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Buccaneers midseason review: offense

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Midseason Reflection, Offense

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 3 - 5 after eight games. This time last year, it was 1 - 7. Last year, the team concluded with a 2 - 14 record. Let us reflect last year info with this year's info.

Offense

2014 TB Offense vs Opposing Defense
Team Drive Plays Yards Offensive Scoring 40 + yard Drives 50 + yard Drives 60 + yard Drives 70 + Yard Drives 80 + Yard Drives 90 + yard Drives Total
Car 11 55 279 14 1 1 2 0 0 0 4
StL 9 54 372 17 1 0 2 2 0 0 5
Atl 14 57 143 7 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
Pit 10 66 365 27 1 0 1 0 2 0 4
NO 11 55 274 24 1 0 0 0 2 0 3
Bal 12 69 379 17 0 2 1 1 0 1 5
Bye Week
Min 12 52 224 13 0 1 0 1 0 0 2
Cle 12 65 375 17 2 0 1 0 1 0 4
Atl 9 76 334 17 2 0 0 1 1 0 4
Was 9 48 294 20 1 0 1 0 1 0 3
Chi 15 77 317 13 1 1 0 2 0 0 4
Cin 12 57 217 13 2 0 0 1 0 0 3
Det 13 60 282 17 2 0 0 1 1 0 4
Car 13 55 273 17 1 1 0 0 2 0 4
GB 10 48 89 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
NO 10 69 283 20 0 0 0 1 1 0 2
Totals 182 963 4500 256 15 7 8 10 12 1 53
Avg 11.38 60.19 281.25 16.00 0.938 0.438 0.500 0.625 0.750 0.063 3.313
Percent of drives over total number of drives 8.2% 3.8% 4.4% 5.5% 6.6% 0.5% 29.1%

Statistical row that should matter in the chart above is the penultimate row that covers the average of all 16 games. Not that it should matter, but I did a breakdown of before and after bye for the offense in 2014.

TB Offense vs Opposing Defense
2014 - 2015
Team Drive Plays Yards Offensive Scoring 40 + yard Drives 50 + yard Drives 60 + yard Drives 70 + Yard Drives 80 + Yard Drives 90 + yard Drives Total
2014 Avg Before Bye 59.33 302.00 17.67 0.67 0.50 1.00 0.50 0.83 0.17 3.67
After Bye 60.70 268.80 15.00 1.10 0.40 0.20 0.70 0.70 0.00 3.10

Offensively, things went from bad to worse. The offense earned less yards per game, less long drives per game, and, ultimately, lead to fewer points scored. That is what happens when your rookie QB's coach is thrust into the starting OC's position all season.

Now here is what the offense has done in 2015 under a new OC, Dirk Koetter.

2015 TB Offense vs Opposing Defense
Team Drive Plays Yards Off Scoring 40 + yard Drives 50 + yard Drives 60 + yard Drives 70 + Yard Drives 80 + Yard Drives 90 + yard Drives Total
Ten 12 63 225 14 1 0 1 1 0 0 3
NO 12 64 356 26 1 1 1 0 1 0 4
Hou 13 60 303 9 2 0 1 0 0 0 3
Car 13 78 389 23 1 0 0 0 3 0 4
Jax 11 64 336 30 2 2 1 0 0 0 5
Was 9 63 399 30 0 1 1 2 0 1 5
Atl 10 66 344 23 0 1 1 2 0 0 4
NYG 11 64 409 18 1 0 2 1 1 0 5
Totals 91 522 2761 173 8 5 8 6 5 1 33
Avg 11.38 65.25 345.13 21.63 1.000 0.625 1.000 0.750 0.625 0.125 4.125
Percent of drives over total number of drives 8.8% 5.5% 8.8% 6.6% 5.5% 1.1% 36.3%

More plays, more yards, more long drives, and more points. Our offense is doing more good. Using the last 10 games of the season as a comparative jumping point for 2015, here is what doing more good looks like:

Plays:  + 4.55

Yards:  + 76.33

Long Drives:  + 1.025

Scoring:  + 6.63

Although the offense is doing more good, it can do even better.

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%
Bye
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%

In the Red Zone, the offense failed 16 times to score a touchdown. For the following example, let us assume that the team scored a FG as opposed to a TD in the Red Zone. If the offense converts on all 16 opportunities, then points left off the board is 64 points (4 extra points scored, presuming we make the extra point kick). If the offense converts on just half of those missed opportunities, then the points left off the board is 32 points.

Before the bye week, the offense had improved its Red Zone efficiency by going 60%. The past three games after the bye week, the Bucs' Red Zone efficiency is 3 for 10, 30%. Now here is the kick to the gut, the three touchdowns scored in the Red Zone, two of them were from Winston running the ball into the end zone. Both running TD's were scramble runs that was improvised by Winston. What does this mean? In the past three games, only one designed play worked to score a touchdown in the Red Zone - 1 for 10 efficiency. One of the significant factors for the deficiency could be Winston.

"That's something I have to get better at, to help us out," said Winston. "I believe I've been getting better every week, but definitely my eye progression and the things that I see in the red zone and how quick I have to get the receivers is different. That's another aspect of my game you have to get better at."

Winston is being molded. And it may take some time, but that learning curve may be shorter than we all may think. The offense was struggling with 3rd down conversions earlier in the year.

TB Bucs
2015 Offensive 3rd Down Stats
Game Team 3rd Down Success 3rd Down Attempts 3rd Efficiency
1 Ten 3 14 21.4%
2 NO 5 14 35.7%
3 Hou 1 12 8.3%
4 Car 8 16 50.0%
5 Jax 5 11 45.5%
6 Was 7 12 58.3%
7 Atl 6 13 46.2%
8 NYG 6 13 46.2%
Total 41 105
Average 5.13 13.13 39.0%

After the Houston game, Winston and the offense has hovered near 50% efficiency five games in a row. The production after being abysmal in the Houston game has improved drastically and remained. Winston has learned and implemented adjustments rapidly. But that was not the only improvement that Winston had done.

TB Bucs
2015 Offensive Turnovers
Game Team INT Fumble Total
1 Ten 2 0 2
2 NO 0 2 2
3 Hou 1 0 1
4 Car 4 1 5
5 Jax 0 0 0
6 Was 0 1 1
7 Atl 0 0 0
8 Was 0 3 3
Total 7 7 14
Average 0.88 0.88 1.57

Winston has had a clean sheet for the past four consecutive games. After giving up four interceptions in the Carolina, Winston has put in all effort to address this problem along with Koetter. We fans receive instant positive production since Winston's turnover problem in Carolina. Yet in doing so, Winston may have become a bit tentative in pulling the gun.

Tampa Bay Bucs
Jameis Winston, 2015 (First 4 Games v Second 4 Games)
Game Comp Att Comp% Yards Yds/Comp TD INT
1 to 4 73 133 55.725 965 13.2 6 7
5 to 8 69 113 62.2 930 13.4 4 0

In being more selective, Winston has improved his completion rate while retaining his yards per completion average. His passing touchdown production is down. If we transpose the improvement of being more cognizant to not throw interceptions on top of the lack of Red Zone efficiency after the bye week, then we can identify a possible reason why Winston's passing touchdown production has dropped along with the Red Zone efficiency.

Here is Koetter being quoted from Buccaneers.com:

"Make a decision and stick with," said Koetter. "It's like the golfer...all those pro golfers, they visualize that shot and you've got to commit to it. You can't change your mind midstream because that just never works out."

From that same article, Winston concurs:

"Yeah definitely, that's what I have to learn so we can score down there, just sticking with my read and standing by that, not having my eyes everywhere so we can convert down there," he [Winston] said.

Let us not forget the production out of our offensive line!  From footballousiders.com, we get the following comparisons:

2014 Run Block Rank =  32nd

2014 Pass Protection Rank =  29th

2015 Run Block Rank = 10th (after eight games, nine weeks)

2015 Pass Protection Rank = 19th (after eight games, nine weeks)

The more good just keeps on giving in 2015. Run blocking rank is up 22 spots, a big thanks to the return of Doug Martin and better used Charles Sims, team Hack and Slash. Pass blocking rank also improved by 10 spots! And this is done with two rookies starting in RG Ali Marpet and LT Donovan Smith along with three replacement players making starts in LG/LT Kevin Pamphile, C Joe Hawley, and RT Gosder Cherilus.

Our running game is making our run block game look much better than it really is as our running backs are being stopped at the line of scrimmage or behind it in 20% of the opportunities. Doug Martin is continuing his progression as a running back as he is ranked in the top 5 in rushing yards. He is ranked 2nd overall in runs of 20 yards or more with seven!  In an article called "Doug Martin, Bell Cow", I denoted how Martin improves as a runner as the season goes on. Hopefully, that Martin pattern continues this year.

Although Doug has recorded two fumbles lost, the other top 5 rushers also fumble:

1)  Petersen, Min - 4 fumbles

2)  Freeman, Atl - 1 fumble

3)  Johnson, Ari - 2 fumbles

4)  Gurley, StL - 1 fumble

T5)  Martin, TB - 2 fumbles

T5)  Ivory, NYJ - 2 fumbles

Third down back Charles Sims is ranked in the top 50 in rushing with a 4.7 yards average and 284 yards.  What makes Sims more dangerous is proficiency as a pass catching back. On the team, he has third most yards receiving with 238 yards.

Receiving has been a personnel problem, though. For many games, WR Vincent Jackson, WR Louis Murphy, and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins have not played in games due to injury. Murphy's injury has him out of the season that he incurred in the Washington game. Jackson was also injured in that same game and has not been seen since.  Seferian-Jenkins has played in only two games this season. The injuries play a factor in the inability to score in the Red Zone.

There is one talent these receivers have that you simply cannot teach - height.  Seferian-Jenkins is 6'5", Jackson is 6'5", and Murphy is 6'2". In place of Jackson and Murphy are Adam Humphries and Donteea Dye.  Dye stands at 6 feet even and Humphries is 5'11". The Bucs have gone from being the Dunkaneers to the Mousekateers!

Conclusion

The differences between 2014 and 2015 are stark! The run game is established.  The offensive line is improved despite the injuries it has been hit with, lost three starters at one point. The receiving corps also got his with the injury bug, leaving second year receiver Mike Evans as its only veteran receiver. Rookie QB Winston is making strides right before our eyes within one season. The Bucs lucked into OC Koetter, but it is even more serendipitous that Winston and the offensive line were paired with Koetter.

"As I say every week when [I] get up here, Jameis is doing a great job, but everybody, me included, we’re expecting him to play like a five-year vet, and he’s an eight-game vet," said Koetter about Winston improving.

With the Bucs' defense allowing 26.38 points per game, the onus of winning games in the second half of the season will be relied upon a rookie QB, running tandem Hack and Slash, the Mousekateers at receiving, and the leg of the legend, kicker Conner Barth is his faithful sidekick, Fourth Down QB, long snapper Andrew DePaola - no one else can throw tighter spirals for 15 yards on fourth down.