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Buccaneers vs. Saints: Tampa Bay Should Just Give Up on December Games

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 16:  Head coach Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reacts during the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 16, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Knox BardeenNFC South Lead WriterJune 18, 2016

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have serious trouble winning in December.

Sunday’s 41-0 beatdown by the New Orleans Saints is the Bucs' fourth straight loss.

Their woes in the final month of the calendar year continue.

Last season, Tampa Bay went 0-4 in December as well, meaning the Buccaneers have lost their last seven games in December. But I’m still not done talking about end-of-the-year adversity.

You have to go all the way back to 2005 to find a December where the Buccaneers had a winning record. Since then, Tampa Bay has had two winless Decembers and has never made it over the two-win hump. Their record is 7-22 in the month of December since 2006.

Sunday’s loss was an extension of what’s gone bad recently for the Buccaneers.

Quarterback Josh Freeman posted a 37.5 quarterback rating and threw four interceptions. His 55 percent completion rate, while his best in December, is still a far cry from the 60-plus percentages he was enjoying when this team was hot directly after their Week 5 bye.

The Buccaneers signal-caller never looked comfortable with any of his receivers Sunday, especially tight end Dallas Clark and Vincent Jackson. Both receivers were targeted 12 times, but Jackson only caught six passes and Clark caught eight.

“I wouldn’t really call it a disconnect between me and the receivers," said Freeman during his postgame press conference. "It was a situation where we just had way too many turnovers especially in the red zone early. And then you compound it when they scored quick and then we get the ball back and it (a turnover) happens again."

Rookie running back Doug Martin averaged just 1.8 yards per carry on nine carries before being removed for LeGarrette Blount at the end of an unwinnable game.

Take away a 128-yard performance last week in Tampa Bay’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and Martin has had three games over the last month where he’s rushed for 3.1 yards per carry or less.

No one will be able to take away the strength of Martin’s 1,250-yard season-long performance, especially with two games left to play. But there’s room to wonder if Martin is slowing down as he makes the adjustment from the college schedule to the pro schedule.

Whatever the issues are, Tampa Bay has two more chances this season to fix them. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, both games are in the month of December.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.

Knox Bardeen is the NFC South lead writer for Bleacher Report and the author of “100 Things Falcons Fans Should Know & Do Before they Die.” Be sure to follow Knox on Twitter.

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