Arians: the Bucs should have been 10-6

by Gary Shelton on December 24, 2019

in general

Todd Bowles' defense has improved as the season progressed./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

Down the stretch, they were better. But head coach Bruce Arians wanted more from his Tampa Bay Bucs.

He wanted to be good.

"This was a playoff team (Houston Texans) and our defense held them to one of the lowest [total yards] they’ve ever been held to," Arians said. "So, if you don’t turn the ball over and give them seven points – just the giving of seven – you win the game and you beat a playoff team. It is very frustrating because I think this team was capable of being at least 10-6 – at least.”

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Leftwich had a great day calling plays./TIM WIRT

Alas, the record says otherwise. The early season struggles in the secondary, and Jameis Winston's never-ending interceptions, doomed this team.

“You don’t learn anything by burying your head in the sand and hiding," Arians said. "I think back to Peyton [Manning]. I think he threw four picks back in New England and he really wanted to come out of the game. I said, ‘Nope, we’re going no-huddle. Just go learn something.’ He went right down the field and scored us a touchdown, so it’s just a matter of learning how to do it, continuing to do it [and] getting confidence in it. But you really have to learn how to protect the football.” 

Winston should benefit from the off-season, Arians said.

“I think that’s the best lesson you can have," Arians said. "You’ve been watching someone else. You’ve been watching Carson (Palmer) run the offense or whatever, but now you see yourself do it.”

Winston has thrown 22 of his interceptions at home.

Another off-season challenge, Arians said, will be to keep the defense together.

“Just that if we can keep this defense together, we can be really, really good defensively for a long time because it’s a very young group and the older guys are young," Arians said. "They are guys that don’t age. It would be huge for us to keep them together and build off the way we are finishing these last six or seven weeks, (with) the growth in the secondary especially.”

Both defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich may draw interest in the head coaching vacancies. Arians thinks Leftwich is ready.

“I think so," he said. "To me, for a young coach it’s who you hire. Who are going to hire? Are you going to run the offense? I think with the right people and the right GM and ownership he’s more than ready.”

The Bucs conclude their season Sunday at 1 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium.

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