Watching the game this weekend I made a comment that the Bucs have lost games in the third quarter. We were consistently giving up big plays and long drives in the 2nd half.Going into half-time we have not been out of a game. The Eagles created the most separation (14 points). Two TD's certainly isn't too much to come back from. I am about to go into some numbers. We are going to look at Yards Per Play / Half. Before I took this on I made a hypothesis that it's going to be far higher in the second half. Does the evidence support this?
Because goal-line plays can skew the data, we will remove those from the equation. We will also remove turnovers and penalties as plays. Not because they aren't important, they are, but I want to know how our defense is performing on the 'average' play. Some things that can skew this 'study' are game plans, score and second-half strategies. We will go game by game.
Game 1 - Dallas Cowboys
First Half - 5.8 YPP / 30 Plays
Second Half - 12.8 YPP / 23 Plays
Game 2 - Buffalo
First Half - 6.8 / 30 plays
Second Half - 8.09 / 33 plays
Game 3 - NYG
First Half - 5.5 (I will admit in this game, while their YPP is rather low, they sustained long drives in the first half)
Second Half - 5.1 / 34 (Much of their 2nd team was in during the 4th Qtr)
Game 4 - Washington
First Half - 3.6 / 29 Plays
Second Half - 7.0 / 27 Plays
Game 5 - Philthy
First Half - 11 YPP / 20 Plays
Second Half - 3.9 / 29 Plays
Reason #47 to hate Philthy - They are ruining my 'study.'
Game 6 -Carolina Panthers
First Half - 5.1 YPP / 29 Plays
Second Half - 5.89 / 29 Plays
First Half - 5.3
Second Half - 7.13 (Despite Philthy's Best Effort to destroy it)
That's almost a 2 yard difference per play. Again, long drives and big plays skew it both way, but they kind of cancel each other out. If you take out the two more dominant offenses (6 and 7th ranked) who had our number the entire game it shows a clear break-down of defense in the second half. So why is that?
I have a couple of theories I am working on.
A) Just as it does in college, size of the front 7 matters. Hayes, Black, Adams and Hovan are all fairly light. I am working on some research to see if the same theory that FSUncensored (thought it wont be as in-depth) has fits in the NFL.
B) Our defense is out-conditioned. However, in general teams (there are some players who don't live up to this) are equally conditioned in the NFL.
C) Strength / Talent
D) Gameplan. How does our gameplan change? Do we become less aggressive? Are we not making adjustments? If we are not making adjustments, our defense is being outcoached.
Whatever the reason, we can't reasonably expect to win games when folding on defense in the 2nd half. One of my favorite sites on SBNation is ThirdQuarterCollapse (The Magic Blog). The Magic were infamous for squandering away large halftime leads in the third quarter. While the Bucs have only led in one game (Washington) they have squandered away hopes of coming back by allowing long drives, big plays for touchdowns and terrible defense.