Will the Bucs’ offense really be better in 2016?

by Gary Shelton on May 20, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

How much better with the Bucs be in 2016?/JONATHAN S. KING

How much better with the Bucs be in 2016?

Friday, 6 a.m.

They will be better. Of course they will be better. Absolutely. They'll be eaten up by progress.

Won't they?

Why, Jameis Winston will improve his quarterback rating. Doug Martin won't suffer from bad games. Mike Evans won't drop as many balls.


The offensive braintrust of the Tampa Bay Bucs sits at the front of the room, and in the safety of May, the answers come so easy. No one can stop the Bucs in May. No one can slow them down.

They will not have holding calls. They will stop in the red zone. They will not dare to throw incompletions, let alone interceptions.

This is what it looks like when an offense is on the verge, right? The Bucs are a huddle without weakness. This year, they will turn third downs into first downs on their way to touchdowns.

The quarterback is skinnier. The tight end is healthier. The offensive line is sturdier.

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Why, whatever could go wrong.

Except, maybe, the name on the jerseys.

Evans wants to be more sure-handed in 2016./JEFFREY S. KING

Evans wants to be more sure-handed in 2016.

Frankly, we are all used to seeing the Tampa Bay Bucs struggle offensively. Remember last year's fifth-ranked (but flawed) offense? It came after finishes of 30th and 32nd. In more than half of the Bucs' 40 seasons, they've finished 20th or worse in offense.

Then there is this:Last year, the Bucs played three games against teams ranked in the top 10 defensively. This year, they play six. In all, the Bucs played eight games against teams ranked 23rd or worse. This year, they play four.

So how good will they be, really?

Start with Winston. Everyone does these days. A great quarterback makes an offensive line better and receivers more dangerous and gives running backs room to run. But little mistakes are the death of an offense. Last year, the Bucs were 25th in quarterback rating, 20th in punts, 20th in the red zone and tied for fourth in offensive holding penalties. Winston threw seven interceptions his first month and four his last.

“We had a great year offensively as a start, but penalties, turnovers, errant throws, drops — what else needs to be said?” said offensive coordinator Todd Monken. “There were a lot of points that were left off the board, and when you [take care of] that, then you add some consistency to your offense. Sure you can average 24, 28 points a game but getting 10 in one game and 38 in another, that's not very good. You want to be consistent every week and consistency comes from doing those little things. Plus as our young offense, our core nucleus of players, gets better — the O-linemen, the running backs, the receivers, the quarterback — we should continue to be more consistent."

Winston will always be a playmaker for the Bucs, but he still has to get his numbers up. Stop me if you've heard this before: the Bucs need to score more points.

Doug Martin was second in the NFL in rushing. /JEFFREY KING

Doug Martin was second in the NFL in rushing.

“That’s been the beauty of having him here for a year now,” said quarterback coach Mike Bajakian. “When he got here last year and for much of the early process, it was dedicating so much of our time to learning the offense, learning the procedure and being able to manage the offense. Now we’re at a point where he’s proficient enough in the offense that we can focus even more on the details of his technique, so everything from his footwork to his release, to again, accuracy. Little things like that are things that we’ve emphasized — moving in the pocket. All those little details that go into playing the position are now a matter of attention for us and he’s done a good job of focusing on that.”

Along the way, Winston also showed Tampa Bay that he's serious about his game, that he's worth believing in.

“It's who he is, how he's wired,” Monken said. “I think that's one thing that's a misnomer. I think from the outside you would have looked at it and with all the things that were publicized in the past about him and who he is, I was dead wrong. He wants to win as much as we do. He's a competitive joker. He's smart, he's competitive, wants to win as much as we do. You can win a lot of games with guys like that."

Monken gets the way that players are misunderstood.

"I just think that's general in life, especially with social media today, but even before then,” said Monken. “Without knowing a person we make judgments before ever being around them. I think that's just common. It's not just Jameis. It's in general, people, you make thoughts and impressions.

“Heck, you meet someone on Facebook or Twitter or Snapfish or Fishchat – I don't know what it is now — and you think you know them. You think you're a part of their life. You have no idea what they're like. You have no idea until you get around them and you're around them day-to-day, [learning] what they're about. That's really in terms of life, it's not just him."

The Bucs seem to feel good about the rest of the huddle, too. Take, for instance, running back Doug Martin, who finished second in the NFL in rushing. Still, Martin didn't get the ball very much in the games the Bucs had trouble moving the ball.

“Doug is an easy guy to coach because he’s self-motivated,” said running backs coach Tim Spencer. “When you come to practice you’ll see, Doug is one of the guys who’s 10 yards, 20 yards, 30 yards down the field. He’s always hustling, he’s always working on his craft, so he’s a pleasure to coach. He wants to be coached. He’s a leader.”

The offensive line survived with two rookies last year. This year, rookies could help provide depth.

“I have to take my hat off to (General Manager) Jason (Licht),” said offensive coach George Warhop. “We went and signed some free agent guys that are competitive guys. There just not guys who are taking up a roster spot, so it’ll be competitive and it’s up to them from that standpoint. But we just added guys that we though would bring competition and be legitimate guys in the end, if they can develop. He just did a great job of adding good players”

 They should be better. Tight ends coach Jon Embree said he likes his group.

“I feel good about our group,” said Embree. “I feel like it’s really strong. You know, Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] is back healthy, you got Brandon Myers and Luke [Stocker] and [inaudible] Cam [Brate], how he finished last year and we’ve added some young guys to the mix. Tevin Westbrook who was on the practice squad for us — having him and then some of the rookies we’ve added. I really feel good about our group. I think it’s very strong.”

And the wide receivers? Monken thinks Mike Evans will get beyond his drops.

"It's repetition,” Monken said. “He understands where he's got to get to, what he's capable of. All we can do is work every day to correct it. He's got to make a decision…first of all, I thought he came back in great shape, I really did. The more he practices, the more he works with Jameis, the better he's going to get."

Austin Seferian-Jenkins has to make his imprent in 2016.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins has to make his imprint in 2016.




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