A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' game against the Cardinals.
Bryan Anger is off to a good start as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
The Buccaneers signed Anger as an unrestricted free agent in March after the former third-round pick played four solid seasons in Jacksonville. Anger competed with incumbent Jacob Schum throughout training camp and the preseason and emerged with the job after a strong August. That good run has continued into September as the games have begun to count.
In his regular-season Buccaneer debut in Atlanta in Week One, Anger boomed five punts for 247 yards, leading to a gross average of 49.4 and a net average of 45.0. On Sunday in Glendale, Arizona, he followed up with six punts for 282 yards, with a nest of 47.0 and a gross of 42.5. In the two games combined, Anger has dropped five of his 11 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
Anger is the first Tampa Bay punter to post a gross average of 45.0 or better in consecutive games since Michael Koenen did so over the last three contests of 2013.** If one makes the cut-off a gross of 47.0 or better, the last such streak was by Koenen in 2011 against New Orleans and Chicago on Oct. 16 and 23.
Anger is also the first Buccaneer punter to have a net average of 42.0 or better in consecutive games since Koenen in 2011, in that same pair of outings against the Saints and Bears.
After two weeks, Anger ranks sixth in the NFL in net punting average, with a mark of 43.6 yards per punt. As a team, the Buccaneers haven't ranked in the top 10 – or even the top 20 – in net punting average since 2011, when Koenen led the way to a seventh-place finish. Tampa Bay's average end-of-season ranking in net punting over the past four seasons was 27th.
Obviously, there is a long way to go before Anger is truly in position to break any team punting records. However, he is off to a fine start. Here are the marks he'll be chasing – the top five single-season performances for Tampa Bay in the categories of gross punting average, net punting average and punts downed inside the 20:
Best Single-Season Gross Punting Averages, Buccaneers
Best Single-Season Net Punting Averages, Buccaneers
Most Single-Season Punts Inside the 20, Buccaneers
The Buccaneers won their season opener in Atlanta despite not forcing a single turnover, marking just the 10th time in team history they've done that. They weren't quite so lucky on Sunday in Arizona, when a negative-5 turnover ratio was the single biggest factor leading to a 40-7 loss to the Cardinals. Arizona snared four interceptions and recovered a fumble and the Bucs' defense was once again shut out in the turnover department.
Amazingly, that marks the first time in the Bucs' 41-season history that the team has gone two games into the season without securing a single takeaway. Turnovers can be a fickle statistic, even for teams that are generally good at taking the ball away. Still, the Bucs are on an amazingly cold streak in that department. Dating back to last season, Tampa Bay has finished five of its last six games without a takeaway. A turnover-free streak from Weeks 14-16 in 2015 was just the second time the Buccaneers had ever gone three straight games without forcing a turnover, and the first time 31 years. Over its last eight games, stretching back to November 29 of last year, Tampa Bay has recorded a total of three takeaways. That's the fewest in the NFL in that span; the New York Giants are next with five takeaways. The Cardinals are first on that list with 21 takeaways over their last eight contests.
The Buccaneers will play their home opener next Sunday against the visiting Los Angeles Rams after spending the season's first two weeks on the road. This marks the fifth time that the team has been given a schedule with road games in Weeks One and Two, and the third time out of those five that they managed a split. In three of the previous four seasons on the list, the Bucs enjoyed their homecoming, winning the home opener in Week Three. Here are the five seasons in which the Bucs opened with consecutive games away from home:
Notice the unbroken upward trend of the Bucs' final season record in each of those campaigns. The Bucs would like to continue that trend in 2015.
Tampa Bay's run defense has been strong through two games despite having to face such standouts from 2015 as Atlanta's Devonta Freeman and Arizona's David Johnson. Through two weeks, the Buccaneers rank eight in the NFL in rush defense, allowing 76.5 ground yards per game. On a per-carry basis, Tampa Bay has fared even better, allowing just 3.00 yards per carry to rank third in the NFL. Only Green Bay (1.63) and Seattle (2.84) have done better.
The Buccaneers have yet to allow an opposing running back to break into the clear on a handoff in 2016. The longest run by any of the Falcon and Cardinal ballcarrier was 10 yards. Tampa Bay is the only team in the NFL that has yet to allow a carry of more than 10 yards in 2016.