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Bucaneers Drive Analysis: Defensive Year End Review

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This is a look back at the defensive drives for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' season. All my stats were from ESPN.com.  If you have been following along the Drive series, then what my conclusions will not be a surprise. If you have not been following along the Drive series, then hopefully this recap can give you a snapshot of what is in store for the future.

2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Opposing Offenses vs TB Defense

Team

Drive

Plays

Yards

Offensive Scoring

40 + yard Drives

50 + yard Drives

60 + yard Drives

70 + Yard Drives

80 + Yard Drives

90 + yard Drives

Total

Car

11

71

317

20

2

0

1

0

0

0

3

StL

8

64

343

19

1

0

1

1

1

0

4

Atl

13

67

570

42

1

1

1

1

2

0

6

Pit

11

75

375

24

0

0

1

1

1

1

4

NO

13

89

522

35

1

0

2

2

1

0

6

Bal

13

67

448

48

0

3

0

0

2

0

5

Bye Week

Min

12

62

338

13

1

0

2

0

0

0

3

Cle

13

68

329

22

1

2

0

0

1

0

4

Atl

10

64

317

27

1

1

1

1

1

0

5

Was

11

71

321

7

3

1

0

1

0

0

5

Chi

15

62

201

21

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

Cin

12

58

272

14

0

1

2

0

0

0

3

Det

13

73

407

34

0

2

0

1

1

1

5

Car

13

80

373

19

1

2

1

1

0

0

5

GB

10

75

411

20

0

2

1

1

1

0

5

NO

11

63

328

21

1

2

0

0

1

0

4

Totals

189

1109

5872

386

13

18

13

10

12

2

68

Avg

11.81

69.31

367.0

24.13

0.81

1.13

0.813

0.63

0.750

0.13

Percent of drives over total number of drives

6.9%

9.5%

6.9%

5.3%

6.3%

1.1%

36.0%

From ESPN's defensive team stat site, the Bucs ranked 25th in yards per game and 25th in points allowed. There might be some discrepancies in the actual stats of points allowed when compared to my chart because I do not account safeties, interceptions returned for touchdowns, or fumbles returned for touchdowns, 24.3 points per game compared to 25.6 in the final rankings.

The points per game allowed is worse than the previous two years under head coach Greg Schiano, with the 2013 season was known to be a ClusterBuc of epic proportions on many different levels. To add fuel to the fire, starting safety Mark Barron, a former 7th pick overall in the 2012 NFL draft, was traded away to St. Louis for a fourth and sixth round pick in late October, after the Minnesota game. Those picks are for the upcoming 2015 draft.

The final averages, rankings, and the trading of a 7th pick overall would spell out a miserable disaster to where this defense needs a complete overhaul. Yet, that is not the case here. The Tampa-2 takes some time to adjust for the players. The players have to trust other players to play in their particular zone, only problem was the players were not too confident early in the season. The bye week is where the defense began to show its progression.

Opposing Offenses vs TB Defense

Team

Drive

Plays

Yards

Offensive Scoring

40 + yard Drives

50 + yard Drives

60 + yard Drives

70 + Yard Drives

80 + Yard Drives

90 + yard Drives

Total

Avg

Before Bye

72.17

429.17

31.33

0.83

0.67

1.00

0.83

1.17

0.17

4.67

After Bye

67.60

329.70

19.80

0.80

1.40

0.70

0.50

0.50

0.10

4.00

The bye split stats are very dramatic in contrast. There are significant drops in yards per game allowed along with points per game given up. Look at the drives of 60 yards or longer, notice the drop in the much longer drives. That is part of the reason why the opposing offenses are not scoring as often.

Games after the bye averages represent a 10 game set. Utilizing the games after the bye averages, the Bucs would then rank 7th best in yards per game average and 9th best in points allowed average. That reflects yet another dramatic result in difference when compared to the totality of the season of being ranked 25th for both yards and points allowed average. It also reflects just how abysmal that defense was in such a small sample set of six games.

Since I was dissecting the team via bye week, I went ahead and looked at the turnovers as well as sacks. There has to be some relationship here that may have helped in the improvement of the team after the bye week besides executing better.

2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Defensive Turnover and Sack Stats

Game Set

INT

Fumbles

Turnovers

Sacks

Games 1 - 6

4

6

10

9

Average

0.67

1.00

1.67

1.50

Bye Week

Games 7 - 16

10

12

22

25

Average

1

1.2

2.2

2.5

From the chart, the defense is creating more chances for turnovers and getting one extra sack per game since the bye week. The team went from mediocre to average, in terms of sacks.

There are so many things that look good since the bye week, that it makes one wonder why there were only two wins? In fact, why was there only one win since the bye week? Part of the reason would be because of an inept offense. The other reason would be the defense's inability to close games. In other words, the defense has blown leads in the fourth quarter.

2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Blown Leads and Point Differentials

Team

Opp Score

Bucs Score

Point Differential

Win

Blown 4th quarter lead

1

Car

20

14

-6

2

StL

19

17

-2

Yes

3

Atl

56

14

-42

4

Pit

24

27

3

W

5

NO

37

31

-6

OTL

Yes

6

Bal

48

17

-31

Bye Week

7

Min

19

13

-6

OTL

Yes

8

Cle

22

17

-5

Yes

9

Atl

27

17

-10

Yes

10

Was

7

27

20

W

11

Chi

21

13

-8

12

Cin

14

13

-1

13

Det

34

17

-17

14

Car

19

17

-2

15

GB

20

3

-17

16

NO

23

20

-3

Yes

Of the final 10 games, six of the nine losses were of the one possession loss variety, where 8 points would be considered one possession. Of those six losses, three of those losses were lost because a fourth quarter lead was blown; those games are games 7, 8, and 16. Even though game 9 was a two possession loss, it still goes down as a fourth quarter blown lead. That would bring a total of 7 games where it was either a one possession loss or a fourth quarter blown lead out of the final 10 games of the season.

In total for the whole season, there were six games lost due to blown leads in the fourth quarter, including the last game of the year; though I doubt many Buc fans cry over winning the first overall pick because of the lack of closing out the last game of the year. Those are too many games lost for a team whose head coach is defensive minded.  That needs to be addressed. Even though the last game of the year was evaluating depth, that depth let the defense down as it allowed 16 points in the fourth quarter. Defensive depth matters as it reflects the talent available to the team exists or exposes the lack of talent on the team.

Conclusion

Promise. This defense shows a lot of promise for the next season.  It put up top 10 defensive production in the 10 games after the bye week. Add in talent via free agency and the draft, then the defense will not only improve, but may also have improved talent depth. Although the defense cannot help the offense to produce more points, it does need to help its own self by learning how to close out games to hold onto leads in the fourth quarter.  Closing out games is what will separate this defense from just being a very good or top 10 defense to a dominant defense.  It may take an extra season to get to such a dominance, but for what Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier have laid down in foundation, that gives a lot of Buc fans dreaming of relevance sooner than later.