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Reviewing the past five years of Buccaneers offensive play

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Reflection is always a good idea. It can help give some perspective, or not. I wrote a five-year defensive reflection article recently. In the article, it seemed as though Revis was used effectively and how a Lovie Smith defense just eroded what was established defensively. What goodies will we find here? Let us discover.

Win -€” Loss Record

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2011 - 2015 Win/Loss Record
Total Division Points Head
Year Win Loss Win Loss For Against Diff Coach
2011 4 12 2 4 287 494 -207 Morris
2012 7 9 3 3 389 394 -5 Schiano
2013 4 12 1 5 288 389 -101 Schiano
2014 2 14 0 6 277 410 -133 Smith
2015 6 10 3 3 342 417 -75 Smith
http://espn.go.com/nfl/standings/_/season/2011

The most wins in the past five years occurred in Schiano's first year. Then the bottom dropped the following year as the offense scored 101 points less. Surprisingly, a Schiano offense put up more points than a Koetter offense in a Bucs uniform. In both 2012 and 2015, RB Doug Martin produced at Pro Bowl levels.

2013 had a slew of unfortunate mishaps. During preseason, a MRSA outbreak occurred. It affected kicker Lawrence Tynes, starting LG Carl Nicks, and rookie CB Johnthan Banks. Tynes could not suit up for the Bucs because of it. Nicks would muster only two games before succumbing to the pain. Banks lost some weight. Some may question who is Tynes? Tynes is the kicker who replaced Connor Barth because Barth injured his leg playing charity basketball. I cannot make this up, thus the prompting the cliché, "Truth is stranger than fiction."

To add insult to injury, starting RG Davin Joseph was never the same after incurring a season ending injury during 2012 preseason.

Then there was starting QB Josh Freeman's fiasco. At the time, with several rumors flying about, coach Schiano had played games on Freeman. The public relations (PR) outlook on this matter was the fire starter that would doom Schiano. Eventually, Freeman was replaced by project QB Mike Glennon early into the season. It has been a few years since, and we now know Freeman screwed Freeman and the Bucs' organization. To this day, Freeman cannot hang onto any back-up quarterback gig.

Afterwards, the Bucs lost Pro Bowl RB Martin after six games on a wheel route. His replacement, Mike James, looked great in a game against Seattle, but also got injured. Waiver wire pick up Bobby Rainey had to pick up the slack.

There were a multitude of offensive football factors to give Schiano a pass for 2013, but it was the public relations that Schiano and his coaches were not able to overcome. It was MRSA and Freeman initially. Then playing to the last second drew ire from some (but to be fair, Morris' last year, 2011, the team gave up on coach -€” so playing to the last second is a sign of respect to coach Schiano to keep playing despite the futility of the situation). The final straw was the coaches' interviews during the week -€” chirp and a coke.

To save PR face, the Glazers quickly moved on from Schiano as well as GM Mark Dominik. Just how quick? Here is good ol' Pat from ESPN:

Greg Schiano has been fired as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Mark Dominik is out as general manager, one day after the team completed its third straight losing season.

In my five year defensive review, there was plenty of pass defense improvement. Lost in abruptness of moving on from Schiano was the strength of schedule for that season. Football outsiders had the Bucs facing the third strongest offensive ranking in 2013. Would the strength of schedule the Bucs offense face in 2013 be high or low and what can be reflected, if anything? Also, could the strength of schedule be a barometer for this coming season?

Strength of Schedule

TB Bucs
Football Oustiders Offensive Efficiency Rankings, 2011 - 2015
Year Total Off Rank Pass Rank Rush Rank Var Rank Sched Strength Schedule Rank Head Coach Wins
2011 26 24 15 8.90% 25 0.20% 16 Morris 4
2012 14 18 10 9.60% 26 2.80% 28 Schiano 7
2013 24 22 26 7.80% 21 -4.80% 2 Schiano 4
2014 32 31 31 9.40% 25 3.90% 32 Smith 2
2015 18 17 11 8.80% 25 3.60% 29 Smith 6
2016 5* Koetter
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teamoff2011
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000652553/article/2016-strength-of-schedule-for-each-team

Technically, we do not know the defensive strength of schedule, SOS, the Bucs offense has to face in 2016, but the totality of the strength of schedule is fifth overall.

Soaking in that SOS, the Bucs were facing the best defenses in 2013 after an easy schedule in 2012.

Lovie Smith's first year as the Bucs' head coach had his offense scoring fewer points than in Schiano's last year. Here is what makes that statement much, much worse: the Lovie Smith offense was facing the weakest defensive SOS in the whole league. The switch over from power to zone scheme offense left a lot to be desired on the offensive line as well as not properly address the offensive line by Lovie and GM Jason Licht.

Having faced the 29th worst defensive SOS last year, it was a great way to get rookie QB Jameis Winston's feet wet. Now that the team will be facing the total SOS of the 5th strongest, we might have to temper how many wins the team can achieve. Granted, it is a projected SOS ranking, yet it does give us a glimpse of what is to come.

Offensive Efficiency

TB Bucs
Football Oustiders Offensive Efficiency Rankings, 2011 - 2015
Year Total Off Rank Total Off DVOA Pass Rank Pass Off Rush Rank Rush Off Head Coach
2011 26 -11.50% 24 -11.60% 15 -2.40% Morris
2012 14 0.60% 18 6.60% 10 2.70% Schiano
2013 24 -10.40% 22 -1.70% 26 -11.20% Schiano
2014 32 -26.30% 31 -22.50% 31 -19.40% Smith
2015 18 -1.30% 17 13.00% 11 -6.10% Smith
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teamoff2011

Using Football Outsider's metric, it is surprising to see Schiano's first-year offense was more explosive than Koetter's first-year offense. In fact, it is the only year with a positive total rating and a positive rating throughout the table. Although the bottom fell out in 2013, Lovie Smith took deplorable to a new sinking level the following year.

The passing game under Koetter was amazing, considering he had a rookie under the helm. The most confusing part of the 2015 offensive season was the run game having a negative rating because the tandem of Martin and Sims was devastatingly great.

Run Blocking and Pass Blocking

TB Bucs
OL Stats and Ranking from Football Outsiders, 2012 - 2015
Run Blocking Pass Blocking
Season Run Block Rank RB Yards Power Success Stuffed Stuffed Rank 2nd level (5 - 10 yds) Rank Open Field (10+ yds) Rank Rank Sacks Adj. Sack Rate
2011 22 4.32 65% 21% 26 13 19 14 32 6.20%
2012 13 4.50 60% 20% 22 15 5 6 26 4.80%
2013 27 4.00 59% 21% 22 16 13 21 47 7.70%
2014 32 3.73 69% 23% 32 25 13 29 52 9.40%
2015 9 4.86 71% 20% 13 13 1 14 27 5.80%
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ol

That 2012 Schiano offensive year really is standing out like a sore thumb, in a good way. It had better pass protection than 2015! The biggest culprit to a bad offense the ensuing year was the lack of offensive line production. As noted in the introduction, LG Nicks was lost due to MRSA and RG Joseph was abysmal, but the coaches kept him at RG despite Jamon Meredith performing well there the previous year in Joseph's absence. Then the team lost RB Martin six games in. That did not help the run blocking nor did it help project rookie QB Mike Glennon, inserted after game three of 2013.

Going into 2016 season has a much, much better situation than going into 2013 for one reason -€” better depth at the offensive line. Even though starting LG Logan Mankins retired, the Bucs quickly snatched up road grader JR Sweezy from Seattle to be his replacement. There might be concerns about Sweezy's pass blocking skills, but Koetter has shown the aptitude to making players look effective pass blocking for many years now, including transforming the Bucs' offensive line in pass blocking as denoted in the aforementioned chart.

Starting Line

LT: Smith

LG: Sweezy

C: Hawley

RG: Marpet

RT: Dotson

Reserve: C/G Evan Smith, G/T Pamphile, RT Cherilus, G/C Benonoch (Rookie)

For reserves, Smith and Cherilus have been former starters. Pamphile has started a few games at LG last year. In order for the offense to be successful, it must have a healthy offensive line as well as quality depth in case injuries beset the line. There is a sleeper undrafted offensive lineman, Dominique Robertson, who is OL coach Warhop's nephew.

Yards and Points Productions

TB Bucs
ESPN Offensive Production (Yards) Rankings, 2011 - 2015
Year Total Off Rank Total Off DVOA Pass Rank Pass y/g Rush Rank Rush y/g PPG Rank PPG Head Coach
2011 21 319.3 16 228.1 30 91.1 27 17.9 Morris
2012 9 363.8 10 248.9 15 114.8 13 24.3 Schiano
2013 32 277 32 183.3 22 100.8 30 18 Schiano
2014 30 292 25 206.1 29 85.9 29 17.3 Smith
2015 5 375.9 17 240.8 5 135.1 20 21.4 Smith
http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/total/sort/totalPointsPerGame/year/2011

2015 was a prolific year as it set a record for most yards in a season. As prolific as the offense was by production yards, it was scoring about a field goal less per game than its 2013 counterpart.

TB Red Zone Efficiency
2011 - 2015
Year RZ Efficiency Rank Coach
2011 50.00% 19 Morris
2012 59.09% 8 Schiano
2013 51.43% 24 Schiano
2014 53.85% 17 Smith
2015 52.94% 22 Smith
https://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/red-zone-scoring-pct?date=2012-02-05

With the RZ Efficiency chart, we see the culprit for the lack of scoring for the 2015 offense. To be fair, the 2015 offense improved drastically in the second half of the season in RZ efficiency, from a first half of the season production of 42.8% to a second half production of 65.2%. The factor in the improvement was rookie QB Winston sticking with his read, as advised by then OC Koetter.

Conclusion

It was rash for the Glazers to have fired Schiano over PR reasons. The strength of schedule for 2013 combined with a rash of injuries to the offensive line, running backs, and quarterback (mental injury) conspired to a failed season. Fast forward to 2016, the Bucs are in a similar situation -€” a very good offensive outing against a weak SOS and the coming season will bring a much more difficult SOS. The biggest difference this time around is quality depth, at OL, QB, RB, and TE. It will also be the second season for Jameis Winston, whereas current back-up QB Glennon was thrown to the wolves in 2013 after three games.

Many are going to cite a sophomore slump for Winston, but in reality, the Bucs will be facing stronger opponents this time around. While the horizon of success may look awfully close, the schedule will make it awfully difficult to achieve. If the offense does fight through adversity, then it maybe more than battle tested to make the playoffs.

I hate to be the bearer of cold water, but the offense did not close out the season very well in the last four games. Here is a link to review how our offense produced: 2015 Offensive Drive Analysis Review.

What started off as a review article, turned out to become déjà vu. The misfortunes of 2013 could become the strength to help power the 2016 offense from falling off the playing field. We are all hoping for a continuance of progress, but that SOS looms ever so close.