding ways to get key stops and turnovers.

35 Responses to “Takeaways Saving The Bucs”

  1. Dewey Selmon Says:

    When the takeaways stop we will find a way to win with a running game. When the running game fails we win with turnovers, when that stops we win with the passing game. Point is good teams find a to win, and we are finally finding ways to win instead of ways to lose.

  2. Bucnjim Says:

    Having two score leads and going conservative adds to garbage stats at the end of games. We should know all about that being on the other side of it last year. Surprised no one is bringing up the Bucs fast starts. This to me is the biggest difference from years past along with talent of course.

  3. Bob in Valrico Says:

    It seems obvious that forced fumbles have been a focus of this defense the last couple of years and I like it. Defensive scores are are gravy on the top. Also Great that we are developing an offense that scores TD’s more often, because there will be days that offense will have to stand on its own and win games outright.

  4. SteveK Says:

    Vita Vea, Kendall Beckwith, and Brent Grimes. A stud at every level of the defense that could hopefully return coming off our bye week (in 3 weeks)

  5. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Offensively, I think we should take a page from Raheem with a twist. It should be a race to 24 points every game. IMO, its the only way to compete with the increasing amount high scoring offenses.

  6. Pickgrin Says:

    To any and all potential nitpickers (Joe included):

    How about saving your criticism of the Bucs Defense (and how coach Smitty runs it) until we actually lose a game…

    “All anyone gives a sh!t about in this league is wins” – Dirk Koetter

  7. The Buc Realist Says:

    Even though loser lovie preached it??? Coach Smitty just does it!!!!!!!!
    Take Aways
    2015 – 23 takeaways (22nd)
    2016 – 29 takeaways (3rd)
    2017 – 26 takeaways (7th)
    2018 – 4 So far (4th)

    The great thing is the turnover battle is being won!!!! the last two years with the offense also turnover the ball nullifies what the defense is clearly winning in!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Unless of course you have a defense that can hold teams to under 20 points,
    Then we will have a team that can be very competitive in the playoffs.

  9. BucEmUp Says:

    Same as 2016 with that 5 game stretch. Turnovers really swayed the perception of the defense that year.

    Imagine of this team had a defense like the Vikings, bears or Jaguars….it would be a super bowl bound train

  10. Buc believer Says:

    I think they are waiting until the weather cools so Vea can play it is MUCH to hot here in Florida for a Pacific Islander. In the meantime The Bucs are doing there best to keep his weight down by trying to limit his intake of gravy slurpies.

  11. Conte Piscatelli Says:

    I’m not calling this defense good, but I don’t count the final play fumble in the turnover department, which means we lost the turnovers this lost game 2-1. We did however turn the ball over twice and 0 points resulted, and the defense did muster 2 stops on 4th down. Maybe after this last game, this isn’t the time to try to make this point.

  12. Architek Says:

    Wonder if Wade Phillips was our DC – would we have the same output on defense?

  13. Rick Says:

    I look at the defense in 3 parts. The defensive line is under achieving with all the additions. Granted it’s only been two games, but McCoy and JPP have been average so far. Vinny, meh. Vita is out. Line backers took a game to get going and seem to be humming. The secondary I give them a bit of a pass because the experience is obviously lacking. But over all I think the defense is playing above average ball imo. The defense will get better as the season goes on. Props

  14. Bucsfanman Says:

    The defense can certainly improve. It’s far better than last year though. Playing with a lead helps.

  15. Bird Says:

    Steve K

    Nailed it . Plus from what the Dline coach Buckner said …I think unrein is better than people think. Probably better than beau Allen so hopefully his noggin is good to go when he returns.

    Vea needs to get on the field soon. Otherwise they should have put on IR.

    I think Nassib will only get better when learning playbook.
    But in the end , mike smith has really not shown me anything. I know him and koetter are friends but dang it may be time to let him go at end of season. His defense looks so vanilla (like it’s preseason all day everyday )

  16. Loyaltotheend Says:

    Just like the 5 game win streak mirage this defense sucks unless it kicks into a turnover

  17. Loyaltotheend Says:

    Can’t rely on turnovers as a formula for success

  18. miken Says:

    not great on d but have been better and have made some big stops! Even on final drive vs. phily, they made them chew up the clock. They are going to have to play better, especially when JW gets back. A lot of teams will struggle with both starting corners out… hopefully, Veta, spence and Mitch can get the line rotation going soon.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Good read Joe. Smitty simply needs to evolve as a DC. Meaning, the exotic offenses necessitate the DC to change on the fly. Smitty is still stuck in his old skl Baltimore Ravens D. Think of it this way: Big box retailers who did not change their web and online marketing presence are currently mowing their parking lots. The Amazons of the world changed the industry and the, now out of business, big box retailers did not evolve. #smittyakasportsauthorityakatoysrusakakmartakasearsakajcpennyakaETC

  20. JabooBuc Says:

    I said it before the season, if the defense is just average they will win a lot of games.

  21. The Buc Realist Says:

    The Bucs are winning with the potential of the Defense playing well in games to come!!!!!! The “real” fans don’t want this team to peak to early!!!!!!! If both sides of the ball can “fluke” /carry this team then that will get you to double digit wins!!!!!!!!!!!!! Like the “real” fans have been saying!!!! Watch out for this defense in the back half of the season!!!!!!!!!

    #trust the coaches!!!!!!!! Fix the “real” problem!!! the roster!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Not there yet Says:

    Oh my goodness please stop with the excuses. You can always tell who’s writing what articles. Everyone wanted any one of those rookies over Ryan Smith now your using it as an excuse to why the defense sucks? Your saying that the d line doesn’t have more depth and quality starters than it did last year? Mike Smith sucks and with the way the offense looks it will be the one reason this team wouldn’t meet or exceed expectations not the fact that rookies are playing. Vea is a rookie but your mentioning that he’s not playing so which is it?

  23. Mort Says:

    I’d rather they keep playing bad enough to win rather than good enough to lose…..

    Also – it’s two games. Small sample size against the division champs in their own crib, and the world champs in ours. Give it a rest.

  24. Joe Says:

    The Bucs are winning with the potential of the Defense playing well in games to come!

    Defense is not playing well (though they are pressuring the QB). Defense is making just enough plays to get the job done.

  25. bucsDE Says:

    The ability of the offense to score quickly can lead the opposing offense to turn the ball over. We have all seen a QB make an ill-advised throw because he knows that turning the ball over on downs is likely to lead to being another score down. Or the ball carrier trying being a little careless trying to get a few extra yards and having the ball stripped. A high octane offense can create recklessness in the other team.

  26. Godeep66 Says:

    Good article Joe. Smitty simply needs to evolve to match the exotic offenses that have been created to beat his Ravens of old defenses. No different that how Amazon put many big box chains out of business. You see the Sports Authorities and Toys R’Us of the world never evolved to compete from an online and web presence perspective and they are now mowing their parking lots. Heads up Smitty….the landscapers are unloading their trucks with sharpened blades on their mowers.

  27. The Buc Realist Says:

    Thx Joe!!!!!! Not only do you have me in heavy delayed moderation!!!!! But Your are not reading the posts fully!!!!!!!!!!!!!! read the full sentence!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “with the potential of the Defense playing well in games to come!”

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. JabooBuc Says:

    Short of the beginning and end of the Saints game, i have been impressed by this defense compared to what i saw last year. They are getting more pressure on the QB and the run defense has been good.

    What i especially like is that we are getting some of these rookies extensive experience early in the season while the offense is humming. At some point, this offense will struggle and the defense will need to get better. We add Beckwirth, Grimes and Vea to the rookies that have already been playing and we may have something good later in season.

  29. Broy34 Says:

    The defense is fine. Room to improve for sure but let’s not act like they’ve totally struggled. They’ve forced punts and turnovers. The defense has allowed 31 points in two first halves. The second half hasn’t been as good but it makes sense. We have an explosive offense scoring quickly. Missing the top two corners and a starting DT

  30. R.O. Says:

    Give me a break!! Turnovers are a factor in most teams wins or losses. Bucs has 2 TO’s last week as well and if they lost we would be looking at those. Joke to even say that.

  31. unbelievable Says:

    I wonder what’s up with Spence.

    Is he just getting beat our by other players, or is he battling some personal stuff? I hope it’s not the latter.

  32. unbelievable Says:

    no idea what in the world could have been flagged from my last post…

  33. Blogtalkfootball.com Says:


    During the off season, you were hoping our defense was at least average. It looks to me that they are doing way better than a #32 defense. We are forcing punts. Forcing turnovers. We have 4 sacks already after 2 games! At that pace, we should beat last year’s sack numbers by 10!

    Are they scaring opponents? Probably not. But as they gel, and we start getting some of our injured guys back, we should be average at worst. Do I wish we had a top 10 defense? Hell yeah! But I will take 2 sacks a game for now as long as we keep scoring and forcing penalties and punts on defense.

  34. rrsrq Says:

    Seriously, the 2 real turnovers happened against the Saints, we were even with the Eaglets, add in the LVD fumble recovery at the end and it looks like the Bucs are on the plus side. So I am no buying the turnovers saving the Bucs, watch the games and you will see key stops when they had to be made. I anticipate an improved defense, but how many scary offenses are out there other than a full stacked NOLA and a full stacked ATL

  35. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    How many picks did we have? All those passes being completed and no picks. Defense still giving up over 400 yards a game and 350 of that thru the air. If you can’t stop the pass teams don’t have to run. 30 points per game is a lot.