It’s only week six of the 2022 NFL season but fans of teams short of winning records are starting to fidget. Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans included. While the Buccaneers sit at .500 with a 3-3 record there is certainly some concern building. So are they a playoff team?
Currently, the defense is allowing only 20.2 points per game. Furthermore, once you subtract out the Chiefs game where they allowed 41 points the average falls to a staggering 12.4 points a game. They have allowed the eight-lowest yards total this season while standing seventh in passing yards allowed. Unfortunately, the once stagnating run defense has slipped a little as they are currently in the near the middle of the NFL at 14th for least yards yielded on the ground.
At 24.2% pressure per drop back the Buccaneers are 12th in the league. The pressure comes from a high percentage of blitzes per drop back. Something Todd Bowles is known for. So far in 2022 the Buccaneers are fifth with a 30.4% blitze percentage. Though that is 10% less than last year and around 9% less than the year the won the Super Bowl.
So as far as the defense is concerned this is a playoff defense.
In stark contrast to the defense the offense finds itself in the bottom half of the league. Tom Brady and crew are 28th in total yards. This is difficult to imagine since Brady has the team sixth in passing yards, but once the ineptitude of the run game is considered it clear why. Currently the run game is dead last in yards and rushing yards per attempt. Additionally the offense is 13th in passing touchdowns and 30th in rushing touchdowns.
Its clear the offense is struggling. From offensive line play, missed connections in the passing game, dropped balls, and poor offensive design/play calling they need to improve.
This offense is not playoff caliber right now.
Almost always an after thought special teams plays an important role. The Buccaneers are currently near the middle of the pack when you look at theirs. The average punt return is 12th in the league at 9.6 yards a return and 14th in kick returns with 22.4 yards per return. But it’s a close race. If they average around .8 yards more per return on both kicks and punts they find themselves in the top ten.
As for kickoffs, Tampa Bay is 28th in touch back percentage with 43.3%. Punting is much the same story as they are 24th and average 45.6 yards per punt. This aids the opposing team in a game of field position.
Lastly kicking has been a bright spot. The Buccaneers’ Ryan Succop is third overall in field goal percentage and perfect on attempts of 40 yards or more. Not bad considering the Buccaneers went through a long period of time where kicking was a huge issue.
Give how important field position battle is and the strength of Succop this special teams unit is a push for playoff caliber.
This team needs to pull it all together and play complete football. Until it does it is not a playoff caliber team. Here’s the silver lining as brought up by Greg Auman of The Athletic, six of the last eleven games are against 3-3 teams, three versus 2-4 teams, and two versus the 1-5 Panthers.
There is still time Buccaneers fans. This team can do it.
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