Everybody knows that Tom Brady walked right into the perfect situation, or did he? I have been bullish on what I believe Tampa Bay can accomplish with Tom Brady under center. There is no doubt that Brady can make a difference, but there are questions that need to be answered.
High Impact Play Rate Analysis (Macro-Level Analysis)
To begin the evaluation process, we need to examine the 2019 Tampa Bay offensive High Impact Play Rate (HIP Rate). The HIP Rate provides us with a high-level view of the Tampa Bay 2019 offensive performance. The High Impact Play Rate evaluation will allow us to diagnose the successes or failures of the offensive team performance.
2019 Offensive Hip Rate
In 2019 the Tampa Bay offense had the 20th ranked offense according to offensive HIP Rate despite the fact that they ranked 4th in scoring offense (28.2 ppg). The obvious negative for the Bucs in 2019, sacks, and turnovers. Tampa Bay led the league in INT's (30) and ranked 12th in sacks given up (47).
Explosive Plays Helped Drive The Bucs Offense In a Positive Way
Tampa Bay led the league in explosive plays of 20 yards or more (85), and they led in explosive play rate (7.83%). The Bucs found ways to score and hit the home run play and that kept them in a lot of close games.
The Interceptions Were the Ultimate Undoing
The difference between the Tampa being a playoff-contending team in the NFC South and their 7-9 finish can be laid at the feet of a 30 interception season. The Bucs lost 6 games by one possession in 2019, including 3 of the 9 within 4 points or less. In all 9 of their losses, they averaged 3.22 turnovers per game (fumbles included) vs their 7 wins where they averaged 1.71 turnovers per game.
How Can Tom Brady Impact the Tampa Bay Offense in 2020?
The acquisition of Tom Brady was the splash move of the NFL offseason. There is no doubt that Brady's leadership and will to win can make a tremendous difference in Tampa Bay. We have completed every play situational analysis covering 2019 Jameis Winston and 2019 Tom Brady.
Situational (every play) Analysis (Micro-Level Analysis)
Now that we have diagnosed the Tampa Bay offense using our High Impact Play Rate Rate tool, we can dig deeper in search of the details of what could have affected the performance of Jameis Winston and how Tom Brady can make a difference by evaluating the finer micro-level details for each player.
The Five Questions That Need Answers
Tampa Bay's 2019 OL performance and who is returning
The 2019 Tampa Bay OL held their own in pass pro. We graded them as a B average ranking. The left side of the OL performed at the highest level in 2019 with Ali Marpet grading out the highest with a B+ in pass pro. LT Donovan Smith graded out as a B average performer giving up five sacks in 2019, with LG Ali Marpet allowing two sacks and center Ryan Jenson giving up two sacks. The RG Alex Cappa graded out as the worst OL with a C- pass-blocking grade giving up four sacks, while RT Demar Dotson gave up five sacks. Tampa Bay gave up a total of 47 sacks in 2019, with their starting offensive line being charged with allowing 21 total sacks (this includes reserve OL). The remainder of the sacks is credited to the QB for holding onto the football for too long or evacuating the pocket to soon.
The effect QB release time can have on the success of an OL.
We can already conclude that the Tampa Bay OL is average to above average. They did draft an instant impact player (Tristan Wirfs) from Iowa, who we believe can provide immediate support at RT as a rookie. What we can gain from the film on Jameis Winston is that, on average, he had adequate time to throw. He did attempt the highest number of passes of any QB in 2019 (626). Winston ranked 8th in the NFL in total QB scrambles (31). On 18 of the 31 scrambles, Winston evacuated the pocket too early, often skittish and not giving his receivers a chance even to finish their routes. Jameis faced the 8th most QB pressures in the league (55) tied with Tom Brady. His average QB release time from snap to throw (2.5 sec). Winston faced the league's 8th highest blitz rate of 38.5%. Winston threw into a tight window on 17% of his throws in 2019 and ranked 31st in the NFL in Bad Throw Rate (20.6%) of his throws were into coverage. Winston's on-target throw rate ranked 34th (69.9%).
Tom Brady Comparison Analysis
Let's compare 2019, Tom Brady, to 2019 Jameis Winston. Let's start with an overview of the 10th ranked New England Offensive High Impact Play Rate (16.44%). The Patriots offense was efficiency but ranked in the top 10 of explosive play rate. They gave up 12 sacks, 9 INT's, and 3 Fumbles. The Converted 38% of their third down plays. Tampa Bay converted 3% more of their third downs compared to New England in 2019. Both teams ranked in the middle of the league and were average on third-down conversion rate in 2019.
The Patriots OL was above average to good and graded out as a B+ in pass pro. They yielded the 27th most sacks in the league (28) with 2019 starting OL being charged with 12 of the 28 total sacks. Brady attempted the 4th most pass attempts (613). Brady, who we know is one of the most patient players in the pocket we have ever seen, scrambled out of pocket only three times. Brady does lack mobility in the pocket, but he is the best at feeling the pressure and sidestepping it to buy time, allowing the WR's to finish their routes or find the open area in coverage. Brady faced pressure on 8.97% of his throws (22nd Most). Brady faced the same number of pressure plays as Winston (55). Tom Brady's QB release time of 2.5 is the same as Jameis Winston's release time. Brady had the 4th highest bad throw rate (20.6%) tied with Winston. Brady had the 22nd highest on-target throw rate (23.1%). Winston's on-target rate of 69.9% ranked 34th.
A few additional variables that we are taking into account when comparing Brady vs. Winston include 20+ yd high Impact Pass Plays. Winston ranked 1st in the NFL (113) and Brady, who ranked 15th (60). When attempting a pass in a Big Time Moment, such as a key third down, or critical play at a key moment in the game, Winston ranked 8th (19) vs. Tampa Tom, who ranked 12th (18).
Did Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich's scheme and play-calling hurt Winston's performance?
There is no question that Arians likes to open up the offense and attack the defense vertically. Tampa has the weapons to attack vertically, but did they try to attack vertically too much? After reviewing every Winston INT from 2019, we discovered that the Bucs had at least three or more receivers running vertical routes on 19 of the 30 plays where Winston threw an INT. Also, only 1/3 of the plays where Winston threw an INT provided him with a check down out of the backfield. To add insult to injury, Winston faced a 3, or 4 man rush on 20 out of the 30 plays he threw an INT. Winston made a bad read or a bad throw missing the WR either with an overthrow or behind the receiver on 28 of his 30 INT's.
There is no doubt that Brady will improve the INT rate, and that alone will win the Bucs a few more games in 2020. Bruce Arians play-calling might need to include more underneath options and check-downs for Brady as he is an excellent short and intermediate thrower. Brady still has the arm strength to go downfield when needed, and even while lacking weapons in New England, Brady still ranked 9th in the NFL in total intended air yds (4638). Winston by comparison, ranked number one in the NFL (6486). The next closest to Winston in intended air yds, Dak Prescott with 5539 intended air yds in 2019. While Winston still ranked atop the league in completed air yds, he only connected on 50.09% of those air yds amassing 3249 completed air yds. Vs. Tom Brady, who was far less impressive who ranked 20th, connecting on 48% of his intended air yds with 2233.
The allure of Tom Brady in Tampa
Tom Brady is not the Tom Brady from 16-0 2007 New England Patriots, but this might be the best collection of receivers from the TE position, to the outside and slot receivers that Brady has had since the 2007 season. Brady threw for 50 TD's in 2007, and he also had Randy Moss. There is not a Randy Moss on this current Tampa Bay roster, but they do have Mike Evans, who is one of the top vertical threats in the NFL, Chris Godwin who is one of the best route runners can man the slot but will likely play the Z. Bucs fans and players have a lot to be excited about in 2020 but don't expect 2007 Tom Brady to show up.
What We Expect to Happen
The numbers tell a story of two very different situations, yet both players had their woes in 2019. Brady lacked a deep threat at WR, while Winston had several vertical threats to choose from yet he often chose a player on the opposite team. Brady brings great leadership and experience to a team that has not reached the playoffs since the year mentioned above that Tom Brady and the Pats went 16-0 in the regular season. Let that sink into your mind. The Bucs not only boast a bevy of young talent on offense but their defense when not placed in bad situations by way of offensive turnovers, were very good in 2019. Brady will do what he does best in his 40's, make great decisions from the pocket, and protect the football even when under pressure.
Our expectations are very high in Tampa Bay for the 2020 season because of the addition of Tom Brady. The biggest question to be answered will be how well Tom Brady adapts to Bruce Arians or vice versa. If Arians allows Brady to provide some insight into the playcalling or design, that might be the best route to go. I do not expect the Bucs will come out throwing 113 deep routes in 2020; I do expect them to use the pass to open up the run game, which aside from the offensive line, needs to see big improvements in 2020. We have projected that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are capable of winning the NFC South and reaching the NFC Championship game in 2020.
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