If someone were to strictly look at the stat sheet of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Washington Redskins without seeing the score, you’d think Tampa completely dominated the Redskins the entire game.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers found a way to rack up over 500 yards of total offense against Washington while only scoring three lousy points. How does a team with so much offensive firepower only put up one field goal on six trips to the 30-yard line or less? Well, let’s dive into what happened on Sunday on this week’s Final Thoughts.
Tampa Buccaneers “starting” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had no issue moving the ball down the field as evident to the number of yards he threw for. The aspect of the game that went south for Fitzpatrick can be summed up into two parts: turnovers and game management.
Let’s start with his first interception. Rookie running back Shaun Wilson was targeted around the five-yard line for what would have been an easy touchdown, but Fitzpatrick clearly sailed it over his head for former Carolina Panther cornerback Josh Norman to easily snag it for a big return. The ball was clearly overthrown after Fitzpatrick drove the offense all the way down the field with ease.
His second interception was completely on him, again, as he tried to throw tight end O.J. Howard open, but failed to see how covered he was by the cornerback. A bad decision this time by Fitzpatrick as he had several open targets to throw to.
The last turnover for Fitzpatrick was a sack-fumble in which he held onto the ball too long trying to make a play within the 15-yard line. With the last observation on Fitzpatrick, on a crucial drive to keep the Bucs into the game, Fitzpatrick had a clear rushing lane for a much-needed first down within 20 yards of the end zone.
Doing too Much!
Instead of running straight ahead for the first down, he decided to try to use some blockers and rush around the defender for what he may have believed to be a touchdown.
Let’s not forget the dump pass to running back Jacquizz Rodgers in the middle of the field with eight seconds left on the clock instead of throwing to the sidelines to stop the clock.
I say all this to make the point that Fitzpatrick did not manage the offense the way it needed to be managed. Yes, he made plays with his legs, but when the team needed to score, he couldn’t get the job done.
I can understand the need to make plays as much as you can to keep the offense moving, but there are other options, sometimes smarter ones, that Fitzpatrick could’ve made.
Red zone playcalling was also an issue on Sunday as it was during the 2017 season. That’s for another segment.
I would also like to point out that his throwing mechanics looked off on Sunday as he threw side-arm passes and balls without power for a good portion of the game.
Now I will point out that the protection wasn’t exactly great today as Fitzpatrick had eight rushing attempts for 35 yards. Some of those yards were Fitzpatrick being flushed out of the pocket. But, decision-making was an issue on Sunday and being a veteran like Fitzpatrick, you’d want more of a “take what they give me” type of attitude.
Overall, stats are for losers and that’s exactly what Fitzpatrick accomplished on Sunday.
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Who’s to Blame for the Lack of Production in the Run Game?
Winning football is not accomplished with an unbalanced offense. 41 passing attempts to 16 rushing attempts is as unbalanced as it gets. Dirk Koetter stated during his post-game press conference that he wanted to get the running game going early on in the game. That’s great to hear but was short-lived after the run game was abandoned early on.
Now, who’s to blame for the lack of production in the running game? Play calling and aggressiveness up front. Running back need to build a rhythm in order to successfully run the ball. That means more rushing plays to establish the run.
Offensive line play has been unsatisfactory, especially in run blocking. Caleb Benonoch has not progressed as a right guard and it shows not only in run blocking but most importantly in pass protection.
From what I have observed for most of the season is that the play caller, whoever it is, abandons the run when it’s not working. The run game will not be successful if the team is only running the ball on 25% of the plays called. Peyton Barber gives his all every run he has, no matter the number of yards he gains. Give that man a chance to succeed instead of making the offense one-dimensional.
I will put most of the blame on the playcalling for this one, but the offensive line has to be way more aggressive up front and keep the running lanes open for the running back to succeed.
Where’s the Aggression on the Defensive Line?
The Redskins came into Raymond James Stadium a very beaten and battered offensive unit. Three of their starting offensive lineman were out with an injury which would give the Buccaneers 53 million dollar defensive line a real chance to slam the hammer down on them. That’s not the product we saw on Sunday.
Jason Pierre-Paul has been somewhat invisible over the past several games and it has been very noticeable as the defensive line production has continued to dwindle as the season goes by. This game was the Buccaneers chance to prove that they are an aggressive defensive unit, but instead, they could not get enough pressure and move the passing pocket enough to push Alex Smith into some turnovers or sacks.
Washington running backs were able to run for over 100 yards on the Buccaneers defense that included over 60 yards on 19 carries for Adrian Petterson. They allowed too many explosive and clutch runs for the Redskins, allowing them to eat clock and achieve first downs.
I will say the defense as a whole played a much better game on Sunday only allowing 16 points, nine of which were field goals. They did their part on Sunday and should be recognized for it.
Out Coached, Again!
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been outcoached since the second quarter of the Pittsburg Steelers game, but most obviously during this game. Koetter stated during his post-game presser that he, in fact, did take over play calling this weekend. With six trips to the 30-yard line and coming away with only three points, is embarrassing. Koetter has proven his inability to call plays in the red zone. This offense looked way too much like the offense of 2017.
With over 500 yards of offense, you’d think the Bucs would fall into a touchdown. The fact that the team only scored three points after averaging 28.1 points a game tells me that the play caller responsible for that average, should stay the play caller.
Another point to make was the fact that the Bucs had a play designed to throw the ball to Shaun Wilson. I’m baffled over the fact that the head coach would practice a play that was designed to give a rookie running back, who has not proven anything thus far, the ball in the end zone when you have Howard, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Cameron Brate, Adam Humphries, and Desean Jackson on the team.
Where was O.J. Howard?
The best mismatch matchup on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense was targeted two times on Sunday. Howard had one catch for 15 yards and was seen on the field in a lesser role for the Bucs offense. The Buccaneers have to make Howard a big part of the offensive game plan every week not only because of his elite abilities but the fact that he is bigger than just about every player who covers him and has an elite ability to contest for the ball.
Now I’m not sure why Howard was not a huge part of the game plan this week, but I can tell you Jacquizz Rodgers was utilized way more than Howard was in the passing ga,e when it should-be been the other way around.
Coach Koetter harps on doing what is best for the team to win each week, but Coach, you didn’t buy what you were selling this week.
There is something very wrong with this football team. The culture of losing finds its way onto the field just about every week. This game was winnable in so many ways but Tampa continues to shoot themselves in the foot. Whether it be penalties, development of their players or the overall “want to” to win games. It’s up to the head coach to right the ship, I’m just not convinced it’s the current head coach.