July 29, 2021

Bucs Life

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Anything But Balanced

4 min read

Photo Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

I and numerous fans could run this thing

I’m sure readers of this article will agree with me when I say that I often wonder what is going through the minds of the men making big money to guide and manage our beloved Bucs? Sometimes the issue can seem so clear to us fans. It’s at these times that we say to ourselves, “I could do it, I could run this team, It wouldn’t even be hard to roll out of bed say 10:30 – 11:00ish, have some bacon, eggs over easy, grits, home fries, and rye toast covered in Grammas Blackberry Jam.” I’d get caught up with some Sports Center, dress nice, exude business, being knowledgeable, and be important, very important. I’d catch my limo to the practice facility, and change that culture. Basic coaching 101 folks, but then I woke up.

They get it right for a game, then regress

Through my humble writings over the last several weeks, I have attempted to give Bruce Almighty Arians and Byron Leftwich the key they need for offensive success. Giving Ronald Jones 20-25 touches a game, with a little Barber sprinkled in for a change of pace and short-yardage situations, it should come out with the running backs getting somewhere around 30 touches spread between the run and receiving out of the backfield. In the Cardinals win, it appeared they were Listening. In the Bucs’ first touchdown drive of the game, both backs got touches with Jones leading the way with six on the drive with at least two of them being nice receptions. The drive culminated in a short-yardage touchdown run by RoJo. It seems when the Bucs commit to the run or just getting the ball to the backs in general, namely Jones, they are successful.

Winston hands it over, panic ensues, and the run is abandoned

Often the offense will come out and try to establish the run until Jameis Winston throws an interception. At that point, all rational thoughts or wisdom goes right out the door, and often Jones and Barber are forgotten along with the running game. I think Winston’s penchant for multi-interception games have shell shocked the staff; When there’s one, there usually are several more on the way, they knee jerk react, abandon the run and go into catch up mode. However, sometimes staying with the run is the way to go. 

Now, here is a stat that will make you go hmmm?

Taking a look at Winston’s 18 interceptions this year, when he has between 21 and 30 attempts, he has only thrown one pick. – per NFL.com. When throwing 31+ times, he has thrown 8; that’s almost half of his total. Obviously, that number is high because Winston is always trying to overcome the turnovers, but that usually requires a high volume of passes. The Higher the volume, the more desperation, and that translates into more interceptions. On the other side of it, if Winston is only attempting 21 to 30 passes, the running game is taking up the slack. The offense becomes more balanced, and Winston isn’t throwing as many picks. It’s a concept that has been around for quite a while because it works. There is a variable in this equation, and that is, you have to have an offensive line that can control the line of scrimmage more often than not. Usually, we don’t have that.

The Magic attempts range 21-30

I said all that to say this; You raise the number of run plays, thereby lessening the number of passing plays and keep Winston under 31 attempts. Of course, there is another variable in this formula; Effective running of the football by a franchise back. We have that now in Jones. If you don’t have the back and the line as well, the whole formula breaks down. Mixing in a few screens to Jones would help him get the ball in space, so he can juke and jive a little and maybe bust one loose for the long one. I’m still excited about the things that Jones can do for this team. We haven’t seen anything yet from this dynamic of a player. Upgrading the offensive line will pay huge dividends towards the end of an effective run game. Thereby making our quarterback better and not forcing him to carry the offense.

 I’ll volunteer for that

Arians was asked at the Monday press conference if throwing the ball 51 times was asking too much of Winston? This is how he replied,

 “Yeah, totally. You throw it 51 times – show me who wins. Tom Brady a couple of times, not always, but, if you’re throwing it 51 times and running it eight, you’re probably not winning the game.”

I guess Arians, nor Leftwich have a stats flunky hanging around on Gameday to keep track of such things. (I will gladly make myself available to be that guy for a small fee and the sideline pass). It seems that at the post-game press conferences, Arians has all the right answers. I’m waiting for those answers to translate to some common football sense and take root the following Sunday. How about you? Go Bucs!!