Answers/Questions Lie In NFL NextGen Stat

January 2nd, 2018

DeSean Jackson

Those fancy computer chips the NFL inserts in footballs and players’ uniforms delivered loads of interesting data this season.

Frankly, Joe loves it. Why? Because the stats are not subject to human ego, incompetence and/or stupidity. It’s just thoughtless and factual numbers.

One stat kept by the NFL computers is “cushion” for tight ends and wide receivers, defined as “the distance (in yards) measured between a WR/TE and the defender they’re lined up against at the time of snap on all targets.”

A simple stat.

But what’s stunning and unique is Tampa Bay has two receivers in the top 10, meaning two players who get the most cushion in the league.

DeSean Jackson tied for the fifth-largest average cushion at 7.2 yards per snap. Adam Humphries was tied for 10th at 6.9 yards.

No other team had three pass catchers in the top 10. The three other teams had two pass catchers in the top 20 for cushion are the Titans, Chiefs and Rams. Those are all playoff teams.

Joe’s not sure what critical insight could come from this data, but it has to be something. It’s not a coincidence. Perhaps the Bucs didn’t use DeSean Jackson as much as they should have on first down?

Jackson got a tiny bit more cushion with Redskins last year, and Humphries led the Bucs, though he got less cushion in 2016. For those wondering, Mike Evans saw tighter coverage (less cushion) this season.

52 Responses to “Answers/Questions Lie In NFL NextGen Stat”

  1. Rod Munch Says:

    It goes back to the Bucs running a 1980s deep ball offense – and obviously Jackson’s speed. For Hump I’m guessing it has to do with him getting padding because so much attention is paid to Evans, Jackson, Brate and OJ – that by the time you get to Humprhies he’s lining up against 4th string corners.

    Are there stats on how far off the Bucs corners played? They had to lead the league in how much cushion they gave.

  2. ChanEpic Says:

    ME13 gets tight coverage because:
    a. He’s not a Yac guy he catches either touchdowns, sideline tiptoe etc..
    b. He sometimes unnecessarily slides and dives for intermediate throws(makes tackling him easier).
    c. His Speed isn’t SCARY speed.

    Joes I have a question and/or request for an article. How long is Koetter’s leash next year? If he drops the first say 2 games is he safe? If he goes .500 is he safe? What are the parameters of success for this coaching regime?

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Yes….the stat I want to see is the cushion we give opposing receivers……may be 30 yards…..perhaps I exaggerate…..probably 25 yards.

  4. Back up kicker Says:

    Pass on first down??? Lmao!!

  5. Frank O Says:

    More junk science. Here’s the stat that matters: WINS
    How to get more WINS? You punch the other guy in the mouth and keep punching until the final buzzer (period).

  6. ChanEpic Says:

    I’m sorry if I come off as a hater re:Mike Evans. He has a Calvin Johnson like ceiling IMHO. But his game needs a consistent output from a D-Jax/Godwin type to really blossom and I’d cite those early years with V-Jax proves that out I think. I LOVE ME13, no hate.

  7. Rod Munch Says:

    Actually Evans best output is when he has no one else playing around him – like last year. I don’t think Evans has Calvin Johnson type abilities since he doesn’t have the speed – Evans is more in the Keyshawn Johnson camp – and Keyshawn was one of the best WRs in football for a long time so that isn’t a a bad comparison.

  8. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Teams expected the run (a weak run game at that) on the first two downs. The Buccs in 2016 lead the league by an unhealthy margin on runs on 1st and 2nd down. Jackson was in his first year, and Winston isnt used to having a short speedy receiver to throw to. Not to mention, the line gave up way too much pressure on dropbacks plus Winston’s shoulder not being healthy hurt the passing games. Teams didnt have to respect the run since we got few yards on our run, and because of that the buccs were set-up in predictable passing situations where the defense could tee off….

  9. El_Buc941 Says:

    What kind of system could coach koetter use with this much cushion on our recievers…. Maybe a quick slant pass!!!cut Humphries out to the outside.desean on the inside TE style and Evans on the other outter side and OJ on the inside.that should teach opposing defenses to think twice about cusion.

  10. Drew Says:

    @Joe excuse my brevity,

    The fancy computer chips you referred too, are Active RFID Tags that operate in the UWB (Ultra Wide Band) range.

  11. AlteredEgo Says:

    Evans…needs an off season conditioning program… twitch…explosive routine….

  12. Mike Johnson Says:

    Stats may be for losers. But stats just out this afternoon show the Tampa Bay Bucs as the WORST DEFENSE IN THE NFL THIS PAST SEASON. Go right ahead and shower Dr. Binoculars DC Smith with praises. Dirk probably got him a gold cupholder for the New year.

  13. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    It tells me we should bee running more slants than anything.

  14. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Mike Evans is a possession receiver…..and a great one…..we can’t expect him to be the receiver he was at A&M…..wide a$$ open because Manzeil was running around for 10 minutes.
    Evans always has someone close by and usually right on him….he is still able to make contested catches…..
    Godwin looks to have the hands like Evans….tough like Evans but with some extra speed……we really have a winner there.

  15. ChanEpic Says:

    @Rod – your comparison is much more apt, I agree. And no, there isn’t anything wrong with emulating Keyshawn’s career. Where we may be able to quibble is regarding his effectiveness with or without an effective #2 WR. 2014 stats and 2016 stats are pretty similar. ME13 had over 1051 yards receiving with 12TDs while in 2016 he had 1321 yards and the same 12 TDs. 2014 Evans had a higher yards per reception average with lower actual yadage (probably due to sharing the ball with a then VERY dangerous Vincent Jackson) He also had higher catch %, a longer single catch in 2014 etc.. At the very least, you’ve got to agree that one could argue it both ways right? Happy New Year!

  16. Lakeland Says:

    LakeLandBuc Says:
    February 9th, 2017 at 11:57 am

    83 passes to RB…..116 passes to TE…372 passes to WR. That’s why the Bucs want Speedy WRs so bad. Over 65% of their passes goes to WRs, and we talk about accuracy. We just have to throw the ball 20 yards up the field. We just don’t believe in * taking what the defense give us*. We just feel the need to force the ball to WRs in double coverage. Hump is not a legitimate * Number 2 WR” according to some posters, because he don’t stretch the field. We don’t need 4.2 WRs to stretch the field, we need 2-3 more WRs like Hump, who can move the chains. And add a 3 down back, who can run,block and catch.

  17. Rod Munch Says:

    ChanEpic – I was talking about purely box score stats, Evans is at his best when he’s #1 and there isn’t a #2, and there isn’t a lot of guys who provide the stats he does when teams put all their effort into stopping him. But for the sake of the team the Bucs need as many options as possible. Evans is clearly one of the top guys in the NFL, and there isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t want Evans as a #1 WR.

    This years stats would have been much better if Evans isn’t getting BS offensive PI calls against him and the refs actually called some defensive PIs. Yesterday was a perfect example – time and time again they showed replays of the ball going to Evans where he wasn’t caught – and on those replays you saw him getting mugged his entire route – not some questionable things like the DB got his hands up a split second before the ball got there, but physically being held, having his arms garaged, being dragged down on nearly every single play. If we had a non-emo coach he’d be out there getting himself thrown out of the game for assaulting the refs for the non-calls and the BS offensive PI calls.

  18. ChanEpic Says:

    @Rod – I feel you on ALL OF THAT. Every word. The good news, I think is that we DO have those options. On the team. Now. Consider our receiving roster:
    Evans, DJax, OJ, Brate, Godwin, Hump and let’s call them, the others.
    That’s a hell of a bunch…… On paper. We have the horses now and that’s the glass half full scenario that I am (have to) going with right now.
    Oh and the BS calls go both ways for the Bucs. They don’t call holding when it happens to us, but they call everything, including the tickiest of the tack, ON us. Drove me nuts all season.

  19. DB55 Says:

    I found the NexGen stats for Winston mine blowing he’s essentially a top 12 top 10 quarterback if you include the three games he missed

  20. DB55 Says:

    Oh and Kurt cousin had more Ints than Jamess yet people want to sign Kurt cousins

  21. The Buc Realist Says:

    I love the false narrative on the ” ran an unhealthy margin” of running on first down!!!!!! No how many times the sheep say it, its still not true!!!!!!! on all first downs this year 237 running attempts, and 236 passing attempts!!!!!!!! Is that the “unhealthy balance” ????? Lmao!!!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. darin Says:

    Exactly. Teams knew they werent running slants or quick passes so they played off. Makes me sick how many easy cometions they passed up. Think i gota stop harping on it now, that mess of a seasons over. But yeah if teams played the bucs every week their receivers would have had 10 yards of cushion. Im sure the guys who played the bucs had their cushion stats inflated that week. Weak. Lets hope this coaching staff leadned alot this year. Ugh.

  23. ben Says:

    and ….How many MORE WINS does Kurt Cousin have then Winston?

  24. SOEbuc Says:

    @Back Up Kicker

    “Pass on first down??? Lmao!!”

    Didn’t you read that previous article? Koetter is a genius play caller and other teams have no clue what’s going to come at them.

  25. GhostofSchiano Says:

    Here is another stat JOE, Tampa had the second HARDEST schedule. Combine that with no bye week and it is no wonder we lost.

  26. DB55 Says:


    2 he has 2 more wins than Winston this year. 6 more since 2015. Cousins is also a 6 year bet with a 20 mil dollar price tag.

  27. DB55 Says:

    DB55 Says:
    January 2nd, 2018 at 1:35 am
    Koetters plays just take too long to develop. WR still have their backs to the QB by the time pressure gets there. Very few if any crossing routes and entirely too many screens. Plus he might be worse than Lovie when it comes to scoring TDs or kicking fgs. Too many fg attempts especially when the kicker is missing kicks.

    I thought Koetter was a badass but he’s only a badass the Jenna lane and that’s not being a badass at all

  28. Rod Munch Says:

    Some more stats….

    The Bucs were 4th in passing yards for the season, 9th in yards per attempt, 10th in passing TDs and 13th in QB rating.

    Looking at the yards per game, Jameis is 7th in the NFL. Compared to the top 10 QBs, so against the mostly elite QBs, Jameis is #7 in completion %, #3 in yards per attempt and #8 in QB rating (again versus the top 10 QBs in yards per game).

    Overall it was a very solid season for Winston regardless of what the nutjob d-bag Winston haters think.

    For the defense…

    The Bucs were #32 in passing yards allowed, #29th in passing yards per attempt, as we know #32 in sacks, #27 in opponent QB rating, #23 in rushing yards allowed, #24 in rushing yards per attempt, #30th in rushing TDs allowed. Tampa was also dead last in how many points they gave up per opponent possession, along with being dead last in yards per play (rushing or passing).

    For those that hang your hat on Tampa being only the 22 (tied) worst defense when it comes to points, well Tampa was 6 points (a TD and a Folk missed PAT) away from being in 29th place – so basically if the Vikings keep playing for more than the first half the Bucs would be competing with Cleveland for most points allowed.

    The defense had no redeeming qualities other than being tied for #2 in fumble recoveries – oh and tied for #1 in 4th down against %, but there was only 9 attempts all year and only 2 were successful.

  29. Rod Munch Says:

    Realist – the problem with the running stats on first down is that Dirk was completely predictable in general. Dirk for all of last year and the first half of this year would run up the middle on nearly every first down in the first half – and if the Bucs were behind then he’d pass on nearly every first down after about mid-way through the 3rd quarter, there was no balance at all. The really annoying part of that is when he started passing on every first down he’d often do so out of shotgun – so he completely eliminated any benefit of all those running plays by not doing play action passes.

    I will say Dirk finally seemed to change that up a bit by midseason and he ran more play action passes and mixed it up, more like he did in 2015. For the final few games of the year, in particular the Falcons game, Dirk actually did mostly a good job of play calling, but I very much believe that was related to knowing he was going to get fired if he looked bad on MNF so Dirk dusted off his playbook and called more than his typical 6 plays per game that he ran all of 2016 and the first half of 2017.

  30. cmurda Says:

    Well said Rod. Jameis will continue to fine tune his game and with a decent O Line, this dude can lead a top offense. Our defense leaves a ton to be desired. Hopefully we go hard on the D LIne and secondary in the draft. Just need a RB and 1, maybe 2 O Linemen for the offense

  31. DB55 Says:


    In summary Jameis is top 10-12 q.b and Gerald McCoy is garbage. Funny I’ve been saying that for years but wtfdik?

    I’d also say that if jameis has a top 16 oline he’d be a top 3 qb behind Brady and Rodgers.

  32. DB55 Says:


    I’m spending my #7 pick on Quenton Nelson. Chubb will be gone, never ever draft a DE from Clemson and Key looks a little light to me. Reminds me of Simone but I’d rather have a guard that tea bags DTs or the Tackle from nd. We really need a Tackle.

  33. pick6 Says:

    it probably also points to how little teams feared the bucs run game and how rarely the bucs felt the need to try short and intermediate passes early in the year. why not give a 10 yard cushion when the offensive playcaller seems to have forgotten what slant and drag routes are and your front seven can snuff out opposing rushing attack on its own

  34. AlteredEgo Says:

    ^^ Chubb might be gone….crazy stuff can happen at the top of the draft… all of the available players coming out….only 6 will have been taken…should be able to find quality help….DL-OL-DB ….

  35. Patrickbucs Says:

    DB55 Says:
    January 2nd, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I’m spending my #7 pick on Quenton Nelson. Chubb will be gone, never ever draft a DE from Clemson and Key looks a little light to me. Reminds me of Simone but I’d rather have a guard that tea bags DTs or the Tackle from nd. We really need a Tackle.

    Well he went to NC State, glad you know what school a guy goes too when giving your highly in demand expertise.

  36. Zwak Says:

    Well said DB55!

  37. ZK Says:

    DB55.Jamise will never be a top #3 Qb behind Brady and Rogers,I don’t care what kind of Oline you put in front of him.

  38. mark2001 Says:

    Don’t know about those stats…but most likely the Bucs fans will have many more “cushions” of empty seats around them next year at the RayJay.

  39. DB55 Says:


    Thank you for the hate I appreciate it.

    If you had a clue you’d know the top 3 DEs in the draft are Chubb, Ferrell and Key. Ferrell is from Clemson hence never draft a de from Clemson.

  40. Lakeland Says:


    Actually the Bucs O-Line is ranked 16th in pass protection and 16th in run blocking. They are ranked 12th in power run blocking. They are ranked 17th in stuffed ranking. But, they are ranked 31st in 2nd level yards. They are also ranked 31st in open field yards. Poor open field yards, poor 2nd level yards are results of the RBs lack of burst.

  41. Buc believer Says:

    @Franko…. I totally agree! Stats are for losers and those that try to take solice in this despicable coaching staff and this joke of a team for the last 10 years are just fooling themselves. The real fans should be EXTREMELY angry that this joke of a coaching staff is coming back next year assuring us of another last place in the division as well as another year with no playoff football. Again THANKS GLAZER BOYS YOU POS!!!

  42. DB55 Says:

    Dam lake you on it like white on rice. Do those stats pass the eye test for you? All I see is the dline beating the oline on every play. Then you got blitzers coming untouched. Sometimes jameis doesn’t get a half second before he’s hit or scrambling. Am I wrong?

  43. USFBUC Says:

    @Lakeland – what I take from those Oline stats is that we have a below average Oline.

    I can’t believe there are still some crazies out there that don’t want Winston. Stats just showed we have a subpar Oline and we all knew our run game was bad already. On top of that we have the worst defense in the league. If we give Winston a RB that teams have to respect and an improved Oline our offense would be a top 5 offense. We just need Koetter to figure out play calling so we can score more.

    On defense I don’t even want a top defense, right now I would just settle for average. With an average defense Winston and the offense would be able to relax more and take less risks. Imagine if we could reliably count on the defense to stop an opponent, we would be a playoff team.

  44. Rod Munch Says:

    Lakeland – Where are you getting those stats from – not being confrontational, I just like stats and haven’t seen that one. Last year the Bucs were 31st in offensive line play (according to ESPN stats) and I don’t see how they were possibly better this year. The next-gen stats show both Martin and Barber were ranked fairly low in terms of time behind the line of scrimmage, meaning either there was a bunch of sweeps or they were having to dodge/break tackles just to get to the LOS. While Dirk did have some terribly timed sweeps at the goal line, in general Dirk just runs it up the middle – which means to mean the blocking wasn’t very good. Another stat I saw was the number of stuffs, meaning how often a player is stopped in the backfield, and Martin was near the top in that. Some people, like hater-Joe, will say Martin is to blame for being hit in the backfield – however others will say terrible predictable playcalling, like running Martin up the middle on every first down for the first half of every game, leads to teams run blitzing up the middle and hitting Doug in the backfield. Regardless all the stats I’ve seen show that the run blocking was terrible. For passing I haven’t seen much yet, but time until pressured would be a good stat to know.

  45. Rod Munch Says:

    DB55 – You’re half right, Jameis is firmly in the top 12 QBs at this point, and if you took him out of a 1980s deep ball offense and into a modern offense that has more focus on short higher completion % routes and less unsafe deep balls that lead to TOs, his QBR would be much higher. With that said I’m not actually against Dirk’s deep ball attack, I think Jameis is made for it, but you must have better o-line play to protect him longer – OR have a running game that is fully clicking so teams can’t just sit back and give up a lot of cushion knowing they don’t have to respect the run.

    The McCoy hate however is truly stupid, based on nothing, has no stats to back it up and players around the league that have to play against McCoy completely demolish your child like opinion on him. We get it, you don’t like he’s not angry enough… GGRRRRR…. anywho I’m perfectly fine with a mix of players on every team. I LOVE Sapp trash talking and getting in peoples faces and ripping off Favre’s shoe and throwing it across the field, yet I can still appreciate what Warrick Dunn did on the same team. If I wanted someone who played angry at every position we’d have a team full of Michael Pittman’s and we’d have a lot of women in this area with black eyes.

  46. DB55 Says:

    No stats? Really man? I’m posting games, qrt and times so you can see yourself and as for the stats they speak for themselves.

    Aight so let me put it in you post one 4th qrt sack or any meaningful play gmc has made this year? I can name at least 2 times when team have run the ball right down his throat to win a game. Buffalo and Carolina

  47. Lakeland Says:

    Rod Munch

    I got my stats from Football Outsiders

    But if you look at Next Gen stats, you will see QBs TT (Time To Throw)

    And you will see QBs IAY ( Intended Air Yards)

  48. Grt1 Says:

    My question is do you pay ME top 5 we money or 6-10 we money on his upcoming contract. Or do you franchise him and see if Godwin can develop into a #1 Wr. I love ME but man he cannot separate hence no run after the catch. I love his competitiveness but do you pay him AJ green, Julio, ODB, AB or even Dez money?

  49. SteelStudBuc Says:

    Why can’t they use Jackson on short slants and crossing routes? Why must it be the bomb? Instead they only throw the curl route and he gets hit right away.

  50. Rod Munch Says:

    Lakeland – The NextGen stats on time to throw doesn’t show the Bucs have a good offensive line, it shows that Winston is a miracle worker who keeps plays alive despite being under constant pressure, which he does week in and week out. I don’t know the stats on how many sacks Winston has escaped, but he’d have to be near the top in the league.

  51. Rod Munch Says:

    Grt1 – Godwin could develop into a very good #2 WR but it’s ridiculous to think Evans shouldn’t be in the Bucs future. Also there was nothing this season that showed Godwin is even in the same class as Evans at this point – and no, one 100 yard game in week 17 against the Saints #2 corner isn’t proof positive that he’s a future HOFer. He’s a nice good smooth WR with a good future – and that’s great since you need more than one guy. Evans might be the dumbest guy on the team, but he can catch a ball, even when he’s being tackled from the moment the ball is snapped.

  52. RustyRhinos Says:

    With this unique ability, my question is how far off our CB’s played on every play this season. I feel like if we pressed the WR more at the line it would allow the Dline a little more time to get to the QB. By throwing off the timing passes of their offense. Because when it is 3rd and 8 and the CB’s are 9 yards off the line it is a easy pass for a first down.