The 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a total disappointment, losing nine games in their first 12 contests and sitting at the bottom of the NFC South. Coming after a 7-9 season and a seemingly promising offseason of talented additions, matching the loss total of the previous year in just over three months seems like reason for disappointment.
But there are many who will mention the schedule of the Buccaneers, and for good reason. The Bucs’ opponents so far this season have a record of 84-58, which amounts to a winning percentage just north of 59 percent. Taking out the three losses and nine wins that have come against the Buccaneers still yields a record of 75-55, which is well over a 50 percent winning clip, and a difficult schedule for any team to face.
So what can we learn from the Buccaneers’ schedule? What takeaways can be made from the teams that have defeated or been defeated by Greg Schiano’s football team? Let’s break down the numbers and find out.
First, let’s start off with a chart, and a brief explanation of the chart.
nF, nF Off, and nF Def are the rankings from numberFire.com’s team rankings. These are based on formulas collected by the math wizards at numberFire, and evaluate teams based on the gaining and losing of expected points per play, adjusted for numerous factors.
FO, FO Off, and FO Def are the rankings from Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings. You can read more about their process at their website, which is dedicated to thinking outside the box for football statistics.
W and L are wins and losses at the time of this article.
The totals below each section are the averages of those sets of teams. (You can click on the image to see it full size.)
So what can we learn from this information?
First of all, the average team the Buccaneers have played (as seen on the “Totals” line at the bottom of the image) ranks 12th in power rankings, with a better offense than defense. Those teams are approximately 7-5 on the season. This translates to a slightly above average weekly opponent for the Bucs.
This is interesting to note, as it would theoretically justify a lack of progress in the second year for head coach Greg Schiano. Facing a tougher set of opponents could mean the team is playing just as well, but simply not delivering wins due to caliber of opponent.
So let’s take a look at the teams the Buccaneers have defeated. These teams are, on average, on the fringe of the top-20 in power rankings with very poor defenses, and have a record of 5-7 on the season. This seems to make sense considering the strengths and weaknesses of the team. The Tampa Bay offense has not been good this season, so playing teams with average or worse defenses should provide a better chance to keep the game competitive.
The teams the Buccaneers have lost to are, on average, a fringe top-10 team with a better defense than offense and a win-loss record of approximately 8-4. Again, this makes sense, as the Buccaneers would struggle to score against tougher defenses, and would quickly become noncompetitive as we saw against the Carolina Panthers.
The Buccaneers have proven in their second season under head coach Greg Schiano to be incapable of defeating playoff-caliber teams. Teams with offenses and defenses that rank among the 12 best in the NFL prove too tough of a task for the Bucs, who choke under pressure, or are simply dominated from the first snap.
This is not unlike 2012, when the Buccaneers defeated the playoff-clinched Falcons and the Minnesota Vikings, and otherwise feasted upon lesser teams to build up seven wins.
If anything, the inability to win a game against a team like the Cardinals, Eagles or Saints shows that this season’s Buccaneer team doesn’t even have the same giant-killing ability as last years, and can therefore be considered a worse football team.
There are still breakdowns, mistakes, and there have been an increased amount of missed tackles on defense. (In fact, the Buccaneers only need 18 more missed tackles to equal last year’s total. And considering they missed 11 against Carolina, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them blow past last year’s number. Hat tip to Pro Football Focus.)
There can be fingers pointed at the quarterback situation, and it’s very easy to lose the plot on a football season when a quarterback is benched and cut within the first few weeks. But overall, it’s clear that there has been no progress from the Buccaneers from year one to year two of the Schiano era.
Which means there should not be a third year of the Schiano era in Tampa Bay.
Tags: Tampa Bay Buccaneers