Yes it’s sad our Buccaneers are not playing today but huge progress was made towards building a contender for 2017. The Bucs finished the season at 9-7 which is quite an accomplishment after starting the season 3-5. There were a lot of areas where this team improved but winning third down was the biggest improvement for this team. In 2015, the Bucs were 30th in opponent third down conversion allowing 46% which is awful. In 2016, the Bucs were 1st only allowing 34.5% conversion rate which is outstanding. The Bucs offense improved as well going from 10th to 6th converting on third down 44% of the time.
There are a few factors to the defense improving so much in one year. One is the free agents brought in with Brent Grimes and Robert Ayers who have helped this defense tremendously. The Bucs were far more aggressive on third down which is coaching hence Mike Smith’s aggressive nature. The secondary was in better position which led to more breakups and interceptions. Consistent pass rush and tighter coverage does a lot, but also better scheme and personnel goes a long way. As for the offense, it was just Jameis Winston being more precise on third down. Winston had probably some of his better plays this season coming on third down. Overall, the Bucs won third down in 2016 and it is definitely something they can build off of for 2017.