Three Major Issues for Lovie Smith’s Buccaneers

NFL NEWS: Lovie Smith

Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith has some major obstacles to overcome to make progress this season. Here’s a look at his biggest concerns.

Penalties

The Bucs are the fifth most penalized offensive unit in the NFL with 42 flags for 318 yards, which is good for 13th most yards. The defense is the 11th most penalized in the league with 35 flags for 345 yards, which is good for sixth most yards. Combined, the Bucs average 8.4 penalties a game which ties the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets for sixth worst in the league.

They were flagged 15 times for 113 yards, alone in Sunday’s game at New Orleans against the Saints. Two offensive holding penalties, a false start and an inexcusable delay of game penalty stalled crucial drives that would have helped the Bucs contain the Saints in the fourth quarter. The Bucs’ ineptitude of keeping the momentum allowed the Saints to overcome an 11-point deficit and win in overtime 37-31.

Defense

The Bucs are 30th ranked defense in the league giving up an average of 412.4 yards a game. While being routed on the road by the Atlanta Falcons didn’t help, the unit’s surrendered 156 points which is second worst to the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ 169 points.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, the former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, finished 2013 with the second worst rank surrendering an average of 397.6 yards a game and worst overall in points given up with 480. Only the Dallas Cowboys gave up worse with 415.3 yards a game.

Frazier’s first year with the Vikings, when he was defensive coordinator, finished with than a less-than-impressive 20th ranking surrendered an average of 338.1 yards a game while only surrendering 311 points, good for 12th overall.

While the the Bucs suffered injuries and it’s Frazier’s first year with the team, keep in mind that Tony Dungy‘s Bucs in 1996 finished 11th in yards surrendered with an average of 300.9 a game and a 6-10 record. The 1996 Bucs also surrendered 293 points which was tied eighth overall with the Oakland Raiders.

When it comes to sacks and interceptions, the current Bucs are ranked at the middle with nine sacks (tied for 18th) and four INTs (tied for 15th).

Perhaps in the next draft, Smith and general manager Jason Licht should consider dedicating some of the picks to the defense.

Passing

The Bucs are picking up some steam with quarterback Mike Glennon back under center. With quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo as the interim offensive coordinator with Jeff Tedford on medical leave, stability is always in question when you’re the 30th ranked offensive in the league at a paltry 295.4 yards per game. Only the Jaguars and the coaching void of the Raiders are worse. The Bucs currently is above the passing cellar with 205 yards a game, good for 29th in the league and better than the 176.2 yard average finishing dead last in 2013.

The sky’s the limit for Glennon while Josh McCown‘s thumb is “recovering.” If Glennon can stop making rookie mistakes, he may yet lead the Bucs to another victory against the Baltimore Ravens. If Glennon is successful against the Ravens like he was against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it would be much harder justifying reinserting McCown as starter.

If Arroyo can solidify Glennon as a competent starter who can help set up the run, his future in the NFL might be brighter than Tedford’s at this point.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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