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The Buccaneers offense failed due to a faulty spark plug

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Ever had your car starting running rough and then your engine light comes on? The reading on the OBD-II reader reveals P0301: Engine misfire on Cylinder 1. Everything was running fine until those symptoms came along.  Then the engine light came on. You kept driving and it got worse. You thought adding more gas would help, but it didn't. Now your car shakes like crazy at every stop light.

That is what happened to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Everything was working save one faulty sparkplug -€” the Bucs' young quarterback, Jameis Winston. One tiny spark plug threw off the whole offensive engine. The odd thing was there were no changes made as the team kept running with the check engine light on. Thank goodness the game ended due to time because I think the offense would have kept running ragged.


Five turnovers, three in the first half, sealed the fate of the game for the Bucs. There are not too many defenses that can overcome five turnovers and with the offense only netting seven points. When the turnover description reads four interceptions and a fumble, then it is easy to identify the main culprit.

Arizona Defense vs Bucs Offense
Qtr Drive Plays Yards Result RZ Pts 40 + yard Drives 50 + yard Drives 60 + yard Drives 70 + Yard Drives 80 + Yard Drives Totals
1 1 6 34 INT 0
2 8 29 Punt 0
3 2 1 INT 0
4 7 32 Punt 0
5 5 19 Fum 0
6 3 0 Punt 0
7 3 -3 Half 0
8 11 75 TD 1 7 1 1
9 6 34 INT 0
10 8 49 Miss FG 1 1
11 5 16 Punt 0
12 5 11 Punt 0
13 4 13 Punt 0
14 4 -9 INT 0
Total 10 77 301 1 7 1 0 0 1 0 2

From the chart above, we notice the offense had only two drives of 40 yards or more. None of the long drives occurred in the first half. 50% of the qualified first half drives were turnovers. There was also a three and out (drive 6) on a two minute offense that gave the ball back to Arizona with time left to score, to which they did by throwing over the defense.

NFL sophomore Winston was simply off on his accuracy today. His accuracy in last week's game gave the Bucs a huge lead.  His inaccuracy in this game against Arizona negated most of the offensive prowess. New England beat Arizona with QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy had no interceptions and the Patriots dinked and dunked their way to a victory. Jimmy was 72% accurate; Winston was 52% accurate (or rather inaccurate).

Explosive Plays

Head Coach Koetter has his 10 game stats for offense to help him increase his chances of winning games. Explosive plays are 12 yards or more for running plays and 16 yards or more for passing plays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Explosive Plays
Game 2, Arizona
Drive Run (12+ yards) Pass (16+ yards) Drive Result
1 Martin, 12 INT TO
8 Humphries, 24 TD
10 Rodgers, 24 Missed FG

Three explosive plays this week compared to seven the previous week. Not surprising is identify that the scoring opportunities did have an explosive play within their respective offensive drives.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Game 2, Arizona
Pos Player Rec Targets Yds Avg TD Long
WR Evans 6 17 70 11.7 1 19
WR Humphries 6 8 67 11.2 0 24
WR Jackson 4 9 44 11.0 0 15
WR Shepard 2 2 16 8.0 0 10
TE Brate 3 4 16 5.3 0 15
RB Sims 3 5 4 1.3 0 3

A surprising stat is to see Evans with 17 targets, but only six receptions. Only one touchdown pass reception this week compared to four touchdown passes last week. Again, this points to Winston.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Game 2, Arizona
Pos Player Carries Yards Avg TD Long
RB Rodgers 2 29 14.5 0 24
RB Sims 9 24 2.7 0 9
RB Martin 7 23 3.3 0 12

Doug Martin incurred an injury in the first half of the game. Although the injury did change the complexion of the running game, it did not matter with the way Winston was misfiring. What the injury did reveal was that Charles Sims is not in the same mold as Martin's running style. Sims can be a feature back, but not similar to Martin's bulk running style. It would be more screens and passing than punishing the opposing defense.

The team is fortunate to find Jacquizz Rodgers so quickly. He has played under Koetter before and knows the offense. Also, his running style is akin to Doug Martin's, to which Koetter has denoted in a press conference.

What people will forget is that we have lost two running backs to injury already. We lost Mike James before the season started. He was our third RB on the depth chart. James knew the offensive plays as it was his second year in Koetter's offense. Mike also ran like Martin.

Team Stats

Turnovers:                          5 turnover (4 INTs, 1 FumL)

3rd down efficiency:       5 out of 13 (38%)

Red Zone efficiency:      1 out of 1 (100%)

Passing:                               221 yards

Rushing:                              85 yards  (4.0 yards per attempt)

Turnovers will always decimate chances to win.


Yes, the offense only put up 7 points and the final score made it look so much worse: TB 7, Arizona 40. But this really is a quick fix. A P0301 can easily be remedied with a new spark plug or plug wires to make the engine hum great again. Similarly, the offense can get back on track when Winston is accurate again. It really is that simply a fix for the offense.

The only contention is if Winston still is not on point, then will Koetter insert Glennon to help protect the young franchise quarterback. Koetter once told Winston to simply throw the ball away because you cannot win the game on every throw. Well, maybe Koetter needs to listen to his own advice and preserve any potential injury to Winston because there are some games you simply cannot win -€” against Arizona was one of those games. Change the spark plug for the time being and wait until you have time to go to the actual garage to see if there is anything else that can be done. There is no need to put the rest of the offensive engine in jeopardy.