Will The Defense Still Ball Out?

July 19th, 2020

Last year, especially after cornerback Vernon Hargreaves was run off for serial loafing, the Bucs had one of the best defenses in the NFL.

The rush defense allowed 3.3 yards a carry, best in the league. After the Bucs threw Hargreaves overboard, they never gave up more than 286 yards passing in a game, whereas previously, the Bucs regularly gave up 300 yards passing in a game. If not 400 yards passing. If not 500 yards (!) passing.

The highlight in the post-Hargreaves pass defense may have been holding Deshaun Watson and the Texans to 161 yards passing.

Now normally when a defense has a dramatic turnaround, as pointed out by jet-flyin’, kiss–stealin‘, data-analyzin’, Bucs-film-studyin’, limousine-ridin’ Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times, typing for Football Outsiders 2020 Almanac, that team has a dropoff the following season.

The statheads refer to this as “regression to the mean.” But Bassinger points out a few factors that suggest the Bucs’ defense this fall will play more like the defense we saw without Hargreaves as opposed to with Hargreaves.

Continuity: The Buccaneers managed to keep their defense mostly intact, retaining three key starters who could have departed via free agency—NFL sack leader Shaquil Barrett (franchise tag), Jason Pierre-Paul (two-year contract), and Ndamukong Suh (one-year contract). In all, 10 of their 11 projected starters were starters last season, and incoming safety Antoine Winfield Jr., a second-round draft pick, should be an upgrade.

Youth: By snap-weighted age, Tampa Bay had the ninth-youngest defense last season (25.6 years) and the youngest secondary (23.8 years).

Rest: Imagine what this unit can do now that it won’t have to constantly run back onto the field after an interception.

The “rest” element may be a huge thing for a handful of players in the front seven. Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Lavonte David are not exactly spring chickens. All three are in their 30s.

It really raised Joe’s antennae last year in training camp when Bucs coach Bucco Bruce Arians often held David out of practices inside the Glazer Shed because David, Arians said, couldn’t handle the wear-and-tear the turf field took on David’s knees.

So Joe is guessing that not only will the rest (and fewer short fields) help those three Bucs senior citizens, but so too will not having any offseason and the expected soft training camp, all thanks to “The Sickness.”

Bassinger believes it is not outrageous to expect the Bucs defense to be a top-10 unit, based on Football Outsiders‘ computer projections.

15 Responses to “Will The Defense Still Ball Out?”

  1. gp Says:

    not exactly spring chickens. All three are in their 30s.

    Thanks Joe
    I’m not, but could be father to any and all of them
    Bunch of kids!
    About to have fun playing the best game ever!
    (just a little jealous)

  2. SOEbuc Says:

    Bowels is the most important piece moving into the future with coaching. One more CB and we could be elite young secondary in 2-3 years.

  3. Clean House Says:

    Sorry haters, #1 in run defense means about as much #1 in total offense, total passing yards and total passing yards per game.

    Let me guess, next you’ll argue, wait, but 3.3 yards per game….

    Sorry, no we don’t acknowledge positive stats here in Tampa.

    Check yo sheet, defense was still third from last in passing and the team couldn’t even mak 8-8

    Check yo sheet- good stats mean nothing
    even #1 stats earn you about 1 mil

  4. Roy T. Buford Says:

    Interesting thoughts, Joe. Seeing him yet again trying to prove himself at the start of last year, I’m convinced VHIII was a bust. However, I still have find it hard to believe that losing him suddenly meant terrible to pretty good on D. Maybe it was just an odd coincidence and the natural coming around of the pass D occurred at the same time. Maybe players got a wake up call that if the Bucs fire a 1st rounder, they are not exempt? Don’t know.

    Still, I don’t think they played that well for that long to say there would be a regression to the mean. They were fairly good all year on stopping the run if I remember correctly. Giving up 286 yards of passing also is not great–sure, better than a million.

    I boil it down to this: If the run D is as good, and the pass D can just be average (I’m hoping for better), they’ll easily win 10-12 games.

  5. Sport Says:

    Clean – I just checked the sheet, it also says to forget 30 interceptions and more than a handful of pick sixes. It’s also a positive stat….for opposing teams.

    But you already ignored that one, good job 👏

    In BA I Trust!

  6. Roy T. Buford Says:

    Clean House says: “…even #1 stats earn you about 1 mil.”


    #1 stats (the right ones) earn you big contracts. $$$$$$ as some have loved to say here. Off field shenanigans that hurt your team’s image and being a turnover machine that hurts your team’s record…leading the entire professional league in INTs BY FAR, pre-game displays that embarass all…will get you NOTHING.

    Luckily for Jameis Winston he got his 5K yards…or he’d be unemployed. But we know he’s past all that now–because he’s competing to hold a clipboard for Drew Brees.

  7. SteveK Says:

    Ndog/Clean House,

    No sir, no shot. More turnovers than touchdowns is terrible. Jameis ain’t it.

    The D was fifth in takeaways.

  8. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Good ole’ Clean House. Always the consistent troll.

  9. BigHog Says:

    Bla! Bla! Bla! ….I CAN’T BREATHE!!!

  10. Delaware Bucs Fan Says:

    As boring as the old BucBall used to be (7-12 pts a game from the offense) watching that defense was a blast. If this defense can stay in the well respected category (top 10) I think the season should turn out well.

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    Did 3rd best offense equate to wins? NO!
    Did best run defense in the league equate to wins? NO!
    If we can build on last year’s defense, we should win more games.

  12. Clean House Says:

    poor NDOG- what happened to you man? Where’d you go?

    They always say I’m you. You must be pretty smart.
    First time I’ve been called a troll.

    But consistency is good, I appreciate the acknowledgement and compliment!

    Do you know what would make for great entertainment? If the Saints made it to the Super Bowl and for some reason had to count on Jameis to win the game in Tampa.

    And he came through…….For the Ultimate W

  13. Bucsfan951 Says:

    Clean house

    Is this after their first AND second string qbs go down? I mean, isn’t jw third on the depth chart as of right now?

  14. Buc1987 Says:

    Clean House…lol you live in Fantasy Land.

  15. unbelievable Says:

    Regression to the mean is what happened after that 8 game stretch in 2016 as well. Let’s hope we get different results this time around.

    BTW what’s up with the surgeries of Vea and JPP? Those guys were kinda important last year…