Turnovers. Untimely turnovers. Limiting turnovers.
The loss was Tampa Bay’s fifth straight and the second game in a row that the Buccaneers have notched five turnovers.
It’s starting to get ugly in Tampa, and only part of the problem is all the losing. Quarterback Josh Freeman has to get control of the football.
Freeman threw four interceptions in Tampa Bay’s Week 15 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He did the same Sunday against the Rams. Freeman’s eight picks in just seven days are more than Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Robert Griffin III have thrown all year.
And now there’s some chirping on the opposite side of the football. Veteran safety Ronde Barber didn’t flat-out throw Freeman under the bus when he spoke to the Tampa Bay Times after the game, but Barber wasn’t happy.
“You just have to keep playing,” he said. “On our side of the ball, we just have to control the things that we can control.”
Then Barber offered this dose of reality: “From a bigger perspective, if you lose the turnover battle, there’s a good chance you lose the game in this league. That’s the No. 1 correlation (to winning). We say it every week and it’s never going to change.”
Head coach Greg Schiano has run a tight ship all season long, and for the majority of the year all the players in the locker room have been on board.
But over the last two weeks there’s been some dissension in the ranks.
After last week’s game an anonymous player made a comment to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk asking if they could send the coaches back to college. There was also a sideline altercation between linebacker Adam Hayward and defensive coach Bryan Cox that was caught on film.
Barber’s pubic display of frustration is another straw that Tampa Bay can’t afford to have break the camel’s back. Barber is a seasoned veteran, a very respected leader on and off of the field. If he’s angry enough to start chirping to the media, who will be next if the team doesn’t turn things around in Week 17?
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained first-hand.