Worst stat holding the Buccaneers back from greatness in 2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers have some massive problems on defense.

At the end of last season, it looked like the Buccaneers had one of the best defenses in the NFL. They shut down Patrick Mahomes in the biggest game of the season, and the optimism was high that Tampa would start the 2021 season with one of the best defensive units in the league.

Unfortunately, that has not been the case so far this year.

Tampa’s defense has been one of the worst in the NFL so far this season. Even with a terrific run defense, which we will learn matters very little, the Buccaneers have one of the worst defenses in NFL history.

Sure, the number two run defense in the league seems like a nice stat to hang your hat on, but that number is so low because teams realize that prospect is wasting their time against Tampa. The Buccaneers have a great front seven to stifle most rushing offenses, but more than anything, other teams are learning how easy it is to pass the ball against this defense.

Teams abandon the run early against the Bucs, but this helps offensively as they carve Tampa up each series.

There have been plenty of excuses as to why the secondary has been so bad this season, starting with constant injuries to key players, but that is still not enough to defend a unit that is on pace to be one of the worst in league history against the pass.

In a modern age of the sport that values the pass far above the run, this stat is a glaring weakness in any hopes the Bucs may have at returning to the Super Bowl.

According to Dov Kleiman on Twitter, the Buccaneers are currently giving up more passing yards per game than any team in NFL history. There have only been three games, so this number is bound to come down with greater volume, but giving up 338 passing yards per game is not where most people expected this defense to be to start the season.

There are understandably some other areas to assess when looking at the overall quality of a defense rather than just straight passing yards per game, but this is still a concerning stat when examined alongside the comically low sack rate in this defense.

The signing of Richard Sherman should help in the long run, but the lack of success coming from this defense begs some questions about how well this team is prepared to take on the other playoff contenders down the stretch.

So far, there isn’t much to be happy with defensively in Tampa, but there is time to turn this around.

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