Defensive Regression?

May 16th, 2017

Due for step back?

One reason Joe is proud to have the Custodian of Canton, the King of New Port Richey, Tampa Bay’s lone Hall of Fame presenter, eye-RAH! Kaufman, on board is his refreshing voice of diversity and his wealth of NFL knowledge, experience and contacts.

It’s always interesting to Joe how two people watch the same thing and form different conclusions.

Often, when Joe and eye-RAH! break bread, eye-RAH! kvetches about how the Bucs defense let the team down most during the final weeks of 2016.

Close games at Dallas and at New Orleans, left eye-RAH! feeling the defense should have risen and stopped Dak Prescott and Drew Brees. Joe watched the exact same games and noticed how the offense scored a combined grand total of three points in the fourth quarter of both of those one-score contests.

Well, if the projections of the “Football Outsiders” crowd are any indication, eye-RAH! will have plenty to gripe about after the 2017 season. Typed by Aaron Schatz for BSPN, the Bucs defense is due to take a step back.

[T]here’s a strong sign for regression on defense: the Bucs were second in the league in defensive turnovers per drive last year, ending 15.6 percent of possessions with a takeaway. That number is likely to be lower in 2017.

That is a very interesting stat, but Joe wonders how many of those turnovers were forced after the Bucs figured out how to understand one another communicate? The defense was wretched through that Thursday night game against Atlanta. Afterwards, it was strong, allowing just 17 points a game through the second half of the season.

Joe gets the statistician phrase “regression to the mean.” And without significant upgrades to the defense, it’s unlikely the Bucs will duplicate their No. 2 ranking in the turnover category Schatz cited.

However, Joe believes the defense will be much stronger to begin this season, versus the horror of last September and October. Thus, while there may be a dropoff in turnover frequency, the defense should actually be better overall.

41 Responses to “Defensive Regression?”

  1. Tampa Tony Says:

    Can’t rely on turnovers but how was their 3rd down d? I think that would be more telling than turnovers.

    Ira is right about the d against Dallas and New Orleans Smith played scared didn’t blitz much after a great stretch of 5 games where he mixed things up very well. If he’s gonna play it safe against quality QB’s then this d will be bad again this year as the Bucs face lots of quality QB’s

  2. Casual Observer Says:

    Study those films!

  3. Jason Says:

    Valid points by both you and Football Outsiders, and I think you’re both right. Defensive turnovers might be lower, but our overall defense will improve and grow with experience, plus improved talent.
    Additionally, an improved offense should put more pressure on opposing offenses to score, thus enabling our defense to get more stops, and maybe even turnovers. Should be fun!

  4. The Buc Realist Says:

    first 8 games
    Offense 14 turnovers,
    Defense 11 takeaways

    last 8 games
    Offense 13 turnovers
    Defense 18 takeaways

    I will say that in those first 8 games their were some bad offensive turnovers that put the Defense in a terrible field position!!!!!!!

  5. Tampa Tony Says:

    So Jameis had 24 or the Bucs 27 turnovers? Damn that’s ugly.

    As a d you can’t lose to garbage QB’s like Keenum, Glennon, Palmer, or let rookies be almost perfect against you.

  6. BucEmUp Says:

    Ive been saying this since the seasons end. Of those five games the Defense was really good, it started with Chicago who is really, really bad. N.O, San Diego, Kansas City, Seattle who also struggled on offense last year. San Diego had injuires to all of theyre main contributers on offense. I will give them a bug thumbs up on the KC game, but those two games against Dallas and New Orleans looked scary. Smith defense has tons of.holes in it and soft coverage. Unless he changes things up, which they are hinting they may be doing, I expect to see them get.burned against good teams and the offense will be left to win the game.

  7. rayjay1122 Says:

    Football outsiders have zero credibility if they are going to declare any team to have more or less possessions with a take away percentage. That is kind of like saying the offense is going to regress because last season Jameis started all 16 games and this season it will most likely be a few less starts. Turnovers and injuries can not be predicted. These folks are just making stuff up now. Ridiculous.

  8. SB Says:

    first 8 games
    Offense 14 turnovers,
    Defense 11 takeaways

    last 8 games
    Offense 13 turnovers
    Defense 18 takeaways
    Well I would say the Offense was consistent. 🙂

  9. SB Says:

    As a d you can’t lose to garbage QB’s like Keenum, Glennon, Palmer, or let rookies be almost perfect against you.
    Mariota WAS perfect against us two years ago. That game still gives me nightmares

  10. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    “However, Joe believes the defense will be much stronger to begin this season” – J0E

    If that happens I will be surprised. Traditionally, even when the Bucs had a stellar defense. they started the season slow. At their best, it took them until their third game to kick it into high gear.

    Conditioning was usually the culprit. They seemed to be unable to finish games and became winded the first couple games. Then the coaches would clamp down and fix it.

  11. Finch Says:

    all starts with the D-line… we need hell of a lot more pressure on the QB this year…hopefully that starts on Tannehill

  12. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    Our interior run defense improved over the off season with the addition of Baker and the drafting of the Tongan terror. At least we now have size up the middle if we need it to stop those backs like Zeke from gouging us with their runs. I’m also hopeful that this is an area where Evans can help from the Safety spot since he apparently likes to hit.

    Our WR Corps improved DRAMATICALLY

    Our TE Corps improved DRAMATICALLY.

    We could now very well have the best WR tandem along with the best TE tandem in the league. We ARE better.

    RB certainly hasn’t deteriorated and if McNichols is for real we’re OK there.

    This means the offense shouldn’t do what Joe and the rest of us are upset about…the offense MUST possess the ball and win the time of possession battles in most games. Best D against the NFL talented QB’s is keep them on the sideline. But at minimum we need to hold our own in the 4th offensively…stop the repeated 3 and outs in the 4th!!!

    That alone will make our Defense a lot better. There were times last year when our guys were clearly gassed late in the game.

    Our pass rush should be better. Noah has a year experience and is healthy…Ayers is back…hopefully Jac Smith can play…and Gholston continues to improve at the rushing aspect…LVD…VHG and blitzing….

    I expect our D to be markedly better…or at minimum more consistent from the beginning to the end of the season.

  13. Gencoimports Says:

    I’m betting defensive turnovers will actually go up, because the pass rush is going to improve.

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Interesting argument (regression towards the mean), but only makes sense IMO if all other factors remain the same. In the Bucs case, our defensive coaches now know the players much better than when 2016 season began. The players know Smitty’s system (and his expectations) much better & their communication has improved. Bucs have added several new pieces on defense (DT, LB, Safeties etc) which I tend to think will determine whether or not we improve early in this season (over last year). If everything gels quickly (in preseason), our D will keep us in ballgames. But if it turns out there’s a weak link(s) in there, Katy bar the door.

    Unless of course our offense runs rough-shod over all of our opponents and piles up points. The optimum? Great offense – great defense – great STs. Who could ask for anything more?

  15. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    I think all things considered, we will be about the same defensively – top half of the league, but not anywhere near the best in the league. However, with the way our offense should improve, that should be just fine. We may or may not force as many turnovers, but I think if we can keep guys like Jack Smith and Noah Spence healthy, we should have a more effective pass rush, and should be able to get off the field on third down. I think with our added size in Baker, we should also be a little more stout against the run as well. One thing to consider is assuming we put up more points, we will probably give up more points as well, since teams will be chasing us. In the grand scheme of things, I think our defense will be good enough to not lose games, and maybe even win us a game or two if the offense struggles.

  16. bucNation Says:

    mike smith has to let it rip i think in the dallas game he was to vanilla taking us back to the lovie days. i think this guy is right about the turnovers but wrong about the defense regressing turnovers wasn’t the only reason our defense was lights out to end the season it was we were getting off the field on 3rd downs. i think with the addition of baker our run defense should be improved and i’m hoping him along wit a fully healthy spence and ayers will help our pass rush be what it needs to be . that’s where the only problem lies for me i’m not worried about the secondary they played well to end the season i just hope our d line takes the next step because for our defense to be a top unit it lies on the defensive line to take over games.

  17. DB55 Says:

    Actually (to my dismay) the def was overall much better than the offense last yr.

    Off rankings:
    Points per game – 18th – 22.1
    Yards per game – 17th – 327.6
    Passing ypg- 15th – 233.6
    Rushing ypg – 22nd – 94
    Time of possession- 27th –

    Def Rankings
    Points against – 15th
    Interceptions – 4th
    Sacks – 9th

    Top ten D in Ints and sacks but the offense is middle of the pack at best. Now with that said let me add:

    Rodgers, Barber, Hump, Shep, Martino, Cross.

    Did we upgrade the RBs? Idk
    Did we upgrade the WRs? Yes DJax (I hope)

    If we maintain on D and improve on O not only can we make the playoffs but we could make noise in December.

    Koetter you got a lot of work to do, starting by getting a real QB coach like Bruce Arians or something, just saying.

  18. BFFL Says:

    Dallas and the saints were able to run the ball. Im hoping Baker and a healthy Gholston will solve this. GMC is disruptive but seems to wear down easily and get pushed right out of the way. I have huge hopes for Stevie T to be that run stuffer against teams with big interior run blockers.

  19. DB55 Says:

    The time of possession is a very telling stat indeed. The def didn’t have much of a chance. Add practicing in 10000 degree weather and we’re just hurting ourselves.

  20. The Buc Realist Says:

    Other than the takeaways, all the other stats were a little out of whack for the defense in the first half of the season, due to injuries, learning a new system, and the vary high powered offenses faced and bad schedule!!!!!

    The bucs defense will resemble more of the defense in the last 8 weeks and will be around the 10th ranking mark!!!!

    Go BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Fred E. Bucs Says:

    4-5 new starters on the D this year, and with just one exception, all improvements–but may be fine at that position (LB). Changing up formations to with more 3-4. Some things can’t be quantified: better communication, more expierence, more motivated, etc. Stats guys had the Bucs winning six games last year. Not worried.

  22. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Precisely what Realist!!! just said. Tmax been telling y’all the formula for weeks. Elite QB surrounded by weapons and a middle of pack defense( which we will be better than ) will suffice. 30 point offense the new age defense. Our O will be putting more than enough pressure on opposing teams to allow our defenders to be fresh come the fourth quarter next season. Knowha I’m talm bout ben..

  23. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    And for the record the cowgirls and saints were puttin up numbers on alot teams prior to facing us. No dishonor in falling short by one score to either late in the season in they’re houses when we didn’t have all the tools to get the job done in my opinion. Things will be quite diffrent next time we see both of those teams.

  24. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Oh and if by some strange reason you haven’t noticed,we have a 30 point a game offense now😀.

  25. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    “Koetter you got a lot of work to do, starting by getting a real QB coach like Bruce Arians or something, just saying.”


    I’m pretty sure Bruce Arians already has a job.

  26. Kobe Faker Says:

    DB55 for new President

    Koetter knows how to use our weapons?

    Kobe knows Jaguar Dirk very well

    You guys ready for Dirks conservative smashmouth 2 TE with additional fullback Stocker football?

    “I demand a offensive Coordinator”

    Kobe Faker

  27. Pickgrin Says:

    Yea – its pretty easy to point to the Dallas and Saints games – (the only 2 games we lost in the 2nd half of the season).

    Vs Dallas – people saying coach Smith should have done this or that differently. Well maybe – but frankly (and I haven’t re watched that game yet) my remembrance is that we quite simply got “man handled” by a more talented Cowboys team AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE. BOTH SIDES and pretty much all game long. There’s only so much a coach can do differently in-game to try and solve that dilemma. We got outplayed by Dallas pretty badly and were lucky to even be in that game in the 4th quarter.

    Vs Saints – we didn’t have our best run stopper Gholston available and no one else could seem to step up and stop the run. The Saints simply ran over us and we couldn’t stop it. And like most of the year – we couldn’t run the ball to keep their offense off the field. So they scored more points than us which the Saints are very good at doing at home in the dome.

    The additions of Baker and Stevie T (if he sticks) should help shore up the run D a bit and J Evans at Safety along with Beckwith at SLB could be an improvement in that dept as well.

  28. Bucsfanman Says:

    A better offense=a better defense. Brace yourself “passing league” proponents. DB55 above makes mention of “time of possession”. That is, moving the football, avoiding penalties and turnovers, and converting 3rd downs. In other words, if our offense is on the field, their offense can’t score. While it is well-known that this defense struggled last year, it was the offense’s inability to protect and move the ball that put us in bad situations.
    The defense should improve along with the offense. With a healthy roster and another off-season to get acquainted with the system should also help us improve.
    The stat Schatz quotes is ONE aspect of defense. I expect, all things equal, with that stat falling that other stats will rise.

  29. JJBucFan Says:

    The best Defense in the South will win the division- it appears all 4 teams have said “F”-it we are just going to out-score our opponent. I think the the Bucs and Falcons have the best chance, Saints and Panthers D, didn’t do enough in the offseason on the defensive side of the ball in my opinion. Should be an exciting year in the South.

  30. DB55 Says:

    Yo Real

    The bucs defense will resemble more of the defense in the last 8 weeks and will be around the 10th ranking mark!!!!
    The real question is can Koetter get the O to top ten ranking? If so, then the def troubles are solved. By keeping the def off the field, that in itself should lead to a stronger def.

    A top ten def and off is what we need to compete and by gosh we might just have the pieces in place. All we need is a proven pro-bowl type DE as a “bridge” player let’s say a Dwight freeney type of player. Maybe old but still effective 10 sack guy – type of guy. Maybe we get lucky before Sept and one falls in our laps.

  31. DB55 Says:


    Yup, we on the same page.

  32. Kobe Faker Says:

    People see the new eye candy FAs and draftpicks…

    Kobe sees Jaguar Dirks offensive philosophy

    Run first and 2nd double TE sets and not converting 3rd and short. 3rd and long, let jameis throw for 1st down against pass defense set and pressure…get used to it

    2015 Koetter did a fine job as OC

    2016 Dirk HC/OC was failure.

    Koetters philosophy was cautious playcalling and punt the ball for the defense to win. Koetter was making plays as a HEAD COACH instead of a aggressive OC

    We have the weapons but the wrong offensive philosophy to take advantage of our personnel

    Kobe Faker>Nick Carter

  33. Bucsfanman Says:

    @DB55- Don’t tell that to the “Air Jameis” crowd!
    @Kobe- There’s nothing wrong with scoring. There’s also nothing wrong with standing on the neck of your opponent while squeezing out their will to win!

  34. Pick6 Says:

    they may not need that level of defensive success if the offense can either put up the points or just control possession on defense. bucs offense was wildly inconsistent in both areas and were lucky the defense had some good fortune with turnovers, especially late in the bucs’ wins

  35. Joe Says:

    2016 Dirk HC/OC was failure.

    Take away Vincent Jackson and a 1,000-yard rusher, hell yes the offense is going to struggle.

    Even then, Jameis threw for 4,000 yards.

    Yeah, Koetter’s offense stunk in Jacksonville. He had David Garrard (a glorified option quarterback) and Blaine Gabbert to work with.

    Funny how you didn’t reference Koetter’s offenses with Matt Ryan. Then again, that would have fouled up your agenda.

  36. Kobe Faker Says:

    Mike mularkey was OC at atlanta and won coord of the year and moved on to jacksonville

    Koetter didnt dare to change the playbook

    Koetter is good OC, but….

    As HC And OC is too much…

    You will see what Kobe sees

  37. Wausa Says:

    They are not credible Here is a quote from them from last year

    Carolina Panthers. I know I kept calling them the worst 15-1 team ever last year, but it’s hard to see them not winning double-digit games again. That division is still really flawed and this is the best overall team in the NFC South. The turnovers won’t come as freely, the field position and schedule may not be as advantageous, but the talent is still there to be a top-four team in the NFC at the very least.

  38. Brandon Says:

    With an explosive offense capable of scoring big points, opposing offenses will have to take more chances… I think …. I think… if our O is as good as we think it might be, the 2017 defense might be even more opportunistic at taking the ball away.

  39. Brandon Says:

    Kobe Faker Says:
    May 16th, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Koetters philosophy was cautious playcalling and punt the ball for the defense to win. Koetter was making plays as a HEAD COACH instead of a aggressive OC

    I can’t believe I agree with anything this guy says. There were many times last season that I saw Koetter go full turtle (first Panthers game) where he showed absolutely no faith in Jameis and the offense and instead relied almost entirely on the legs of Rodgers, even on 3rd and long…. it was maddening watching him play to not lose…. only it worked…. I hope that he has full faith in his offense this year and will let it rip more often. He didn’t get the job because he was such a conservative play caller as OC.

  40. Pickgrin Says:

    Koetter did not become conservative with playcalling at times in 2016 because he’s a HC now – or because he has too much responsibility as both HC and OC. He became conservative because he had 1 legit starting WR to throw to, a very inconsistent run game and an Oline that looked like it was barely capable of run blocking or pass protecting. Brate and Hump are both good pass catchers but neither is capable of getting much separation and defenses were just stacking the box and/or doubling down on Mike Evans.

    By the time the Carolina game rolled around in week 5 – we had lost VJax, Shorts, ASJ, Stocker, Martin, Sims, McCoy, Ayers, McDonald and Jac Smith.

    Who wouldn’t get conservative with play calling when the offense is operating behind a badly under-performing Oline who are blocking for the #3 and #4 RBs and having only 1 legit receiver who can get separation on the field?

  41. Kobe Faker Says:

    There are 2 pass routes that the elite short passing attack OCs use

    The sean paytons, grudens and mcdaniels love the slant and crossing patterns

    Those routes give a rac reciever the ability to separate and pull away

    Koetter hardly ever uses these plays

    **all our backs can catch. I thought last year koetter should have called a ton more rb screens

    ***everyone in the tampa fanbase wants mentors. They loved that word. Vjax to mentor the recievers…bring in ap to mentor the rbs…but

    We have griffen,renfro and wr coach

    Bring in fritzpatrick and a offensive assistant coach to help out koetter and develop our most important asseet or does everyone want him to headbutt our way to the playoffs

    **i rememember the car game…9 straight carries to