Analysis

Close, But No Cigar: How The 4 Divisional Round Losers Can Improve Next Season

The Biggest Needs For All Four Divisional Round Losers

After a crazy Divisional Playoff round that saw all four games end at the very last second, we take a look at what each eliminated team’s greatest needs are.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Top Need: Wide Receiver

Secondary Needs: Cornerback, Defensive End, Interior Defensive Line, Running Back

In addition to Antonio Brown and his self-induced departure, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski are both set to become impending free agents this offseason. Tampa Bay will need to find another pass-catching complement to Mike Evans. Since their week 18 matchup against the Jets, the Buccaneers had only two players with over 15 receptions and an ADOT over 10 (min 10 targets): Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski. The duo accounted for (since week 18):

  • 55% of their receiving yards
  • 53% of the first down receptions
  • 67% of the teams TD receptions

Whether or not Tom Brady returns for the 2022 season will ultimately determine Tampa Bay’s most important need. As their roster currently stands, Mike Evans will be the only returning receiver who caught over 500 yards in 2021. Tampa Bay must acquire another threat in the passing game to extend their championship window. 

Tennessee Titans

Top Need: Right Side of the Offensive Line (RG or RT)

Secondary Needs: Tight End, Outside Linebacker

This past season was the worst performance by Tennessee’s offensive line since Ryan Tannehill became their QB. 

The Titans allowed the most sacks with 42, the second most quarterback hits with 52, and the sixth most total pressure with 217 this season. The right side of the offensive line struggled the most, with guard Nate Davis and tackle David Quessenberry allowing a combined 16 sacks, 76 pressures, and 16 hits. Quessenberry will become a free agent, and his likely heir-apparent Dillon Radunz did not look good in the few snaps he played this season. With center Ben Jones also set to hit free agency this offseason, Tennessee needs to improve the right side of their offensive line. 

Green Bay Packers

Top Need: Wide Receiver

Secondary Needs: Offensive Line Depth, Defensive End, Inside Linebacker

Green Bay finds themselves in a similar situation to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have a major question mark at the quarterback position: what will Aaron Rodgers do? For the purpose of this article, let’s assume he will be on the Packers’ roster for the beginning of the 2022 regular season. With the quarterback position handled, the Packers need to surround Rodgers with another receiver outside of Davante Adams, who will be a free agent this offseason. They tried to complement Adams when they traded for Randall Cobb before this season. Cobb played in 13 games, finishing with just 28 receptions for 375 yards. Adams, in contrast, accounted for: 

  • 35.5% of the teams receiving yards
  • 36.7% of the teams first down receptions
  • 31.5% of the teams targets and 31.8% of their receptions

Outside of Adams, the only receiver to eclipse 500 receiving yards this past season was Allen Lazard (513). In addition, Green Bay is in a tough cap situation; they are projected to be over the cap by about $38.41 million, according to Spotrac. 

Buffalo Bills

Top Need: Interior Offensive Line

Secondary Needs: Pass Rusher, Interior Defensive Line, Second Cornerback

With only a few holes on this team, Buffalo’s biggest need is to fix their interior offensive line to protect Josh Allen. It was not as glaring in their Divisional Round loss to the Chiefs as usual; their offensive line allowed only 10 total pressures on Sunday, but the unit has struggled the entire season. Buffalo’s offensive line allowed the 11th most pressures in the NFL with 202. Of those 202 pressures allowed, 102 of them came from their guards. Their tackles and centers allowed a combined 81 pressures. Of the 8 offensive linemen who played over 100 pass snaps this season for Buffalo, four of their guards ranked inside the top 5 in pressure rate allowed. This is their last offseason where Josh Allen’s cap number is reasonable at $16.38M, but in 2023 his cap hit is projected to jump to $39.78M. This could be Buffalo’s last offseason where they have a chance to acquire talent along their offensive line in free agency before needing to rely upon the draft. 

References: TruMedia, PFF