The Buccaneers did something Sunday they hadn’t done in a while: They scored first and never allowed the Jets to take the lead.
How long has it been since they’ve done that? How about the opener against the Bears? In every game between, they either never had a lead or had one and lost it.
Far too often this season, they’ve been playing from behind. In fact, when the offense has started a drive, Tampa Bay’s average lead has been -4.79 points, the sixth-worst margin in the NFL.
That’s a problem. But it’s also part of a trend, Football Outsiders data shows.
At the beginning of drives last season, the Bucs trailed, on average, by 2.29 points. And in 2015, Dirk Koetter’s first season as the play-caller, they trailed by 4.45 points.
Let’s go back to Koetter’s stints as an offensive coordinator in Atlanta and Jacksonville. What were the average margins when those teams started drives?
Average lead at the beginning of a drive for Koetter’s offenses
|Season||Team||Average lead (rank)|
All negative, except for in 2007 and 2012, his first seasons with the teams.
The 2011 season looks particularly ugly. That was quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s rookie season. He started 14 games, and Jacksonville scored more than 20 points in just one of them.
These margins don’t necessarily reflect the efficiency of an offense. It’s likely no coincidence that the Jaguars 2007 defense and the Falcons 2012 defense were arguably the best Koetter has ever shared a sideline with. As for the Bucs, aside from a stretch during the second half of last season, their defenses generally have been among the league’s weakest.
While it’s hard to draw very many definitive conclusions about Koetter’s offenses based solely on this data, we know one thing: He should be used to playing from behind.
His Bucs, however, might not have to rally Sunday against the Dolphins. Miami’s average deficit when it begins a drive? More than a touchdown.
Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.