Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Commentary | There are scary truths keeping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers down


Here is the scary truth.

The Buccaneers can't seem to tackle, can't run the ball and in the past three weeks are the most penalized team in the NFL.

In their 37-31 loss to the New Orleans Saints, they were unable to record a sack in 57 pass attempts, and on the Saints' final five possessions gave up a field goal and three touchdowns, including the game-winner.

Bucs head coach Lovie Smith says, "We are getting better, if that makes any sense."

It doesn't unless you look at this team through his eyes.

Smith inherited a mess from the Schiano-Dominik reign with over paid acquisitions and under-performing draft choices.

The best thing that has happened to the Bucs is high-priced safety Dashon Goldson not playing.

Defensively, when fatigue sets in, the Bucs' desire vanishes, or so it seems.

Linebacker Lavonte David, the Bucs' second-best player behind defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, isn't buying the we-are-tired excuse.

"It's not hard at all; it's all about what we do," David said. "Defensively, we want to impose our will. Start fast defensively and try to make the offense change their minds and change their game plan."

You want to believe David, but it has gotten so bad the Mike Glennon conversation lost its wings.

The way the Bucs played Sunday, it might not matter who plays quarterback, though you can't help wonder if a mobile quarterback would've avoided Glennon's sack that turned the game New Orleans' way.

And we won't mention the Glennon's McCown-like pass that the Saints' Junior Galette dropped deep in Bucs territory.

The Bucs rank 30th out of 32 teams in yards allowed per game (412.4) and are 31st in points allowed (31.2).

The most glaring stat for the Bucs is their run game.

Where have you gone, Doug Martin?

In 2012, Martin was Greg Schiano's darling.

But this Martin is averaging 2.5 yards per carry.

The Bucs are averaging 21.2 carries per

game, the third-fewest in the NFL behind only Jacksonville and Oakland, the NFL's only two winless teams.

Anthony Collins, the Bucs high-priced offensive tackle, says the Bucs are just a breath away from turning the run game into a runaway train.

"It will be one guy this play and then one guy this play; 10 people will be doing the right thing, but it will always be one person in the running game. It works on everybody," Collins said. "Once we get everybody on the same page, you'll see a difference in us. We're very close in the run game. ... if you give Doug (Martin) some room and Bobby (Rainey) some room, man, it's going to be scary out there."

Scary for whom?

In the past three games, the Bucs have been the NFL's most penalized team, averaging 11.7 flags per game for a league-worst 91 yards per game during that stretch.

"I know what this team can be with a clean game. It's not what I would like for them to be; I know what this team can be," cornerback Johnthan Banks said. "If you take those 15 penalties (away) ... that's crazy. (If) we don't have 15 penalties, who knows how bad we could've beat those guys (Saints). We were up 11 points in the fourth quarter. We had what, 15 penalties? We're just shooting ourselves in the foot every time."

Unfortunately, they've shot the heart out of their season.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.