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Buccaneers Stat Roundup: Worst Passing Defense in the NFL?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemed to have all the right pieces to finish among the top-10 in the NFL on defense this year. But through three games, they're on the wrong end of the spectrum.

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

You don't need any advanced metrics or in-depth analysis to know that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are struggling at the moment. After losing close games to backup quarterbacks in Weeks 1 and 2, the Bucs were blown out by Atlanta in Week 3, and sit at the bottom of the NFL standings through three games yet again in 2014.

But just how bad are things in Tampa? What are the areas in need of the most improvement? Let's take a look at some of the numbers from various analytics and statistics websites around the web in this statistics roundup.


According to numberFire's data, no team in the NFL has a worse passing defense than the Buccaneers. Using their Net Expected Points data, we find that Tampa Bay rank 32nd in Defensive Passing NEP, just behind the Jaguars, but a full 20 points behind the 29th ranked team.

Net Expected Points measure how a player or team's actions impact their chances of scoring on a particular play. Every down and distance and situation in the NFL has an expected points value, and Net Expected Points calculates the changes in these values based on team and player performance.

So the Buccaneers are over 40 points worse than expected in terms of their passing defense this season, allowing opposing offenses to move the ball well and create good scoring opportunities at will.

The rushing defense in Tampa is still solid, as they rank third in numberFire's Defensive Rushing NEP data.

The offense isn't any better, as the Bucs rank second-to-last in overall offense and passing offense. Josh McCown is the second-worst quarterback in the league with more than 70 dropbacks in terms of Passing NEP per dropback. Only Chad Henne is worse.

Pro Football Focus

The Bucs don't look any better at PFF, where they're the second-worst offense and defense according to overall PFF grades.

On offense, only two players have logged more than 40 snaps and earned an overall grade higher than -1.0, Demar Dotson and Mike Evans. On the other end of the spectrum, Brandon Myers is the third-worst tight end in the league, and Evan Dietrich-Smith is the second-worst center.

Josh McCown wasn't performing very well through three weeks, but his replacement, Mike Glennon, had nearly the same accuracy percentage (which factors in throwaways, spikes and drops). McCown was on target with 73.8% of his throws, Glennon on 73.9%.

Vincent Jackson has the third-highest drop rate among NFL receivers, which certainly hasn't helped his struggling offense get things going. The Bucs have five dropped passes so far this season.

Akeem Spence is the worst defensive/nose tackle in the NFL, according to PFF's grades, and by a wide margin. His run grade is nearly twice as bad as any other player at the position.

Lavonte David has the worst tackling efficiency among 4-3 outside linebackers this season.

Pro Football Reference

And to finish off the frustration and disappointment, here are some of the key facts from Pro Football Reference's data.

23.5% of the Bucs' offensive drives this season have ended in a turnover, which is the most in the NFL.

Only 17.6% of Tampa Bay offensive drives have ended in a score, which is the least in the NFL.

On defense, the Bucs allow the sixth-most yards per play, and when facing the passing game, allow the most yards per passing attempt in the league so far this year. (And that's after playing two backup quarterbacks in the first two weeks.)

And to top it all off, the Bucs allow the second-most points-per-drive on defense, further proving that both the offense and defense have been among the worst in the NFL this year.