The Buccaneers are threatening an old and ugly NFL record.
Tampa Bay is -19 in turnover margin this season, which is not only the worst in the NFL but on pace for the worst in NFL history. If the Buccaneers continue their current pace through 16 games, they’ll finish with a turnover margin of -34. The all-time record is -30, set by the Steelers in 1965.
“Well, turnovers are killing us right now,” said coach Dirk Koetter. “We’re minus-19, we’re last in the league, 13 in the last four games, 13 turnovers and no takeaways. That’s by far the number-one thing that’s hurting our team. [We] have talked about it many times – every turnover has its own story. If there was one thing to it, it would be easy to fix. As a team, we’re turning it over too much and not getting any takeaways on the other side.”
The Buccaneers’ turnover differential is almost entirely attributable to interceptions: Their offense has thrown 19 interceptions, while their defense has only intercepted one pass all season. Fumbles have been close to a wash, with their offense losing six fumbles and their defense recovering five.
However, with Ryan Fitzpatrick remaining the starting quarterback, the Buccaneers are unlikely to break the record. Fitzpatrick has thrown interceptions on 4 percent of his passes this season. Jameis Winston has thrown interceptions on 7 percent of his passes this season. So the Bucs would be more likely to keep the interceptions going if Winston were the starter. (Winston also fumbles more often than Fitzpatrick.)
Turnovers are often inconsistent, and the Bucs are more likely to regress toward the mean for the rest of the season than they are to continue losing the turnover margin at a pace of -2 a game. But if they do keep this pace, they’ll be the worst team ever at giveaways and takeaways.