Offensive adjustments the Buccaneers need to make for Week 2
By Rob Leeds
Even a team like the Buccaneers should take steps to keep their offense humming.
The Buccaneers already have one of the best offenses in the NFL. From a personnel standpoint, this group is second to none. With talent spread throughout the unit and skill to spare on the depth side, the Bucs are truly dangerous when the play-calling clicks.
The issue for Tampa is that the play-calling isn’t always perfect. No one in the league is, but there are ways to help this out. Evaluating numbers in baseball changed the game forever. The same strategies work just as well in football.
Numbers are an essential part of the modern NFL that every team needs to embrace. You can determine tendencies and effectiveness with a handful of calculations. Every team needs to use these to their advantage, but the Bucs don’t always do this.
Readers familiar with this site know there is one time you never run the ball; first down. First-down runs were a fraction as effective as first-down passes in the game against the Cowboys last week. This makes it all the more frustrating when the Bucs lean on the run on first down in the first half of most games.
Obviously, there are some moments where the run has its merits in controlling the clock, but the Bucs can account for that with the pass too. Short passes to the outside take the pressure away from the middle of the offensive line and the teeth of the defense. Almost every quarterback in the league can complete a horizontal pass consistently, and these throws are just an extension of the run game in the eyes of the defense.
Isn’t letting Antonio Brown take on a single man in coverage a better use of personnel than using Ronald Jones against an eight-man box?
Tampa has to continue passing the ball at a high rate, and they need to shift their first-down play calling to favor the pass much more, which will open up the run on later downs.
Now, every team in the NFL needs to run the ball from time to time, and there are moments where the Bucs set the run up perfectly yet fail to take advantage of the situation.
Looking at the game for the majority of its existence, football teams would run the ball until every defender bites on the run, then they start running play-action and favor the pass. Teams have to do the opposite in the modern game. Throw until they bite on the pass, then run.
Tampa’s run game is entirely too predictable. Running out of 22 personnel against a nine-man box isn’t going to bring positive gains often. Doing the same thing in short-yardage situations works even less.
Those heavy formations are actually better to pass out of today, much like how the lighter formations (10 or 11 personnel) open up the run far better.
10 and 11 personnel force the defense to account for the pass. Three or four wide receivers is too much to worry about, so defenses will usually shift to a pass-oriented game plan to account for the dangers of throwing the ball. This opens up the box, and it also gives the running back a much higher probability of finding space on the inside.
Running the ball is all about deceiving the defense in the modern game unless your name is Derrick Henry. If the Bucs call their plays better, other teams will take much longer to key in on their plays, which should make Ronald Jones’ and Leonard Fournette’s lives much easier in the long run.
Read the numbers-the offense can always get better from their use.
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