Bucs struggling with third downs

TAMPA, Fla. -- If it’s third down, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense is in trouble.

At least that’s been the case in recent weeks. The Bucs have been dismal on third down.

“Third down has been an issue for sure,’’ coach Greg Schiano said Wednesday. “I think we’re 6-for-35 on the last 35 third downs. We need to be better obviously. It’s a lot of different things. If it’s one thing or one guy, you fix it. It’s been various breakdowns, various things, some good defense, but we’re going to see good defenses. We have to be better.’’

The Bucs can’t do much worse than they have been. In Sunday’s loss to San Francisco, they converted only 1 of 10 first downs. Schiano cited several reasons for the third-down woes. He pointed to protection and said that receivers sometimes have struggled to get open.

But what’s been happening on first and second down also has played a big factor on third downs.

“Third-and-8, that might not be the ideal, but you need to be able to throw the ball and catch it and complete a third-and-8,’’ Schiano said. “That’s not abnormal in the National Football League. We need to do a better job.’’