The QB Blasts: Improvement Falls On Olson

October 23rd, 2010
By JEFF CARLSON analyst 

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson (1990 & 1991) writes The QB Blast column here at Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson is often seen as a color analyst on Bright House Sports Network, and he trains quarterbacks of all ages locally via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.

The Bucs can’t run the ball very well and the head coach says the runners, blockers and playcaller are all a part of the problem.

They really can’t do much to change the runners or blockers at this point and I’m not for changing the playcaller again, so what could be the possibilities for improvement? 

Raheem Morris says they are going to go back into “the lab” to work on improving. I first heard “the lab” used in reference to football experimentation when Jon Gruden was working to improve Josh Johnson’s knowledge and skills, and it was a fun and interesting concept because of Gruden’s reputation for his in-depth playbook and Johnson’s lack of exposure to big-time football. Johnson also had a different and unique skill set that Gruden’s offense hadn’t really seen before, so saying he was going into “the lab” with the mad — offensive coordinator —scientist made sense.

But now, according to the head coach, everything the Bucs do is in “the lab.” This is the kind of rhetoric that seemed far too common last year and hearing much less of it this year was one of the improvements I thought Morris had made in his maturation process. We had been hearing less of this fluff stuff each week and more substantive football material on a regular basis and it was good for the fans and the media covering the Bucs.

Using such undefined terms is just a simple way of generalizing problems with no real plan to deal with any of it.  Players and coaches have always deflected criticism of their play or the team’s play by saying they have to, “Go back and watch the film.”

They are basically the same thing. But by calling it “the lab” just makes fixing the issues less credible because you experiment in the laboratory and you make corrections and call people to account in the film room.

By the way, Morris said that the defense was also exposed as not being able to stop the run and guess what they are going to do about it?  That’s right, they are going back into “the lab.” 

So if you can’t change the runners or the blockers, what are the playcaller’s options for better success? 

The New Orleans Saints could make Cadillac Williams a fantasy football star running back next Sunday if he was running with their offense.  The same goes for the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.  Why?  Because their three wide receiver packages and quick decision making and accurate passing by their great quarterbacks keep defenses from loading the box with defenders, thus giving any running back on their team more room to find holes to run through and more daylight to run to.

The Bucs are lacking the receiving corps to be as effective as the aforementioned teams, but with Williams, Sloughter, Winslow and Benn, that has high hopes of improving. They also lack a QB that makes decisions as fast or as well as Brees, Brady or Manning, but that is improving as well. So the hopes are high and within sight, but they must play again Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, albeit a lesser team than the Steelers or Saints, but a team that has been able to score at times, has a strong runner in Steven Jackson and a franchise QB only a few starts behind Freeman.

While the Bucs are in “the lab” this week will the play-caller make it easier for the offensive line to open holes by keeping players out of the box with more receivers spread out across the field? Or will he keep things tight and try to block each guy and hope each guy does his job and Caddy creates his own space? 

As Morris says, it only takes one guy not doing his job to mess up the whole thing. I really don’t know what kind of a scientist Greg Olson is at this point, but unless there is some experimenting with different ingredients in the potion, the result will be very predictable, especially when they run into the upper 50 percent of the league.

And since the Bucs’ runners and blockers are relatively set, the play concepts are the only variables that can really be tinkered with in the lab. 

Will this week’s tinkering be that little change necessary to take us to a better product or an explosion?  Stay tuned.

14 Responses to “The QB Blasts: Improvement Falls On Olson”

  1. Pete 422 Says:

    OK, so pass to set up the run?

  2. T-Jay Says:

    THink this is a real pivotal game for Olson, too. He’s going to be the fall guy if the Bucs only win 6, not Morris.

    They can’t run, so fix make some changes. He’s shown flashes with some smart passes to Grham and some creative stuff inside to Mike Williams, and opening the field so Freeman at least possibly has a run option. WOuld love to see an old school pitch to Josh Johnson.

  3. Pete W. Says:

    Nice work Carlson. The lab thing sounds stupid to me to. I almost wish they didn’t put those press conferences online, it’s made me think a lot less of coaches and the media.

  4. BamBamBuc Says:

    This week is gonna be even harder to get things going, rather than easier. Even though the opponent is the Rams, the Bucs will be without starting Center Jeff Faine (starting Zuttah) and likely without starting LG Keydrick Vincent (starting Ted Larsen). Also, they’ll be without Kareem Huggins for a change of pace and Earnest Graham is likely limited at best with an injury of his own. We’ll likely see Lumpkin get his first action and more Blount mixed in with Caddy. If Graham is out, Pressley and young Erik Lorig will have the task at FB (maybe with some Lumpkin there too). That’s not gonna make it easy to get the run game going, and Freeman is gonna have to be making more plays on his own with the line dinged up.

    I think this week, the defense is going to HAVE to step up and make plays to win this game. Give the offense good field position with 3 and outs and turnovers. Give the offense some confidence with some points early (either via turnover or short field). They will have to limit Steven Jackson, they will have to tackle better.

    This is the week Benn needs to show up to play. If he can step up this week, the tandem of Williams, Stroughter and Benn with Winslow would be a great improvement and get the defense back off the line of scrimmage (And yes, Jeff Carlson, it’s Stroughter, not Sloughter).

    Should be an interesting week, I’m hopeful for a win, but the healthy team that started the year is no more. Let’s see how they deal with this adversity against a up and coming team.

  5. Pete 422 Says:

    I once heard Howard Schnellenberger quoted saying that if an offense can get the tight end and fullback very involved in the passing game, you can go right down the field “every time.” Well, we have those people in place, so I’d love to see that. It would also open up everything else (WRs and running game).

    i think Morris is better this year than last as far as talking to the media. He says less “When you talk about…” that drove me nuts last year. Now and the lab thing has to go. He should get better with time. I listen to his show and he is much better than last year.

  6. McBuc Says:

    Lab or film room…Who cares, what do you expect him to say when asked about what happened. They have to watch the film and fix the issue. The word “lab” is a non issue.

    I agree with BamBam about this week. The D needs to step up.

  7. Buc You Says:

    So the next scape goat is:

    Greg Olson?
    Todd Walsh (D-line coach)?
    The O-line Coach?

    GO GET COWHER YOU SNIVELING GLAZER BRATS!!! I mean your got damn dad traded the farm for Gruden and won a Super Bowl. GO GET COWHER!!!

  8. BamBamBuc Says:

    First off… it’s Wash… Todd Wash, not Walsh. And you make it sound like if it’s broke, replace the whole thing, don’t ever try and fix anything. That’s a bit extreme. If the turn signals aren’t working on my car, I replace the flasher or the bulb. I don’t buy a new car.

    If the D-line isn’t getting coached as well as they should, you replace the coach that has that responsibility. If a FB isn’t blocking as well as he should, you get a new FB. You don’t fire a head coach that is doing better this year because some little things aren’t working.

    The talent is getting better on the team. That has to do with Dominik, that has to do with Morris. Is it a process? Yeah, and if you’re not willing to wait for it to work, join the bandwagon of a team that is already championship ready. If you’d trade in a car with broken turn signals for a new “better” car, trade in your team that’s building for a team that’s there. I think I’ll wait it out with the players and coaches we have. Hopefully they make the adjustments to personnel (both player and coaching) needed to keep getting better.

  9. McBuc Says:

    BamBam = Voice of reason

  10. Apple Roof Cleaning Says:

    Tampa stacked the box against the Steelers, and we got burned by their receiver Wallace with his blazing speed. The minute we went to cover 2, they ran all over us, even old Charlie Batch. Steve Jackson of the Rams is one powerful man, and Sam Bradford is a dangerous QB. Hey, these guys just beat the Chargers ! Hopefully McCoy will record his first sack against his old teammate Sunday, and Blount will run all over THEM.
    Thank You Jeff for your excellent breakdowns.

  11. mike56wesley Says:

    BAMMBAMM:Ithought i was in the twilight zone you hit it right on the head .i know everyone knows what you are saying is true because this is the way to build a team,they know it takes time .it was three years b4sapp and brooks seems to me they want morris gone before next year for personal reasons.get rid of the coach because he has 5rookies playing five second year players and he is 3-2.because we lost to the saints and the steelers,didnt the steelers call us paper champs and beat us when we were a power house?yeah fire that coach ,winning with all that talent gruden developed and left us for the future.boy his days should be #.

  12. BigMacAttack Says:

    Jeff, I was watching top 10 lefty QB’s on the NFL channel and they mentioned you on the show, not as top 10 but definitely made the show less than 10 minutes into it. Good job.

  13. McBuc Says:

    It is too bad Jeff rarely if ever comments on readers posts. That is one of the things that made Steve White’s section so much better.

  14. Ravelston Says:

    THink this is a real pivotal game for Olson, too. He’s going to be the fall guy if the Bucs only win 6, not Morris.


    “if the Bucs only win 6” – Seven weeks ago, if you’d suggested the Bucs were going to win 6, most people would have wondered what you were smoking. Now it’s grounds for firing a coach – amazing.