Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Football Geekery: Records Set to Fall

Once again this year we channel our inner pigskin nerd and dive a little deeper into the statistics to help illuminate Buc football …This week: Charles Sims, Lavonte David and offensive improvement.

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

Statistics can help illuminate the game of football…or they can take us down a misleading path.  As Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith said: "I believe in stats, but it's [which] stats."

Smith, for instance, doesn't pay much attention to the NFL's defensive rankings, since they are based on yards, which he considers a meaningless measure.  When he shares defensive stats with his team, he focuses on points allowed, takeaways, scoring on defense and red zone proficiency.

Here on Buccaneers.com, we unabashedly love stats, but we also understand the need to wield them wisely.  Sometimes, we can get a better feel for why the team is performing as it is by going a little deeper into the numbers. Other times, we simply want to point out a few numbers we consider interesting, and hope you will find it interesting as well.

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 note that Charles Sims is doing more per scrimmage touch than any running back in the league, and potentially more than any other back in Buccaneer history. We also look at another exclusive club of which linebacker Lavonte David is a part, and note that Tampa Bay's offense has improved more this season than at any other point in the last four decades. Let's get started.

1. Sims Making the Most of His Touches

As we noted on Monday, running back Charles Sims could become the first player in franchise history to average at least five yards per carry and 10 yards per catch for an entire season, with at least 25 of each. He is currently the only player in the NFL with that distinction.

When you put those two categories together, Sims is doing more with his touches than any other running back in the league this year. All the backs below are on pace to hit the minimum of 100 total touches by the end of the season

Most Yards Per Touch, NFL RBs, 2015

Player, Team

Rush

Yds.

Rec.

Yds.

Touch

Yds.

Yds./Tch

Charles Sims, TB

103

514

42

487

145

1001

6.90

Theo Riddick, DET

41

129

76

668

117

797

6.81

David Johnson, AZ

114

556

33

423

147

979

6.66

Danny Woodhead, SD

93

325

72

704

165

1029

6.24

Karlos Williams, BUF

87

493

8

93

95

586

6.19

If Sims can finish the season strong at Carolina on Sunday, he might end up with the franchise single-season record for yards per touch by a running back. His mark through 15 games is just barely behind the standard set by Michael Pittman in 2005, and Sims looks like a lock to be the first running back in team annals to record over 1,000 yards from scrimmage while averaging more than six yards per touch.

Player

Year

Rush

Yds.

Rec.

Yds.

Touch

Yds.

Yds./Tch

Michael Pittman

2005

70

436

36

300

106

736

6.94

Charles Sims

2015

103

514

42

487

145

1001

6.90

James Wilder

1982

83

324

53

466

136

790

5.81

Mike Alstott

1996

96

377

65

557

161

934

5.80

Bobby Rainey

2014

94

406

33

315

127

721

5.68

James Wilder

1981

107

370

48

507

155

877

5.66

James Wilder

1987

106

488

40

328

146

816

5.59

Warrick Dunn

1997

224

978

39

462

263

1440

5.48

James Wilder

1989

70

244

36

335

106

579

5.46

Gary Anderson

1990

166

646

38

464

204

1110

5.44

With a slight bump in his average in the season finale, Sims could become just the eighth running back since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to average at least 7.0 yards per scrimmage touch and gain at least 1,000 yards. He's currently in the top 10 in yards per touch during that time for running backs with at least 1,000 yards from scrimmage.

Player

Year

Rush

Yds.

Rec.

Yds.

Touch

Yds.

Yds./Tch

Ronnie Harmon, SD

1992

55

235

79

914

134

1149

8.57

Darren Sproles, NO

2011

87

603

86

710

173

1313

7.59

Ronnie Harmon, SD

1991

89

544

59

555

148

1099

7.43

Marshall Faulk, STL

1999

253

1381

87

1048

340

2429

7.14

Paul Hofer, SF

1979

123

615

58

662

181

1277

7.06

Jamaal Charles, KC

2010

230

1467

45

468

275

1935

7.04

Charlie Garner, OAK

2002

182

962

91

941

273

1903

6.97

Herschel Walker, DAL

1986

151

737

76

837

227

1574

6.93

Charles Sims, TB

2015

103

514

42

487

145

1001

6.90

James Brooks, CIN

1986

205

1087

54

686

259

1773

6.85

2. David Does it All

Since entering the league as a second-round pick out of Nebraska in 2012, Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David has racked up 564 tackles, second in the NFL in that span only to Luke Kuechly's 582. Kuechly, David and D'Qwell Jackson are the only three players with 500 stops over the last four years, though Paul Posluszny could join them with seven tackles in Jacksonville's season finale.

But David hasn't simply been a tackling machine. He has also made many plays in the backfield and in pass coverage. His career marks include 12.0 sacks and 31 passes defensed, among other notable numbers. Jackson also has 12.0 sacks and 24 passes defensed since 2012; he and David make up half the list of players in that span who have at least 300 tackles, at least 10 sacks and at least 20 passes defensed.

Player

Team(s)

Tackles

Sacks

PD

Lavonte David

TB

564

12.0

31

D'Qwell Jackson

CLE/IND

541

12.0

24

Karlos Dansby

MIA/AZ/CLE

450

10.5

36

J.J. Watt

HOU

307

66.0

39

3. Better than Average

The Buccaneers head into their 2015 regular-season finale needing just 193 yards of offense to break the franchise single-season record in that category. They have 5,628 yards through 15 games, already their second-best mark behind the 5,820 put up in 2012. Though they face the NFL's fourth-ranked defense on Sunday, they remain a good bet to get those 193 yards and the record. The Bucs have averaged 375.2 yards per game this year, the Panthers are giving up 318.7 yards per outing and the first 2015 meeting between these two teams, in Week Four, included a 411-yard outing by Tampa Bay's offense.

Whether or not they get that mark, or potentially get to 6,000 yards for the first time in franchise annals, the Buccaneers have clearly fielded one of their most productive offenses ever in 2015. Of course, it's worth noting that the current NFL average for yards per game per team is 352.9, which would be a new league record, too. One has to account for the gradually increasing league-wide offensive numbers over the last four decades when determining how well the Bucs have done this year compared to their first 39 seasons.

Even with that caveat, however, the 2015 season has been one of the Buccaneers' best offensive campaigns, in terms of yards. Tampa Bay's per-game yardage total is 6.32% better than the league average, which is the second-best margin in team history. The Bucs have been better than league average just eight times, and at least five percent better just twice. Here are all 40 Buccaneer seasons, ranked by the difference between their offensive yardage output per game and the league average that year:

Season

Bucs

NFL

Diff

Pct.

2003

340.8

318.3

22.5

7.07%

2015

375.2

352.9

22.3

6.32%

2012

363.8

347.2

16.6

4.78%

2008

341.0

327.3

13.8

4.20%

1982

321.7

317.2

4.5

1.42%

1984

332.6

329.8

2.8

0.85%

2007

326.8

325.2

1.6

0.49%

1992

298.2

298.2

0.1

0.02%

1979

315.6

316.0

-0.3

-0.11%

2010

335.1

336.0

-0.9

-0.27%

1988

316.3

322.1

-5.8

-1.80%

1980

316.2

323.5

-7.3

-2.26%

1981

322.5

334.5

-12.0

-3.59%

2002

312.6

328.4

-15.8

-4.80%

2004

310.2

327.2

-17.0

-5.18%

1998

297.1

317.7

-20.6

-6.47%

1994

297.1

317.9

-20.8

-6.53%

2005

294.8

315.9

-21.1

-6.68%

1989

302.6

326.2

-23.6

-7.22%

2001

293.4

317.6

-24.2

-7.62%

2011

319.3

346.9

-27.6

-7.94%

2000

290.6

319.5

-28.9

-9.03%

1990

279.7

308.6

-28.9

-9.36%

1985

297.9

329.5

-31.6

-9.58%

1987

292.1

327.9

-35.8

-10.90%

1997

273.5

314.9

-41.4

-13.13%

1993

269.4

310.7

-41.3

-13.28%

1995

283.9

328.9

-45.0

-13.68%

2009

287.5

335.2

-47.7

-14.22%

1996

269.8

316.4

-46.6

-14.73%

1986

272.6

324.3

-51.7

-15.93%

2014

292.0

348.2

-56.2

-16.14%

2006

270.1

322.1

-52.0

-16.14%

1983

279.8

334.4

-54.6

-16.32%

1999

265.9

318.8

-52.9

-16.58%

1991

250.1

306.8

-56.7

-18.48%

2013

277.0

348.5

-71.5

-20.52%

1978

237.6

300.7

-63.1

-20.97%

1976

214.7

302.7

-88.0

-29.07%

1977

192.4

285.8

-93.4

-32.67%

The team has made a quick turnaround with the addition of such notable figures as offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, plus a reworked and more effective offensive line. The 2013 and 2014 seasons are two of the franchise's nine worst offensive seasons, relative to league average, as seen above.

The Bucs improved from 16.13% worse than league average in 2014 to 6.32% better in 2015. That swing of 22.46 percentage points is the biggest from one season to next in franchise history. Previously, the biggest improvement came between 1978 and the team's first playoff season in 1979, when the offense improved from 20.97% worse than league average to 0.11% worse. That was an improvement of 20.86 percentage points.

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