Lack of offensive identity continues to haunt the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Is this the Bucs' identity?

Every time the Buccaneers are asked about the style of offense they want to play, they talk about running the ball and play-action passes. Running the ball to set up the pass. That, supposedly is their identity. But when we look at the field this is not what the Bucs actually do at the start of games. I talked about this after the opening game of the season, and it was as true then as it is now. 

It's so easy to see, too. Against the Detroit Lions the Bucs did start with a Legarrette Blount run - and then didn't give him the ball again until midway through the second quarter. In the other two games the Bucs started with a Freeman pass. 

Overall the Buccaneers have called 20 runs throughout the first three games in first halves, including a quarterback sneak. Compare that to 52 called passes. The Bucs have run the ball almost three times as often as they have passed the ball in the first half. If their intention is to set up the pass with the run, that is not what they are actually doing. 

And it's more than just the amount of called runs versus the number of called passes. It's also the type of runs they call. Generally early on in games, the Bucs have gone with zone runs, traps and trickery. But in the second half they have switched to power runs - which is something this line is much better at. 

That also shows in Legarrette Blount's numbers. He has run 18 times for 40 yards in the first half. That's an incredibly horrible 2.2 yards per carry average. But in the second half he has run 24 times for 127 yards, which comes to a much better 5.3 yards per carry. Some of that is facing more worn-down defenses, but a much larger part of it is the run scheme: the difference between zone schemes and power schemes. 

And generally the Bucs have run the ball in situations where the opponent knew it was coming in the second half. The Bucs can line up and beat the opposing defensive line with power runs. Especially so because fullback Erik Lorig has really been playing very well and taking out some players. But for some reason they don't start out doing that. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Bucs claim to have an offensive identity, but they don't actually stick to it. Greg Olson, please stick to your purported philosophy next time. Don't try to be a pass-heavy running team - pick a side and go with it. 

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