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Game 8, Offensive Drive Analysis: Red Zone Deficiency Thwarts Win Streak Possibility

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Game 6 Drive Analysis: Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Red Zone Efficiency Right Over! "The Bucs are allergic to the Red Zone."

Game 7 Drive Analysis: Five rookies starting... not a problem

"Bigger you give, bigger you get

We're boss at denial, but best at forget

Cupboard is empty, we really need food

Summer is winter and you always knew

Going up when coming down

Scratch away, away, away, away, away

It's the little things that kill

Tearing at my brain again

Oh, that little things that kill."

Although the final score was 32 -18, the loss for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was much closer. The final offensive Bucs' possession was a desperation play of lateral passes that turned into a fumble returned for a touchdown. Before that play, the game was New York Giants 26, Bucs 18. An eight point difference. The team's chance of winning is highly dependent on the offense to score and that chance dwindled as the team went 1 for 4 in the Red Zone. The offense left 12 points off the board, that does not include Kicker Connor Barth missing a 43 yard field goal attempt. With Barth's missed field goal, that amounts to 15 points left off of the board. The team could have won even with the fumbles lost.

Atlanta's Basic stats before the game

Defensive Passing:  32nd (316 yards/game)

Defensive Rushing:  19th (112 yards/game)

Points Against:  24th (26.0 ppg)

Tampa Bay's Basic stats before the game

Offensive Passing:  23rd (222 yards/game)

Offensive Rushing:  4th (131 yards/game)

Points For:  16th (23.3 ppg)

Here is what transpired in the game for the offense:

TB Offense vs NYG Defense
Tampa Bay NYG TB - Opp Differential Differential %
Offense Defense
Game Stat Pre-Game Stat
Passing yds 249 316 -67 78.8%
Rushing yds 136 112 24 121.4%
Points 18.0 26.0 -8 69.2%

Tampa Bay's offense remained true to its identity: establish a strong run game. Except if you remove RB Charles Sims' one big run of 59 yards, the run game was struggling throughout the game. Without that big run, Sims running average was 2.7 yards per rush. Doug Martin was just as mediocre with 2.8 yards per rush.

The run game slowing to a halt should have prompted the offense to go to the air, but the Bay's offense in passing yards production was meek when compared to that porous Giants' 32nd ranked passing defense. One word, plural, best explains the lack of production in the passing game: drops.

TB Offense vs NYG Defense
Qtr Drive Plays Yards Result RZ Pts 40 + yard Drives 50 + yard Drives 60 + yard Drives 70 + Yard Drives 80 + Yard Drives Totals
1 1 4 6 FG 1 3 0
2 5 70 FG 1 3 1 1
3 2 6 Fumble 0
4 11 65 Missed FG 0 1 1
5 7 62 FG 1 3 1 1
3 6 5 22 Fumble 0
7 10 49 FG 3 1 1
8 5 10 Punt 0
9 5 87 TD 1 6 1 1
10 8 31 Punt
11 2 1 Fumble 0
Total 11 64 409 4 18 1 0 2 1 1 5

The drops, although very bad, were not the events that lead to the Bucs' offensive demise - that would be the Red Zone inefficiency.

Drive 1 -  Starting point: NYG 13 yard line. Run, Run, Incomplete fade route to Evans that no one can catch. The offense needed four yards for a first down. The offense failed 3rd down conversion and a failed Red Zone conversion.

Drive 2 - Starting point: TB 20.  Red Zone starting point: NYG 12. Run, Incomplete pass to Evans,  Incomplete pass to Martin and offensive pass interference on TE Cameron Brate. Pass to Evans was thrown high (Dye was open for a four yard gain). Pass to Martin was a desperation throw by Winston as he was running towards the sideline (Winston didn't dump the ball earlier to Doug Martin in the flat, and it would be possible that Brate would not have been called for OPI because the ball was thrown much earlier). Another failed offensive 3rd down conversion and a failed Red Zone conversion.

Drive 4 - Starting point: TB 35. Red Zone starting point: NYG 18. Incomplete pass to Evans, but roughing the passer penalty enforced.  NYG 9. Pass, incomplete pass, scramble run for two yards. Pass complete was to Dye in the middle of the field. The incomplete pass to Dye was a dangerous pass as the ball hit the defender first before it got to Dye.  (Odd, Dye was isolated 1 v 1, but one would believe that should have been Evans.) On the scramble, all of our receivers were designed to go to the left side.  Not a one went to the right side. To me, this was designed to fail as you simply clumped all of our WRs and all of their defensive backs into one area. Yet another failed offensive third down conversion and a failed Red Zone conversion.

Drive 9 - Starting point: TB 13. Red Zone starting point:  NYG 10. Run, incomplete pass, and scramble run for a TD.  Martin run for no gain as he was met in the backfield. Incomplete pass to Dye on a designed quick pass to the flat for as a WR screen type play. Winston threw the ball behind Dye as all the WR's were set to block and the right side of the OLine shifted to the right side as well to seal off that side of the field. On the scramble for the touchdown by Winston, Winston could not find an open receiver in front of him as he is rolling to his right and decided to run for a touchdown. Fortunately, Humphries sees Winston starting to run and he starts blocking. Dye also picked up on this and sealed off two defenders to allow Winston to soar for a touchdown.

Problem here is that TE Brandon Myers was wide open to his left. On Winston's initial break from the pocket, he does a quick token look to his left, but doesn't scan back to his left long enough to see Myers alone. To be fair here, Myers does not do a great job of identifying he is wide open either.

On the two point conversion attempt, Winston had WR Shepard open. Winston threw it too high while running to his right as the catch was made out of bounds.

Red Zone

TB Bucs
2015 Offensive RZ Stats
Game Team RZ Success RZ Attempts RZ Efficiency
1 Ten 1 2 50.0%
2 NO 2 5 40.0%
3 Hou 0 1 0.0%
4 Car 3 5 60.0%
5 Jax 3 5 60.0%
6 Was 1 3 33.3%
7 Atl 1 3 33.3%
8 NYG 1 4 25.0%
Total 12 28
Average 1.50 3.50 42.9%

Tampa's Red Zone deficiency is a growing problem. I have denoted it in previous drive analysis articles that if the team did not improve its Red Zone efficiency, then it would decrease the team's chances of winning. This game exploited that deficiency more so than any other game because it is the first time in four consecutive games that the Bucs did not have a lead going into the second half. The offense went 0 for 3 in the Red Zone for the first half.  It left 12 points off the board. Also, as denoted earlier in the article, the three failed Red Zone opportunities also include three failed third down conversions.

Red Zone efficiency under Dirk Koetter offense

2015 - 42.9% (Tampa Bay, 28th overall)

2014 - 61.3% (Atlanta, 6th overall)

2013 - 51.9% (Atlanta, 22nd overall)

2012 - 57.9% (Atlanta, 10th overall) provided the stats for the rankings.

Is there a Red Zone deficiency because of Koetter or Winston or both? After eight games, the offense has been slipping in performance in the Red Zone. The Red Zone efficiency has become worse after the bye week.


The offense had three fumbles in the game, including that awful last offensive play for the Bucs that resulted in a NY Giants defensive scoring touchdown. The previous two fumbles were punch outs off of running backs Martin and Sims.  Those turnovers lead to 10 points. That is a total of 17 points due to turnovers.

You have to give the Giant defense a lot of credit. They knew the Bucs wanted to run and run often. The chances of punching the ball out of the Bucs running backs' hands were very high. That is some kind of great scouting.

Points Left Off the Board

Red Zone deficiency = 12 points

Missed FG = 3 points

Missed two point conversion = 2 points

Total = 17 points.

If the team capitalizes on all these events, then the team would have scored a total of 35 points.  Those 35 points still overcomes the silly turnover at the end of the game and the Bucs still win.


Many little miscues on offense prevented the team from seeing a winning streak. Not including the last turnover, the two fumbles by team Hack and Slash cost the team 10 points. Factor leaving 12 points off the boards just from the Red Zone and that equates to a 22 point divide created by the offense. Yet, if the offense did convert those Red Zone opportunities, then that last fumble returned for a touchdown would not have occurred. It would have been Bucs 17, Giants 17 at halftime. It would have been Bucs 30, Giants 20 at the start of the fourth quarter, which includes the two turnovers by our running backs. All these little things kill... the chances of winning games.

I will conclude this analysis like I concluded it for the past couple of offensive drive analysis:

If the offense cannot convert a higher percentage in the Red Zone, then the team will be subjected to higher percentage of losing games because the defense cannot prevent opposing teams from scoring consistently.  In order for the team to confidently win games, then the offense must execute better in the Red Zone so that it can accrue more points to pad for a win.