TAMPA - If last week's loss to the Los Angeles Rams was a surprise, Sunday's loss to the Broncos was a wake-up call. The Buccaneers are not a very good football team. That's the reality right now. Four weeks in, the Buccaneers have one win.
Let's reassess. Time for a little true or false, with the Carolina Panthers (1-3) on deck Monday night.
The Buccaneers season is a lost cause.
There are seven teams in the NFC with an identical record to the Buccaneers, including all three teams behind the Falcons in the NFC South. This thing is far from over. The odds are against any team making the playoffs after starting 1-3, but it's not impossible, and the Buccaneers issues are certainly correctable, especially offensively. With that said, there's really no room for error moving forward. Beat Carolina Monday, and they're back in the division race.
Jameis Winston has regressed
His quote made national headlines, but it's truly pretty telling when Dirk Koetter says he's very concerned with Winston's play so far this year. And rightfully so. The Bucs quarterback has 10 turnovers through four games, worst in the NFL. He's thrown more picks (8) through four games than he did as a rookie (7), and he's on an alarming pace turning the football over.
Jameis Winston on pace for 40 turnovers through four games.— Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat) October 3, 2016
That week one performance seems so long ago, but the warning signs have been there. Winston is a confident quarterback, which is usually a fantastic trait, but it has gotten him into some trouble. He's trying to do too much. There's no doubt he can turn it around, but it starts with cutting down on the turnovers.
The Bucs defense is the real reason for the team's struggles
You can blame Winston. You can blame Doug Martin's injury. Heck, you can even question Dirk Koetter's decision making, but the real reason the Buccaneers are struggling is because they can't stop anybody. Tampa Bay has given up an average of 32 points per game up to this point. Only the Saints are worse.
#Bucs on pace to allow team-record 512 pts this season. Only 3 teams have allowed 500 pts. Spoiler: They sucked. Combined record of 3-42-1.— Thomas Bassinger (@tometrics) October 3, 2016
Yeah, that's bad. Maybe it's an NFC South thing?
NFC South teams are four of NFL's bottom five in scoring defense: Panthers 28th, Falcons 29th, Bucs 31st, Saints 32nd. Colts spoil the run.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) October 3, 2016
There are some bright spots. Vernon Hargreaves III has been spectacular. Kwon Alexander, too. Still, that secondary has been suspect. According to Pro Football Focus, five of the Buccaneers seven defenders in pass coverage against the Broncos allowed a passer rating of over 100.00 when targeted, and a lot of that came off a rookie quarterback. They're just not getting it done defensively, and that's the main reason why they're 1-3.
Jaquizz Rodgers needs to start over Charles Sims, until Doug Martin returns
We knew Doug Martin was important to the Buccaneers success, but it's extremely evident just how valuable he is since his hamstring injury. Sims is not a feature back, nor was he expected to be. He's at his best in third-down situations, or catching the ball out of the backfield. Rodgers' playing style is nearly identical. No need for a change, even with the Bucs averaging just 3.4 yards per rush, 28th in the NFL. Sims' fumble Sunday was just plain dumb, but there's no other choice to hold down the fort until Martin returns.