December 7, 2023

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Red Zone Offense: The Buc Stops Here!

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Oct 5, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) was ruled down for a sack despite throwing the ball after being hit by New England Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise (91) during the second half of a football game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Red Zone touchdown efficiency may well be the most important stats/rank of an offense, that there is. Let’s face it, the only reason an offense exists is to score Touchdowns. Everything else comes about because the attempt to score the touchdown, fell short. Using this understanding, and our common sense, one would think that the ones responsible for the makeup of our team’s offense would hold this stat/rank a whole lot higher than they do.

Bucs Red Zone Rankings. The following are the Bucs Red Zone Touchdown rankings since 2003:

Starting from that year and ending with the 2018 ranking the Bucs ranked 9th, 16th, 16th, 24th, 24th, 30th, 11th, 17th, 19th, 8th, 24th, 17th, 22nd, 20th, 24th, and 15th. 16-years Bucs Fans, and we have only cracked the top ten twice. That was in 2003, a year after the Super Bowl when we ranked 9th, and 2012, we ranked 8th! Not one time did we crack the top 7.

Consistently good teams Red Zone Rankings:

Just to get an idea where teams that are considered winning teams, during that same span finished in the “Touchdown Zone”, those Patriots that we love to hate, finished in the top ten 12 times out of 16-years, and in the top 5, 8 times! The Packers have had 10 top ten rankings, and 6 top 5! What about a team from our own Division? The Saints have had 13 top ten rankings, and 7 top 5! I’ll repeat the Bucs rankings again. Two top 10, and zero top 5! I cannot claim to know what exactly the fans reading this will think, but I can tell you, to me, these stats are very telling. They are an indication of the other team’s offensive ability in relation to winning. It is also very telling about our own Offensive inability to win games. Of course, throwing INT’s and fumbling doesn’t help the ranking a bit. Some of those errors are Offensive Line related as well.

Red Zone Importance, And The O-Line:

Okay, obviously you have to have a better than average QB to rank highly so often. Pats, Packers, and Saints all have had studs at the position. You cannot overlook the part that the Offensive Line plays in Red Zone prowess, though. The run is a big part of the ranking. The line plays an even bigger part in that aspect. My whole point is that if the O-Line is so essential in scoring touchdowns, Red Zone play, and beyond; Why doesn’t our team draft like it? Why not give Winston the best protection that could be had? It only makes sense to have a line that can effectively, and consistently open holes for our Running Backs. Not a group of below average to average guys making great money that are at best, just okay.

Draft Day Decisions:

Of course, this is my opinion, based on results, rankings, and watching games, I have wondered why Jason Licht and Bruce Arians don’t feel this way. Maybe 2019 will show us why they were not worried about drafting high for the Offensive Line. Maybe they have the answers for making this team a winner, and making the playoffs, with basically the same line others could only barely break .500 with the one year.

2019 Will Answer Many Questions:

One thing’s for sure, this coming season will reveal so much. It will determine the direction of our team for the future, and surely tell if the O-Line is up to snuff. They call Arians the QB whisperer, something tells me he will need to be the QB SCREAMER before 2019 is in the books.