With our Bucs hosting the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots tonight, we’ll break down key stats to give you a heads up on what to expect.
The main topic is and rightfully should be about the Pats Defense. A virtually non existent pass rush combined with a multitude of broken coverages on the back end have wreaked havoc on this proud defense. When Bill Belichick and DC Matt Patricia acquired pro bowl CB Stephen Gilmore from Buffalo, it seemed like a sure fit paired up with the infamous Malcolm Butler on the other side; but it’s been anything but that. We didn’t question it too much after Kansas City hung 42 points and 400+yards on the Hoodie’s defense. DC Patricia’s defenses in 2015 and ’16 finished with a 5.2 yards per play; top ten both years. 2017 has seen that number balloon to an astronomical 7.2 ypp (Saints allow 6.2 for perspective). The extra two yards leads to more opponent first downs, 24.2 for Pats opponents a game on only 46 total third down attempts as well. Translation: getting beat badly on early downs. If the Bucs can emulate what Cam Newton and the Panthers offnese did to the Pats with their big receivers Kelvin benjamin and Devin Funchess (11 rec-174 yds- 2 TDs), Mike Evans and Co. could have a huge day on TNF!
The numbers get worse though. 456.8 yds given up (Colts 2nd @396), 31 penalties, 3rd most completions among only 12th most passing attempts, 11 TDs through the air is the worst in football, 116.5 QBR and 69.5 comp pct against the Pats D, 531 rush yds(7th worst) on only 15th most rush attempts with a shocking 5.1 yards per carry(2nd worst), 19 20+yd plays given up(3rd worst), 4 40+yd plays (3rd worst). It goes on and on. There is NO reason the Bucs can’t continue NE’s defensive woes.
One thing is for certain around One Buc, fans and players alike are uber ecstatic to get Doug martin back from suspension, at a much needed time for our run game. Jacquizz Rodgers has been very serviceable no doubt, but adding a guy who’s ran for 1500 yds twice is a huge upgrade to the backfield. The Bucs were a power run football team for a longtime post-Gruden, even under Dirk’s first year. It’s the reason we brought in a JR Sweezy, to continue to be a tone setting team at the line of scrimmage for 60 minutes. Their 84.7 ypg rushing (26th) and 3.8 ypc is slacking considering the devastating potential. How many touches for #22 will be up for debate, but Dirk hinted he trusted in Doug to be ready and in football shape; it sounds like Doug has done just that….
Of course, no breakdown would be complete without a look at our opponents offense, but not many words are needed to to tell you how good NE’s offense is. 32.2 ppg (2nd), 423.8 ypg (1st), 24.8 first downs a game (1st), a +4 turnover ratio despite the lack of defensive turnovers, 6 40+ yd plays (1st), 22 20+ yd plays (1st). The GOATs numbers? Flawless. 10 tds, 0 ints; though sacked 13 times (7th most) with 27 hits on Brady (8th most). They only run the ball to the tune of 3.6 ypc on minimal amount of carries. They’ve lost alot of their power run ability with the loss of RB Legarrette Blount going to Philly after leading the NFL with 18 rush TDs in 2016, but surprisingly they’re tied for 4th in football with 5 rush Tds so far this year. All short yardage. Next Gen stats show all 5 rush TDs were to the Pats left, with 16 first down runs to that left (2nd best in NFL). Compare it to the center and right side which have a total of 7 first down runs all together.
Injuries could be devastating with star MLB Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David ruled out, but rookie MLB Kendall Beckwith has picked up the slack like a workhorse leading the team in tackles at 22. Safties Keith Tandy and TJ Ward are likely doubtful to suit up as well, leaving vet Chris Conte and speedy rookie Justin Evans to defend the deep ball. Evans could be an asset on the speedster Brandin Cooks…
All in all, this game has the potential to be the gane of the year simply because of both these QBs ability to throw the deep ball better than everybody else in this air it out age of football. With Ray J dressed up in all red tonight, it’s gonna be a quite an evening at the Ol’ Pirate Ship! Go Bucs!!!