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The Buccaneers don’t like the shotgun, and that doesn’t really matter

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Shotgun or under center, any offense mostly needs a good quarterback.

Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not like using the shotgun formation. Per Football Outsiders, only three teams used that lineup, where the quarterback stands a few yards behind center when receiving the snap, less than the Bucs.

They lined up in that formation 50% of the time, and only the Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals had a lower percentage of shotgun. Of course, 50% is still a lot of shotgun compared to just ten years ago, or compared to infamous shotgun-hater and former Bucs coach Jon Gruden.

The supposed advantage of the shotgun formation is that you can more easily establish a running game. The backs can get the handoff while running downhill, play-action is a little more convincing, and a lot of timing offenses are built on under-center drops.

Is that how it works in practice? The results are mixed. The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons had tremendous offenses last year, and both were ranked in the bottom five in terms of shotgun percentage. But that bottom five also featured the mediocre Bucs and Cardinals offenses, and the downright terrible Broncos offense.

Meanwhile, the top five includes the dominant Green Bay Packers and the solid Buffalo Bills offense, but also the more mediocre Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers offense.

Ultimately, if you want a really good offense you mostly just need a really good offense. You can build a great shotgun offense around a good quarterback, and a great under-center offense around him. But no amount of toying with shotgun and formations will compensate for a poor passer.