Surprise!December 21st, 2012
Now Joe knows, and just about every semi-conscious Bucs fan knows, that the Bucs’ pass defense is as wretched as it comes. So much so Joe wouldn’t be shocked if Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik drafts two corners with the first four picks of the draft in April, in addition to grabbing some free-agent corner.
So last night while Joe was researching the Rams, Joe came across an eye-opening stat from one of his old friends, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Bernie is one of the best football writers in America and is a numbers cruncher. He’s always looking for answers under the hood with rigid research. Well, apparently Bernie was mining for information on the Bucs and came up with a gem claiming the Bucs’ pass defense isn’t as horrid as Joe or most Bucs fans may think it is.
Does this mean [Sam] Bradford will have an easy time or a good day? Nothing is certain. Interestingly, one of Tampa Bay’s strengths has been third-down pass defense. Without going into the numbers, I suspect that’s because of the third-and-longs being set up by all of those runs being slammed by the Tampa Bay rushing defense. But the Bucs have been outstanding on third down, making eight interceptions and allowing a mediocre passer rating of 78.5.
Bradford has struggled on third downs this season; it’s one of the weaker parts of his performance. On third down he’s completed only 55 percent of his passes, with more INTs (4) than TDs (3) and a passer rating of 69.0. A big part of the problem is pass protection; Bradford has been sacked 18 times on third down, the second-highest total among NFL quarterbacks. But his passer rating ranks 23rd among QBs that have attempted at least 100 passes on third downs. So Sunday’s game could be determined by Bradford vs. the Bucs on third down.
Joe nearly fell off his chair reading this. But this is why Bernie is one of the best to dig up information.
So here is a match-up to watch Sunday: How the Bucs work the Rams on third down passing situations. It will also be interesting to see how/if the Bucs shut down Steven Jackson, who is some 91 yards short an eighth straight 1,000-yard season.