The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have really struggled to produce a consistent offensive attack, and Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times found an interesting statistic to illustrate that exact problem.
The #Bucs have run for a loss on first down an NFL-high 36 times (excluding quarterback kneels).— Thomas Bassinger (@tometrics) December 26, 2016
That stat is emblematic for the Bucs’ offensive struggles. It’s really difficult to create sustainable drives if you keep getting into second-and-long situations.
It also tracks with other statistics. Football Outsiders ranks the Bucs 31st in power (short-yardage) situations, and 31st in preventing stuffs behind the line of scrimmage. Overall, this team has simply had far too many negative runs.
Part of this is because of the team’s injury at running back, but it also says something about the offensive line, which has been up-and-down this year. Generally speaking, it’s not often the running back’s fault if he’s tackled behind the offensive line. It’s hard to avoid defenders when you’ve only just received the handoff.
The Bucs will hope that J.R. Sweezy will be able to fix that problem. Left guard Kevin Pamphile has done well in the passing game, but struggles to get a lot of push in the running game — and center Joe Hawley isn’t exactly overpowering, either. An upgrade along the interior might be coming this offseason, in addition to impending changes at the running back position.