Buccaneers: Biggest concern in weak second half vs. Eagles
By Rob Leeds
The Buccaneers need to overcome their offensive woes from the second half of the Eagles game if they want to make it back to the Super Bowl.
The Buccaneers escaped Philadelphia last night with a win, but the second half of that game didn’t feel like a win. Tampa is 5-1 and sitting in a prime position in the playoff race, but taking wins as the end all is a dangerous trend.
Winning teams still have flaws, and the Bucs need to fix theirs before the end of the season if they want to make a deep playoff push. The defense is obviously struggling with an unprecedented level of injuries, but the streakiness of the offense is concerning.
The game started perfectly for Tom Brady and company. The Bucs focused on the pass on their first two drives, which led to two passing touchdowns on the first two attempts. After that, the offensive dominance from the first two drives essentially collapsed.
The following two drives for the Bucs ended in disaster with wasted plays trying to set up the run.
The third drive on the night started with a run for little gain, a short pass to the outside which ended with a loss, and 3rd and long was too easy for the defense to sniff out.
The next drive started with two runs in terrible position, which Brady followed up with an almost-interception.
50% of drives ending in touchdowns isn’t bad for the first four drives, but anyone who watches knows which part of the offense is more dangerous. When Tom Brady is 13/14 on passing attempts and the offense runs on first and second down, the play-calling is in peril.
The third touchdown drive went back to the pass-heavy focus, and sure enough, another score followed. Three touchdowns in the first half is good for this offense, but everyone watching knew the Bucs left some points on the field.
The second half was a substantial step back. The Bucs only scored seven points against the Eagles in the half, which is extremely telling of a step back in production. Tampa should’ve easily posted another 14-21 points against that defense, but safe play-calling to chew the clock led to a reduction in potency, and the unit stalled out.
The unit stalled out to such a degree that the Eagles brought the game back to within six points.
Regardless of the type of play-calling or the position of the game, the Bucs have to be better than seven points in a half against Philly. Twenty-eight points with the current injured defense won’t be enough against some of the better playoff teams. The Buccaneers need to make the necessary adjustments to keep the offense on track against the easier competition in the coming weeks.
What this boils down to is the Bucs need to start playing to blow teams out by 50 rather than playing “not to lose.”
The Bucs played not to lose last night in the second half, and while it didn’t bit them yet, playing like that down the stretch is dangerous.
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