Tampa Bay last started 0-6 back in 2009, when it was 0-7.
Atlanta is off to a disappointing start and had an extra week to focus on turning things around. Head coach Mike Smith said the Falcons weren't concerned about the Bucs during the bye week and noted that the coaches and players focused on themselves and what they "need to get better at."
"This is a strong locker room, these guys are not only dedicated to winning football games, but they are dedicated to one another," Smith said. "This is a very strong group and I anticipate they will come out and play very aggressive, passionate football against Tampa Bay."
The Falcons have been struggling on defense, making stops on third down, defending the pass and keeping teams from reaching the scoreboard. Before heading into the bye week, the Falcons suffered a 30-28 home loss to the New York Jets on Monday night. Atlanta erased a 17-7 halftime deficit and allowed the Jets to march into scoring territory, where Nick Folk blasted a 43-yard field goal as time expired.
That loss and the Saints' hard-luck defeat in New England on Sunday kept it a four-game difference between the teams in the NFC South. The margin could grow larger because the Falcons' offense took a tremendous hit when wide receiver Julio Jones was lost for the season with a foot injury. Jones leads the team in receptions (41) and yards (580). Atlanta still has Roddy White, who is slowly coming back from injury, Harry Douglas and newly signed wide receiver Brian Robiskie.
"We signed Brian Robiskie to replace him on our 53 man roster," Smith said last week. "Brian has played in this league, he has three or four years of experience, knows our offense, knows our verbiage. Hopefully, we can get him up to speed in a very quick fashion and get him ready to go."
Robiskie's father, Terry, is an assistant head coach and wide receivers coach for the Falcons.
"I know that father and son always speak, and I know that they kind of speak the same language," Smith said. "Even though there might be a different playbook, I'm sure that when they talk, they probably talk in the verbiage that Terry has talked to him all his life, so I think it will help."
Once White gets back to full strength the Falcons should be able to shake off this funk they're in. White said in a radio interview that it was a "big blow" to lose Jones and that the yards and plays will have to go through "other guys." Quarterback Matt Ryan is still putting up numbers no matter who is healthy and has passed for 1,649 yards with 10 TDs to three interceptions. Ryan has thrown for 300-plus yards four times in five weeks.
Ryan has faced the Bucs 10 times in his career, throwing for 2,069 yards with 10 touchdown passes and 10 INTs. The Falcons and Bucs split two meetings last season, while Tampa Bay has lost seven of the last nine in the series. The Bucs ended a four-game slide at the Dome with a 22-17 win last Dec. 30.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Falcons are hoping first-year running back Steven Jackson can make a return versus the Buccaneers and he has been sidelined since Sept. 15 because of a hamstring injury. Jackson has 77 yards on 14 carries for an Atlanta offense that is 26th in the league with just 78.4 rushing yards per game.
"We want to get Steven back as quickly as we can. He's continuing to work with our athletic performance group on the side, he hasn't been back out on the field," Smith said last week. "We will see how he is on Tuesday when we get back together. We need to get Steven back as quickly as we can."