Skip to main content

Bruce Arians made it clear in regard to what he wanted to see improve the most after the Bucs' Bye Week.

"Discipline," he told reporters Monday after the loss to the Saints.

Well, the Bucs were anything but disciplined during Sunday's 29-19 loss to the Washington Football Team. Tampa Bay couldn't even run one play before making a mistake as the refs flagged O.J. Howard for one of the worst false starts I've ever seen on the very first play of the game.

The mistakes came in bunches after that. First, it was Leonard Fournette's dropped pass that led to Jaelon Darden's dropped pass or whatever it was that resulted in Tom Brady's first interception. Then came Brady's second interception that was just a bad throw to Mike Evans. It's hard to forget Jamel Dean's missed tackle on 3rd and 14 that gave Washington a manageable 4th and 3 that was converted on its first touchdown drive of the game and pushed the lead to 13-0.

And we're not even two minutes into the second quarter, yet.

Then there was Giovani Bernard's dropped pass on 3rd and goal that forced the Bucs to kick a field goal instead of scoring a touchdown or at least giving them the choice to go for it on what would've likely been a 4th and goal from the Washington 2, at minimum. And then the Bucs had to watch Ndamukong Suh's get flagged for a neutral zone infraction that was one-upped by Will Gholston's offside call on 3rd and 2 right before the two-minute warning in the red zone. Both penalties were on third down and they both kept Washington's drive alive, which in turn gave Washington the opportunity to extend it's 13-3 lead to 16-3 before halftime.

Finally, we've made it to halftime.

I'm not going to go through and individually list/describe the second-half mistakes because we all have lives to get back to and frankly, there was a whole game's worth of mistakes in the first half.

The point is clear, though: The Bucs simply can't stay out of their own way. 

Read More

Tampa Bay had no business losing to Washington on Sunday. Sure, Washington has enough players in the right places to beat a team like the Bucs and it played well enough to win, but Washington needed serious help from the Bucs in the form of mistakes, penalties, etc. to even have a chance at actually winning the game.

That's exactly what Ron Rivera's squad received. Call it an early Christmas present, I guess. 

It wasn't just the fact that Bucs made mistakes. These were bad mistakes. All four of the Bucs' first half penalties were pre-snap penalties. Washington did play a good game in an overall aspect, but Washington didn't force the Bucs into these plays. Tampa Bay did it to themselves. For all the talk about fixing the mistakes, turnovers, and penalties leading up to this game, there wasn't really much shown in regard to actually fixing these problems.

It's not the younger players or the guys who have come in to replace missing veterans over the last few weeks, either. It's key guys and veterans like Fournette, Brady, Suh, Dean, White (in previous examples), and Gholston who are contributing to losses.

That simply can't happen.

And what makes the situation even more frustrating is the Bucs coaches know that this is a problem. And they know it's costing them games. 

"That’ll be a big focus especially going into the second half of the year," Todd Bowles said in regard to reducing penalties on Thursday. "Just like the first half, we just can’t have them because we understand that helps us beat ourselves.”

You can't fight yourself and the other team and expect to win many games in the NFL. The Bucs need to figure out how to control it and they need to figure it out fast. They're in November and it doesn't matter how easy their remaining schedule is because as we saw Sunday, this team doesn't stand a chance if it doesn't start fixing these issues.

Stay tuned to AllBucs for further coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and other NFL news and analysis. Follow along on social media at @SIBuccaneers on Twitter and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sports Illustrated on Facebook.