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

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Week's Offensive Drive Analysis:

Game 6 Drive Analysis: Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Red Zone Efficiency Right Over!

What would you say the chances of being in sync on offense when for the first time this season the Bucs started five rookies? That is what happens when one loses two of its top three WR's. The three usual suspects that we all know about are QB Jameis Winston, RG Ali Marpet, and LT Donovan Smith. The next two were promoted recently from the practice squad in WR Donteea Dye and WR Adam Humphries.

Atlanta's Basic stats before the game

Defensive Passing:  25th (274 yards/game)

Defensive Rushing:  2nd (78 yards/game)

Points Against:  13th (21.4 ppg)

Tampa Bay's Basic stats before the game

Offensive Passing:  23rd (230 yards/game)

Offensive Rushing:  4th (133 yards/game)

Points For:  13th (23.3 ppg)

Here is what transpired in the game for the offense:

TB Offense vs Atlanta Defense
Tampa Bay Altanta TB - Was Differential Differential %
Offense Defense
Game Stat Pre-Game Stat
Passing yds 173 274 -101 63.1%
Rushing yds 117 78 39 150.0%
Points 23.0 21.4 1.6 107.5%

The passing game was surely not going to be great due to the fact we have two rookies who recently have been promoted to the NFL roster playing prominent roles due to injuries to WRs Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy, who was placed on injured reserve during the midweek. But our running game surpassed what Atlanta's defense usually gives up on average by 150% more! Douggernaut gained 71 yards on his own, not including a 19 yard scampered that was negated by an offensive holding penalty. Granted, Winston did take advantage of a couple of runs, including a rushing TD. Not only that, but we scored more than what Atlanta's defense usually allows on average. Yay for small victories!

TB Offense vs Atl Defense
Qtr Drive Plays Yards Result RZ Pts 40 + yard Drives 50 + yard Drives 60 + yard Drives 70 + Yard Drives 80 + Yard Drives 90 + yard Drives Totals
1 1 6 32 Punt 0
2 4 1 FG 3 0
3 10 73 FG 1 3 1 1
4 6 50 TD 7 1 1
3 5 3 1 Punt 0
6 7 76 TD 1 7 1 1
7 7 24 Punt 0
8 7 20 Downs 0
9 1 -1 End 0
10 15 68 FG 1 3 1 1
Total 10 66 344 3 23 0 1 1 2 0 0 4

Please note that the yards statistic for Drive analysis only measures the drive length, not necessarily the gross yards accrued due to penalties pushing back the offense and the offense making up those loss yards. Thus, explaining the discrepancy between Game Stat total yards and total yards in the Drive Chart.

I want to re-emphasize that the Bucs' offense was forced to start two rookies who were recalled from the practice squad recently. Conflate that with the Bucs' missing their starting TE in Austin Seferian-Jenkins who has had developed chemistry with our rookie QB Winston due to injury and the team is stuck with only second year WR Mike Evans as its most veteran receiver. Yet offense still chugged along as it had four long drives, including the game winning scoring drive.

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%
Total 35 92
Average 5.00 13.14 38.0%

As you can tell from the 3rd down chart, the Bucs have maintained a percentage rate near 50% for the past four games. This game continued that trend. The offense converted three third down opportunities on the overtime drive, drive 10, to help the Bucs to score, which eventually was the game winning score in overtime. All three conversions were passes from Winston:  3rd and 2 @ TB 27; 3rd and 10 @ TB 31; 3rd and 5 @ Atl 35.

Early in the second half, the Bucs' offense extended the lead over the Falcons to 17 points with a touchdown run improvised by QB Winston off of a broken shovel play. Yet those points were not enough to secure a win in regulation time. A touchdown in overtime would have also secured a win. There were two Red Zone opportunities that the offense did not convert into a TD. Another opportunity was at the Atlanta 20 yard line. (Red Zone opportunities exists INSIDE the 20 yard line, not including the 20 yard line.)  So that makes three opportunities lost to score a touchdown in or adjacent to the 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%
Total 11 24
Average 1.57 3.43 45.8%

In order to give the team a higher chance of winning, the offense needs to convert a higher percentage of scoring touchdowns in the Red Zone. That is an area that needs to be worked on. Although, to be fair, the Bucs did lose two of its top three receivers for the second half of the Washington game as well as this Atlanta game.  So the reason for the inefficiency could be due to personnel and chemistry issues.

This would be a great time to say I am very happy to have kicker Connor Barth on board.  Barth has been perfect in all situations of scoring and created stability to keep the offense in games.

The team can have high stats in several places, but one stat usually is a good barometer on winning or losing: turnovers.

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
Total 7 4 11
Average 1.00 0.57 1.57

Rookie QB Winston has tamed his wild oats after Carolina made him look like their scout practice squad QB. On the games where Winston has not thrown an interception, the Bucs have won two of the three games.

In the Washington game, the turnover occurred late in the game as the Bucs were trying desperate to get into FG range. But what does not get reported as a turnover was the lost onside kick to Washington. That turned the tide in the game as well as stole a possession from the offense. I heard this comment that the onsides kick should be considered a turnover by a Bucs Access podcast from the official website during the previous week as Mike Evans was being interviewed. Hopefully, the NFL will start to account successful onside kicks as turnovers as they actually are turnovers.

Conclusion

Despite Winston being erratic in accuracy (16 for 29 attempts) and two rookie receivers in place of two of its top three wideouts along with missing TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the offense was still able to move the ball on Atlanta as well as score enough to eventually win. I do not believe the offense and its coaches get enough credit for what they have been able to accomplish despite getting hit with injuries across the board. Recall, we still have two replacement players on offensive line starting in C Hawley and RT Cherilus, with the former recently made a permanent starter at center.

This is the second game in a row where the Bucs had a 17 point lead in the second half and lost it. I will conclude this drive analysis like I did the previous one with:

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.