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Two weeks ago, the Bucs defense looked pretty good

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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat down the Philadelphia Eagles, 45-17. Was the Bucs' defense dominant?

Tampa Bay's Basic stats before the game

Defensive Passing:  10th (233 yards/game)

Defensive Rushing:  12th (101 yards/game)

Points Against:  26th (26.3 ppg)

Philadelphia's Basic stats before the game

Offensive Passing:  14th (256 yards/game)

Offensive Rushing:  10th (117 yards/game)

Points For:  14th (23.5 ppg)

Here is what transpired in the game for the defense:

Phi Offense vs TB Defense
Philadelphia Tampa Bay TB - Opp Differential Differential %
Offense Defense
Pre-Game Stat Game Stat
Passing yds 256 247 -9 96.5%
Rushing yds 117 136 19 116.2%
Points 23.5 17.0 -6.5 72.3%

The defense limited the passing game as well as scoring. In this week's press conference, DC Leslie Frazier was asked what made a big difference to the defense and his response was the change in cornerback personnel. This question and answer bit came around the one minute mark of the interview from the official website.

Doing more research, here is an article by Greg Auman from the Tampa Bay Times denoting the change at the cornerback position. Here is a quote from the November 20th article:

Then the Bucs tried one more look, benching their starters and installing Moore and rookie Jude Adjei-Barimah as starters. On the first play against the Giants, Moore intercepted an Eli Manning throw, and he hasn't taken a snap off in two games since, the answer to a problem that had haunted the Bucs for two months.

The change occurred for the NY Giants game, game 8. I will present previous game charts in chronological order from game 7, Atlanta game, to the present. Here is the order:  Atlanta, NY Giants, and Dallas. The last game is presented above.

Game 7, vs Atlanta.

Atlanta Offense vs TB Defense
Atlanta Tampa Bay TB - Opp Differential Differential %
Offense Defense
Pre-Game Stat Game Stat
Passing yds 230 395 165 171.7%
Rushing yds 107 101 -6 94.4%
Points 27.5 20.0 -7.5 72.7%

Game 8, vs NY Giants.

NYG Offense vs TB Defense
NYG Tampa Bay TB - Opp Differential Differential %
Offense Defense
Pre-Game Stat Game Stat
Passing yds 258 213 -45 82.6%
Rushing yds 94 114 20 121.3%
Points 26.9 32.0 5.1 119.0%

Game 9, vs Dallas.

Dallas Offense vs TB Defense
Dallas Tampa Bay TB - Opp Differential Differential %
Offense Defense
Pre-Game Stat Game Stat
Passing yds 225 174 -51 77.3%
Rushing yds 128 42 -86 32.8%
Points 20.0 6.0 -14 30.0%

The cornerback duo of Sterling Moore and Jude Adjei-Barimah has forced opposing offense to produce less than their passing average. There is a stark difference between game 7 and game 8, Atlanta and NY Giants, respectively.

Now, let us go back to this Philadelphia game.

TB Defense vs Phi Offense
Qtr Drive Plays Yards Result RZ Pts 40 + yard Drives 50 + yard Drives 60 + yard Drives 70 + Yard Drives 80 + Yard Drives Totals
1 1 3 10 Fumble 0
2 7 86 TD 7 1 1
3 5 14 Punt 0
4 3 4 Punt 0
2 5 3 3 Punt 0
6 3 6 Punt 0
7 6 61 TD 7 1 1
8 6 41 INT 1 1
3 9 8 31 Punt 0
4 10 7 32 INT 0
11 12 59 FG 3 1 1
12 2 8 INT 0
13 8 33 Punt 0
Total 13 73 388 0 17 1 1 1 0 1 4

While six punts and three interceptions reveal a very dominant defense, the first half of the game was a bit sketchy for the defense. The defense allowed three long drives, two resulting in touchdowns and the third one was snuffed out due to a LB David interception to thwart another charge. Although officially there were eight drives in the first half, the first two drives belong together due to a double fumble that gave the ball back to the Eagles.

In the second half, the Eagles only had five drives. Two punts and two interceptions sandwich a field goal by Philly.  The defense limited any chance for a comeback by the Eagles.

A tremendous difference in the second half was the ball control and time of possession by the Bucs' offense. It gave the Eagles only one offensive possession in the third quarter. Before the Eagles had their first offensive possession in the second half, the score was Bucs 35, Eagles 14. And before the Eagles had their second possession in the second half, which was in the fourth quarter, the score was Bucs 38, Eagles 14. That made Philly's offense quite predictable in the fourth quarter. Eventually, it lead to LB David earned his second interception of the day, to which was also returned for a touchdown to make the score Bucs 45, Eagles 17.

Philadelphia never made it to the Red Zone. That is good and that is bad. Good because the Eagles did not reach the Red Zone. Bad because that means the Bucs' defense gave up a couple of long plays for a touchdown to be scored: a 39 yard pass and run for the first touchdown and a 35 yard screen play for a touchdown. Also, the Bucs' defense allowed two third and longs to be converted: a third and 10 at the Eagles 20 yard line in the third quarter and a third and 13 at the Eagles 34 yard line, which lead to a field goal.

TB Bucs
2015 Defensive 3rd Down Stats
Game Team 3rd Down Success 3rd Down Attempts 3rd Efficiency
1 Ten 4 9 44.4%
2 NO 7 14 50.0%
3 Hou 8 18 44.4%
4 Car 3 11 27.3%
5 Jax 2 8 25.0%
Bye
6 Was 5 11 45.5%
7 Atl 6 12 50.0%
8 NYG 9 16 56.3%
9 Dal 4 13 30.8%
10 Phi 7 15 46.7%
Total 55 127
Average 5.50 12.70 43.3%

What originally looked like a dominant game from the defense does not look like it the more we delve into the game.

Conclusion

The defense played a good game; not great like the previous week with Dallas. Tampa's new cornerback duo of Moore and Adjei-Barimah has made a tremendous difference to secondary play. While there are things to continue to work on defense, there are also signs of improvement. If the offense continues to produce at a high rate and the defense can hold leads, then Bucs' stock to the playoffs will have a bullish outlook.