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2015 NFL Draft Review: Buccaneers try to fix the offense

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with the worst record in the NFL, owners of the first overall pick in the NFL draft. In the off-season, the Bucs signed non-splashy names that all were on the defensive side of the ball. Then in the draft, Tampa went mostly offensive after going all offense last year under the same regime.

2014 Review

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2014 Basic Stats
Stat Offense Defense
Rank Yards/ Pts Rank Yards/ Pts
Total Yds/G 30th 292 25th 368.9
Pass Yds/G 25th 206.1 28th 255.3
Rush Yds/G 29th 85.9 19th 113.7
Points/G 29th 17.3 25th 25.6

All those stats represent the abysmal 2014 season which earned the Bucs the first overall pick. Yet, did the team progress within the season? If you are new to Bucs Nation, then you do not know this information yet. If you are a regular, then you will know what is forth coming.

TB Offense vs Opposing Defense, 2014
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 59.33 302 17.67 0.67 0.5 1 0.5 0.83 0.17 3.67
Avg After Bye 60.7 268.8 15 1.1 0.4 0.2 0.7 0.7 0 3.1

From the bye splits, the offense regressed: fewer yards, fewer scoring, and fewer longer drives. If you want more in-depth reading and the how the breakdown came to be, then read the Offensive Drive Analysis Year End Review.

Opposing Offenses vs TB Defense, 2014
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 0.83 1.17 0.17 4.67
Avg After Bye 67.6 329.7 19.8 0.8 1.4 0.7 0.5 0.5 0.1 4

On the other hand, the defensive bye splits reveal great encouragement for the oncoming season. Based upon last year's defensive stats, the points allowed stat after the bye week would place the Bucs' defense 8th overall and the total yards per game stat after the bye week locates Tampa's defense 7th overall. In short, once the defense started to move in unison as a team, then one can denote the significant improvement. Many players have alluded to this learning curve of the Tampa-2, which includes Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner and reserve safety Keith Tandy. If you want to read more about the bye split breakdown, then follow the link of the Defensive Drive Analysis Year End Review.

One may ask, "With a defense that improve significantly, then how was it able to only help to produce a measly two wins for the season?" Fourth quarter blown leads would be the answer to that question. There were two blown leads before the bye week and four blown leads after the bye week. Mind you, the offensive stat presented in the aforementioned chart revealed how putrid the offense was and thus knowing the team had a lead in the fourth quarter is quite surprising. A closer inspection into this can be found here: Uncovering Blown Leads.

Tampa is in dire of need of help on offense. The offensive line ranked last in running backs getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage or behind it, according to, which is a reflection of the offensive line than the running backs.

Defensively, Tampa needs to figure out ways to close out games despite showing vast improvement as well as to tighten up that secondary.

The team is still searching for a return specialist.

What Transpired in the Offseason

Tampa Bay and offensive coordinator (OC) Jeff Tedford agreed to part ways long before the regular season ended.  Then the Bucs elected not bring back interim OC and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo. Afterwards, it released QB Josh McCown, LT Anthony Collins, DE Michael Johnson as well as safety Dashon Goldson.

The biggest coup of the off-season might have been the acquisition of Atlanta's offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter. Everything usually starts at the top and having Koetter at the helm of the offense was a magnanimous get.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2015 Notable FA Period Acquisitions
Offense / defense Pos Player
Defense LB Bruce Carter
Defense DT Henry Melton
Defense S Chris Conte
Defense CB Sterling Moore
Defense DE George Johnson

All defensive acquisitions were made during the free agency period. Of the five veteran, defensive players denoted, only DE Johnson has not been in a Tampa-2 scheme. Note, there are three secondary type players - I am counting MLB Carter to act like someone in the secondary in a Tampa-2 because of the necessity to drop back into the secondary.

Executing the Tampa-2 is an exceedingly difficult task, read "Buccaneers defense is simple, but not easy to learn". In that article, you will have Verner explain the nuances of Lovie's Tampa-2 defense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2015 NFL Draft
Offense / defense Round Pos Player
Offense 1 QB Jameis Wisnton
Offense 2 LT Donovan Smith
Offense 2 RG Ali Marpet
Defense 4 OLB Kwon Alexander
Offense 5 WR Kenny Bell
Offense 6 PR/KR Kaelin Clay
Offense 7 FB Joey Iosefa

Most of the draft picks were offensive minded selections save one linebacker. QB, LT, RG, and PK/KR are all starters come day one. OLB and FB will be fighting for a starting position. WR Bell is depth.  Here is Buc It's statistical analysis of how good the draft was for the Bucs: Link.

What Can We Conclude from the Offseason

Based upon our 2014 review, the defense had a vast improvement after the bye week, but still needs help to close out games; our offense was a terrible wreck and needed help everywhere. I see the game plan for the off-season.

The defense only needed some tinkering to become a more effective unit. The best way to do that would be to acquire personnel who already know the Tampa-2 system at the NFL level, which is what the front office did during the offseason. Despite drafting all offense in the previous draft, the performance remained lackluster. So this draft, the Bucs decided to build a foundation with its first three picks - a potential franchise quarterback and two offensive linemen to protect such potential. It then added a speedy WR, a powerful FB, and a punt return/kick return specialist.  Special teams ranks above offense in terms of hierarchy to head coach Smith. Field position and scoring with a return specialist holds a lot of value to Lovie.

During free agency period, there is only so much talent available for the organization to acquire, to which one must include price. One cannot find a potential franchise quarterback readily available in free agency and at a reasonable price to the organization. Offensive linemen priced themselves out of the team's budget and commitment. The cliche of 'building through the draft' rings ever true as that is where an organization can acquire top talent at a reasonable price, especially with the new CBA that sets rookie salaries.

It makes sense on what the front office did to best help the organization on the field. The defense needed some tweaking, but the offense was needy of everything, including a new offensive coordinator. So helping to close games out defensively, while improving production on the offensive side by investing more on the offense should help create a greater gap for winning such that there could be a fourth quarter lead so large that the defense does not have great to protect it, but now it can also protect it if need be.

Recall that I stated OC Koetter was probably the most valuable addition to the offense. Last year while being the Atlanta Falcon's OC, Koetter's offense ranked 8th overall in yards per game, 5th overall in pass yards per game, 24th overall in rush per game, and 12th overall in points per game. Tampa Bay ranked 29th overall in points per game.  Koetter had offensive line deficiencies as well because he had to start former Buccaneer offensive lineman Gabe Carimi for seven games. To put into perspective, Tampa only started Gabe for three games the year before he went to Atlanta. Also, Koetter may have solidified who to draft with the first pick overall with this comment from a Peter King MMQB article:

Licht was blown away by Koetter's impression after that couple of hours with Winston. "I'm going to compare every guy I test like that the rest of my career to Jameis," Koetter told Licht.

The defense and new OC Koetter are there to babysit the offense until it matures. And in the drafting of Winston along with protecting him with two second round offensive lineman, the organization is hedging on the maturation process to be sooner than later. Just in case the team needed another way to score, PR/KR Clay may yet prove to have an impactful and productive role.

As a Bucs fan who has just finished writing up this after the draft, offseason review, I have become more invigorated about this coming season. To be fair, I did place a bet in Vegas last February that the Bucs would win the Super Bowl.