Lack Of “Middle Threat” Hurting FreemanSeptember 17th, 2013
No Dallas Clark and/or no middle-of-the-field receiving threat has downgraded the Bucs’ passing attack significantly.
That was the strong message from former Bucs tight end Dave Moore, who is the color analyst on the Buccaneers Radio Network.
Moore gave a passionate Xs and Os explanation of key passing attack issues during the Ron and Ian show on WDAE-AM 620 yesterday. Moore was adamant that the Bucs are out of balance because they’re lacking a threat from No. 3 receiver and tight end.
“In third down, if you’re going to play cover 2 against the Bucs, you just cheat those safeties real wide to play over the top of Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson because they don’t have that middle threat. Sure, they have Doug Martin to check it down to run screens, but they have to have that third receiver and that tight end. So when you’re evaluating Josh Freeman, he’s throwing into tighter coverage because defenses know,” Moore said.
“We saw Tim Wright go in motion [Sunday] yesterday from the slot, from a two tight end look, and New Orleans never even covered him. Because they’re not worried about him getting the ball. They’re not scared that Tim Wright, the backup tight end No. 81 is going to beat them. So they kept they’re coverage on the guys they thought were getting the ball.
“You have to have some kind of middle. So you can certainly put it on Freeman, but you need somebody to control the middle of the field to force a defense to play honest. And that’s their missing piece right now. …
“You gotta have somebody to at least make the safeties play honest and not cheat.”
It’s easy to say the Bucs don’t emphasize the tight end in their offense. That’s true. But the position can’t be the liability in the passing game that it is now.
Clark was no superstar last season, but the guy caught 47 balls and four touchdowns. Somebody has to make up that production. The same goes for Tiquan Underwood’s 28 catches in 2012.
Through the first two games of this season, the Bucs have three total catches from the tight end position and from receivers not named Jackson or Williams. In Baltimore, Clark has eight catches.
Somehow, the Bucs have to find a way to develop more threats in the passing game. If not, it’ll be a long season for whatever quarterback is under center.