Former GM: Passing Yards Totals Against Bucs Are Inflated

June 13th, 2022

Bucs coach Todd Bowles.

Joe was one of many Bucs fans who wanted the team to draft a corner early this past spring.

Of course the Bucs did draft a corner (Zyon McCollum) in the fifth round.

One reason Joe felt the Bucs could have used another top-shelf corner was that the Bucs’ pass defense was toasty last year. Yeah, Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting missed significant playing time due to injuries. There aren’t too many NFL teams that won’t get gouged in the passing game when they are down two starting corners.

One man who all but said Bucs fans have no reason to freak over the passing yards racked up is Michael Lombardi, former coffee fetcher for Bill Walsh, Bill Belicheat and Al Davis, and the former Browns general manager. He said on his podcast “GM Shuffle” that if teams throw as much as they did on the Bucs, the passing numbers should look iffy.

“Tampa Bay was the best run defense in the league,” Lombardi explained. “Their passing [defense] numbers were horrible. They were not great. You know why? Because people didn’t even try to run the ball on them. They said it was worthless [to try].

“So [teams] threw it more. The attempts [against] were the highest in the league. So it is all cause and effect.”

So was Lombardi saying the Bucs ought to have a worse run defense so teams wouldn’t go full-blown Mouse Davis on the Bucs? No, he wasn’t saying that. What he was saying is if teams throw so much on any team, its pass defense numbers will look subpar.

And as Joe points out, losing two starting corners for 15 games sure doesn’t help.

The numbers were not as gross as Lombardi seemed to suggest, but point taken.

The Bucs allowed the most passing attempts last year (680) but allowed the second-lowest yards per attempt in the league (6.4). Overall, teams threw for 4,062 yards on the Bucs, which was 12th-most allowed in the NFL. Also, to correct Lombardi, the Bucs didn’t have the best run defense in the league.

So in a nutshell, the Bucs pass defense was and could be better.

25 Responses to “Former GM: Passing Yards Totals Against Bucs Are Inflated”

  1. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Still wish they grabbed a corner. Injuries happen n it’s a passing league can never have to many DBs n pass rushers. Dean n SMB are in contract years. Made sense to grab 1 but I’m the fifth ? I trust what they are doing but as I was never sold on dean n SMB they need competition to push them n we need depth

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe in Michigan … B-I-N-G-O! Actually could take it 1 step further; it’s whether you Win or Lose, as a TEAM, that’s the most important thing,

    Rams (12-5) were a good illustration last year. Overall their big-picture stats were meh (#7 offense, #15 defense using the Points Scored & Allowed criteria), BUT … they did win the Super Bowl, and defeated us (twice) in getting there. The team they whooped for the title, Cincinnati (10-7), was also meh (#7 offense, #17 defense), BUT … they had to beat the Chiefs (twice) to get to play in the SB.

    Could well be wrong here, but I suspect that Todd Bowles over-arching defensive philosophy has 4 pillars: (1) don’t let them run on you; (2) don’t allow explosive pass plays; (3) make them work their way down the field using shorter passes, knowing that it’s really hard at the NFL level to consistently do that; and (4) capitalize on their screw-ups. Bucs have been very good at generating turnovers these past 3 years (over 27 TOs average per year), and our offense has been exceptional at capitalizing on them. We’ve had (and still have) weaknesses on defense, but Bowles masks them quite well.

  3. Bruce Blahak Says:

    Mornin seditious insurrectionists! 😂

  4. Allbuccedup Says:

    Maybe these teams passed more against the Bucs because of the weak secondary not because of the stout run game. I cannot think of another defense in the MFL that would have let Cooper Kupp get that wide open.

  5. Dooley Says:

    Can’t remember if it was Coach Rodgers/Rapone but one of the two said something pretty simil a few weeks ago when we got to hear from all the assistant coaches. IIRC the soundbite was “passes aren’t going over our heads” and regardless of ranking, we held a lot of teams with serviceable running attacks to minimal impact w/the exception of the Colts & Bills. Moving forward with a cleaner bill of health in 2022 and the additions made on the backend, I think our secondary as a whole can take a step forward in 2022.

  6. Allen Lofton Says:

    It will get better with healthier starting players returning from a rash of injuries last year

  7. Wade Landry Says:

    Burning grass….high scoring teams often give up more yards on defense….the Washington game scoring drive was indicative of the problem last year …lack of killer instinct by core defensive stalwart’s…like what Sapp had for TD’s def. crew ….I think my man D.White and V.V. will step up and be 2 dominating hall of fame type guys…..they are ready to earn one of those gold jackets….time will tell…

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Short passes against us with YAC……poor tackling…..soft coverage….playing 7 to 10 yards off…..tighten up & tackle……we’ll be better.

  9. Chris Tucker@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I wanted us to draft a corner too, but as we all know, an awesome pass rush can hide an average secondary.
    I really like the addition of Hicks, who will improve our pass rush.

  10. geno711 Says:

    Bowles defense works. For those who want us to play press corner all the time or 70 percent of the time. Well, that does not work.

    I appreciate DR’s analysis of Bowles style. I think he hit it on the nail 100%.

  11. PassingThru Says:

    That’s like saying that Buc wins are inflated because they took advantage of lesser teams.

  12. TJ Says:

    Our passing defense was/is a problem. Injuries aside, we were atrocious against any QB that was above average the last 2 years. Our saving grace was that we had a 6ish game stretch including the playoff run to the SB title where we won games and that that masked how bad the secondary has been. I’ll take the SB title all day long but remember our passing D got hot for playoff tourny football. Passing D was and still is our Achilles heel.

  13. PassingThru Says:

    The short passes worked due to the CBs giving the receivers lots of padding. Why the extra padding? So that the defense would not give up the big plays. Why was the Defensive Coordinator worried about giving up big plays? Because the CBs were poor in coverage.

    The Bucs’ weakest position group was at CB two seasons ago, and it was also a group that had a history of injury. The Bucs should have drafted a CB within the first few rounds in 2020, and yet they didn’t, forcing the Bucs to sign leftover street free agents midseason.

  14. geno711 Says:


    Just have to say passing defense is the problem for about 25 to 28 NFL teams every year. It is a passing league. Most teams have someone in their defensive backfield getting exposed in about 80 to 90 percent of their games. The better passing defending teams only have someone exposed about 50% of their games.

    As you said, I am glad Bucs did not get exposed in their Super Bowl run.

  15. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Moronic, most if not all teams throw on 3rd down. No matter what the yardage was Bucs DB’s gave up the first down. 3rd down was the D’s nemesis.

  16. geno711 Says:

    I am glad to see perceptions change. When I first got on Joebucsfan, many fans seemed upset to see how many cornerbacks we were drafting. There were those that seemed to feel that you just needed two outside (shutdown) corners and you were ok.

    These shut down corners do not exist for 28 NFL teams. And who has two?

    And even if you had two, who is covering the slot receiver or the flex H tight end?

    The athletic skills are great to have but pretty apparent that you need guys who study film and understand how to play off ball coverage. Many colleges seem to focus on man skill guys. Then those college guys come to the pros and get burned a lot (2019 examples DeAndre Baker, Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy, and Trayvon Mullen — glad we got SMB and Jamel Dean).

    I would have been fine with an early CB, but I trust this staff and really not ready to give up on any of our guys. They are better than lots of guys in this league.

  17. geno711 Says:

    Good and Bad of Bucs Pass Defense last year:

    Good: Allowed only 5 passes over 40 yards == 3rd best in league
    Bad: Allowed 55 passes over 20 yards == 10th worst in league.

    Good: Allowed a 1st down on only 31.5 percent of passing plays. 4th best.
    Bad: Allowed total of 214 1st downs. 10th worst in league.

    Good: 17 interceptions. Tied for 7th best in the league.
    Good: Allowed 6.4 yards per pass attempt. Tied for 2nd best in League.

    Allowed 26 TDs: Tied for 13th best in the league.
    Passer Rating: 85.6. 8th best in the league.

    Not a great passing defense but some players or coaches somewhere within this team are doing many things better than the rest of the NFL to have those numbers.

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    Great breakdown Geno. Hard to be great in every category, but we were ‘good enough’ in most to rank as the #5 defense in Points Allowed.

  19. Dooley Says:


    THANK YOU!!! it’s really understated/mentioned how often Bowles’ style of defense forces teams to beat us from the pocket, with their run games tied behind their backs.

  20. D-Rome Says:

    Yards are not a good indicator of anything. Yards != points.

  21. sasquatch Says:

    Stats that matter…

    second-lowest yards per attempt in the league (6.4)

    So, they actually didn’t get gouged in the passing game.

  22. SOEbuc Says:

    I wanted a good vet number two CB FA. For some reason people think Dean is good. Safeties are stacked with versatility. One more great CB across from Davis we could be top tier (?).

  23. PassingThru Says:

    I absolutely agree, yards != oppositional points, but even then they help determine field position for the offense afterwards.

    Football doesn’t lend itself well to discrete stats, as the action is continuous. That complexity adds richness and confusion.

  24. Brandon Says:

    Those pining for CBs clearly don’t know that great defenses are built from the front to back. Gotta have a great pass rush if you want to be good against the pass. Our pass rush, despite our sack numbers, was mediocre last year. Our coverage was very good in the Super Bowl… but it was the pass rush that won it for us.

    As for passing numbers…. what was the rating against, yards per attempt, etc. Of course we give up a lot of yards, it was impossible (at times) to run against us, but most importantly, we played with a ton of leads… and teams don’t try to get back in a game late by running the ball, they pass pass pass pass.

  25. Brandon Says:

    SOEbuc Says:
    June 13th, 2022 at 7:08 pm
    I wanted a good vet number two CB FA. For some reason people think Dean is good. Safeties are stacked with versatility. One more great CB across from Davis we could be top tier (?).


    Listen to this stooge!

    For some reason people think Dean is good. I dunno, maybe it’s because he allowed less than a 60 QB rating when he was targeted last season? Maybe because he’s among the league leaders in pass break ups the past three seasons? Maybe because people aren’t as dense as you and don’t think there’s some random veteran CB that’s better than Dean that can be had for less than a fortune? Wait til the end of the season when Dean is a free agent. Then you’ll see his worth. If Davis made a killing as a free agent, Dean is going to get paid like one of the top CBs in the game.