Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Football Geekery: A Deluge of Twos

The Buccaneers have made more two-point conversions this year than ever before…Plus, some interesting first career interception pairings in team history.

Last November, thanks to a response regarding his approach to game-planning, Dirk Koetter was briefly labeled as an "anti-analytics" coach. When it comes to drawing up his play sheet for a specific opponent, Koetter values breaking down tape of that opponent over studying a page of team statistics.

In reality – and has gradually become clear over his two seasons with the Buccaneers, first as offensive coordinator and now as head coach – Koetter uses statistical analysis as much as any coach. Perhaps more than some. In particular, he has studied and distilled the factors that are most correlated with winning and regularly presents his team with a list of statistical goals before a game.

The distinction, as is always the case with statistics, is how they are wielded. Numbers can be illuminating, even predictive. For Koetter, they will never take the place of the scouting he can do with his own eyes, but they can assist in that process.

That's our goal with Football Geekery.  Each week, we're going to give you a sampling of statistical and/or historical analysis, hopefully in a way that is relevant to the Buccaneers' current state of affairs.  This week, we look a little closer at the Buccaneers' history and current work on two-point conversion attempts. In addition, in a note more about historical interest than statistical breakdown, we study the history of Buccaneer defenders and which quarterbacks they victimized for their first career interceptions.

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1. Going for Two

On Thursday, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times took a look at the Buccaneers' body of work on two-point conversion attempts this season. Among Auman's findings were that Tampa Bay had more attempts than every team except Pittsburgh and more successful conversions against every team except Oakland; that Mike Evans is one of three players with a pair of receptions on two-point tries this year; and that Jameis Winston's four successful passes on two-point attempts is second only to the five thrown by Oakland's Derek Carr.

As Auman also noted, all of the Buccaneers' attempts this season have come in the fourth quarters of games and have been driven by the mathematics of the score at the time. For instance, Tampa Bay twice tried to turn a five-point deficit into a three-point game after scoring late TDs in a Week Three loss to the Rams. Neither worked, but Los Angeles also had a failed two-point conversion in between those two attempts by the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay has now tried as many two-point attempts this season as they have in any year since the option was introduced in the NFL in 1994. Evans' catch last Sunday in San Diego gave the Bucs four successful two-point tries this year, the most the team has ever had in one campaign. Here's the updated chart we ran several weeks ago detailing Tampa Bay's year-by-year efforts in the two-point arena:

Season

Made

Att.

Pct.

1994

3

6

50.0%

1995

0

1

0.0%

1996

1

2

50.0%

1997

0

3

0.0%

1998

3

6

50.0%

1999

0

2

0.0%

2000

1

1

100.0%

2001

3

4

75.0%

2002

2

3

66.7%

2003

1

2

50.0%

2004

1

4

25.0%

2005

1

1

100.0%

2006

0

0

n/a

2007

0

2

0.0%

2008

1

2

50.0%

2009

2

4

50.0%

2010

1

3

33.3%

2011

2

7

28.6%

2012

1

4

25.0%

2013

0

0

n/a

2014

0

0

n/a

2015

1

3

33.3%

2016

4

7

57.1%

Totals

28

67

41.8%

Overall, the Buccaneers have been one of the most active two-point teams in the NFL in the 23 seasons in which it has been an option. Only New Orleans (77), Indianapolis (73) and Detroit (68) have gone for two more often than the Buccaneers. On the other hand, with a 41.8% conversion rate on two-point tries through the years, Tampa Bay has only been the 26th-most successful team at using the strategy. Minnesota has been the best two-point team, followed by Houston and Pittsburgh. The league average is 46.6%.

The table below lists every team's two-point conversion attempt history since 1994. It is ranked by total attempts. The "Pct." column indicates the team's success rate on two-point tries. Since Carolina and Jacksonville entered the NFL in 1995 and Houston started in 2002, with the Cleveland franchise missing three seasons in the 1990s, those teams would be expected to have fewer overall attempts. The final two columns show each team's average number of attempts and successes per season.

Team

Seasons

Made

Att.

Pct.

Made/Yr.

Att./Yr.

Saints

23

29

77

37.7%

1.26

3.35

Colts

23

33

73

45.2%

1.43

3.17

Lions

23

29

68

42.6%

1.26

2.96

Buccaneers

23

28

67

41.8%

1.22

2.91

Vikings

23

40

65

61.5%

1.74

2.83

Steelers

23

37

62

59.7%

1.61

2.70

Rams

23

36

62

58.1%

1.57

2.70

Dolphins

23

23

62

37.1%

1.00

2.70

Bears

23

32

59

54.2%

1.39

2.57

Jaguars

22

31

59

52.5%

1.41

2.68

Titans

23

29

58

50.0%

1.26

2.52

Cardinals

23

23

58

39.7%

1.00

2.52

Jets

23

16

58

27.6%

0.70

2.52

Ravens

23

32

57

56.1%

1.39

2.48

Chiefs

23

19

57

33.3%

0.83

2.48

Redskins

23

25

56

44.6%

1.09

2.43

Patriots

23

24

54

44.4%

1.04

2.35

Broncos

23

27

53

50.9%

1.17

2.30

Seahawks

23

19

53

35.8%

0.83

2.30

Packers

23

28

52

53.8%

1.22

2.26

49ers

23

29

51

56.9%

1.26

2.22

Falcons

23

22

49

44.9%

0.96

2.13

Bills

23

21

49

42.9%

0.91

2.13

Raiders

23

21

45

46.7%

0.91

1.96

Bengals

23

19

45

42.2%

0.83

1.96

Giants

23

21

44

47.7%

0.91

1.91

Browns

20

20

44

45.5%

1.00

2.20

Chargers

23

18

43

41.9%

0.78

1.87

Eagles

23

20

42

47.6%

0.87

1.83

Cowboys

23

19

42

45.2%

0.83

1.83

Panthers

22

20

39

51.3%

0.91

1.77

Texans

15

15

25

60.0%

1.00

1.67

NFL Averages

23

25.2

54.0

46.6%

1.09

2.35

2. First Time for Everything

Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the Buccaneers' first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has had a strong rookie season, and his play has picked up considerably during the team's current four-game winning streak. In last Sunday's 28-21 victory at San Diego, Hargreaves had a hand in the game's biggest defensive play, deflecting a pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by linebacker Lavonte David.

Hargreaves has made 59 stops, broken up six passes and recorded three tackles for loss, but he doesn't yet have his first NFL interception. As a guest on Buccaneers Insider Live here on Buccaneers.com on Friday afternoon, Hargreaves admitted that the wait for his first NFL pick is something he thinks about often. Show host Casey Phillips pointed out that if Hargreaves is going to get one before his rookie season is over, there's a decent chance it could come against future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees. That's just playing the odds – two of the Bucs' final four games are against Brees's Saints.

A look back at all of the match-ups between the Buccaneers and the Saints.

If Hargreaves does pick off a Drew Brees, he'll join his teammate, safety Bradley McDougald, in a bit of personal career trivia. McDougald also secured his first NFL interception off Brees, in the 2014 season finale.

Brees has actually been on the delivery end of a first NFL interception for four different Buccaneers through the years, as safeties Will Allen and Larry Asante and linebacker Dekoda Watson all got on the board against him. That's obviously no knock on Brees; he's simply been playing for so long that he's encountered plenty of young players who are just getting started.

There are 101 different players who have had their first career regular-season NFL interception while playing for the Buccaneers. Brees is surely destined for the Hall of Fame, but some other former Bucs got their initial interceptions off quarterbacks who have since already been inducted into the Hall. Tampa Bay safeties Melvin Johnson and Damien Robinson, for instance, got #1 against Green Bay's Brett Favre. Terry Bradshaw delivered for Scott Brantley. Roger Staubach delivered for Richard Wood. Jeremiah Castille's first pick was off Ken Stabler (though by that point the famous Oakland Raider was in New Orleans.)

Pictures of the Saints' starting offense and defense, according to the team's depth chart.

There's even a Buccaneer who is now in the Hall of Fame along with the quarterback that threw his first interception: Derrick Brooks and John Elway. Elway was also the originator of the first pass picked off by former Buc great Donnie Abraham.

While Green Bay's Randy Wright also was the tosser of first career interceptions for four former Bucs, there's only one quarterback who has done it more often: the Packers' Lynn Dickey. Mike Washington, Hugh Green, David Logan, John Cannon and Ivory Sully all got #1 picks from Dickey.

Here are some other notable Buccaneer defenders paired with the quarterback that threw their first career regular-season interceptions:

  • Ronde Barber: Danny Kannell, Giants
  • Cedric Brown: Ron Jaworski, Eagles
  • John Lynch: Jeff Blake, Bengals
  • Brian Kelly: Kordell Stewart, Steelers
  • Aqib Talib: Matt Ryan, Falcons
  • Lavonte David: Peyton Manning, Broncos
  • Dexter Jackson: Quincy Carter, Cowboys
  • Keith Tandy: Russell Wilson, Seahawks
  • Shelton Quarles: Jay Fiedler, Dolphins
  • Warren Sapp: Jeff George, Falcons
  • Dewey Selmon: Fran Tarkenton, Vikings
  • Winston Moss: Don Majkowski, Packers
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