2nd Team Getting Their First Start
"Total points" is not as accurate or good a stat as "points per drive."I could have said that in a lot of years, even ones we won the superbowl. An offense that does not turn the ball over and has good drives and produce points helps the defense greatly. Time off the field, not putting the D in bad positions. If you look at Tampa, in 2019 with the same guys they gave up a ton more points on defense, nobody considered them a good defense, then magically in 2020, their defense was almighty? I remember watching pats games even in great years being frustrated watching the defense not be able to get off the field on 3rd down, and getting zero pressure on the QB. Not to mention defense that have also have a great offense tend to make other teams take more chances which can also lead to turnovers. Complimentary football is the key. Its very rare that a defense is so great that they can have a bad offense and still not give up points.
Tampa as a team in 2019 allowed the 29th most point to opposing teams, but that includes interceptions or fumbles taken back to the house, punt and kick returns taken to the house. Consider that Jameis Winston led the NFL in turnovers in 2019, he threw 30 interceptions and fumbled the ball 12 times... he was a wreck. Conversely Tampa's defense allowed 17th most points per drive, and even that number was skewed by Winston's historically bad turnover problem. How many of those opponent's drives started in Tampa territory or in the red zone?
Tampa's talent on D never wavered, it only improved. They were #1 in run stops, their DT's were amazing. One of their best pass rushers Pierre-Paul was dinged up in 2019, they had two rookies and a sophomore playing corner in the defensive backfield who had to improve and needed another safety. Devin White is a game changing linebacker, if he remains healthy he's on a fast track to the HOF.
In 2020 the Buc's D (with a better QB) was 6th in points per drive, 6th in total yards, 5th in forced turnovers, 1st in rushing still. They were a top five defense. The real issue with that team early in the season wasn't defense but offense. They thought they didn't need to run the ball and they also led the NFL in penalties for the first third of the season. They got absolutely shellacked by the Saints where the Buc's offense set an NFL record fewest rushing attempts (4) in a single game. They had to learn that despite having the best receiving weapons probably in NFL history, no team can afford to be one dimensional.
This is the NFL, rosters change quickly and what happened yesterday has no bearing on today. Tom chose wisely, Bruce Arians and Licht the GM did a great job filling the roster holes last offseason. Tom choosing Tampa is a lot like Phil Jackson choosing the Jordan/Pippen Bulls or Shaq/Kobe Lakers. The 2020 Bucs were a super-team, an all-star team... they will be again in 2021 if they remain healthy.