Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Presented by

Lavonte David, Calijah Kancey Stuff the Run | A Next Gen Look at Lions-Bucs

The Buccaneers' run defense was a bright spot in their Week Six loss to Detroit, and both veteran Lavonte David and rookie Calijah Kancey had strong efforts to lead the way


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Detroit Lions, 20-6, on Sunday and no one in the Buccaneers' locker room is looking for silver linings or moral victories. That said, in a positive development, the other three teams in the NFC South also lost in Week Six, which allowed Tampa Bay to remain in first place by a half game over the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. Fittingly, next up for the Buccaneers is the Falcons at Raymond James Stadium in Week Seven.

In another positive development amid an otherwise unsuccessful effort, the Buccaneers' run defense had a very good performance against one of the league's best rushing attacks. The Lions came into the game ranked seventh in the NFL in rushing yards, at 141.0 per game; the Buccaneers held them to more than 100 yards below that average. Detroit finished the contest with 40 yards on 22 carries, averaging 1.8 yards per tote. That total was not depressed by a large amount of kneel-downs at the end of each half, either. Lions quarterback Jared Goff kneeled just once for a loss of one on the game's final play.

The Bucs' run defense held Detroit to its lowest single-game ground total since Week Six of the 2021 season and it's lowest average per carry since Week 11 of the 2016 season. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, it was Tampa Bay's best performance against the run in 2023, as the defense held the Lions to -33 rushing yards over expected (RYOE). That's tied for the ninth best performance this season by any defense against any opponent's rushing offense.

Next Gen Stats (NGS) defines a play as being successful if: 1) on first down, it gains 40% of the necessary yards for a new first down; 2) on second down if it gains 50% of the necessary yards for a new first down; and 3) on third or fourth down if it earns a first down or a touchdown. The Buccaneers' defensive success rate against the Lions was a strong 72.7%. That's Tampa Bay's best performance this season by that metric, as well.

Tampa Bay defenders were able to hit the Lions' ballcarriers at or behind the line of scrimmage on 54.5% of their carries, leading to an average yards before contact per carry (YBC/C) of -0.7. That's tied for the fifth best mark in that category by any defense in a single game this season.

Veteran linebacker Lavonte David led the charge for the Bucs' defense, recording a team-leading 12 tackles. According to NGS, David's efforts included four stops and two stuffs. Stops are defensive plays that keep the offense from having a successful play, as defined above. Stuffs are tackles made at or behind the line of scrimmage. Defensive lineman Vita Vea also had two run stuffs in the game.

A less heralded member of the Buccaneers' defense who pitched in well against the Lions is outside linebacker Cam Gill. Gill was credited by NGS as making two "hustle stops." Hustle stops are defined as successful defensive plays on which the defender ran 20 or more yards to make the tackle. Relatedly, while neither David nor fellow off-ball linebacker Devin White was credited with a hustle stop against the Lions, they are the NFL's leading practitioners of such plays. Since 2019, White's rookie season, he has recorded 73 hustle stops, the second highest total in the NFL in that span. The only player with more: Lavonte David, with 75.

Rookie defensive lineman Calijah Kancey played a full game for the first time in his career, after leaving the season opener in Minnesota early with a calf strain. He also made a difference in the Bucs' run defense on Sunday. He was on the field for 11 plays when the Lions ran the ball and those 11 runs averaged 0.8 yards per play. When the Lions ran the ball with Kancey on the sideline, they averaged 2.8 yards per play.

Related Content

Latest Headlines