TAMPA, Fla. – The Bucs, after a 3-1 start, have lost three games in a row. Bucs head coach Todd Bowles says it’s not a matter of playing with urgency. It’s stop making so many mistakes.
“You don’t want to say urgency, because we play with urgency,” Bowles said. “We’ve got to play smarter.”
The Bucs are now a half-game behind the Saints and Falcons for first place in the NFC South. One of the biggest problems the Bucs have had is starting off so slowly on offense. In seven games this season the Bucs are averaging 1.9 points in the first quarter.
“You look at the film on some of these first drives that we’ve had and some of the slow first halves overall shooting ourselves in the foot,” Bucs QB Baker Mayfield said. “Whether it’s one guy off in the run game. Having a penalty in the run game. Not hitting the third down conversion on my part, just being on the same page. it’s all things in our control.”
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Tampa Bay is facing a Houston team with an identical 3-4 record and a rookie quarterback in CJ Stroud, who quite frankly has not played like a first year NFL QB. Bucs passing game coordinator/defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers says it’s impressive how the Texans are using Stroud.
“When you play some young quarterbacks, it’s run, run, throw,” Rodgers said. “With this guy (Stroud) watching him on film, you get the whole gamut. He’s not just throwing flat routes. He’s throwing over the middle. He’s throwing it deep. He’s utilizing all of his weapons and then he makes plays with his feet if he has to.”
Early in the season, the Bucs, with a new offensive system, weren’t making as many mistakes, especially on the road, like in Minnesota or in New Orleans. Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales is trying to figure out why the Bucs have been having false starts by the offensive lineman lately.
“I really don’t know,” Canales said. Anytime you change from one play to another, their brains have to click to something new. That does create a little bit of indecision and all of that. It’s something that you have to get comfortable being in those unfortunate spots and then work together that way.”
Six of the Bucs’ next eight games, including this one, are on the road. The Bucs better figure out these problems soon, or it will be a lost season.
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