The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are too conservative on offense. For two weeks, the Buccaneers have left a win on the field by failing to pass for the first down. This week, we all complained about the fourth down decision and the decision to run the ball on third down -- but the real criminal decision happened on second down with six yards to go, when the Bucs ran straight into an eight-man front.
The box is stacked with eight players, while the Bucs have three receivers in isolation coverage. There is no deep safety. There is no help for the cornerback. And you have Vincent Jackson completely isolated on the bottom. What do you think is the better play here? Leach a timeout with a Martin run to nowhere, or try to win the game by picking up a first down with a pass to Vincent Jackson?
A pass like that is not a low-percentage play, unlike a Martin run up the middle. At least the Buccaneers got a little more aggressive on third down, when they called a "specialty" run play with the intention of picking up a first down. Greg Bedard did a great job breaking down that play - but the reality is that it didn't work, either. And the reality is that the Bucs refused to let Freeman win the game, which now has them at 0-2.
Let's go back to the final offensive play last week, when a first down would have won them the game.
Does that look familiar? It should be pretty clear what both of these defenses are doing at the end of these potential game-winning drives: daring Josh Freeman to beat them throwing the ball. Either he isn't taking it, or the coaches aren't allowing him to do it.
This has been a big part of the reason why they've failed to seal the game for two consecutive game-ending offensive drives. It's why we're all panicking, and it's why people are calling for Greg Schiano's head two weeks into the season. If defenses are giving you those matchups, you have to try to get the first down. And the Buccaneers just aren't doing that.
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