The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense had a field day against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. So what happened?
Just looking at the box scores, the Bucs threw and scored without too much resistance against a top defense.
Pass Plays: 44 (63.8%)
Run Plays: 25 (36.2%)
Quick look shows that the Bills did make the Bucs one dimensional on offense, but the Bucs were still able to do tremendous damage to this top flight Buffalo defense through the air and on the scoreboard. The Bucs still lost as the defense gave up more points than the offense did score. Such a wasted opportunity.
The amazing thing is that the Bucs offense scored often on the top PPGA defensive team in the league. The team could move the ball against this Bills defense often, as evidenced by the five long drives out of a possible 11 drives. The 11th drive was an offensive outing that was in sheer desperation with no plausible way to move the ball at all with mere seconds left
Five passes caught by the receivers for 47 yards. Doug Martin produced 31 yards on two receptions, one of those receptions being a 17 yard jaunt.
Lack of first half scoring.
This is a disturbing recent pattern. What it reveals is that the offense has amazing fire power, but it is not always “en fuego” most of the game. The offense needs to be on for most of the game because it cannot rely on its porous defense to prevent other teams from scoring, let alone sustain a lead.
Turnovers and unforced errors fit into this category. This will be discussed more in detail below.
The run blocking game took a dive in this game. Here is a quote from Pewter Report relaying PFF information:
RB Doug Martin earned his paycheck, and his yards, on Sunday against the Bills – gaining more yards AFTER contact, than total rushing yards. On his 20 carries, Martin gained 49 total yards, but did it the hard way as 50 of those were after first contact. He forced two missed tackles on the afternoon.
Believe it or not, this was the same type of reporting we were seeing last year. Last the offensive line was the culprit of bad production as well as getting several running backs injured as the team cycled through about six starters. In this game, Martin’s average per rush was 2.5 yards per attempt. But Martin is not the problem. The Bills showed that having a bigger and better offensive line can open up lanes like anyone opening up a present on their birthday!
There were three turnovers in this game and all were forced differently. The first turnover was due to left tackle Donovan Smith getting beaten, the defensive end forcing a fumble from Winston’s blind side. This is a lack of communication on the offensive line and Smith having tunnel vision. In previous games, I have denoted this tunnel vision flaw for the offensive line. So there might be a pattern for not accounting for all defensive players on the trench.
Next, the second turnover was Winston throwing the ball to his safety blanket TE Cam Brate and it was intercepted. Dirk Koetter had noted in a press conference that the offense was dinking and dunking, but then Winston forced the ball into a very small window for a big gain. I want to emphasize that this is the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stating that Winston was forcing a pass deep as opposed to taking what the defense was giving. There were two other passing attempts that could have turned into interceptions, but the targeted receivers either fought to regain possession or prevented the completion of an interception, DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans, respectively.
Finally, the last turnover was a punch-out fumble caused by the defense on what appeared to be the Bucs’ potential winning offensive drive. Adam Humphries was scrambling for more yards on a quick WR designed screen play, but the Bills’ scrappy defense had their desperation mindset on: create a turnover or lose the game. They also had a punch-out fumble earlier in the game on TE OJ Howard, but fortunately, he did recover the ball.
2nd and 9 @ Buf-23 yard line. Martin runs for two yards to the left side, but RT Demar Dotson was called for a facemask. Instead of being 3rd and 7, it became 2nd and 24 @ Buf-38 yard line. We are moving away from the Red Zone.
Result: The Bucs settle for a 50-yard FG. The LOS was the Buf-32 yard line.
1st and 10 @ Buf-11 yard line. Fumble on the exchange between Ali Marpet and Jameis Winston. Fortunately, Winston was able to recover the football. This fumble stole a play away from the Red Zone as well as inducing a 2nd and long situation. A potential 4 points went missing.
Result: The Bucs settle for a 25-yard FG.
3rd and 10 @ Buf-32 yard line. Fumble lost due to Donovan Smith being late to cover the defender, who easily whipped around to cause the sack-fumble. This is important because we now know the Bucs lost the game by 3 points. If no fumble was created and Winston threw an incompletion, then the Bucs could have attempted another 50-yard FG. New kicker for this year, Patrick Murray, was successful on his first 50-yard FG on the first drive of the game.
Result: Fumble lost.
3rd and 7 @ Buf-37 yard line. Winston overthrows RB Sims on a deep wheel route while Sims was open. That potential completion would have netted a first down and possibly a TD. This is a target that Winston should have completed as Sims beat his man and the defensive help deep was not close to him. Even though the Bucs just needed five yards to be in Patrick Murray’s range and could have looked for a shorter route, this play should have been made.
It might be safer if we do not have any deep routes that have Buc receivers open because this is yet another opportunity blown by Winston. I think he has missed at least one per game. That is how consistent Winston is at missing open receivers deep.
Result: Punting the ball on the Buf-37 yard line.
2nd and 5 @ TB-24 yard line. There are 33 seconds left in the half and the Bucs possessing two timeouts. Winston went deep middle to TE Brate and was intercepted at TB 41. It was returned to the TB 26. The Bucs were spared by the Bills lack of timing to attempt a FG after the interception at the end of the half.
The two short completed passes took 6 seconds per play. Potentially, the Bucs could have had an additional five more plays within 33 seconds. The Bucs used their first timeout when Sims caught a short pass to the TB-24 yard line.
Result: Interception at TB-41 yard line and returned to TB-26 yard line. No FG attempt tried.
This was an amazing output by the offense and overcame early mistakes against a top defense in the Bills. The offense surged for a 7 point lead late in the fourth quarter, but the Bucs defense decided to waste such a wonderful opportunity to steal a game away from the top ranked defense. A scary thought is that the offense can be even more potent. It needs to be more potent because no one is putting stock in the Bucs defense shutting anyone down.