Just How Bad are the 49ers and Buccaneers Defenses at Generating Turnovers?

Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann

The 49ers and Buccaneers are two of the worst defenses in the 2018 NFL season, so naturally they'll face off against one another on Sunday in the city of Tampa.

In an era where the best defenses are the ones that have steered away from limiting opponents in yards in favor of takeaways, the 49ers and Buccaneers have the fewest in the league. San Francisco just barely has more takeaways than Tampa Bay, beating them 6 to 5. Making things worse is that they only have 2 interceptions on the year while the Buccaneers have 1.

Now that's a defensive stronghold.

Things don't get any better in the area of Turnover Differential, which takes a look at Takeaways minus Giveaways. For example, Chicago's defense has forced 29 takeaways while the offense has turned the ball over 15 times, so they lead the league with a turnover differential of +14.

The 49ers have a Turnover Differential of -15. San Francisco's offense has turned the ball over 20 times while the defense has forced five turnovers, which is atrocious. Fortunately for them, the Buccaneers are worse, with a Turnover Differential of -23. The defense has forced six turnovers while Tampa Bay's offense has turned the ball over 29 times.

Just to put this in perspective, the 2017 Browns finished dead last in Turnover Differential in their respective year with -28. That came from 13 turnovers forced on defense and 41 turnovers on offense. That's atrocious (The Browns are currently second in Turnover Differential this year with +12).

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has been a little conservative with his blitzes, which is holding this defense back. It doesn't help that the secondary is awful, and the pass rush has been mostly lacking.

Still, they face a Buccaneers offense that has allowed the second most QB hits thus far this season with 75 (behind Houston with 85, though it should be noted the Texans have only allowed 10 QB hits in the last five weeks). The Buccaneers offense has also allowed 31 quarterback hits in the last five weeks, tied with the Lions for the most in that span.

The defense needs to generate pressure. They can't do what they did two weeks ago against the Giants and expect to win this game, especially with a young offense on the other side of the ball. They're facing a defense that is even worse than theirs at creating turnovers, so something's gotta give in this battle of defensive incompetence.

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