Colts vs Buccaneers: Breaking Down the Numbers


The Indianapolis Colts host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week and we break down the numbers on this week’s foe.

The Colts (5-5) host the Buccaneers (5-5) Sunday afternoon. Before the season, this was seen as an easy win for the Colts facing a rookie QB, at home, and against a team that won just two games last year. But that is no longer the case.

Jameis Winston has shown that he can be a capable leader and is fresh off his best game of the season. Last week, Winston tossed five touchdowns on the road against the Eagles. There hasn’t been much of a correlation this season between Winston’s play and the Bucs win-loss record. He can have a bad game, and they still manage to win.

The Bucs have even managed to do it on the road, holding a 3-2 record away from Tampa Bay. What was once an easy out is made more difficult for the Colts with a plethora of injuries, but thankfully they get to face the Bucs at home.

Here’s what the numbers have to say about this week’s opponent:

The Buccaneers on Offense

Yardage: 9th overall (pass: 23rd; rush: 2nd)
Points per Game: 23.6 ppg, 12th
Efficiency: 18th overall (pass: 15th; rush: 17th)
Third down: 41.4%, 12th

The Bucs certainly aren’t bad on offense, but they aren’t unstoppable either. Lately their offensive line has played extremely well and if there is anything that helps a rookie QB, great protection is at the top of the list.

Last week we talked about the Falcons basically being a three option offense, well the Bucs have just two primary options. Doug Martin and Mike Evans lead the team in rushing and receiving, respectively, by a wide margin. Martin is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards and average five a carry. Evans has 44 receptions for 725 yards, far and away the team’s leading receiver, but is also fourth in the NFL in dropped passes.

Winston has a bad habit of focusing only on Evans, which is why he’s been targeted 94 times this season, nearly twice as much as the next player. Evans is the team’s best receiver, but this is a typical habit of a rookie QB (Andrew Luck did the same thing with Reggie Wayne in 2012).

What this means for the Colts on Defense

A lot will depend on the health and availability of Vontae Davis. The Colts need Davis out there to shadow Evans, otherwise he could have a field day against Toler. It would also help to get Mike Adams back, even though Clayton Geathers played well last week.

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The Colts have done a good job against the run this season, but it remains to be seen if that will hold up without Henry Anderson. The Colts were lucky that Devonta Freeman was knocked out of last week’s game, and Martin definitely presents a challenge for the run defense. But while Martin is talented, he can be a bit boom-or-bust. He’s hit the 100-plus yards mark in four of their 10 games, meaning he isn’t the model of consistency (but he is coming off a 235 yard game vs the Eagles).

We could also talk about generating pressure on Winston, but that sounds like a broken record and not something we can expect to get better anytime soon.

The Buccaneers on Defense

Yardage Allowed: 13th overall (pass: 13th; rush: 14th)
Points per Game: 24.5 ppg, 26th
Efficiency: 15th overall (pass: 20th; rush: 5th)
Third down: 43.3%, 29th

The Bucs are about average on defense. They don’t have a great defensive line and really struggle on third down. The Bucs have issues with getting opponents off the field but are fifth in the league with 20 takeaways. They basically either give up a score or get a turnover.

The Bucs are not very good in coverage. They are hot or cold against primary receiving threats, but then the secondary drops off a cliff as they can’t cover number twos or slot receivers. It would be more surprising if the Bucs secondary had a good game on Sunday.

But as bad as that unit has been, the linebackers have been worse. Pro Football Focus gives OLB Danny Lansanah a 59.8 grad for the season (PFF grades on a 100 point scale, like Madden). And Lansanah is the highest graded linebacker, meaning their entire linebacking corps grades at below replacement level players level.

What this means for the Colts on Offense

The Colts should be able to move the ball fairly easily against the Bucs. Tampa Bay’s defense takes a lot of risks, and sometimes it pays off but Matt Hasselbeck has played a lot of mistake free football this season.

The big question will be how a revamped offensive line deals with the Bucs. Their line struggles to stop the run but ranks 10 in adjusted sack rate. Stopping Gerald McCoy will be key as he is one of the better interior pass rushers in the league.

The Colts won’t just have their way with the Bucs defense, but they will be able to move the ball (and more than likely score when they get into the red zone). There will be plenty of matchups for the Colts to exploit this Sunday.