Before we get started on the actual pick, since we won’t be mentioning the Bucs otherwise (or maybe more truthfully… because I don’t want to waste all the work I did on them), let’s first take a look at why they traded for Darrelle Revis.
In 2012, seven of the top ten teams in the NFL in yards per pass attempt made the playoffs. They were the Redskins (1), 49ers (2), Seahawks (T-3), Broncos (5), Packers (6), Falcons (7) and Patriots (T-9). The 49ers, Falcons, and Patriots all made it at least to the Conference Championship games.
Two of the three top 10 teams in passing yards per attempt that did not qualify for the playoffs were a pair of Buccaneers division rivals, the Panthers (T-3) and the Saints (8).
In other words, if the Buccaneers intend on making a run at the Super Bowl anytime soon, they’re going to have to get through the most pass efficient teams in the NFL. Unfortunately, the strengths of the Bucs’ rivals do not line up very well with the strengths of the Bucs’ defense. In 2012, first year head coach Greg Schiano was successful in bringing an attitude to the Buccaneers defense in which they were not going to allow opposing offenses to run the ball on them. The Bucs finished #1 in run defense, surrendering just 82.5 rushing yards per game. However, they were dead last against the pass.
Here is where the Buccaneers finished in various pass defense metrics:
- Passing yards per game: 297.4. Dead last in the NFL.
- Passing yards per attempt: 7.9. 4th worst in the NFL.
- Passing TDs allowed: 30. 5th worst in the NFL.
- Completion percentage allowed: 65.4%. 5th worst in the NFL.
- Passing 1st downs allowed: 226. 3rd worst in the NFL.
- Pass completions of 20+ yards allowed: 69. 2nd worst in the NFL.
- Pass completions of 40+ yards allowed: 11. Tied for 5th worst in the NFL.
Those numbers are awful, of course, but they barely tell the story of just how terrible the Buccaneers pass defense really was in 2012. The game film paints a much uglier picture. Below are still shots of opposing wide receivers running absolutely wide open through the Buccaneers’ secondary last season. This is about as bad as it gets:
The Buccaneers went from the 32nd ranked rush D in the NFL in 2011 to the #1 ranked unit in 2012. That was a wildly impressive turnaround, and Schiano should be commended for that. However, today’s NFL, even with all the read option stuff that began to emerge last year, is still very much a passing league. If you have receivers running that wide open with that much frequency, it’s emblematic of poor scheme design, or players simply not doing their jobs. Many of the above still shots were plays that were run off of play action, and the Bucs were burnt because they were selling out to stop the run.
Shutting down the opponents’ run game is great and all, but if the Buccaneers have any hope of being serious contenders in 2013, their defense is going to have to be more balanced. Revis, if he can return to health, obviously improves the Bucs overnight.
As for the Jets’ pick, their need for a CB becomes rather obvious with Revis headed to Tampa. Perhaps the best press corner in this draft is Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes. A site by the name of Second Round Stats did film/analytic breakdowns of Rhodes, Alabama’s Dee Milliner, and Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks. The analytics say that Rhodes is the best of the three.
Rhodes is 6’1 and change, 210. Antonio Cromartie is listed at 6’2, 210. That would give the Jets one of the biggest CB duos in the league, and both players can run. Rhodes becomes the 3rd CB drafted in a row.