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Quick Throws & Rookie Impact | A Next Gen Review of Bucs 2022

This week, we utilize NFL Next Gen Stats to look at the Bucs' 2022 regular season as a whole, underscoring several offensive tendencies, a dip in defensive pressure rate and a big rookie impact on special teams

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers closed out their 2022 regular season with a 30-17 loss in Atlanta that was essentially inessential. The Buccaneers pulled Tom Brady after five drives and rested almost all their starters throughout the second half, as a 17-10 halftime lead melted away.

That game provided at least a measure of opportunity for the Brady-led offense to build on its momentum from Week 16 and gave many young reserves a chance to see extended action for the first time. In the end, however, it was not a particularly interesting game to break down using NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS). Instead, as the Buccaneers prepare for their upcoming Wild Card round matchup with the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night, we're going to employ NGS to give us a closer look at how the Buccaneers got to this point. Here are some numbers of note for the 2022 Bucs:

2.45. That's Tom Brady's "TTT" according to NGS, or the average number of seconds it took him to release the ball after taking the snap. That was the third lowest average in the NFL and the lowest among any quarterback with at least 150 dropbacks. The next lowest was Cincinnati's Joe Burrow, at 2.55. Brady notably sped up his release in 2021, as his TTT dropped from 2.57 in the 2020 Super Bowl year to 2.50 last season. The approach worked, as Brady led the NFL in both passing yards and touchdown passes in 2021 and the Bucs tied for the NFL's best regular-season record. Last year, Brady completed 76.5% of his "quick" passes (TTT under 2.5) and compiled a passer rating of 107.9 and an expected points added per dropback (EPA/DB) of 0.14. Despite the Bucs' significant drop in scoring from 2021 to 2022, Brady had very similar numbers on quick passes this season: 79.0% completion rate, 103.8 passer rating and 0.14 EPA/DB. Brady was one of the best quarterbacks in the league on such throws, with a +2.6 completion rate over expected (CPOE) that ranked sixth in the NFL.

52.6/1,708. The first number is the percentage of his total receiving yards that Chris Godwin picked up after the catch. That YAC% was the third-highest in the NFL among players with at least 50 receptions, trailing only San Francisco's Deebo Samuel (79.7%) and Arizona's Greg Dortch (68.3%). Despite missing two games due to a hamstring injury, Godwin finished the season with a career-best 104 receptions for 1,023 yards. He averaged 5.2 YAC per catch, which was better than expected. His expected yards after the catch per reception (xYAC/Rec), according to NGS, was 4.4, giving him a YACOE/Rec. of 0.8. Godwin's most common targeted route was a screen, which accounted for 28 of his 142 targets and 26 of his 104 receptions. Tom Brady had a 103.1 passer rating when throwing screens to Godwin. The most common route that Godwin ran overall (94 out of 572 total) was a hitch, which resulted in 17 catches for 158 yards on 25 targets. His most successful route on a per-throw basis was an in, on which he caught nine of 12 passes for 111 yards and one touchdown. Tom Brady has a sky-high completion rate over expected (CPOE) of +16.2% on those plays and a passer rating of 130.9.

The second numbers is the total number of air yards on passes thrown to Mike Evans. That ranked sixth in the NFL behind Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, Stefon Diggs and A.J. Brown. All five of those receivers had more targets than Evans; Adams, for instance, had 180 to Evans' 127. Evans' air yards per target (AY/T) was 13.4, which ranked 10th in the NFL. Evans caught 12 passes on go routes (fifth most in the NFL), producing 367 yards, five touchdowns and a passer rating for Brady of 115.4 on 27 total throws on such routes. Evans' completion rate of 44.4% on such targets was 7.4% over the expected rate of 37.0 and he produced 103 more yards than expected.

30.3/25.1. Those numbers represent a bit of a downturn in the Bucs' pass-rush aggressiveness and success in 2022. The Buccaneers blitzed on 30.3% of their opponent dropbacks this season, a significant drop from the 38.1% figure the team produced in each of the previous two seasons. The Bucs had the second-highest blitz rate in the league in 2021 but were only 11th on that list this season. Tampa Bay's pressure rate also dropped for the second season in a row. The Bucs produced pressure on 29.4% of opposing dropbacks in the 2020 Super Bowl season, a number that dipped to 27.5 in 2021 and 25.1% in 2022. The '22 Bucs did play more than half the season without their top edge rusher, Shaquil Barrett, who landed on injured reserve with an Achilles tendon injury. The Buccaneers defense produced a -40.3 Pass EPA in 2022, which is pretty respectable, ranking 12th in the league. That is down from last year, however, when Tampa Bay's defensive Pass EPA of -93.9 ranked third in the NFL. The Bucs' pass rushers did do a good job of converting pressures into sacks in 2022, as their sack rate of 7.3% was actually up from last year's 6.5%.

59.4/4.57. The Buccaneers used a fourth-round draft pick on a punter in 2022, and it paid off. Georgia's Jake Camarda had a strong rookie season, with a gross punting average of 48.8 yards that blew away the team's previous single-season record (45.9 by Bryan Anger in 2016) and a net average of 41.6 that was second only to Anger's 42.7 in 2016. Camarda's average punt traveled 59.4 yards from where he booted it, which ranked fifth in the NFL. And the rookie wasn't out-kicking his coverage. His average hang time of 4.57 seconds was also fourth in the league, giving coverage men time to get downfield. Camarda also kicked well under pressure. According to NGS, he was pressured on 10 of his 79 kicks, a 12.7% pressure rate that was third worst in the NFL. The average pressure rate on punters across the league was 6.9% in 2022. Rookies actually made a big impact on the Bucs' special teams units in 2022. In addition to Camarda's efforts, the top four tacklers in kick coverage were all rookies – tight Ko Kieft (11), cornerback Zyon McCollum (8), tight end Cade Otton (7) and Camarda himself, with six.

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