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Bills opponent preview: Stat dive on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A little different take this week

My apologies everyone. It’s been a bit of a hectic week and the time crunch got the better of me. With less time for film review I’ll stick to a stats-based analysis for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Plan on the return of GIFs next week.


Tampa Bay Team +/- Stats

Offense

As usual when I use these charts, the red highlighted areas on the offense indicate “bad” and are courtesy of the NFL. I’ve circled some key areas to discuss but have the whole +/- chart here for you to peruse.

The first thing I want to highlight is the “bad” marks I circled in red for rushing stats. This is a mirage. On a per-play basis the Buccaneers are nearly perfectly average. They’re only 20 yards under per game (25th in NFL) because they just feel like passing more. And for good reason.

They make up for those missing 20 yards in rushing by having close to 80 yards above average in passing. Per play they have the ninth-best rate passing. And of course the most important stat is points. Nobody is scoring more points this year than Tampa Bay. Their offense is dangerous. They’ve only been held under the league average twice (19 points in both games).

Defense

And the defense isn’t far behind. To reiterate, red is good on this chart and it’s mostly red. It’s hard to judge how good the green circled stats are without context. You’re talking a quarter of a yard per play for rushing and half a yard passing. That’s good for the eighth-best rushing yards per play allowed and sixth-best passing in the league right now. The Buccaneers are making it hard to move the ball.

That said, for some reason they’re merely average when it comes to points allowed. This should mean the Buffalo Bills will have some opportunities.

Play Direction Stats

Rushing

There’s a pretty good amount of volatility here, which is semi-surprising. On offense, their rushing game enters the good/great conversation in three sections of the field. They’re pretty darn bad in one zone, and average in the remaining three. The Bills will need to watch out particularly for runs up the middle as this is a strength for the Bucs.

On defense, they’re elite at stopping runs up the middle and to the left guard, and merely “high average” on runs behind the right guard. Dear Brian Daboll and Sean McDermott. DO NOT TRY TO ESTABLISH THE RUN THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF THE FORMATION! Just don’t.

Now, off the left tackle or toward the right end...that’s a different story. And you already schnow that Dion Dawkins is one of the better players on the Bills’ line. Maybe Spencer Brown and Dawson Knox can help create some nice gains on the other side of the field.

Passing

I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting this. Overall the Buccaneers are pretty “meh” when it comes to average gain. They excel in completion percentage, with half the sections of the field being in the green. That does suggest shorter passes on average as high completion percentage removes some “zeros” from the mix. We’ll find out if this is true in just a minute.

On defense it’s a similar story. Tampa Bay is pretty good at limiting the damage to the left-hand side. They have some difficulty stopping passes to the short right. It’s a pretty average set of stats overall though.

Next Gen Stats

So yeah. This will mostly be about Tom Brady. Let’s check in on some of my favorite Next Gen Stats.

  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Tom Brady gets the ball out fast. Next Gen Stats has him third fastest in the league, getting the ball away 2.51 second after the snap on average.
  • Remember me ripping on Mac Jones for throwing a lot of short passes? At 5.3 yards Tom Brady is tied for Jones on Complete Air Yards. This measures the distance down the field the ball travels on completed passes. It disregards incomplete ones.
  • Intended air yards measures that same distance, but on all passes thrown. Brady is 18th in the league with 7.9 yards on average.

Here’s his most current passing distribution chart to look at. These can lag a bit as a heads up.

This mostly speaks for itself so let’s just wrap this up.


Summary

Short and sweet this week. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are well balanced and dangerous. They are not, however, perfect. Some of the Bills’ strengths measure up quite well and there’s no reason to think that Buffalo won’t find any success. The bigger question is what team shows up. If the Bills play like they did against the Jacksonville Jaguars, it’ll be a bloodbath.