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Football Geekery, Week 13

Posted Nov 29, 2013

Channeling our inner pigskin nerd, we dive a little deeper into the statistics generated by the Bucs from week to week...This week we look at the turnover-victory correlation and more

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mike Glennon's performance in Seattle stands out among all the passers to visit CenturyLink Field the last two years
  • The Buccaneers' +10 turnover ratio and 3-8 record are a very unusual pairing
  • Immediately following a long losing streak with a long winning streak is also uncommon in Buc annals
A wise Buccaneer man once said, "Stats are for losers."  We concede the point, in that the ultimate worth of a football game is found in letters (Ws and Ls) rather than numbers.  Still, if treated right, the numbers can bring us a greater understanding of how wins and losses occur, or at the very least entertain us.  We hope to do that each week with our football geekery, giving you a closer look at a few pieces of statistical analysis, hopefully in a way that is relevant to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' current state of affairs.

Let's get started.

**

1. Seattle Slew of Stats

On Wednesday, Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon was named the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month in recognition of the four excellent games he strung together in November.  Glennon compiled a superb passer rating of 119.7 over the span of those four games, of which the Buccaneers won three.  The only contest that wasn't a victory during Glennon's great November was the Week Nine overtime loss at Seattle; however, that was actually one of the rookie's most impressive performances during that four-game run.

As you've surely heard ad nauseam, there are no "moral victories" in the NFL, so Glennon probably doesn't look back on that game in Seattle very fondly. Still, it might be the most surprising of his four November performances when one factors in the surroundings.  Simply put, it has been a long time since any quarterback has enjoyed an outing at Seattle's CenturyLink Field, and nobody that has visited that venue in the last two seasons has done better than Glennon.

So far, Seattle has won all 13 of its home games during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.  They've won many of them by wide margins (58-0 over Arizona in 2012, 42-13 over San Francisco last year, 41-20 over Minnesota in 2013, etc.) and they have almost always put the clamps on the opposing quarterback.

-- S K. McCray was part of the Bucs' turnover barrage of the past two weeks
In fact, Glennon is the only visiting quarterback to play in the Seahawks' home over the past two seasons who has finished the game with more touchdowns thrown than interceptions.  Glennon tossed two scoring passes and was not picked; the other QBs on the list combined to throw seven touchdown passes and 20 interceptions over 12 games.  Only one other quarterback threw two touchdown passes – New England's Tom Brady last year – and he also threw two picks.

Glennon's numbers stand out in a variety of ways when compared to all the others who have tried to best Seattle's defense in the NFL's most daunting stadium.  For instance, his passer rating of 123.1 is a full 41.6 points higher than the next best mark on the list, an 81.5 put up by Aaron Rodgers in 2012.  Here's a look at all 14 performances by visiting quarterbacks who have played at CenturyLink Field over the last two seasons and how they have fared in some key categories.  They are ranked by passer rating, in descending order.

QB

Team

Score

Cmp%

Yds./Att.

TD-INT

Rtg.

Glennon

TB

L 24-27

73.9%

7.30

2-0

123.1

Rodgers

GB

L 12-14

66.7%

5.72

0-0

81.5

Brady

NE

L 23-24

62.1%

6.81

2-2

79.3

Bradford

STL

L 13-20

59.5%

6.00

1-1

74.7

Romo

DAL

L 7-27

57.5%

6.28

1-1

74.1

Kaepernick

SF

L 13-42

52.8%

6.78

1-1

72.0

Lindley *

AZ

L 0-58

47.1%

3.47

0-0

55.8

Ponder

MIN

L 20-41

59.1%

5.86

1-2

53.0

Fitzpatrick

TEN

L 13-20

58.6%

5.90

0-2

46.8

Henne

JAX

L 17-45

47.4%

6.18

0-2

45.4

Sanchez

NYJ

L 7-28

40.9%

5.64

0-1

40.7

Ponder

MIN

L 20-30

50.0%

2.86

0-1

37.3

Kaepernick

SF

L 3-29

46.4%

4.54

0-3

20.1

Skelton *

AZ

L 0-58

50.0%

3.36

0-4

18.2


Glennon has the highest mark in every category.  Only he, Rodgers and Brady managed to complete more than 50.0% of their passes.  Glennon's yards per pass attempt, a very respectable 7.30, contrasts sharply with many of the passers on the list; in fact, four of them failed to crack even 5.00 in that category.  In one respect, Glennon's performance was the same as the rest: None of them resulted in victory.  Still, his ability to handle the difficult conditions in Seattle at least had his team in the game right down to the wire.

2. Bucking the TO Trend

The Buccaneers' Week 12 win in Detroit was built primarily on five takeaways by Tampa Bay's defense, while the offense managed to avoid even a single turnover.  That followed a Week 11 win over Atlanta that included a 3-0 turnover ratio, and as we pointed in Stat Shots earlier in the week, that represents the first time since 1995 that a Buccaneer team  has produced at least eight takeaways and committed zero turnovers in a two game span.

Overall, the Buccaneers now have a +10 turnover ratio on the season, which is a bit incongruous with the team's 3-8 record in the standings.  Tampa Bay is tied for fourth in that department with the 8-3 Carolina Panthers, ranking behind only the 9-2 Kansas City Chiefs, the 7-5 Dallas Cowboys and the 10-1 Seattle Seahawks.  The eternal coaches' adage that turnovers lead to victory is proven true season after season, and a team like the 2013 Buccaneers is an aberration.

That's true within the framework of just Bucs history, as well.  While there isn't an unwavering connection between seasons with better turnover ratios and seasons with more victories over the first 37 seasons in franchise history, the overall correlation is strong.  In the table below, we've split those 37 seasons into nine different categories of turnover ratio, from plus-16 or better to minus-16 or worse.  One of those nine categories is a completely even season turnover ratio, which has yet to happen in Tampa Bay annals.  As you can see, while the win percentage doesn't progress totally from best to worst as you move down the chart, the seasons on the top half are definitely more successful than the ones on the bottom.

TO Ratio

Seasons

Win %

+16 or better

4

.625

+11 to +15

1

.563

+6 to +10

2

.656

+1 to +5

9

.378

Even

0

n/a

-1 to -5

10

.424

-6 to -10

5

.186

-11 to -15

3

.313

-16 or worse

3

.250


The correlation is actually not particularly strong around the middle, as Buccaneer teams with a slightly positive turnover ratio have performed worse than those with a slightly negative ratio.  It's as the ratios become more heavily weighted one way or another that it becomes clear how important takeaways and giveaways can be.  The Buccaneers have had only seven previous seasons with a ratio of +6 or better, as they currently do in 2013, and their overall winning percentage in those campaigns is .625.

If the Buccaneers don't significantly change either their +10 turnover ratio or their .273 winning percentage by the end of the season, 2013 will go down as one of the most obvious outliers in the TO-victory correlation in team history.  At the moment, that designation would probably fall to the 1979 NFC Central Championship team that went 10-6 despite a minus-3 turnover ratio. On the flip side, the 1978 team had a plus-5 ratio but finished just 5-11.

3. Streak Upon Streak

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers take a 3-8 record into their rematch with Carolina on Sunday, and they got to that standing in the most divergent way possible, losing eight in a row and then winning three in a row.  One more victory would mark the 2013 season as perhaps the most unusual in franchise history.

Only five times before, over the course of 37 seasons, have the Buccaneers immediately followed a losing streak of at least three games with a winning streak of at least three games in the same season.  This year's pair of streaks is the first such entry on that list since 1999.  Only one time have the Bucs followed a streak of three or more losses with a streak four or more wins; that occurred in 1996.  Here are the five previous win streak-loss streak pairings on the list, with the "Games" columns indicating which set of games during the season in which the streak occurred:

Season

Win Streak

Games

Loss Streak

Games

1994

6

6-11

4

12-15

1996

3

7-10

3

10-12

1997

3

6-8

3

9-11

1998

3

9-11

3

12-14

1999

4

4-7

3

8-10

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