Reviewing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2009 Season

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 03: Quarterback Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hands the ball off against the Atlanta Falcons during the game at Raymond James Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

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
Points 244 30   Points 400 27
Yards 4600 28   Yards 5849 27
Cmp 279   Cmp 301
Att 524   Att 482
Pass Yards 2973 24   Pass Yards 3318 10
NY/A 5.3 26   NY/A 6.5 22
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
Y/A 4 25   Y/A 4.8 32
Sacks 33 T-13   Sacks 28 T-26

Table 1

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
Dallas Cowboys 21 15.63 5.38 34 22.56 11.44
Buffalo Bills 20 20.38 -0.38 33 16.13 16.88
New York Giants 0 26.69 -26.69 24 25.13 -1.13
Washington Redskins 13 21 -8 16 16.63 -0.63
Philadelphia Eagles 14 21.06 -7.06 33 26.81 6.19
Carolina Panthers 21 19.25 1.75 28 19.69 8.31
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
Miami Dolphins 23 24.38 -1.38 25 22.5 2.5
New Orleans Saints 7 21.31 -14.31 38 31.88 6.13
Atlanta Falcons 17 20.31 -3.31 20 22.69 -2.69
Carolina Panthers 6 19.25 -13.25 16 19.69 -3.69
New York Jets 3 14.75 -11.75 26 21.75 4.25
Seattle Seahawks 24 24.38 -0.38 7 17.5 -10.5
New Orleans Saints 20 21.31 -1.31 17 31.88 -14.88
Atlanta Falcons 10 20.31 -10.31 20 22.69 -2.69
Sum Difference     -82.38     27

Table 2

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
Dallas Cowboys 450 315.88 134.13 462 399.38 62.63
Buffalo Bills 353 340.56 12.44 438 273.88 164.13
New York Giants 86 324.88 -238.88 397 366 31
Washington Redskins 229 319.69 -90.69 277 312.38 -35.38
Philadelphia Eagles 303 321.06 -18.06 325 357.88 -32.88
Carolina Panthers 245 315.81 -70.81 322 331.06 -9.06
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
Miami Dolphins 301 349.31 -48.31 374 337.56 36.44
New Orleans Saints 219 357.75 -138.75 370 403.81 -33.81
Atlanta Falcons 318 348.88 -30.88 297 340.44 -43.44
Carolina Panthers 469 315.81 153.19 309 331.06 -22.06
New York Jets 124 252.31 -128.31 310 321 -11
Seattle Seahawks 339 356.44 -17.44 380 316.81 63.19
New Orleans Saints 439 357.75 81.25 373 403.81 -30.81
Atlanta Falcons 206 348.88 -142.88 397 340.44 56.56
Sum Difference     -629.63     237.13

Table 3

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
Dallas Cowboys 276 225.38 50.63 344 267.94 76.06
Buffalo Bills 296 184.25 111.75 220 157.19 62.81
New York Giants 58 214.06 -156.06 171 251.19 -80.19
Washington Redskins 100 207.25 -107.25 152 218.13 -66.13
Philadelphia Eagles 218 216.38 1.63 249 255.56 -6.56
Carolina Panthers 121 191 -70 55 174.94 -119.94
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
Miami Dolphins 180 234.63 -54.63 175 198.13 -23.13
New Orleans Saints 100 235.56 -135.56 187 272.19 -85.19
Atlanta Falcons 245 242.06 2.94 222 223.19 -1.19
Carolina Panthers 315 191 124 152 174.94 -22.94
New York Jets 81 153.69 -72.69 135 148.75 -13.75
Seattle Seahawks 205 245.44 -40.44 252 218.94 33.06
New Orleans Saints 263 235.56 27.44 249 272.19 -23.19
Atlanta Falcons 166 242.06 -76.06 214 223.19 -9.19
Sum Difference     -456.13     -276.94

Table 4


Buc R-Yd Opp D
Opp R-Yd Opp O
Opp Gained Avg Ru Diff1 Gained Avg Ru Diff2
Dallas Cowboys 174 90.5 83.5 118 131.44 -13.44
Buffalo Bills 57 156.31 -99.31 218 116.69 101.31
New York Giants 28 110.81 -82.81 226 114.81 111.19
Washington Redskins 129 112.44 16.56 125 94.25 30.75
Philadelphia Eagles 85 104.69 -19.69 76 102.31 -26.31
Carolina Panthers 124 124.81 -0.81 267 156.13 110.88
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
Miami Dolphins 121 114.69 6.31 199 139.44 59.56
New Orleans Saints 119 122.19 -3.19 183 131.63 51.38
Atlanta Falcons 73 106.81 -33.81 75 117.25 -42.25
Carolina Panthers 154 124.81 29.19 157 156.13 0.88
New York Jets 43 98.63 -55.63 175 172.25 2.75
Seattle Seahawks 134 111 23 128 97.88 30.13
New Orleans Saints 176 122.19 53.81 124 131.63 -7.63
Atlanta Falcons 40 106.81 -66.81 183 117.25 65.75
Sum Difference     -173.5     514.06

Table 5

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.

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