Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2013 Team Review: Completely Dysfunctional
Really, I could probably write this Tampa Bay Buccaneers review by using just one word: dysfunctional.
Whether it was Josh Freeman’s status at quarterback, the MRSA outbreak or head coach Greg Schiano’s next off-the-field move, it seemed like the Bucs, a team that usually sees little media attention, were hogging the camera throughout 2013.
Fortunately, each of those three things will (hopefully) be gone in 2014. Freeman is a free agent, Schiano is job searching too, and the MRSA bacteria appears to have been ousted within the facility.
We’ll remember the 2013 Buccaneers for their off-the-field madness, without a doubt. And while it seems like all was lost – and trust me, a lot was – for the NFC South team in 2013, let’s not forget that there still was a little bit of good to come out of the season.
Admittedly, it’s tough to say anything positive about a team that started the season 0-8, but not everything was MRSA, Freeman or Schiano related in 2013.
Let’s start with the defense. Though the team as a whole was pretty middle-of-the-road in terms of our Net Expected Points metrics (read more about Net Expected Points here), they did have some studs at every level of the D, including Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Darrelle Revis. McCoy and David were All-Pro level guys, while Revis made his fifth Pro Bowl of his career, the first with Tampa Bay.
But like I said, the team was average in total, finishing 15th in terms of Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points, with their pass defense ranking 15th and the rush defense finishing 12th. Slightly above average, sure, but nothing to write home about.
And a lot of the good from those NEP numbers more than likely stem from Tampa Bay’s takeaways this year. They finished tied for third in the NFL within the category, behind only Seattle and Kansas City, tied with Cincinnati and Philadelphia. If not for the opportunistic nature of the defense, they probably would’ve been ranked much lower defensively.
On the offense, there were a few guys that ended up putting together solid years. Vincent Jackson hit a career high in receptions, catching six more passes than he did during 2012, his first year in Tampa. However, his Reception NEP (which measures the number of points added on catches only) dropped by about 18 points compared to last year, and his Target NEP (points added on all targets) suffered dramatically due to dropped passes and poor quarterback play as well. He still was one of the better wideouts in the league though.
Another player to note is Tim Wright, the rookie pass-catching tight end who seemed to turn it on through the second half of the season. Wright caught 54 passes and finished 11th among all NFL tight ends in Reception NEP. And, unlike Vincent Jackson, Wright’s Target NEP was actually pretty good, coming in as the seventh-best among tight ends.
Aside from Greg Schiano’s coaching methods, there were many areas of the Bucs team that suffered in 2013. Because it’s a fantasy football-drive world, Doug Martin seems like a good place to start.
After finishing seventh among high-volume rushers (200-plus attempts) in 2012, the fantasy community was ready to give The Muscle Hamster an early first-round shot in 2013. A healthy offensive line was only adding to that idea.
But Martin failed to live up to his expectations, even if you disregard his season-ending torn labrum in his shoulder after six games. With his 128 attempts this season, Martin compiled a Rushing NEP of -12.64. Had he kept up that average per rush (-0.10 Rushing NEP per rush), Martin would have easily been a bottom-10 running back this season in terms of efficiency.
There are some things in Martin’s favor though. First, the offensive line play for Tampa Bay was poor all season long. Second, in Martin’s five full games, he faced three of numberFire’s top-five rush defenses, and his game against New England (not a top-five unit) was at a time where their stud run stuffer, Vince Wilfork was healthy. It’s not like he was seeing gaping holes.
Martin was only able to play a little over a game with rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, and while that could have made a difference for Dougie, it’s not as though Glennon’s season was anything spectacular. Yes, he was a rookie. And yes, it was natural for him to show some growing pains. But Glennon still ended the year with one of the worst (bottom 10) Passing NEP totals in the league, playing worse than guys like Case Keenum and Matt Flynn.
The Bucs also couldn’t get a pass rush, as they sacked opposing quarterbacks just 35 times this past year, four sacks off the league-worst Jaguars and Bears. They surprisingly, as I mentioned, were still able to create turnovers despite this.
What Should They Do?
Really, the Bucs already did what they really needed to do, and that’s fire Greg Schiano. It’s going to be exciting to see what Lovie Smith can do with what’s really not a bad team from a talent perspective, though it’ll be tough for them to immediately compete in a very good NFC South.
In terms of personnel, I’m of the belief that Mike Glennon isn’t a future NFL star, as most rookie passers who end up succeeding don't pull as bad of Passing NEP numbers as he did this year. I understand that Tampa Bay may not go after a quarterback in the draft though.
What they do need is a pass rush, as shown by their lack of sacks in 2013. They let defensive end Michael Bennett walk last year as he signed with Seattle (boy did he win there), thinking they had talent in-house to replace him. That didn’t happen, and now it seems like they’re in the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes.
Be prepared for them to look at upgrading an underperforming offensive line as well.