Buccaneers: Numbers outweigh “football guy decisions”

Scotty Miller, Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Scotty Miller, Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers are learning quickly that the NFL is not a nice place for “football guys” much longer. 

Football guys. There are few terms in the NFL that can strike such a polarizing response from a crowd. The moniker varies in use from person to person, but the general sentiment remains; football guys long for the days of old. Unfortunately, this looks much more like hardheadedness today.

Defense wins championships. Establish the run. Computers are for nerds. For the vast majority of football history, these statements rang true from most coaches across the league, and it worked.

However, times change. Some could argue that in the early days, there was little nuance to the sport. Players were less athletic, schemes were bland, and the game required less on a mental level.

Fast forward to the modern era, and now football players are bigger, stronger than 90% of their athletic counterparts, faster than their counterparts, and more durable. The icing on the cake is that every person involved with the sport has needed to adapt their understanding of the game on a mental level.

Football players are called to do more mentally today than any other player in any other major sport. Players memorize books with dozens of formations, plays, and concepts. The game has changed, the Wing-T is obsolete, and the mentality around the game has to change to see success.

Look at a team like the Buccaneers. They won the Super Bowl last year with a great offense in the regular season and a mediocre defense. The defense showed up in the playoffs, but when building a team, no one would argue that defense is more important than offense in the modern era.

Aaron Donald may be the best player in the NFL, but he is far from the most important. There is a reason why Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes are always vying for the Super Bowl.

While the defense did win a championship in the most recent Super Bowl, the offense got the defense to that point. A great offense in the NFL without a good defense can carry you far. Look at what the Chiefs have done. A great defense without a good offense keeps you firmly in the middle of the pack (see the Bears and Steelers).

The football guys already can’t be happy about the idea that defense overall has lost its shine in a game that gives offensive players every advantage, but that’s just what the numbers and rules say. Now, let’s look at the offense.

Establishing the run is dead. No, running the football is not unimportant, but specifically establishing the run is not a viable offensive solution in this modern era, much to the chagrin of some.

In the older eras, teams “established the run” to get all of the opposing players into the box to make the pass easier. Once teams sold out on rushing plays, a play-action shot was the next logical step. Based on the rules at the time, passing the ball was far too unreliable. The game is different now.

In the modern era, every team needs to be pass-first, with the exceptions of the Titans, Patriots, and Ravens. For the other teams, passing the ball yields more yards per attempt, and the Buccaneers showed this clearly with a quarterback who completed the majority of his passes to a stellar pass-catching unit.

When the Bucs try to establish the run (running on first down and second or third and long situations) to get the defense into the box, Tampa is actively keeping the ball away from their best players by giving too many touches to running backs when playing in close games or from behind. Obviously, there is a time to run the ball with a lead.

The running back position is replaceable. Even the teams with great running backs, with the potential exception of the Titans, rely on scheme far more than the player. It is easier to run the ball once the pass is established, and this shift came when the NFL transitioned to a pass-first league.

Overall, the Buccaneers are actively hurting themselves and their chances at a repeat Super Bowl by failing on the offensive side of the ball with outdated strategies. These plans may work better once the defense is back to full strength and competitive, but the Bucs have to see that the numbers prove a different strategy will work better with the roster they created.

Tampa has a clear path forward, backed up by the numbers and all conventional thought on the modern game; when not playing with the lead, pass early and pass often. Always pass on first down, run the ball on second and medium or third and short.

The ball needs to be in the air and the deep shots and chances that the numbers support can’t slow down, even if Brady does have a bad game.

This is a pass-first league, and the Buccaneers have a legitimate chance of fielding the best passing offense in the NFL this season, but it only works if they actually pass the ball. Listen to the numbers. Let the football guys go the way of the dinosaurs.

Trending. Buccaneers: Incredible Vita Vea play proves IDL prowess. light

Want to write about the Buccaneers? Apply below!