Offensive numbers paint clear picture for Buccaneers game plan

Byron Leftwich, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Byron Leftwich, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

We need to stop pretending that we live in the early 2000s. NFL offenses are changing, and the Buccaneers need to learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of other teams.

Oh boy, it’s another chance to talk about running the football and its shortcomings on a team like the Buccaneers. The comments on these from an impassioned few are always so fun and almost always backed up by facts! Wait….

Yep, we’re coming after the run again today, and with good reason.

It doesn’t matter nearly as much in the modern NFL. Now, all you college, high school, or other coaches of younger players will likely immediately throw your hands up in disgust and site your years “coaching” as a means of disproving this, but the emphasis in the NFL is different.

Running the ball does matter in the levels beneath the NFL. It’s easy to give the ball to your most athletic player and take all the risk out of the game. Just look at Derrick Henry’s high school stats. Insane.

But the NFL is different and has been changing for some time. Quarterbacks are generally required to be a bit more athletic in the modern game, and rules, gloves, etc. make completing passes far easier today than it was to do so twenty years ago.

As we have seen over the last few years, establishing the run is dead. The modern league is about establishing the pass. The numbers show (outside of select situations) that teams need to throw on first down rather than running. No, we don’t care about “the guys just like hitting.”

Grow up. The linemen are smarter than people give them credit for. Pass blocking or run blocking doesn’t matter; these guys like winning, and that comes from scoring touchdowns. Pretending that these guys would rather slam their heads into brick walls for no gain than score touchdowns dropping back is asinine.

Teams need to throw on first, and a quick look at the teams that run the most on first shows why.

When looking at the above list, the first team that was actually good and made some noise in the playoffs was the Buffalo Bills. 14th.

That means the 13 teams above them were at times good (some terrible), but none good enough to actually do something in the playoffs.

But wait, these teams got violent! The players love the violence of the run!

It didn’t matter how often these teams ran the ball or how well they did in that regard, the only common element amongst the top-13 teams is subpar quarterback play, and that is the reason why they struggled.

There are obviously outliers at both ends of this spectrum, but it is clear where teams would rather be. Running on first is archaic. Even teams that do it better than anyone like the 49ers try to be more in the middle.

The benefit of a pass on first down is just too much to pass up. Byron Leftwich needs to be taking notes.

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