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Bucs' Blitzing Has Positive Impact | A Next Gen Look at Eagles-Bucs

The Bucs' defense didn't slow down Jalen Hurts and the Eagles' offense on Monday night but they did get significantly better results when they sent extra pass-rushers at the quarterback

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The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 25-11, on Monday night and finished with nearly 300 more yards than the home team. Those are obviously the numbers that matter the most for both teams in Week Three. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, last year's runner-up in the NFL MVP voting, threw for 277 yards, ran a touchdown in and repeatedly moved the chains with his team's patented "tush push" QB sneak play. It was an undeniably good evening for the fourth-year passer.

While all of that is true and important, the Buccaneers did find some defensive success with a specific strategy on Monday night. When they blitzed Hurts, which they did a lot, they made him a significantly less effective passer.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Bucs sent at least one extra pass-rusher at Hurts on 61.0% of his dropbacks, which is the second-highest blitz rate that he has faced in a game in his career. When he faced a blitz, Hurts threw 23 passes, completing 13 of them for 152 yards, no interceptions and two touchdowns. He compiled a -9.3% completion rate over expected (CPOE) and a Total Expected Points Added (EPA) of -8.8. Those are comfortably his worst numbers against the blitz this season, and those interceptions – by Devin White and Dee Delaney – were his first two in 2023.

Hurts' passer rating on those 25 throws against a blitz was 40.5. In contrast, he finished the game with a passer rating of 122.6 when he wasn't blitzed, completing 10 of 14 passes for 125 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The Bucs' blitzes weren't even extraordinarily effective at generating pressure, as Hurts was pressured on 33.3% of those snaps. However, that was far better than the Bucs' pressure rate on Monday night when they didn't blitz, which was 14.3%.

Other notes from Monday night's game, courtesy of NFL Next Gen Stats:

- The Bucs' rushing attack, which generated just 41 yards on 17 carries, was clearly not very effective. On of the main reasons for that was the amount of backfield penetration the Eagles' talented defensive front was able to get. Running backs Rachaad White and Sean Tucker were hit by a defender behind the line of scrimmage on 62.5% of their carries.

- On Tuesday morning, Bucs Head Coach Todd Bowles lamented the amount of YAC, or yards after the catch, that the Buccaneers' defense gave up to star Eagles wideout A.J. Brown. Brown finished the game with 131 yards on nine receptions, and 74 of those yards came after the catch. He was able to turn medium-range passes into big gains by exploiting off coverage and making the first defender miss. Brown was targeted 14 times in the game, and nine of those came against off coverage. That accounted for most of his production, as those nine targets generated eight completions for 103 yards. Hurts looked to Brown all night, targeting him on 42.5% of his routes, his highest target rate since joining the Eagles in a trade during the 2022 offseason.

- The Bucs' quick passing game worked much better than longer-developing plays on Monday night. Baker Mayfield completed 11 of his 13 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown when getting the pass off in under 2.5 seconds after the snap. His CPOE on those passes was a very strong +11.5%. When it took longer than 2.5 seconds to get the pass off, Mayfield completed only four of 12 for 32 yards and an interception, his first of the year.

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