Let us look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ Strength of Schedule (SOS) based on points for and points against.

TB Bucs’ Opponents
Record before entering Week 9 (After Thursday Night Game with Bucs)
Record Off Def
Game Team Win Loss Tie PPG PPG Rank PPGA PPGA Rank Buc Result Offensive Chance to win at end of game?
1 Atlanta 6 3 0 33.9 1st 28.8 28th W
2 Arizona 3 4 1 22.4 19th 17.5 6th L
3 LA 3 4 0 17.1 30th 22 14th L Yes
4 Den 6 2 0 24.3 13th 17 5th L
5 Carolina 2 5 0 27.3 4th 28 25th W
6 SF 1 6 0 20.6 22nd 31.3 32nd W
7 Oakland 6 2 0 26.9 6th 25.4 22nd L Yes
8 Atlanta 6 3 0 33.9 1st 28.8 28th L
Average 25.8 12th 24.85 20th
Bucs 22.5 18th 29 29th

From the chart above, we see the Bucs’ second year offense is facing an average of 20th ranked defensive teams. Yet, the first year Mike Smith defense is facing an average of 12th ranked offensive teams so far in 8 games.

Looking at Atlanta, their offense is carrying the team despite giving up so many points. Oddly enough, that is what I expected coming into this season because we are in year 2 of the same offense. Unfortunately, the Bucs do not possess the offense the Falcons have.

Bucs Offense v Opponent Defense

TB Bucs
Bucs’ Offense v Opponent’s Defense
Game Team Bucs’ PPG Opponents’ PPGA Difference Result
1 Atlanta 31 28.8 2.2 W
2 Arizona 7 17.5 -10.5 L
3 LA 32 22 10 L
4 Den 7 17 -10 L
5 Carolina 17 28 -11 W
6 SF 34 31.3 2.7 W
7 Oakland 24 25.4 -1.4 L
8 Atlanta 28 28.8 -0.8 L
Average 22.5 24.85 -2.35

Of the three games where the offense scored more than the average the opponent gives up on points, the Bucs were able to win only two of those games. The one game where the Bucs scored more points than the opponents’ average was the LA Rams game. In that game, the Bucs’ threw an interception on its own 22 yard line as well as gave up a pickup six, a fumble returned for a touchdown.

It seems as though the offense is underperforming with respect to what the opposing defenses were willing to give up in points.

Last year, the Bucs’ team scoring output average was 21.4 points per game. This year, it has improved +1.1 points.  Not really the improvement anyone was expecting from a second year offense. Yes, there are reasons why they are not producing as they are without their Pro Bowl RB in Doug Martin, or backups Charles Sims, Antone Smith, and Jacquizz Rodgers.

Add missing talent at the WR position to missing two key pieces on the offense with WR Vincent Jackson and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Although fans will acknowledge the talent lost, most fans do not realize how much of the playbook is condensed by not having WR Jackson and TE ASJ on the field. So in this respect, the offense is performing admirably without those talents available.

Bucs Defense v Opponent Offense

TB Bucs’ Opponents
Bucs’ Defense v Opponent’s Offense
Game Team Opponent’s PPG Bucs’ PPGA Difference Result
1 Atlanta 33.9 24 9.9 W
2 Arizona 22.4 40 -17.6 L
3 LA 17.1 37 -19.9 L
4 Den 24.3 27 -2.7 L
5 Carolina 27.3 14 13.3 W
6 SF 20.6 17 3.6 W
7 Oakland 26.9 30 -3.1 L
8 Atlanta 33.9 43 -9.1 L
Average 25.8 29 -3.2

There were only three games where the defense kept the opposing offense below their scoring averages and in all three the Bucs won the game. This result is a surprising result because going into this 2016 season I had figured the offense would be the determinant in winning games.

With any new scheme, it takes time to acclimate to be somewhat competent. Fans like to think in hyperbole. My breakdowns with stats often require a huge mental leap due to the several contexts presented based upon what is, not what should be. This is year 1 of a Mike Smith defense, not year two; which many fans unjustly compare.

Conclusion

The premise needs to be reiterated -€” this is year 2 of the offense and year 1 of the defense. Fans expecting a top 10 defense this year need to readjust their scope. Looking at the games on a week by week basis, the Bucs had a chance to win an additional two games. Those two games were the Rams and Raiders games. In both, the defense did give up yards and points, but they did do something uncanny. They gave the ball back to the offense, in hope the offense can win the game. For both instances, the offense failed.

The last two games look abysmal, but one of those games could have been a win. So an OT emotional loss on a short week to face #1 offense in the league sounds like a terrible matchup for the Bucs’ defense.

The next game, game 9, is against the Chicago Bears. At this moment, the Bears are the owners of the worst offense in the league at 16.4 points per game. Their defense is ranked as a middle of the pack defense, ranking 16th overall, allowing 22.4 points per game. So if the offense does not gift turnovers, the Bucs should come away with a win.

Allow me to reiterate, the Falcons’ defense gives up 28.8 points per game (0.2 points better than the Bucs’s defense), but they are 6 – 3.  If the Bucs’ second year offense was better, then we could be mirroring the Falcons productions with possible a 5 – 3 record.


Article first appeared on www.bucsnation.com