For the third installment in the series of NFL Season Reviews, we will take a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2009 Season. After an offseason of drastic changes in both coaching and player personnel, the Bucs finished the season at 3-13. After an 0-7 start, where they were outscored 93 to 203, they showed considerable improvement, tightening the points gap to 148 to 197 in their last nine games. Early on, it appeared quite possible that they would repeat the Lions’ 0-16 record from 2008, but they won their 8th game and then 2 of the final 3 games, showing that perhaps there is a bright future for new Head Coach Raheem Morris and rookie QB Josh Freeman. With that brief recap, let’s get into the statistical review.
These posts follow a set formula, which is described in this paragraph. First, we will look at the team’s Offensive and Defensive values and ranks for total yards, points, passing and rushing. This will give a general feel for the team’s season. Next, we have a set of tables that compares the team’s points scored and allowed as well as their total yards, and passing and rushing yards, gained and allowed for each game. These values will be compared with the respective opponent’s corresponding averages, with the differences between the team’s value and the opponent’s average calculated. Finally, I included a sum of the differences for the entire season. This should give a good indication of how the team’s various units performed with respect to their opposition as well as which units performed better or worse. (Note: All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference.com)
With that background description, let’s see how the Buccaneers performed this season. First, we’ll look at their raw numbers in terms of offensive and defensive yards and league rankings.
|Team Offense||Value||Rank||Team Defense||Value||Rank|
|Pass Yards||2973||24||Pass Yards||3318||10|
|Pass TD||18||21||Pass TD||28||26|
|Pass INTs||29||31||Pass INTs||19||9|
|Rush Yards||1627||23||Rush Yards||2531||32|
|Rush TD||5||31||Rush TD||16||21|
As we’ve seen with the Rams and Lions, both units struggled for the Buccaneers. Also, similar to the Rams, one bright spot for the team was the Bucs’ pass defense. They ranked 10th in the league in passing yards allowed and 9th in interceptions. That perhaps gave opposing teams even more incentive to run the ball, which the Buccaneers were unable to stop, ranked last in the league in rushing defense.
Now that we’ve looked at the general overview, let’s look at the game by game statistical tables. Table 2 contains the Buccaneers’ points scored and allowed in each game next to the opponents’ average defensive points allowed and average offensive points scored. It also shows the Bucs’ points scored minus the opponent’s average points allowed and their points allowed minus the opponent’s average points scored. For the Diff1 column, a positive number would be good, while for the Diff2 column, a negative number would be good.
|Buc Pts||Opp D||Opp Pts||Opp O|
|Opp||Score||Avg Pt||Diff1||Score||Avg Pt||Diff2|
|New York Giants||0||26.69||-26.69||24||25.13||-1.13|
|New England Patriots||7||17.81||-10.81||35||26.69||8.31|
|Green Bay Packers||38||18.56||19.44||28||28.81||-0.81|
|New Orleans Saints||7||21.31||-14.31||38||31.88||6.13|
|New York Jets||3||14.75||-11.75||26||21.75||4.25|
|New Orleans Saints||20||21.31||-1.31||17||31.88||-14.88|
For the entire season, Tampa Bay did not perform too bad compared to their opponents’ average points scored and allowed. Particularly on defense, they only allowed 27 more points than opponents’ offenses averaged scoring for the entire season. We also see the improvement throughout the year, as the defensive points margins were greater at the beginning of the year. In fact, by the end of the year, they were regularly holding opposing offenses below their season average for points scored. Offensively, the Bucs were consistently below the opposing defense’s average for points allowed. Next, let’s compare their performance in terms of yards with opponents’ averages.
|Buc Yds||Opp D||Opp Yds||Opp O|
|Opp||Gained||Avg Yd||Diff1||Gained||Avg Yd||Diff2|
|New York Giants||86||324.88||-238.88||397||366||31|
|New England Patriots||240||320.19||-80.19||414||397.31||16.69|
|Green Bay Packers||279||284.44||-5.44||404||379.06||24.94|
|New Orleans Saints||219||357.75||-138.75||370||403.81||-33.81|
|New York Jets||124||252.31||-128.31||310||321||-11|
|New Orleans Saints||439||357.75||81.25||373||403.81||-30.81|
Again, we see that the offense struggled more than the defense. The defensive yards differential was more consistent than points, but the defense did improve after the first two weeks of the season. The offense consistently gained below their opponents average yards allowed.
Finally, let’s break the yardage review down further. The next two table show Tampa Bay’s passing yardage and rushing yardage, respectively, compared to their opponents’ averages.
|Buc P-Yd||Opp D||Opp P-Yd||Opp O|
|Opp||Gained||Avg Pa||Diff1||Gained||Avg Pa||Diff2|
|New York Giants||58||214.06||-156.06||171||251.19||-80.19|
|New England Patriots||151||209.69||-58.69||307||277.25||29.75|
|Green Bay Packers||198||201.13||-3.13||234||261.25||-27.25|
|New Orleans Saints||100||235.56||-135.56||187||272.19||-85.19|
|New York Jets||81||153.69||-72.69||135||148.75||-13.75|
|New Orleans Saints||263||235.56||27.44||249||272.19||-23.19|
|Buc R-Yd||Opp D||Opp R-Yd||Opp O|
|Opp||Gained||Avg Ru||Diff1||Gained||Avg Ru||Diff2|
|New York Giants||28||110.81||-82.81||226||114.81||111.19|
|New England Patriots||89||110.5||-21.5||107||120.06||-13.06|
|Green Bay Packers||81||83.31||-2.31||170||117.81||52.19|
|New Orleans Saints||119||122.19||-3.19||183||131.63||51.38|
|New York Jets||43||98.63||-55.63||175||172.25||2.75|
|New Orleans Saints||176||122.19||53.81||124||131.63||-7.63|
In these two tables, I think we get a good idea of where the Bucs’ weaknesses and strengths lie. Their strength really is in pass defense. For the season, they actually held their opponents to below their average outputs. And, although their rush defense was last in the league, even there we see significant improvement. In the first 6 games, 3 opponents gained over 100 rushing yards above their average for the season. After that, only one team gained more than 60 rushing yards above their average the year. Still not what one would call exceptable, but an improvement. In terms of offense, the Bucs passing offense was the greater weakness. With a rookie QB starting the latter portion of the season, one would expect improvement in this area through experience.
So, based on these numbers, the Buccaneers greatest need is in the rush defense. If they are unable to get an elite DT (Suh or McCoy) with the 3rd pick, they may just go with the best player available. While rush defense is their top need, it will likely take more than just one player to provide significant improvement there. And, they do still need considerable help on offense as well. Still, they probably hope that a top DT is there at the 3rd spot in the draft. Otherwise, they’ll be looking to shore up the run defense through a couple of picks.