Pewter Power Rankings is a weekly feature compiled by PewterReport.com’s Fantasy Football Analyst Andrew Scavelli every Tuesday during the regular season. Each week Scavelli will rank the league’s teams from best to worst based on their performance and outlook going forward at that point of the season, with a focus on the Buccaneers.
CURRENT BUCCANEERS RANKING: 16 (-8)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week I stated that more questions would be answered about Tampa Bay’s defense after their matchup against a struggling Chicago offensive attack and after giving them the benefit of the doubt through the first three games, it’s safe to say that we now know their real identity and it’s not good. In fact, this unit is currently on pace for historical ineptitude. Through the first quarter of the season this Buccaneers defense has given up the most points per game in the NFL with an average of 34.8, allows an average of 445.8 yards per game and the most yards per play (7.0), and has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 77.1 percent of their passes for 1,432 yards with 13 touchdowns and only one interception. To put that in perspective, last season’s Bucs defense that finished last in the league allowed an average of 23.9 points and 378 yards per game. If this side of the ball does not improve upon its current production or lack thereof, it will finish the season as the worst statistical defense in NFL history.
The good news for Tampa Bay is that they are not lacking in talent on defense and have a front seven that most teams around the league would be pleased to field, so this issue looks to stem from poor coaching and scheme. The bye week could not have come at a better time either for this team as they now have two weeks to attempt to correct these problems and did so after a bye week before in Mike Smith’s first season as defensive coordinator. It remains to be seen if this Bucs team can make those similar adjustments for a second time in three years but their postseason chances going forward are riding on it.
If I was ranking the Bucs solely based upon their defensive statistics they would be 31st on this list but one side of the ball does not paint the entire picture of a team, as the Chiefs would be at the very bottom for their defensive effort and they currently sit second from the top with a perfect 4-0 record. Tampa Bay’s offense faced the toughest defense they’ll play this year in Chicago and was doomed from the start, but I still believe they can carry the team to a few more wins on their own. Ryan Fitzpatrick certainly had a lot to do with that in the first two games and now that the curtain has closed on the Fitzmagic show, Jameis Winston must also replicate that similar success he had when running this system in the preseason. As long as the offense can hold up and produce like it did outside of last Sunday, even without any help from their defense, this team should be able to remain in the middle of the pack and that’s exactly where they fell to at 16 this week.