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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Tight Windows | A Next Gen Look at Chiefs-Bucs

Tom Brady had to throw into tight coverage against Kansas City but still produced big numbers, including a high percentage of success on deep throws


Tom Brady threw for 345 yards in Tampa Bay's 27-24 loss to Kansas City in Week 12, bouncing back from a slow start for the Buccaneers' offense as a whole to post his third-highest yardage total of the season. Brady completed 27 of 41 passes for a completion rate of 65.9% that was slightly above his overall mark for the 2020 season.

Brady did this against the NFL's ninth-ranked pass defense, one that definitely did not make things easy for him. In fact, Brady was forced to throw into tighter coverage than he has had to almost all season.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the season-long average separation for targeted receivers and tight ends in the NFL in 2020 has been 2.86 yards. Average separation is defined as, "how much separation a receiver is getting from the nearest defender (in yards) at the time of catch/incompletion."

The Buccaneers' only had one receiver or tight end exceed that average against Kansas City, and not by much, as wideout Chris Godwin had a mark of 3.09. Here were the figures for the Bucs' five main receivers and tight ends in Sunday's game against the Chiefs:

Chris Godwin: 3.09 yards

Cam Brate: 2.75 yards

Rob Gronkowski: 2.22 yards

Antonio Brown: 1.98 yards

Mike Evans: 139 yards

In Week Five, the Buccaneers did not have a single player at or above league average in this category in a loss to the Chicago Bears. In each of the team's other 10 games before Week 12, the Bucs had at least two pass-catchers exceed that mark, and often by quite a bit. In five of those 10 games, Tampa Bay had at least one wideout or tight end get an average of 4.12 yards or better.

Conversely, Patrick Mahomes had four of his five primary wideouts and tight ends exceed the average. Sammy Watkins had an average separation of 5.02 yards, while Demarcus Robinson's average was 4.32 yards of separation.

NFL Next Gen Stats does not apply this statistic to running backs, but Brady did have a wide-open target on his first touchdown pass, which went to Ronald Jones. Jones had 7.9 yards of separation from the nearest Chiefs defender, which allowed him to get to the sideline and elude two would-be tacklers for a 37-yard touchdown.

Next Gen Stats did not give Jones much of a chance to take the catch all the way to the end zone, most likely because the second Chiefs defender had a very good chance to get the Bucs' back out of bounds. But Jones hurdled over the attempted leg tackle and then was able to barely keep both feet in bounds to continue for the last 19 yards. Next Gen Stats gave Jones a 0.8% chance of scoring on the play and called it the fourth-most improbable touchdown in the NFL this season on a play that was run in the opponent's territory.

Next Gen Stats also noted the "bounce back" game that Brady had in terms of throwing the deep ball. Next Gen classified seven of Brady's passes as deep throws, of which he completed four for 152 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Between Weeks 5-11, Next Gen had 36 Brady passes classified as deep throws, of which only three were complete.

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