Recent Buccaneers decisions hint at coming offensive change

Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement and aren’t showing any urgency in the tight end free agent market. A change is coming.

The loss of Rob Gronkowski is not the end of the world for the Buccaneers. Why?

Tampa has never been a tight end-needy team during the Bruce Arians/Byron Leftwich tenure. Wide receivers have always been more important than their pass-catching alternatives in an offense like this, and recent decisions by the Bucs show this isn’t going to change anytime soon.

With Gronk out, the current tight ends are Cameron Brate, Cade Otton, and Ko Kieft; not the most exciting group when its all said and done. Still, this won’t be a problem for the Bucs if they lean into their strengths.

While people love to fall back on 12 personnel sets and the need for two tight ends on the field at one time, the Buccaneer offense should actually always have three wide receivers on the field instead.

Eleven personnel is where the Bucs should live. Even with Gronk on the team, the third wide receiver was always better than the second tight end, so it made sense to stay in 11 and keep the field spread. That has only become more true now.

Before anyone worries too much, the Bucs using their tight ends less is only going to help in both aspects of the offense.

The passing attack is obviously improved by having Russell Gage on the field rather than a rookie like Cade Otton, and the run is strengthened by getting away from the predictability of Tampa’s run game. Running out of lighter sets is becoming far more successful in the modern age that relies far more on the pass, and the Bucs would do well to make their runs more dangerous by getting away from running out of heavier sets.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with the general premise of the argument and its effectiveness on the run game, this is the direction the offense is going if they don’t sign a veteran free agent.

The Bucs have a choice, and it seems like it is a win-win if you ask this writer.

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