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Week 1 Game Grades and Statistics for the Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy's Strong Start

We've all watched the Buccaneers' season opener and have our opinions, but what do the numbers say about the Bucs loss to the Panthers?

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Cliff McBride

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off the 2014 season in embarrassing fashion, losing to the Carolina Panthers at home while struggling to get anything going on offense until it was too late.

And by now, we've all come to our own conclusions on why the game finished as it did, and where the Bucs go from here. But the Internet is full of statistics and metrics and grades that can give a different perspective on the team and their current standing, and we'll consider these different sources every week in a statistics roundup.

This will include Pro Football Focus game grades, Football Outsiders and numberFire metrics, along with Pro Football Reference data to consider third down performance, red zone play calling and more.

Here's the first edition of the Buccaneers statistics roundup, starting with the grades from PFF.

Pro Football Focus

Gerald McCoy is well on his way to breaking the Pro Football Focus grading scale. After just one week, he's already at 5.5 overall, and that's with a -1.8 grade for his two penalties on Sunday.

McCoy picked up a sack, a hit and a hurry, while making four tackles and earning four "stops," adding up to put McCoy at the top of the defensive tackle rankings league-wide.

He's not the only Buccaneer to jump to the top of the PFF grade book, as Alterraun Verner ranks first among cornerbacks after posting a 4.1 grade against Carolina. He was given high marks in both pass coverage and run defense, making five tackles and earning four "stops" while allowing only a four-yard catch on the only target he faced.

And despite missing five tackles, Lavonte David finished with a positive grade as a run defender and the third-best overall grade on the day for the Bucs. His pass coverage score was low, but he was good against the run and took advantage of his three pass rushing snaps.

Clinton McDonald earned the lowest grades for the defense as the duo combined for only one QB pressure all day, while McDonald earned additional negative points for his poor play against the run.

On the other side of the ball, Josh McCown earned a -2.4, but was trumped by Evan Dietrich-Smith, Doug Martin (who earned a -2.3 on his three pass blocking snaps), and Garrett Gilkey for the worst performances of the day. There were no notable strong performances for the Bucs on offense, according to PFF.

Football Outsiders

Football Outsiders have released their first DVOA rankings for the year, and the Buccaneers are where you'd expect them. The "total DVOA" rankings have the Buccaneers 28th, ahead of only the Chiefs, Cowboys, Giants and Rams.

For those unfamiliar, Football Outsiders uses Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, or DVOA, to evaluate teams and players. It's a unique set of data that accounts for game situation and other factors to give better rankings than yards or points alone.

So according to these rankings, the Buccaneers are near the bottom of the league, but when considering a combination of preseason rankings and current performance, the Buccaneers avoid the bottom-10, ranking 22nd in what FO calls "DAVE."

The Buccaneers offense earned a DVOA of -40.7%, good for 30th in the NFL. Their passing offense was only better than the Rams, while their rushing offense actually finished 16th, thanks in large part to Jorvorskie Lane's efforts.

On the bright side, the Bucs ranked 11th in special teams DVOA, mainly due to positive value in the punt return game.

All of this adds up to the Buccaneers ranking last in the NFC South and third-to-last in the conference in FO's playoff odds, which are based on their projections. According to their simulations, the Bucs should expect to win fewer than seven games this season, based on preseason projections and their performance against Carolina.


Similar to Football Outsiders, numberFire uses an algorithm that calculates production and efficiency based on down and distance and game situation. Their metric is called "Net Expected Points," and it is the basis for evaluating players and teams at the site.

The Buccaneers earned the 18th best Defensive NEP of Week 1, posting the best run defense metric in the NFL, but struggling against the pass.

On offense, the Bucs had the seventh-worst day according to Net Expected Points. This includes a -8.50 Pass Net Expected Points total on the day, good for third-from-last in the league. In other words, the Bucs were 8.5 points worse than expected in the passing game on Sunday against Carolina.

Bobby Rainey had an interesting day according to numberFire data, as his touchdown catch was more than offset by his catch and fumble, earning him a negative NEP as a receiver on his two catches. He did post a very average NEP as a runner, which is more than Doug Martin can say.

Martin posted the eighth-worst rushing performance of Week 1 among running backs, although it was better than Mike Tolbert, who the Bucs held to the fifth-worst performance of the opening weekend.

Pro Football Reference

Using Pro Football Reference's Game Play Finder, we find that on the 12 third downs the Buccaneers faced on offense, Josh McCown was 7 of 8 for 61 yards and a touchdown. He made some huge errors that must be corrected, but on third down, he put in a strong performance.

The team as a whole did well on third down, converting half of their opportunities to move the chains.

Defensively on third downs, the Buccaneers held the Panthers to six conversions on 15 attempts, allowing six receptions on the eight passes thrown to Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen on third down.

The most concerning defensive statistic was earned by Greg Olsen, who caught both of his red zone targets, including his touchdown catch. Lovie Smith's defenses are supposed to buckle down inside the red zone, but on Sunday, they failed to do that when defending Greg Olsen.