TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost three of their past four games, which eliminated them from playoff contention. Lovie Smith knows the main reason why: The team has caused just one turnover over those four games.
"Look at the last four games, we've had one," Smith said Thursday. "It's just not how it works, not how it works around any football team that I've been on. You need to finish strong, get more at the end and find a way to take the ball away. You start checking off things to improve on in 2016, things we have to do a better job of in 2016 is that -- taking the ball away."
The Smith brand of football is not extremely complicated to explain: Don't turn the ball over on offense and create turnovers on defense. During his nine years in Chicago, Smith's teams never had fewer than 28 takeaways in year. This team has a paltry 21.
Smith has been pounding the message since his arrival in 2014. The team's minus-1 turnover margin is not good enough. The staff is preaching it but the players haven't been able to get it done.
When Tampa Bay has won the turnover battle during games this year, it is 4-0. In games in which the turnover ratio is equal or negative, the Bucs are 2-8.
The Bucs could get a chance Sunday against the Bears, who have a minus-4 turnover margin, which is 23rd in the league.
"We've been moaning and groaning about that one," Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "This is the week to do something about it. One in the last four weeks, it's hurt us, too. We have to get back to taking the ball away. It definitely helps us. It helps our team and this has to be the week we get it done. We have to get that turned around."