“Still Shakin’ It, Boss”

July 11th, 2018

BY IRA KAUFMAN

We should have known it from the start.

We should have realized that offense was going to be an issue when the Bucs failed to score a point in three of the first five games this franchise ever played. That 1976 expansion team averaged only 8.9 points on the season, generating a slew of memorable one-liners from John McKay.

All these years later, scoring enough points is still a problem. A big, fat problem.

When the Bucs entered the NFL, Gerald Ford sat in the Oval Office. Gas was 59 cents a gallon. The No. 1 song was “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band.

Still shakin’ it, boss.

After 42 seasons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have still failed to field a Top 5 scoring attack.

Think about that for a moment. Think about all the coaches, schemes and players that have come through this town for a franchise that has never once ranked Top 5 in scoring. The closest Tampa Bay came was in 2000, when Shaun King was under center and Warrick Dunn powered the league’s No. 6 scoring attack.

With Les Steckel calling the plays, the 2000 Bucs ran 490 times and threw only 433 passes. For his impressive efforts, Steckel was promptly fired.

King’s primary targets on that 10-6 team were Keyshawn Johnson, Jacquez Green, Reidel Anthony and Dave Moore. With all due respect to those gentlemen, that group can’t compare to the weapons brandished by the current Bucs.

Loaded & Elite

Tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard split 12 TD catches last season, with Howard averaging a team-high 16.6 yards per catch as a rookie. Mike Evans tops a deep and talented corps at receiver.

““We have a good group at wideout,” says Dirk Koetter. “Those first four guys are really good and they complement each other well. I think our second-level guys, Freddie Martino and Bobo Wilson, have really upped their games. That gets you to six.”

Is it really a stretch to suggest Ryan Fitzpatrick will have the best group of targets in the league to throw to in the season opener at New Orleans?

Evans is being paid like an elite receiver and he has reached the 1,000-yard mark in all four of his pro seasons. DeSean Jackson arrived in Tampa in 2017 with a reputation as one of the NFL’s premier deep threats. Adam Humphries has steady hands and a knack for getting open. Chris Godwin has the look of a young stud.

Add in the talent at tight ends and that’s a load for any pass defense to deal with.

Dirk Koetter

You can bet Koetter is still beating himself up for averaging only 20.9 points last year, good for 18th in the league.

What Changes?

Blame an erratic ground game or inconsistent blocking, but Koetter made his bones in this league as an offensive coordinator and the 2017 Bucs underachieved when they owned the football. Perhaps the elevation of Todd Monken can clear Koetter’s plate enough so he can return to the innovative play calls that marked his 2015 season as Lovie Smith’s offensive guru.

By the way, that 2000 season represents the only time in franchise history that the Bucs have ranked better than 13th in scoring offense.

No wonder Buc fans love defense — they haven’t been given much of a choice.

With targets this skilled and this deep, Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston have no reason to lock onto one guy.

Spread the ball around, don’t choose to suck and who knows … the Saints may have company atop the scoring charts this fall.

Ira Kaufman is the most revered sports personality and writer in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also hear Ira on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Wednesdays during football season, and see him now on Mondays at 10:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sports 360 (aka BayNews 9). Ira also is part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show and enjoys beet salads, Riesling, Chiefs victories and needling Joe.

25 Responses to ““Still Shakin’ It, Boss””

  1. SB Says:

    “Coach, how do you feel about your team’s execution?”

    “I’m all for it!”

  2. SB Says:

    “We didn’t tackle well today but we made up for it by not blocking.”

  3. Maze Says:

    Its almost #Fitzmagic time

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “Perhaps the elevation of Todd Monken can clear Koetter’s plate enough so he can return to the innovative play calls that marked his 2015 season as Lovie Smith’s offensive guru.” Therein lies 1 of the 2 biggest limitations to this Bucs’ offense Ira: our HC insisting he’ll still be the OC and call plays. The other limitation? Turnovers. (If Fitz & Jameis can hold those down, both offense AND defense will benefit greatly).

  5. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I still believe this team can win 10 games even if Fitz started everyone of them.

    Probably one and done in the playoffs. And that’s the difference with Jameis. #3 would give us a chance to go deeper into the playoffs. WHEN he’s on…#3 can dominate a game…when he’s off he can lose one. Fitz is much more consistent.

    Of course #3 is useless if he’s not on the field. Although he does still bring a ton of PR to the team. So who was the guy who said any publicity is good publicity.
    Can’t say the league and our fans aren’t talking about Jameis.

  6. 813bucboi Says:

    clearly dirk needs an HC to hold his hand when it comes to play calling and offensive game planning…..

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!….#PRESSURESONTHECOACHES!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  7. DB55 Says:

    What’s the over/under on Fitzpatrick making it out of the eagles game healthy? Don’t be surprised if you see Griffin in the game before week 3.

  8. stpetebucsfan Says:

    DB55

    Not sure of your point. That our OL is horrible or that Fitz is more fragile than Jameis?

    I’m trying to remember which one of them missed several games last year with injury.

  9. Pickgrin Says:

    spbf Says:
    “Fitz is much more consistent”

    Not sure where this narrative came from – but if you really think this is true, then you must not have watched Ryan Fitzpatrick play QB very often over the last 13 years.

    I’m not saying Fitz sucks – he’s one of the better back-up QBs in the league. Certainly has more snaps under his belt than any other back-up QB in the league and that experience is quite valuable. But the reason he’s a back-up now. The reason Fitz has been the on again off again starter the majority of his career…. The reason Fitz has played QB for SEVEN different NFL teams in 13 years – is because he is NOT consistently good.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick CAN play very well for periods of time given the right supporting cast. But he has never done so “consistently”…

    He’s got some of the same “issues” as Winston in fact. He’s streaky. He’s turnover prone at times When Fitz is “on”, he can look very good. But then he will make a lame duck throw that has you saying – “WTF was THAT”?? as it gets picked off….

    Arm strength is not Fitz’ best attribute. And its hard to have much of a gunslinger mentality (which he does kinda have at times – or at least has in the past) when your passes beyond 20 yards lose steam.

    Fitzpatrick is definitely capable of winning a couple games in relief of your starter – but given 16 games as a starter – a LOT of questionable decisions and “bad” throws would show up over the course of a full season and have you shaking your head for ever believing that “consistent” was a word you associated with Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    Just sayin…

  10. Dooshlarue Says:

    Ha, good one SPBF.

  11. Neal Says:

    Y’all realize that hashtags don’t work on this website, right? Or do you just not understand the point of hashtags? Just write your thoughts out in sentences like adults.

  12. Mike Johnson Says:

    At least John Mckay had a great sense of entertaining Humor. We fans don’t care if its by one or 21..Just Win Bucs. Nobody gets a mulligan for Jameis’s irresponsibility. Thats no excuse. Fitz is more than capable of leading this team. Lets hope our DC makes a few..surprise appearances on the sidelines during this years games. His binocular..better viewing tactics are not working for his defense.
    Like Mckay, I am for the execution……of not only players but mainly coaches and the GM if they cannot produce at least an 8-8 season. Line them up and..FIRE THEM ALL!!!!

  13. aceinthehole Says:

    Pickgrin nailed it. Fitz is a journeyman QB who at his best is above average back-up. Period. At his worst, well, I seem to remember a 6 interception game for the Jets a few years ago. The only way to win with Fitz is good old fashioned Bucball. We will see if we have the running game and defense to pull that off.

  14. Bucsfanman Says:

    These are all great points and we DO have elite talent. It comes down to coaching and execution.
    Fitzy’s will not, and should not be expected to carry the offense. A coach worth his salt should be able to gameplan accordingly with this much advance notice.
    It has been and always will be a TEAM game.
    Get it together coach!

  15. Chris in WA Says:

    Get a ground and pound offense going with the Run game and short passes to Brate and O.J. now opposing defenses start bringing a saftey down in the box.

    Boom you have a mismatch on one side of the field. Pick either D-Jax or ME13 whichever has single coverage and lob a deep ball. I’m sure Fitzpatrick will find a way to screw up a drive or two but this offense seems able to minimize his weaknesses.

  16. Pickgrin Says:

    If the Bucs play “well” in the first 3 games. And win at least 1 or maybe 2 of those games – It will be likely be based on what ace and fanman said.

    Good defense. Stuffing the run. Attacking on pass downs – PRESSURE Defense that creates turnovers and opportunities for the offense to play on a short field is what we must have to win vs Saints, Eagles, Steelers.

    Run game must be fixed. Offense must be balanced. Creative play calling then becomes so much “easier”.

    Our Guard play was PITIFUL last year – D. Smith was no stud run blocker either – Marpet had 1000 things running through his head as he tried to get used to playing Center – yet nobody seemingly wants to acknowledge how seriously hampered this offense was by lack of “good” OLine play in 2017…

    It all starts up front. We were “soft” on both sides of the ball up front last year. Thus 5-11

    If Jensen, JPP, Curry, Allen, Unrein, Vea, Spence and at least 1 new face at OG can be collective “difference makers”…

    If the OLine and Dline are indeed “fixed”….

    Then we are looking at one hell of an exciting upcoming season!

    “good ol fashioned Bucball” works. Solid D with a strong running game – playing smart, turnover free football and “taking a few shots” here and there selectively will win a ton of NFL games if you have the defense and the Oline and the running game all working for you.

    Dirk and Jameis had almost NONE of that going last year…. Thus 5-11. And a bunch of personal criticism for both as a result.

    This year is certainly going to be “interesting” to watch unfold. So many facets to pay attention to…

    And if what I think will happen DOES happen – which is Bucs will be a GOOD TEAM this year. Will win at least 1 if not 2 of first 3 games – then Winston comes back week 4 with a vengeance and proceeds to lead this team to double digit wins and into the playoffs…

    IF that happens – then this entire Tampa Bay region and all of the newly re-discovered “Buc Nation” will once again be in LOVE with its football team and most of the negative posters and judgmental haters of individual players will vanish from jbf and Monday mornings at work during the Fall and Winter will be SOOO much more bearable….

    You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one…. If Jason Licht has finally found the right mix this offseason and coaches can “remember” how to coach (LOL). Then the Buccaneer family can again – live as one….

  17. Bucsfanman Says:

    Nice post Pickgrin…..until the end! LOL!

  18. Pickgrin Says:

    Not a John Lennon fan eh? Hard to IMAGINE….

  19. stpetebucsfan Says:

    @Pickgrin

    Certainly take your point and agree about the difference in arm strength.

    But Fitz didn’t really play until his fourth year. If you take his first three years of actually playing he tossed ten fewer interceptions. Fumbles at about the same rate because Fitz is as reckless a runner as Jameis.

    I think Fitz plays up or down to his fellow teammates. The year he played on the Jets team with a good defense they won ten games.

    But you are correct he has certainly had some ups and downs. Perhaps it’s that his turnovers look more typical than Jameis who has found some amazing ways to turn it over.

  20. Buccfan37 Says:

    Pickgrin… good post like pretty much always in support of our Bucs. I was going to make a political comment seeing as how some do filter in now and then, about the Bucs and the team being awarded to Tamp Bay while Gerald Ford was the unelected president. Oh well, the John Lennon contribution to music and peace will live on forever.

  21. Trench War Says:

    I think the most prolific offense the Bucs ever had was when DeBerg was under center.

  22. DB55 Says:

    stpetebucsfan Says:
    July 11th, 2018 at 11:19 am
    DB55

    Not sure of your point. That our OL is horrible or that Fitz is more fragile than Jameis?
    ————-
    Just the first part. I don’t think he’s more fragile but he is human. Remember last year both Jameis and Griffin had shoulder injuries. Plus have you seen what Philly sends out on defense on 3rd down? It’s outright criminal.

  23. Gambelero Says:

    Agree with Pickgrin. What you want as a backup is a guy that can come in and win a game or two as a backup. He might throw for a great percentage, and he’ll take a check down for a reasonable gain when Jameis would Mae a riskier throw, but he’ll also settle for a 4-6 yards gain on third and 7-9.

  24. BringBucsBack Says:

    When Les Steckel was hired, I remember Dungy stating that he had never met a coach who was offensively aligned philosophically more closely to himself than Les. Mysteriously, one year later, after scoring the most points of any Bucs team, Les was shown the door!?!?

    Ya, the Bucs are loaded at the skill positions, on O. It’s the O-line that is a bit worrisome.

  25. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Yeah St Pete you are way off when you say that Fitz is more steady than JW. He is almost exactly like JW with his inconsistency, he just has a lot less talent. Fitz may play decent for a couple of games to start the season. If he played the entire season Bucs fans would eventually be pullling their hair because even though he is a veteran he still makes boneheaded plays. Mainly though he is a guy that has made a living at the level for a number of years with inferior athletic ability. The hope would be that if JW comes back for game 4 and on that some of his boneheaded players would start to decrease. With Fitz he is what he is.

 

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