Where is the dangerous offense of the Bucs?

by Gary Shelton on August 28, 2017 · 2 comments

in general

Winston throws the ball away against Browns./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston throws the ball away against Browns./CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 4 a.m.

Why have the Tampa Bay Bucs struggled to score?

Most of us who have watched the Bucs for a while agree. There has never been an offensive huddle by the Bucs that had more talent. Throughout most of their history, the Bucs' offense has featured this player or that, a back or maybe a receiver, to move the chains. But there has never been this much on their resumes.

And yet, this team has 33 points in three games. The first-team offense has one touchdown to its credit. Winston has no touchdown passes. Jackson has made a

 Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

Barber finds nowhere to run against Cleveland./CARMEN MANDATO

Barber finds nowhere to run against Cleveland./CARMEN MANDATO

guest appearance, but not much more than that. But at this point, no one knows if the bulbs in the home half of the scoreboard work. And, preseason or not, it's starting to feel a little worrisome.

Is it possible the Bucs have reunited Dexter Jackson, Michael Clayton and Lars Tate? With Josh Freeman as the quarterback? I mean, you know these players are supposed to be a cut above? But they haven't been.

“Blah,” is the word head coach Dirk Koetter used Saturday night. And it fits.

Granted, the Bucs have moved the ball on occasion. But not as crisply, and not as

Martin is preparing to sit out for a month./CARMEN MANDATO

Martin is preparing to sit out for a month./CARMEN MANDATO

dangerously, as you might have thought. Part of that has been turnovers and penalties as the Bucs have gotten close. Part of it is sputtering on third downs – the team made only three of 15 Saturday night, and it was zero-for-seven in the first half.

Other theories?

1. Could Winston be too cautious? He threw his first interception of the preseason against the Browns, but he hasn't aired it out often in games. Fortunately, he has in practice, so the coaches have seen it.

"I think Jameis has done fine, minus a couple plays, but you could say that for the best of the best,” Koetter said. “You can say that for every player out there. I think Jameis has worked hard on the things that we wanted him to improve on. I think his accuracy has been better – throw the games in with the practices. We didn't really throw any deep balls with him last night but, yeah, I think Jameis is where he needs to be. It's time for him to play a real game."

Koetter said that Winston's interception came on a play where Brate was held.

Winston has led his team to only one touchdown./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston has led his team to only one touchdown./CARMEN MANDATO

“Yeah, Cam got held a little bit,” Koetter said. “That particular, the way that shook out they're never going to call that. He did get held and Jameis just put it too far out in front of him. That's just plain and simple. We've scored on that play, a play like that, multiple times and Jameis, his eyes lit up. He thought he had Cam on the backside hash there and just threw it a little too far out in front."

2. The running game hasn't been great in two of the three games. That might end up being a problem with the pending absence of Doug Martin. But the Bucs have gained their yards by the inch. It won't do when the regular season gets here.

Across the board, (we've been) inconsistent on offense but, yeah, the running game is just a little too choppy right now. Could be [that] we're rotating a lot of guys in there, but that's not really a good excuse. We're going to have to do better."

Marpet and the line need to be more cohesive./CARMEN MANDATO

Marpet and the line need to be more cohesive./CARMEN MANDATO

3. The offensive line has been a mish-mash. The Bucs' coaches think it's a better unit that a lot of its critics, but it's obvious that it isn't as good with parts missing. Can it stand up against the solid line of the Dolphins? We'll see.

"We had some individual breakdowns last night,” Koetter said. “I thought Evan Smith did a really nice job filling in at left guard and has had a real consistent preseason. Leonard Wester got his first start, that was great experience for him. The way it worked out, even though we played into the second half our first line and Jameis, they played the exact same number of plays that they played in one half at Jacksonville, 44 plays. So for Leonard to get 44 with the first group, that's invaluable experience. Ali [Marpet] at center, you can definitely feel how he makes us more solid in the middle. But then, [there's] a learning curve. He had a couple of snaps that were a little bit high, a little tough to handle. And Donovan [Smith] did not play as well as he's capable of. But it's a work in progress."

4. The receivers haven't been complete, either. Winston didn't have Evans or Jackson

Saturday night. With a running game that is flawed, that's like a team playing with one hand tied behind its back.

Koetter wasn't happy with Spence and the pass rush./CARMEN MANDATO

Koetter wasn't happy with Spence and the pass rush./CARMEN MANDATO

5. Playcalling. Koetter readily admits that his team isn't using its full playbook. Yes, you still have to execute, but it's going to slow down the Bucs.

6. It's preseason. Get it? No one remembers. No one cares.

 Still, the preseason is a time for tuning up. By now, you might have expected a little more flash, a little more sizzle. By now, you certainly would have expected more points.

Perhaps the most difficult part of waiting for the offense is that the Bucs have seldom been good on that side of the ball. Only four times have they cracked the top 10; two 10th, a ninth and a fifth-place finish. In all four of those seasons, the team lost more games than it won.

This was supposed to be different. The was supposed to be flash and sass and players winding through secondaries.

Maybe it's still coming.

But if the Bucs are to move that fast, why is it taking so long to get here?

Koetter has seen his offense more dangerous at practice./CARMEN MANDATO

Koetter has seen his offense more dangerous at practice./CARMEN MANDATO

Share with:Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS August 29, 2017 at 8:52 am

The Bucs really do need to show a bit more of the expected sharp offense in their last preseason game! The coaches and players need to get at least a touchdown for the fans and for their own confidence. What ever motivation it takes they need to give us a little taste of the real thing. After Saturday’s “blah” performance I am getting a bit nervous and more than a little worried. Please Coach show us some flash!

Reply

Gary Shelton August 29, 2017 at 10:12 am

You won’t see it by the players who count in the last preseason game. That’s for the used car salesmen.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: