The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were inconsistent last season, and part of that seemed to be caused by adjusting to a new offense. A complicated offense, that relies heavily on route adjustments during the play. This means receiver and quarterback both must see exactly the same thing, and it seemed like too often last season there were instances of miscommunication and hesitance. And now, Mike WIlliams confirms that to the Tampa Tribune.
"We know when to break off routes and what zone to read. It's a knowing instead of reacting to something. Josh Freeman's got this offense down pat. The big problem last year was we couldn't get on the same page, knowing when to break our routes off."
Here's the problem with this strategy: it is hard to learn. And anything that is hard to learn is hard to internalize -- which makes it hard to play fast. Simplicity can be a coach's best friend. In fact, that was what the vaunted Tampa 2 defense was based on. It was a simple defense, one that was easy to teach and easy to play in. The consequence
Many college offenses work on the same principle. There are a lot of intricacies in many different offenses -- but playcalls are simple, and plays are not overly diverse. It's how Chip Kelly can communicate his plays to his players using nothing but a few pictures on a piece of cardboard.
The Bucs, though, want to beat opponents through complicated schemes. Blitzes and route adjustments are symptoms of this obsession. And when it works, it can work beautifully. The New England Patriots and the New York Giants both rely on in-route adjustments, and it has given them prolific offenses. Meanwhile, teams like the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets have run complicated defensive schemes with great success.
The problem is that it can take players a long time to internalize these schemes, to play fast and to play correctly. We saw plenty of evidence of that last year, with a defense that suffered many breakdowns in coverage and an offense that was inconsistent, with many instances of miscommunication.
This year, those players have a second year in the system. That should make them better -- but it may continue to be a problem. That depends on how effective the coaches are at teaching their system, and adjusting it to what the players can do. Last year seemed to be a failure in both of those aspects. So, what about year two?
Is Freeman's 2012 season overrated?