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Fixing the Bucs offense - no, this is not about the run

If you ask any Bucs fan the question 'What is wrong with the offense?' the first response will likely be "We can't run the ball". To an extent, that is right. We have not been able to run the ball this season. But running the ball isn't the key to our offense. We could've run the ball better against the Saints, and I doubt we would've scored many more points. No, the issue against the Saints was simple: we couldn't pass the ball. 

This was the problem against the Steelers, too. Teams are bringing 7 or 8 men into the box to stop the run, and blitz Josh Freeman. That strategy is working not because it's so succesful against the run, but because the Bucs have neglected to take advantage of the opportunities these blitzes offer. There was a lot of 1-on-1 coverage last sunday, and in a lot of those cases the Bucs receiver had beaten the man covering him. The problem has been the passes and the communication. 

This problem has already been addressed to an extent by the team, as Greg Olson commented on it after the game:

"I don't think Josh was at his sharpest in terms of his accuracy on some of the all-out blitzes that we saw," Olson said. "We talked about giving (the receivers) an opportunity to make the catch. . . It happens very quickly. You have to identify the matchup for the all-out blitz and get to it. I just think it’s still a learning process for him and, again, with an all-out blitz, that’s what it comes down to. It’s finding the matchup. Some matchups we won and some we didn’t recognize quickly enough where the matchup was to get (the receiver) the ball."

So, the issue is Josh Freeman then? Well, to an extent. Freeman was not very accurate on sunday. The bigger issue, though seemed to be miscommunication. Several times on Sunday the ball did not go to the same place as the receiver. When Freeman was expecting a go route, receivers ran out routes. When he expected a hook, they ran a go route. Most of that can probably be blamed on a failure to adjust, not a problem with playcalling. The young receivers and Freeman weren't seeing the defense the same way, and that lead to the receivers running routes Freeman wasn't expecting. 

Against the Saints, the Bucs had 6 pass plays where we tried to complete a pass of 20 yards or more. Of those 6 plays, only 1 was complete. If Freeman connects on a few more of those plays, that could've changed the game. Sadly, Freeman was inaccurate and he wasn't on the same page as the receivers. The good news is that that should change: the receivers are young and inexperienced, and experience will help these communication issues. Freeman, too, is going to get better with more experience. This passing game has the potential to be very good - unfortunately, it isn't at that level yet.