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Detroit Lions Week 15 scouting report: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are confusing

Are they good? Are they horrible? Is it their defense or offense that is struggling?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a confusing team. Jameis Winston is the perfect figurehead for the franchise right now, because for everything amazing he does—like, say, his 26 touchdowns passes and 316+ yards per game—he does something equally bad—like, say, his league-leading 23 interceptions.

They’ve officially been eliminated from the playoffs but head coach Bruce Arians had them fight that off for as long as possible. After a rough 2-6 start, the Bucs have now strung together wins in four of their last five games, including last week’s wild upset over the Indianapolis Colts.

So what should the Detroit Lions make of this inconsistent team? Let’s take a look at our Week 15 scouting report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last season:

5-11 record (4th in NFC South)
12th in points scored, 31st in points allowed
Overall DVOA: 24th (12th on offense, 32nd on defense)

2019 offseason

Key free agent additions: DT Ndamukong Suh, LB Deone Bucannon,(cut in Oct.), WR Breshad Perriman, LB Shaquil Barrett

Key losses: DT Gerald McCoy, LB Kwon Alexander

2019 NFL draft picks:

Round 1 - LB Devin White
Round 2 - CB Sean Murphy-BUnting
Round 3 - CB Jamel Dean
Round 3 - S Mike Edwards
Round 4 - DE Anthony Nelson
Round 5 - K Matt Gay
Round 6 - WR Scott Miller
Round 7 - DT Terry Beckner

After a rough 2018 season, the plans for 2019 were pretty clear from the get-go for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: improve the league’s-worst defense. They went out and got Suh after moving on from an expensive Gerald McCoy. They spent nearly their entire draft class on defense. And, really, didn’t change much at all on offense.

This was just a full-fledged effort to make the team more well-rounded and hope that that would be enough to be comptetive in a tricky division.

Buccaneers 2019 season (6-7)

Week 1: Loss to 49ers, 17-31
Week 2: Win over Panthers, 20-14
Week 3: Loss to Giants, 31-32
Week 4: Win over Rams, 55-40
Week 5: Loss to Saints, 24-31
Week 6: Loss to Panthers, 26-37
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Loss to Titans, 23-27
Week 9: Loss to Seahawks, 34-40
Week 10: Win over Cardinals, 30-27
Week 11: Loss to Saints, 17-34
Week 12: Win over Falcons, 35-22
Week 13: Win over Jaguars, 28-11
Week 14: Win over Colts, 38-35


  • 3rd in points scored; 31st in points allowed
  • 16th overall in DVOA (21st on offense, 10th on defense)

Alright, so this team is immediately confusing right off the bat. Their third in scoring, yet 21st in offensive DVOA. Their second-to-last in points allowed, yet their defense is top 10 in DVOA.

Let’s start with the offense. Here are the things they’re good at:

  • Huge splash plays through the air (top five in 20+ yard and 40+ yard passes)
  • Throwing the ball a TON (third in pass attempts)

This, alone, results in gaudy stats, because Jameis Winston is connecting on big throws and throwing the ball 40 times a game.

However, his overall efficiency is not very good at all. He’s completing just 61.3 percent of his passes (29th), and his 23 interceptions is seven more than anyone else in the league. He’s also been sacked 41 times and fumbled nine times.

The team also can’t run the ball effectively (3.6 YPC). So when you consider all of that—especially all the negative plays—their DVOA ranking makes sense.

Defensively, things have improved if you look hard enough. They’re led by one of the best run defenses in the league—allowing the second fewest yards per carry in the NFL (3.4). Their pass defense runs much closer to average, but with a disrupter like Shaquil Barrett—who leads the NFL with 15 sacks—they can make some opposing offenses pay.

As for all the points this defense is letting up, all of the turnovers on offense certainly aren’t helping. Tampa Bay’s defense starts with the third-worst field position, according to Football Outsiders.

Key injuries: G Alex Cappa, WR Mike Evans, QB Jameis Winston

Mike Evans is the biggest name on the list here, as the star wide receiver most likely suffered a season-ending injury last week. He is not expected to play this week. Jameis Winston reportedly suffered a fractured thumb recently but he is expected to play.

Cappa is the Bucs’ starting right guard, but Earl Watford had to step in for him last week. Watford has plenty of experience, as he has started 24 games over his seven-year career.

Biggest strength: Defensive front-seven

If it weren’t for the Mike Evans injury, the answer would easily be wide receivers. But Evans was responsible for 28 percent of the team’s receiving output. Chris Godwin may be even better, but we’ll see how he holds up without Evans drawing attention on the other side of the field.

So instead, let’s talk about that defensive line. Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, and William Gholston backed up by the league-leading sacker in Shaquil Barrett and two-time Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul. Not a bad group of players right there.

Biggest weakness: Offensive line

Though it’s hardly all their fault, the Buccaneers offensive line could be considered the culprit of many of their problems. Too many sacks, no ground game to speak of. Tampa’s offense has simply relied on huge plays from their wide receivers to make any sort of noise, and although it has worked often, it also results in as many bad plays as good.

Vegas line for Sunday: Bucs by 3.5

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