All-22: Wide receivers and scheme did little to help Josh Freeman against Patriots

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers passing offense is a mess, and the All-22 against the Patriots reveals several problems that have little to do with Josh Freeman.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have moved to Mike Glennon as their starting quarterback, but that won't solve all of their offensive problems. Doug Farrar took a look at the Buccaneers' struggles on offense for Sports Illustrated, and concluded that the Bucs were stuck in the 1990s with their passing game.

One recurring theme is the Buccaneers' reliance on isolation routes to create open receivers. If you looked at the New England Patriots' scheme, you saw lots of different approaches: stack alignments, a lot of motion, rub routes, route combinations to stress coverage and force defensive backs to make a wrong choice, and attempts to create two-on-one situations in favor of the offense.

The Bucs do none of this: they run isolation routes, and ask their wide receivers to win. Thankfully, they have a few good receivers who can do that consistently. Unfortunately, those players simply weren't helping Josh Freeman. If the Buccaneers are to win on Sunday, that needs to change.

This week's All-22 review has a small change: we're using galleries to present the plays. You can scroll through them to get a progression of the play.

Doug Martin the wide receiver

One wrinkle the Bucs have been throwing at their opponents for the past few games has been putting Doug Martin at wide receiver, hoping to get the right matchups. In that role, he's basically a poor man's Darren Sproles: faster than linebackers, but not quite the route runner or receiver Sproles is.

Against the New England Patriots, the Bucs targeted him deep a couple of times but couldn't complete any passes to him.

One issue here is Doug Martin's height: he simply doesn't have the catching radius of a wide receiver, even though that ball is pretty well-thrown. Another issue: he doesn't have the most secure hands around. He's had several drops over the past weeks, and expecting him to make contested catches is a bit much.

Vincent Jackson has the dropsies

Vincent Jackson may be an outstanding wide receiver who can make some ridiculous catches at times, but he's dropped a few too many balls the past three games. That doesn't make him a bad player, but it has certainly hurt the Bucs' passing attack at times. One of those came on a big third-and-one play and would have been a touchdown.

Aqib Talib gets a hand in there and does a terrific job to defend the play. Talib's still a pretty good cornerback, after all. But Vincent Jackson is getting paid big bucks to make catches like this, and the ball placement is basically perfect. If Jackson makes this catch, the whole game looks very different -- and Josh Freeman might still have a starting job.

Kevin Ogletree the wide "receiver"

Okay, sure, that's a cheap joke. Ogletree isn't a bad player, really -- just a very mediocre one. He doesn't excel at anything and he has just a few too many near-misses to make it fun to watch him. Instead, it's frustrating.

With the game on the line in the fourth quarter and the Buccaneers trailing 20-3, they faced a fourth-and-fifteen. They didn't use third down to set up an easier fourth down, instead opting to go for Ogletree on deep routes on both plays. Once again, note how these are basically isolation routes: go beat your man and catch the ball. Good luck.

The Patriots also do something really nifty with their blitzers to get Jeremy Zuttah out of the way and open up a free rushing lane. The Bucs have used this tactic before to get Lavonte David in clean, and it's worked pretty well.

The Patriots get instant pressure on Freeman, who is forced to make a tough throw on the move -- and Kevin Ogletree basically drops it. What a waste of a great throw.

Mike Glennon needs better help

Mike Glennon is now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting quarterback, and that means it's time to move on from Josh Freeman. But when we look at the tape, it's clear that Freeman wasn't the only problem with the Bucs' passing attack. Dropped balls and a scheme that's much too easy to defend have played a large role in Tampa Bay's failure to get anything done in the passing game.

If the Bucs are to get decent production out of Mike Glennon, that is going to have to change. It's one thing to have a vertical passing attack, but that doesn't mean you can't run smash concepts or create two-on-one opportunities. And if the receivers don't play better than they did against the Patriots, Glennon won't stand a chance against the Arizona Cardinals.

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