Under Dirk Koetter, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a relatively run-heavy team. that usually means heavier personnel groupings, and that means more tight ends, more blocking tight ends, and even more six-linemen lineups. According to Football Outsiders, the Bucs used six offensive linemen more often than all but one team, and were one of the best six-linemen teams around.
The Bucs used extra offensive linemen more effectively than any offense in the league. Tampa had six or more O-linemen on 12.9 percent of its plays -- second behind Washington -- and compiled a 36.1 percent DVOA on these plays (third among teams with at least 20 such plays).
This shouldn’t be super surprising, in part because the Bucs just haven’t had very many versatile tight ends in recent years. Luke Stocker is next-to-useless as a receiving threat, with just a handful of catches every year, while Cameron Brate is next-to-useless as a blocker. Brandon Myers was phased out last year, leaving Austin Seferian-Jenkins as the only truly versatile tight end on the roster — but he’s been limited with injuries, and hasn’t played perfectly when he has been on the field.
As a result, the Bucs had to essentially declare their intentions through their personnel groupings last year. They simply didn’t have the personnel to be very deceptive — which means they may as well add an actual lineman on plays where they’re going to ask their tight ends to block. Kevin Pamphile was generally the sixth lineman, and he did a pretty good job.
This is not an ideal situation for Dirk Koetter, though. It’s pretty obvious that he likes versatile tight ends, as he’s made them focal points of his offense throughout his tenure as an NFL coordinator. He just hasn’t had the players to do that so far in Tampa.
That’s part of why we can expect big things out of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, if he can stay healthy and focused. He’s still the most talented tight end on the roster, and he’s the only one who can be a threat as a blocker and a pass-catcher. If everything goes right, this should be a breakout year for him. If it doesn’t, and he once again disappoints, you’ll again see a lot of personnel groupings with six linemen.