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A look at the Bucs after Week 14

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1-12.  That's the number that seems to matter the most to anyone you talk to these days.  Its the anti-badge of honor, placing us firmly in the race for the #1 pick.  And as of now, we can't even get that right.  While the record is certainly important, how we are getting that record is just as important, if not more so.  It's very easy to judge based on results, to look at the final product and make a determination.  But an individual result can be influenced by a number of variables.  What we should be looking at are the processes, how we are getting there.  A 1-12 season can be a good thing if a structure is being formed, habits (good) are being developed and the Bucs are setting things up for an extended playoff run every year.

This has been my contention all year, that while the record may not be sparkling, the preparation and development should be.  After all, we watched Dungy put a structure in place and while it didn't yield immediate results, he set the foundation for the Bucs of the late 90's that we all enjoyed.  So while things appear bleak on some fronts, look past the record, past the window dressing and hopefully we see a new foundation being laid.

With that being said, lets take a look at each unit for the Bucs, advanced stat style.  For those who either don't like stats, or have never seen these before, I encourage you to jump on in and if you don't understand, ask questions!  That's what we're here for. 

We'll start with the offensive stats, and I mean stats of the offense because all of these numbers are pretty obnoxious.  As always, we want these numbers to positive and to be high. 

  Team DVOA PASS Rank Rush Rank
28 TB -20.10% -20.90% 27 -5.50% 25

And off we go.  Working from right to left we can see that the Bucs run offense ranks right towards the bottom of the league.  Sadly, that's not a surprise as we fail to commit to the run, and when we do run, our OL works like a revolving door, letting defenders into the backfield more often than not.  The run offense is fairly close to "0" or average, but we still aren't even a "league average" run offense.

The pass offense is atrocious.  Ranked a bit worse than the run defense they (the passing offense) are 20% worse than the average passing offense when adjusted for opponent and situation.  I'd venture a guess that 0 passing TDs and 8 interceptions the last two games haven't helped much.  This seems to be a failure in every regard.  The results are obviously bad, but the processes seem to be just as bad.  Non-varied playcalls, staring down receivers, lack of attention to detail, regression dominating progression etc.

Lastly, the full numbers show that we are about 20% worse than the average offense.  Only a few teams below us (St Louis, Kansas City, Oakland, and Detroit) and that is somewhat surprising given the money we committed to the offensive side of the ball.  I understand Freeman is a rookie, but with Caddy, Ward, Graham, Clayton, K2, AB, Joseph and Faine all earning big bucks, this is unacceptable.  Lets hope that the right processes are being put in place for not only our rookie QB to succeed, but for the offense as a whole.   A team with average talent and good fundamentals, processes and foundations can be just as successful as a team with better talent that is lazy, unmotivated and going through the motions.  Our high paid players need to get it in gear, and fast.

Our offensive line, once thought to be the strength of team has been disappointing to say the least.  They were slightly worse than average last year, lets see where they stack up through 14 weeks this year.  It's also key to remember that they've juggled two blocking schemes this year already.  Not good.

  Team ALY RB Yds Power Rank
30 TB 3.57 3.82 69% 9

The ALY is still woefully below league average.  A bright spot, we're getting better at the power run statistic (think smash mouth football, short yardage, etc).  This has been helped a bit by Freeman and our ability to call the QB sneak on 3rd/4th and short.  Of course, the Bucs have had trouble getting to 3rd and short, but when we get there, we're top 10 thus far.  The holy grail for running backs has always been 4 yards per carry, and the Bucs are falling just shy in that category.

Team 10+ Rank Stuffed Rank
TB 16% 19 21% 24

We're actually right in the middle of the pack for 10+ yard from scrimmage yardage.  I don't recall too many long runs by Buc's running backs, but it seems we're about average (yay?)  That stat measures the percentage of rushing yards that occur 10+ yards from the line of scrimmage.  The stat that infuriates me the most is the stuffed %.  One out of every 5 of our runs are stopped behind the line of scrimmage, ranking us in the bottom of the league.  I don't care if you have Walter Payton, Adrian Peterson, Barry Sanders, and Chris Johnson's genetically engineered love child as a running back, if you get hit in the backfield on 20% of your carries, you aren't going anywhere.

Lastly, lets look at our running plays and see where they are most successful.  We will be using ALY (adjusted line yards) which feeds off of the offensive line. 

 
TEAM Left End Rank Right End Rank
30
TB 3.17 25 1.98 31
 

In short, we are awful when running any type of stretch or pitch plays that are supposed to go outside the tackles.  This means either our line can't set the edge or our tight ends are miserable at blocking.  Take your pick.   And if you can stomach it, just think for a second what our right end runs look like.  1.98 ALY, that is awful (and remarkably, there's a team that's worse).

 
TEAM Left Tack Rank Middle Rank Right Tack Rank
30
TB 5.13 3 3.28 30 4.86 3
 

A bit more encouraging here, minus the runs right up the gut.  Our line apparently responds well to running off tackle, ranking 3rd in the league on each side.  Up the middle or off guard?  Not so much luck.  ALY is not able to account for FBblocks, nor is it able to fully comprehend pulling lineman to make a play work. 

So now that we know how we do running in certain areas of the field, lets look at how often we run certain directions.  This accounts for all carries by the running back (or full back). 

 

  Team Left End Left Tack Middle Right Tack Right End
28
TB 8% 11% 61% 13% 7%

 Talk about frustrating to see.  As you can see by looking at the last few charts, the Bucs run up the middle or off guard the most (61% of the time) and rank 30thgoing that direction with 3.28 ALY.  Doesn't seem like a real recipe for success.  We go off tackle (our strength according to ALY) a total of 24% of the time, with 15% going off the ends, another weak point.  In plain English, we don't run much, but when we do, we go up the gut a majority of the time which is where we are statistically our weakest. 

Still with me?  If you're anything like me you're sick of looking at the numbers for the offense.  Fair enough, lets get to the other side of the ball and check out the defensive numbers, starting with the overall defense and their numbers.  Defensive stats are the opposite of offensive, meaning we want these to be negative.

  Team DVOA Pass Rank Rush Rank
29 TB 14.00% 21.80% 26 7.80% 28

 Nowhere close.  We're ranked 29th in the NFL in overall DVOA on defense.  The other disconcerting figure that we've talked about before is that we are just as bad against the pass as we are against the run, ranked in the mid to high 20's in each.  That's tough to take, knowing that opponents can have their way with us however they so choose.  The old Tampa Two days saw us get gashed by physical backs, but we generally could keep the passing game in check.  Now it seems that opponents can just flip a coin and pass or run based on that coin flip with equal success either way.

 

  Team ALY RB Yds Power Rank
25 TB 4.32 4.8 78% 32

 Not only does our run defense rank towards the bottom in overall numbers, but even in the broken down numbers we are struggling.  4.32 ALY given up, along with 4.8 YPC.  In short yardage situations, we rank dead last in the league.  Teams convert almost 80% of those situations.  Wonder what most opponents are gonna do on 3rd and short from here on out?  This is probably a direct result of how small we are up front and our run cloggers just can't hold up in short yardage situations. 

Team 10+ Rank Stuffed Rank
TB 21% 24 14% 29

And to add to the misery, here is our defense when discussing runs 10+ yards from the LOS.  The last figure is how often we hit a RB in the backfield and stop a play.  If you recall, our offensive line's stuffed number was 21% but our defensive line (statistically towards the bottom here) only stops 14% of the run plays in the backfield.  This is a bigger deal than we might think.  By stopping a running back in the backfield, particularly on first down you put the defense behind schedule (2nd and long etc).  The Bucs just dont do that on defense.

As we did with the OL, lets see how the DL does with directional runs and where our strengths might be.

TEAM Left End Rank Right End Rank
TB 3.42 10 3.44 9

Not surprising, but any run that is stretched out seems to play into our hands.  We've always been a fast defense, and one that pursues well.  The Bucs DL ranks in the top 10 on runs that are pushed to the outside on either side of the line.

TEAM Left Tack Rank Middle Rank Right Tack Rank
TB 4.29 22 4.65 30 4.11 13

Gah.  Runs off left tackle and up the gut seem to be almost guaranteed success for our opponents.  The ALY is right above league average off left tackle and up the gut, almost a half yard better than league average.  This is no secret for those that have watched the Bucs over the years.  We've always been very susceptible to runs up the middle, particularly by physical backs.  Brandon Jacobs, having a pretty bad year had success against us up the middle. 

So how do teams attack us in the run game?

  Left End Left Tack Middle Right Tack Right End
TB 10% 12% 59% 10% 9%

No surprise here.  The opposing coordinators have done their homework.  They see that we give up a good bit of yardage up the gut, and that's exactly where they attack.  Good for them, bad for us.  They also run the least to where we are the most successful, the ends, although I'd venture a guess that most teams run more plays designed to go up the middle as opposed to being stretched out.

A new look from FootballOutsiders is their look at how teams receivers, tight ends and backs fare against a defense.  We'll quickly look at how opposing WR's have done against us, broken down by #1 receivers, #2, and then anything higher (3+).  As with every defensive numbers, negative is good.

 

Team DVOA #1 Rk DVOA #2 Rk DVOA #3+ Rk
TB 1.50% 15 20.30% 28 13.60% 24

Not too shabby against #1 wide receivers, but not as good as I had thought.  Talib is doing a good job here and is often left on an island against the opposing team's top WR.  We're right about league average here, which is serviceable, but has room for improvement.

Against #2 WR's we get hammered.  The combo of Mack/Roberson/Barber would seem to be the culprits here.  Ranked 28th in the league against #2 WR's, not where we want to be.  Additionally, we are 24th against #3 receivers.  It seems odd that we have relative success against #1's but get hammered by other guys.  This either lends more credence to how well Talib is doing or that we have a falloff against the other players.

Team DVOA TE Rk DVOA RB Rk
TB 9.90% 20 -14.50% 6

Against opposing tight ends, we're ranked worse than half the league and worse than an average defense against tight ends.  Unfortunately, our 20th ranking is a "bright spot" for the defense.  But if you want something to celebrate, check out the numbers against opposing running backs.  6th in the league.  Lets just end the defensive analysis here.

A unit that doesn't get much time, but deserves to is our special teams unit.  We've seen some injuries lately with Clifton sitting on IR and Stroughter missing a game, but overall I would think our return game has performed decently.  Field goal kicking, kickoffs and punting are another story. 

    DVOA FG Kickoff Kick Ret Punt Punt Ret Hidden Rank
14
TB 0.80% -13.2 3.4 11.2 -0.3 2.6 -5.9 24

Overall, the unit has been just about league average, with much of the downfall handled by the field goal kickers we've had this year.  Since we haven't looked at special teams here before, I'll include the definitions, straight from FootballOutsiders.  FG's, kickoffs, punts and returns are not graded on a "DVOA" basis, but instead on a points basis.

an estimate of how many points, compared to league average, each team receives from the five elements of special teams: field goals, kickoffs, kick returns, punts, punt returns.

To further break it down, here is the analysis on grading of field goals.

Field goal rating compares each field goal to the league-average percentage of field goals from that distance

Not hard to see why the Bucs "lost" just over 13 points this year based on field goals kicked.  A handful of misses will do that to you. 

The next four categories (kicks, punts, and returns for each) are measured as such.

Yards of field position from the other four elements of special teams are translated into points using a method that gives each yard line a point value based on the average next score an NFL offense is worth from that point on the field. Kickoffs and punts are based on net yardage. Kickoff returns and punt returns are judged on return yardage only. These numbers are then adjusted for weather and altitude based on stadium type (cold, warm, dome, Denver) and week.

Everything but punts has yielded positive returns.  And even with punts being negative, it's pretty close to being neutral.  Our kickoff return team has been fairly good in comparison, translating into points, or the opportunity for points more frequently than other phases of the game.

Lastly, hidden yardage.  The easiest way to describe this is imagine we get the ball at the 20 and go 3 and out with no yards gained (shocking, I know).  We punt to the 50 where it is fair caught.  The other team goes 3 and out from there with no yards gained.  They then punt to the 10 yard line where we fair catch it.  We've just lost 10 yards of field position that won't show up, but is seen as hidden yardage.  That's a brief, dirty example but it gets the point across. 

FO describes it as

HIDDEN represents the advantage teams have received from elements of special teams generally out of their control: opposing field goals, kickoff distance, and punt distance. It is listed as points worth of estimated field position is ranked from the team with the biggest advantage to the team with the biggest disadvantage

We're ranked 24th here and it's not hard to see why.  Not many field goals missed against us, touch backs, and opposing team's punters having a bigger leg than a 3rd grader.  This may not seem like a big deal, but you constantly hear about field position battles, and that is yet another part of the game the 2009 Bucs are losing.

Hopefully you made it all the way to the end.  These stats, these "results" are just what we see happen.  Obviously, none of these results are that great.  It's been a bleak year and these numbers, as well as traditional stats back that up.  All we can hope for beyond the obvious (that 2010 is better) is that the coaches andplayers are in the middle of establishing the right processes.  The key thing to understand is that good processes don't always yield positive results and that bad processes can yield good results, but over the long haul the thinking is that by getting a solid foundation and building things the "right way", that the positive results will outweigh the negatives.

We can only hope those processes are in place and results are just around the corner.