After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the defending NFC-champion Los Angeles Rams 55-40 in a shootout Sept. 29, they appeared headed in the right direction.
That surprising win boosted their record to 2-2 under first-year coach Bruce Arians.
But since, the Bucs have dropped five of the past six games, and are tied with the Falcons for last place in the NFC South at 3-7.
What happened to this once promising season?
Here’s what Arians had to say about the downfall and the Falcons in a conference call with the Atlanta media Wednesday:
Q. What has been the common thread to the five of six losses since the big 55-40 win over the Rams?
A. I think the biggest thing is turnovers. We have way, way too many turnovers and putting ourselves in a hole and then we try to fight our way back. That’s been the biggest issue.
Q. How are you all trying to address the turnovers?
A. That’s the biggest thing. (Bad throws, bobbled balls and wrong routes). It’s not all of the quarterback, but some of it is. Guys around him have to do better. We are not creating enough turnovers defensively to offset it. That’s the biggest problem, but it is a collection of guys.
Q. How is Ronald Jones playing at running back?
A. He’s improved greatly. He’s a threat every time he gets his hands on the ball. He’s starting to show up in the passing game. He’s worked hard on catching balls after practice so we’ve been able to use him more.
Q. How’s Cameron Brate playing for you in the shadow of wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans? (He had 10 catches for 73 yards vs. the Saints.)
A. New Orleans did a lot of double coverage stuff on the outside, so the inside was open. Cam showed up big time, but both of those outside guys are playing really, really well.
Q. What’s your view of the Falcons’ turnaround on defense?
A. Just looking at those last two games, they look a little different than previous. Less man-to-man. More zone coverage. The pass rush has been outstanding the last two games. It’s a good combination of coverage and pass rush.
Q. You’ve worked with some of the (NFL’s) great quarterbacks. What’s your respect level for Matt Ryan and what he’s done here in Atlanta?
A. At the highest. Always been a fan. I think he’s one of the premier pocket passer and has been an outstanding player for a long time.
Q. With both of the wide receiver tandems out of the field, what type of game could this turn into?
A. Well, you would expect it to be pretty good. But anytime that you think that, the defenses show up. It should be a whale of a game and a very exciting one.
Q. How’s (former Falcons quarterback) Byron Leftwich doing as the offensive coordinator for the Bucs?
A. He’s doing fantastic. He’s doing a great, great job. He has a great rapport with our players. He’s an excellent teacher. I think he’s done a great job with Jameis (Winston) especially.
Q. How’s special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong doing for the Bucs this season?
A. He’s doing fantastic. You know, he was one my captains at Temple, way back in the ’80s. We’re excited to have him with us. Our special teams are playing really solid.
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