Improvement starts at the top of the offense
The Tampa Bay Bucs once again struggled offensively Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens. What looked to be a promising start to the game quickly turned into a game that we’ve become accustomed to seeing in 2022.
Tampa Bay’s offense sputtered after a 10-3 lead early on. Big plays to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans appeared to be for nothing as once the sticks were moved, the Ravens secondary seamlessly appeared to keep everything in front of them. But they had some help, courtesy of the Bucs themselves.
There have been far too many excuses and suggestions thrown around for Tampa Bay’s struggles. There have been many defending quarterback Tom Brady while many others point to different aspects of the offense. Overall, the majority feel that the play calling is the biggest reason for their faults. The days of throwing beyond the sticks are over as well as look deep first and work your way short.
No risk it, no biscuit? More like throw short or just abort.
Perfect example of this is courtesy of that stat guys at Pro Football Focus. Charting the throws for Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady (and also Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers), this one stat tells the beginning of the story.
The pair also rank highly in the percentage of throws that end up short of the sticks: Rodgers is first at 60.3%, while Brady is seventh at 56.8%. To better put those numbers in context, Rodgers was 18th in 2021, while Brady was 30th.
Last season, Brady had no issues throwing beyond the first down marker. This season he is near the top of the NFL for throws in front of the sticks. Is that play calling? Bad routes? Poor quarterback decisions? Who knows.
However, another telling graphic from PFF is the frequency of routes run behind the line of scrimmage. In the same link noted above, the route frequency heat graph below shows that so far this season, the frequency of passes behind line of scrimmage is already higher than what it was in all of 2021 aiding to Brady still having a high completion rate on the season.
These short routes are allowing opposing defenses to scheme with more guys defending closer to the line of scrimmage because they see what is happening on tape. And that is that the Bucs aren’t throwing it beyond the sticks and throwing more behind the line of scrimmage (as well as short).
Then there is this. According to PFF, Brady is second just behind Colts quarterback Matt Ryan for the most passes that have been underthrown, thrown behind, thrown low, or behind the intended target. This is the very thing that was mentioned last week on Bucs Nation where balls are just not getting to the intended receiver like they used to.
If you struggle to recall the instances from the games against the Panthers, Steelers, or Chiefs on this problem, just look at Thursday night’s game where three fourth quarter passes into the end zone were off target. One particular throw to tight end Cade Otton at the goal line not far enough outside resulted in an incomplete and forced the Bucs to kick a field goal.
This is all happening live. You are witnessing all this at the games or via the broadcast without the need of looking at stats or reviewing game film. Bad throws are happening. Bad plays are being called from offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and Brady is just rolling along with it.
Sure, there are other elements involved as well but problems and changes that need to be made start with those two at the top of the offense.