The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put 29 points on the scoreboard in their very first outing of the 2017 NFL season. How the swashbucklers generated those 29 points is just as important as the points themselves.
This series, if you are new to Bucs Nation, delves into the production of the offense to hopefully find a pattern or trend. Most times, fans disagree with the numbers and trend. Most fans still believe former Bucs head coach Lovie Smith was unceremoniously fired from Tampa for no plausible reason. Tampa improved its record from 2 wins in 2014 to 6 wins in 2015, Lovie’s first two and only two years as the Bucs head coach. Why fire a head coach who improved the team by four additional wins in the second year? Pattern and empirical evidence are the reason, but many still disagree.
Bucs offense had four long drives of 40 yards or more. Those four drives totaled only 9 points.
One of the long drives was a one-minute drive to end the half and the Bucs offense just ran out of time to traverse 80 yards for a touchdown. It ended with a 50-yard field goal.
The other three long drives went into the Red Zone and failed on all of its attempts. Two resulted in a field goal and one was a fumble after a pass catch.
Points off turnovers
Four turnovers were created. Only three of the turnovers were given to the offense as the other turnover was a defensive interception returned for a touchdown. With three extra opportunities, the Bucs offense was able to score two touchdowns.
First Interception: LOS @ TB 38. Three-and-out. Result: Punt
First Fumble Recovery: Special Teams fumble recovery. LOS @ Chi 13. One play. Result: TD pass.
Second Fumble Recovery: LOS @ Chi 35. 9 plays. Result: TD run.
Second Interception: Pick-6.
Although there seemed like a tale of two halves in scoring, I have a much different take. The offense struggled to score touchdowns throughout the whole game without the aid of the defense and special teams. It is as if the offense runs out of potent ideas or the offense gets tired on long drives and is unable to finish in the red zone. On short fields produced by turnovers, the offense was able to take advantage of those situations.
How often can the offense rely on the defense and special teams to create turnovers with less than half a field to traverse? Is this a pattern with Koetter’s offense in Tampa?
The short answer is yes. The proof is in this 2016 3rd quarter drive analysis article: link.
Looking over all my work folders, it appears I did not publish a 2016 Year End Offensive Drive Analysis, but I did 4th quarter Offensive Drive Chart. The points per game average in the concluding quartet of games was 17.5 points. The previous three quarters average about 18 PPG on its own, without including defensive turnovers producing short yardage situation.
For this game, the Bucs offense was able to only generate 9 points on its own, going 2 for 5 in the Red Zone. Off of turnovers, the Bucs offense was able to convert short yardage situations into two touchdowns, 14 points. The unaccounted 6 points came off of a pick-6, but a missed extra point attempt prevented a full 7 points.
This is quite a startling find that started in 2016. Jameis Winston did miss two long bombs to an open DeSean Jackson and a very wide open Charles Sims in or near the end zone. Either connecting on those two passes or being more effective in the Red Zone could lift the offense’s scoring prowess, but none of those transpired in this game. It could also still be first game jitters. Yet the trend started last season and continues on today.