The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-0 for the first time since 2010, after upsetting both the New Orleans Saints, and Philadelphia Eagles in weeks one and two. No one expected this start from Tampa Bay outside of the people inside the building at One Buc Place.
While their overall record is 2-0, stat wise, the Buccaneers need to be better in certain categories if they want to sustain this success all season long.
The Good (Offense): The Buccaneers lead the league in total YPG with 482.5 and also lead the league in passing yards per game with 405. A big part of this has been due to the explosive plays through the passing game. If the team is consistently getting long plays down the field, there is no reason why they won’t be top five in both categories all season long. Oh, and on Monday night, the Steelers come in to town and they rank second behind the Bucs in both categories. Get ready for a shootout folks.
The Good (Offense) : The offensive line in pass protection has been nothing short of fantastic. Collectively, the group has only allowed two sacks, and one was on a Fitzpatrick run where he couldn’t outrace the linebacker to the sideline. This group has taken their fair share of blame over the years, but they are all playing at an extremely high level through the first two weeks.
The Bad (Offense): Tampa Bay ranks 27th in rushing yards per game, with an average of 77.5. Outside of a few big runs during the first half in New Orleans, the running game has been horrid. It hasn’t been able to close out either game, which has resulted in nail biting plays through the passing game. To be fair, the Eagles and Saints both have fantastic front sevens, but the Buccaneers need to find a way to average better than 2.7 YPC (last in NFL). You don’t want your quarterback having to throw for 400+ every week. Once they establish the balance in the ground game, this offense will be nearly unstoppable.
The Bad (Defense): It’s still the same old Mike Smith soft coverage defense that is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 77.5% of their throws. Through two games, Tampa Bay ranks 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed with 376.5 YPG. Yes, the team is without Brent Grimes, and lost Vernon Hargreaves for the season, so you absolutely have to take that into account, but it’s still not good enough if this team has true aspirations of winning the NFC South. You can understand getting shredded by Drew Brees and all his weapons in the Superdome, but allowing Nick Foles to complete nearly 73% of his passes for 334 yards with virtually no weapons outside of Ertz and Agholor is not good. The secondary is young and inexperienced, so naturally there will be growing pains. I get all of that, but if the pass defense doesn’t improve in week three, Big Ben might just throw for 500 yards with all the toys he has.
The Good (Defense): The Buccaneers rank second in rushing yards allowed per game at 67.0 YPG. The goal all off season was to improve in the trenches. They wanted to get tougher, nastier and more physical at the point of attack, and it seems Tampa Bay has done just that. Keep in mind, the Buccaneers are playing so well against the run without Vita Vea and Mitch Unrein, who both succeed in stopping the run. While the yards per game is right where it needs to be, Tampa must improve on their red zone rush defense. Tampa is tied for the league lead with four rushing touchdowns allowed through two weeks.
The Good (Defense): Timely turnovers. When Vernon Hargreaves forced the fumble in week one that led to a touchdown, all the momentum shifted to Tampa. When the Saints were putting together a long drive in the third quarter, Kwon forced Michael Thomas to fumble, and you felt the momentum shift to Tampa. The same happened on Sunday when Kwon forced another fumble on Foles. With that being said, the Bucs have had great fumble luck through the first two weeks. They can’t rely on that all season long, but it’s good to see them forcing turnovers at key points in games.
It’s only been two games, so the sample size is small and I’m sure some of these rankings will change, but there are definitely areas the team needs to improve on in the coming weeks.