All season, Greg Schiano has told the media that it was “small things” and “execution of details” that were the reason for his team’s struggles. He has been repeatedly asked about the causes of the team’s struggles, and usually fails to identify any one area, opting to blame the team’s general lack of execution. He always made it seem like things were close to turning around.
It’s obvious that he’s tired of answering the questions, so he tried to placate the media with a legitimate response this week. The problem is, the response was a blatant bit of misinformation.
(Editor’s note: there was previously an erroneous statement here about Auman’s statistics. It has since been removed.)
The average NFL team has thrown 3 interceptions in the second half this season, according to Pro Football Reference, and the average team has lost four or five fumbles so far this season, according to the Washington Post, meaning the average NFL offense likely has turned the ball over five or six times in the second half this season.
And in fact, according to Pro Football Reference, the average NFL team has a second half turnover ratio of 2.7%, whereas the Bucs is 3.7%. A slight uptick, but considering the Bucs’ first half turnover ratio of 1.2% it may seem to Schiano that getting one more turnover per 100 plays is what’s holding his offense back.
But what’s the real cause of the Bucs’ second half issues?
To further expand upon those stats, here is some more information from Pro Football Reference.
The Buccaneers have yet to score a second-half offensive touchdown, despite averaging more yards per play than they do in the first half. The Bucs gain one full yard more per play in the third and fourth quarters rather than the first two.
One major reason for this is the boom-or-bust nature of the team’s passing in the second half. Josh Freeman and Mike Glennon have combined to throw for a lower completion percentage in the second half this year, but have gained more yards per attempt. Here are the raw numbers.
So what’s the cause of this? Greg Schiano is stubborn about deep passes, and seemingly insists upon throwing the ball deep in the second half during his halftime adjustments.
But in the red zone, defenses collapse down and key in against the run, knowing there’s less ground to cover on pass defense. And since the Buccaneers abandon their conservative, efficient passing attack in the second halves of games, there’s no rhythm for the quarterback to sync up with his receivers with tighter defense.
So as Auman points out, the Bucs simply don’t gain yards in the red zone in the third or fourth quarters, and that’s because they change offenses in the second half and completely destroy the positive things they build up in the first half. The Bucs get outcoached at halftime in every game, and the numbers prove that to be true.
Greg Schiano may think the one more turnover per 100 plays that his offense coughs up is the reason for the second half woes, but offenses and defenses do better against the Buccaneers in the second half, because they adjust better than Schiano at halftime.