Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians was quick to point out why his team has had its struggles this season and brings a 3-7 record into Sunday’s game against the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“There’s no secret, it’s turnovers,” Arians said Monday to the Tampa media. “This team, we have a gift habit. We keep giving away points in games and then we try to fight our way back.”
The Bucs have lost five of their last six games, including last week’s 34-17 defeat against the Saints, and have been hurt by the play of quarterback Jameis Winston and his receivers. Winston, who has an NFL-high 18 interceptions this season, sailed one high pass against the Saints that was returned for a touchdown by safety Marcus Williams.
Tight end O.J. Howard took his eye off another Winston pass while looking for a hit from a defender and a bobbled ball turned into an interception.
“When you make those kind of mistakes, you’re not going to win against a really good football team,” Arians said. “It’s been a habit, but it’s one that we have to break.”
The Bucs are a minus-10 in turnover margin, which is 29th in the league. But the team is not devoid of offensive weapons for Winston to choose from.
Wide receivers Chris Godwin leads the team with 63 receptions and veteran playmaker Mike Evans has 58 catches for 993 yards. Both have seven touchdowns.
The Bucs don’t think the Falcons will be armed with detailed information on Winston since former head coach Dirk Koetter is now the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.
“I think, it’s a different offense,” Arians said. “He knows the guy. I would imagine he’s saying just the same old stuff. But I don’t think right now, they are changing anything defensively because they are playing really good and playing fast.”
Koetter went 19-29 as the Bucs coach from 2016-18 and also was their offensive coordinator in 2015. He discounted the connection.
“I’m worried about our team, but except for the two games a year when we play them, I’m a Jameis fan,” Koetter said.
“Division opponent on the road,” Arians said. “A team that’s similar to us. They are playing really well right now. Kind of found their stride after the open date. A lot of changes coaching-staff wise. They are playing with a lot of energy and it’s showing on tape.”
The Bucs have noticed some changes in the 1-7 Falcons vs. the 2-0 Falcons after the bye week.
“They simplified it defensively,” Arians said. “They are playing really, really fast and they are not very complicated. The front four is teeing off and doing a heck of a job. Offensively, they are moving the ball and scoring points.”
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