With Craig doing a great job with Dave regarding the 2009 Buccaneers, I would like to take a look at their chapter in Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 (my annual bible), and attempt to analyze what the Bucs have going forward. I’ll leave aside the errors of the chapter, which have been mentioned in previous posts.
One of the first things that jump out to me is the mean win projection. 8.0 wins? A 77% chance of winning at least 7 games? I’m pretty sure every Buc fan would be overjoyed with that outcome. Of course, these are only pre-season estimations, and we all know by now that the line between success and failure in the NFL is excruciatingly thin. However there are a few signs of optimism that point to the 2010 Bucs achieving this relatively steep win total.
1) Return of the Cover-2:
As mentioned in the chapter, the Bucs ranked 13th in defensive DVOA once Raheem Morris decided to coach the unit himself. This change galvanized the entire defense, and the unit finished the season with some very strong performances, most notably against the Saints in week 16. If this can be sustained over the entire season, then the team should be in a lot of games. Strong D-line play is crucial for the Cover-2 to be successful, and the additions of McCoy and Price should inject a lot of energy into the front four. The coaching stability that existed throughout the off-season should prevent the first half malaise the entire franchise was in 2009.
2) The schedule:
Playing the AFC North and NFC West should benefit the Bucs this season. Outside of the quarterbacks in the NFC South, here are the 10 QB’s the Bucs will most likely face in 2010: Jake Delhomme, Byron Leftwich, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford, Matt Leinart, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco, Donovan McNabb, Matt Stafford, and Matt Hasselbeck. Palmer led this group ranking 18th in QB DVOA last year at 12.9%. This is not exactly the most intimidating lineup. The Tampa-2 feasts on poor QB play, and the Bucs should have plenty of opportunities for turnovers in 2010. Aside from the middle of the schedule where the Bucs have four road games out of five, including a journey to
3) The quarterback play cannot get worse:
The trio of QB’s combined to be totally ineffective for the Buccaneers in 2009. Leftwich was the only one to put up even respectable numbers with a positive DVOA (5.1%), but all three were guilty of not being able to sustain drives or consistently make plays. The flashes of ability Josh Freeman displayed provide promise going forward, but the bottom line was that in 2009 the entire group failed to produce. Any steps Freeman takes in his development will increase the production of the offense. Most second year quarterbacks make significant strides, which is why FO believes the offense will improve to at about league average status.
These are the three main reasons why FO expects the Bucs to rebound in 2010. They project an average team with a pretty easy schedule reaching the 6-8 win plateau. I’m inclined to agree, but the development of the young players on both side of the ball is far more important than a particular win-loss record. Progress is the most important part of a rebuilding process, and hopefully an 8 win season is coupled with the growth of the future stars of this franchise.
What did Bucs Nation think of their chapter? Was their anything else that jumped out at you that I may have missed?