The 2019 season didn't end the way anyone hoped simply because it ended after Week 17. Although that's not a change from the season before, the Buccaneers improved. A lot.
With the installation of a new staff, and therefore new systems, it's hard to not feel encouraged and hopeful going into the 2020 offseason about what may lie ahead given how much improvement we saw as a result. The offense put up historic numbers, although that's not necessarily new. The 2018 Buccaneers also put up a lot of passing yards, finishing first in passing yards, which was repeated in 2019.
Where the Bucs' offense leveled up this year was in capitalizing on those yards. They finished with the highest point total in franchise history, in fact, as well as tying with the New Orleans Saints for the third-most points put up this season, raising their ranking from 12 the prior year. The league's passing king is also a Buccaneer for the very first time in NFL history, after quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 5,109 yards.
But perhaps where the team took its biggest jump forward was on the other side of the ball. For the first time ever, the league's leading sack artist is also a Buccaneer. Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett finished the season with 19.5 sacks, surpassing Hall of Famer Warren Sapp's franchise record in the process. The defense as a whole pressured the quarterback a lot, finishing with the second-most quarterback hits of any team with 116. Their 47 sacks ended up tied for the seventh-most of any team in the NFL and get this – the second-most of any Buccaneer defense ever. They also finished with a top rank against the run, allowing just 73.8 yards on the ground per game, an average of just 3.26 yards per rush – both a league best.
In case you thought it was just up front, even with an extremely young defensive backfield, Tampa Bay ended up with the most passes defensed of any team. Their 96 broken up balls were the most by a Bucs defense since… 2002.
They also attacked the ball. A year after finishing in the bottom-five in the league in takeaways with just 14, Tampa Bay finished top five in 2019, taking the ball away 28 times, the fifth-most.
To paint an even clearer picture of what this Buccaneer team can build off of going into 2020, take a look below and some quick notes from all three phases of the ball.
-Their 302.8 passing yards per game were the highest mark in the NFL
-Winston's 5,109 passing yards were the most in the league, eighth-most in NFL history, the most in a single season in team history and marks the first time a Buccaneer has held the NFL passing crown. His 19,737 career passing yards are the second-most passing yards by a QB in their first five seasons in NFL history. He had 11 games with at least 300 passing yards, which is tied for the third-most such games in a single season in league history. His 33 touchdowns this year are the second-most in the NFL and most in a single season in team history.
-Averaged 397.9 yards of total offense per game, the third-highest total in the league
-Scored 458 points this season, the most in team history
-Their 28.6 points per game were tied for the third-highest total in the league
-54 touchdowns this season was also tied for third-most in the league and were the most in a single season in franchise history
-33 passing touchdowns were third-most in the NFL
-15 rushing touchdowns tied for sixth-most in a single season in franchise history
-Despite ending his season early two games early due to injury, wide receiver Chris Godwin finished with 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns. His 1,333 receiving yards were the fourth-most in the NFL and also rank as the fourth most in a single season in franchise history. His nine touchdowns also rank fourth in the league this year. His 86 receptions are tied for the third-most in a single season in team history. Imagine if he would have finished it.
-Wide receiver Mike Evans' season was also cut short but not before he became just the second player in NFL history to record six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to start his career. His 7,260 career yards are the seventh-most by a player in their first six seasons in the history of the league.
-Even Breshad Perriman got in on the action, finishing the season with three consecutive 100-yard games, tied for the second-longest streak in team history. His 17.9 yards per reception are fifth-most in the NFL among qualified receivers this season.
-Boasted the number one rushing defense, allowing 73.8 yards per game/3.26 yards per rush
-Allowed a total of 1,181 rushing yards on the season, which is the 11th-fewest ever allowed by a team in a 16-game season
-Accumulated the most passes defensed with 96 and most by a Buccaneer defense since 2002
-Fifth-most takeaways with 28
-16 opponent fumble recoveries tied for the second-most in the league. OLB Shaq Barrett finished with six, ranking third in the NFL
-Forced 21 fumbles, the third-most in the NFL
-Scored six defensive touchdowns, tied for the most in the NFL and wasthe most in a single season in Bucs history
-Four fumble returns for touchdowns, which were tied for the most in the league and were the most in a single season in Bucs history- it's also tied for the fourth-most in a single season since 1930
-Registered 47 sacks, tied for the seventh-most in the NFL and the second-most in a single season in franchise history, trailing only the 2000 team which had 55
-Barrett set a new Buccaneer record for most single-season sacks, surpassing Warren Sapp, and finishing with 19.5 on the season. That total was the most in the NFL, marking the first time a Buccaneer player has ever led the league in sacks. His 19 tackles for loss were the second-most in the NFL this season. His 37 quarterback hits tied for the league lead.
-The team's 116 QB hits, the second-most in the NFL
-ILB Lavonte David finished the season with a team-high 121 tackles. He now has 1,005 in his career, becoming only the fourth Bucs player ever to register at least 1,000 tackles and the first since Rondé Barber. He is now the only other player in league history besides Hall of Famer Ray Lewis to record 1,000 tackles, 20.0 sacks and 10 interceptions through their first eight seasons.
-ILB Devin White finished the year with back to back NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month nods. He's the first rookie since at least 1970 with two opponent fumble recovery touchdowns in a season after he recovered a strip sack fumble by OLB Jason Pierre-Paul against Atlanta in Week 17 and returned it 91 yards to the house, marking the longest fumble return in Buccaneer history. It was also the seventh-longest touchdown of any kind in team history. White's four fumble recoveries are tied for the most ever by a Bucs rookie and were tied for the second-most in the NFL this season. His 91 tackles on the year were the fourth-most among rookies and that was with missing three games due to injury earlier in the year.
-JPP returned in Week Eight but still registered 8.5 sacks on the season. His 21.0 sacks since joining Tampa Bay last season are the most by any Bucs player in that span and the ninth-most in the league during that same time frame.
-Rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting tied for the most interceptions by a rookie this season with three. His eight passes defensed tied for the fifth-most among NFL rookies. His teammate, cornerback Jamel Dean, has the most of any rookie with 17.
-Dean's 17 passes defensed were tied for the fourth-most in the NFL and his two interceptions were tied for the third-most among rookies this season.
-Cornerback Carlton Davis took a big leap forward in his second year, leading the team with 19 passes defensed – the fourth-most in the NFL
-Kicker Matt Gay made 27-of-35 field goals this season, giving him a 77.1% success rate. His 27 made field goals are tied for the eighth-most in the NFL. He scored 124 points on the season, which was the fifth-highest total in the league.
-Punter Bradley Pinion had 88 touchbacks on 97 kickoffs this season. Those are the most touchbacks in a single season in NFL history, which makes sense given how much this offense scored. His 90.7 touchback percentage was the second-highest mark in the league in 2019.