clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Return of the Deep Ball to Bucs' Offense May Be Vincent Jackson's Biggest Impact

Now that we've significantly covered the Pros and Cons of the Tim Tebow question that is basically pestering every blogger in the state of Florida (and apparently New York - wonder what "the Sanchize" is thinking right about now), it's time to return to reality and meaningful Bucs football discussion.

The Buccaneers made their biggest acquisition in a decade, signing wide receiver Vincent Jackson to his ocho cincos contract over five years. It's no mistake that a good part of Jackson's game is stretching the defense (averaging 17.5 yds a reception over his seven seasons in the NFL.

After spending the last 9 years stuck in a "dink-and-dunk" west coast offense, the Bucs are making the move to a more conventional power running oriented game. A major piece to Schiano's plan - the deep ball - which hasn't been seen that often in Tampa Bay.

The Bucs knew that their current crop of receivers had not shown the ability to threaten defenses deep. Their top receiver, Mike Williams, has managed just 13 catches over 21 yards in his first two seasons in the NFL. His draft partner, Regus Benn, has only 8 receptions over 21 yards over the course of his career in the league.

Last season, Jackson hauled in 12 receptions over 21 yards for 451 yds and 5 touchdowns.

Whether it's the lack of ability for the receivers to get off the line of scrimmage or just the progression of the offensive system remains to be seen. One thing we do have some evidence on is that Josh Freeman is definitely a better quarterback when stretching the field.

In 2010, the Free-chise completed 22 of 66 passes over 21 yards for 746 yards, 7 touchdowns and just 1 interception. Last season the Bucs inexplicably went into a shell, attempting only 32 passes of 21 or more yards. Freeman completed 11 of those for 365 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

By comparison, Phillip Rivers attempted 71 balls over 21 yds, Drew Brees 61, and Tom Brady 48. Each had at least six touchdowns. Eli Manning, who is running the offense that most expect the Bucs to emulate, attempted a whopping 98 passes over 21 yards, completing 37 with 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

Needless to say, with Jackson's presence, Freeman's big arm and Sullivan's Giants pedigree, Buc fans can expect a lot more balls flying way down field in 2012.