Lovie: Giving up pass plays can be misleading
When Bucs coach Lovie Smith was reminded Monday that his defense is allowing opponents to complete 69.3 percent of their passes -- the highest percentage in the NFL, and resetting a team record his defense set last season -- the coach was quick to dismiss the statistic as not being very relevant in today's NFL.
"First off," he said. "The completion rating can be misleading. You have to look at the context of how it's happening. I don't really go by that an awful lot. You can dump the ball off and get a one-yard gain and there's a completion, so I don't put a lot into that."
Perhaps he should. Lovie's Bucs have been last in the league in opponents' completion percentage in each of his two years in Tampa, with the two worst marks in the Bucs' 40-year history.
And across the league, teams that give up high completion percentages are consistently losing -- of the 10 worst teams in that statistic, none have clinched a playoff berth and only one (the 9-6 Steelers) is still alive for the postseason.
On the other side, the teams that give up the lowest completion percentage to opponents are consistently winners -- of the 12 teams allowing the lowest completion percentage, seven are already in the playoffs, and four others are still alive going into the final week, with only the 7-8 Bills out of contention.
The 10 worst teams in completion percentage allowed (including the Bucs) are a combined 62-88 this season; the 10 best teams in completion percentage allowed are a combined 101-49. So while a team can give up many different kinds of completions, as a rule, allowing a higher percentage of passes is a good indicator of a bad defense, if not a bad team ...