When I talked about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' improvement on defense since the bye week, I wasn't lying. According to Football Outsiders' latest DVOA rankings, the Bucs are the third-most improved team since week 7, and nearly all of that improvement came on defense alone.
There, the Bucs went from a DVOA of 14.3% (positive number are bad), which ranked 30th in the league, to a defensive DVOA of -12.5%. If taken over the season as a whole, that would give the Bucs the fifth-best defense in the NFL. These numbers are opponent-adjusted, so they're not caused by an easier schedule. The Bucs have simply played much better defense since the bye week.
That's encouraging. It shows that Lovie Smith genuinely can coach defense, that it was indeed just a matter of time and a case of players understanding and being comfortable in the scheme. It probably means we don't actually have to worry all that much about the quality of the defense in the future.
It does mean that we really, really need to worry about this offense, though. Because it's the main reason the Bucs have been losing games. In fact, it has actually gotten a teensy bit worse since the bye week according to Outsiders' analysis, though the difference is minuscule. The offensive line is terrible, the tight ends have been invisible in the passing game, the running game is nowhere to be seen and, oh, quarterback play has been a disaster, too.
Watching what the Bucs will do on offense this offseason is going to be very interesting.