Does Schiano Have The Wrong Approach?

July 11th, 2012

Joe loves the idea of the Bucs and Greg Schiano resurrecting the offensive philosophy of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins. Those guys had two 1,000-yard rushers in a 14-game season and successfully picked their spots to throw the ball deep. Smashmouth, run-first football.

But the NFL has changed, and there are those who believe the pass-happy NFL is that way because it’s a winning formula.

NFL Films guru Greg Cosell, one of the game’s more astute analysts, makes a case against building a run-first offense in his latest breakdown for If you read Cosell’s entire take, it’s easy to walk away believing the New Schiano Order is starting on the wrong foot.

Teams that feature the run as their foundation generally don’t score as many points. They tend to play closely contested games that are within one score in the fourth quarter. Those kinds of games can be decided by one play. In fact, too often better teams lose to less-talented teams simply because the game is close and that single play becomes magnified. That’s a tough way to play every week. But that’s the profile when you’re a running team built around a great back. Your margin for error as a team is very small, which is exactly why you have to be extremely good in all phases, like the 2011 49ers. That’s very difficult in today’s NFL.

In fact, I strongly believe most organizations recognize that kind of team-building is not truly viable in the salary-cap era. That’s not the best approach to compete for championships. You will not consistently beat the top quarterbacks and the top offenses by playing conservative football, with the emphasis on shortening the game, and as a result, limiting the opposing offense’s snaps. I always debated this with coaches as it pertained to Peyton Manning. For years, the Indianapolis Colts had the fewest overall possessions in the NFL, usually eight or nine per game. That’s great as an abstract number. But they would score touchdowns on three, four or five of them. If your offense controlled the ball, and the clock, but did not score touchdowns, as was often the case, then all you’ve accomplished is shortening the game for yourself. You get fewer opportunities to score and you’re not built to aggressively attack with the passing game. It’s a catch-22 that ultimately fails.

Of course, Joe hopes Cosell is off the mark and the Bucs with Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount can break new ground as they revive what worked in the past.

Regardless, Joe is not concerned about the Bucs’ offense outside of having a newbie playcaller. It’s the heinous defense that must at least become close to average for the Bucs to have a chance at competing in 2012.

35 Responses to “Does Schiano Have The Wrong Approach?”

  1. OB Says:

    Joe, it is quite simple, almost everyone states nothing but what is being done will work until it does work.

    Do you honestly think that the Bucs will run almost every play? I bet they run until the defense plays the run and then the bomb.

    Also you must have a defense that can stop the other team. last year we were behind by as much as 28 points in a half. This cannot happen again or it doesn’t matter what the offense does. The most we should ever be behind is 10 points, they have the ball first and score and then we mess up and they kick a field goal.

    I am amazed that so many pundits don’t understand what a team means. Ask the troops if they would rather have the enemy air force overhead or the enemy navy offshore throwing weight at them. Ask our DL who would they rather play against our OL or someone else’s, do the same with our OL. Do this after the third preseason game and see what they say. If we are really good, it might be someone else they would rather play.

    Your thoughts, Pete you can jump in also.

  2. dstef Says:

    Schiano has it right, but only works if defense is consistently stout!

  3. Vic Says:

    I suspect Schiano will pound the ball relentlessly early in the season. He’s got to see if he can be successful with it. At this point he’d lose all credibility if he didn’t. I love a good move the sticks run on third and 2. Can’t wait.

  4. admin Says:

    Joe here,

    @Dini’s Biceps – You’ve gone out of your way to insult Joe on a personal level multiple times. Therefore, you are no longer welcome. You can say that Joe “dishes it out,” but the reality is Joe does not hurl personal insults, especially not in the way you have at Joe. Your insults have forced Joe to waste time babysitting your comments, and Joe has no interest in devoting that energy.

  5. Kennedy Says:

    We need to find out whether Freeman is NOT the worst quarterback in the NFC South. I suspect he is, which means we’re doomed until the defense can rebuild. If I were Schiano, I would have used the Doug Martin pick on defense.

  6. Macabee Says:

    I like the back-to-basics approach of Schiano for this team now. While Schiano hasn’t been a head coach in the NFL, I’ll bet he’s watched the NFL and knows full well where the game is today. When terms are thrown around like bell cow RB, I know what he means and the emphasis that will be put on running the ball.

    But you don’t go out and spend money for a Vincent Jackson if you’re not going to throw the ball and throw it long. In the end, I think the Bucs will run the ball a lot more to take the pressure off of Freeman to force the ball downfield and force opposing secondaries to play honest.

    Coaches don’t say everything they are going to and often say and do things to keep the opposition off-balance. I think we will see a much stronger running attack than we’ve seen before, but offensively will be a balanced attack with RBBC (running back by committee).

  7. Fear The Glow Says:

    I agree about the defense. That’s what im most worried about. If you try to be a run first team with a defense as bad as the one last season you’re gonna have a bad time.

    Im actually kind of disappointed that nobody seems to be making a big enough deal about just how bad the defense was last season.

    It’s a pretty huge problem when you up being the worst defense in the history of the franchise.

  8. BigMacAttack Says:

    Need more Benn’d around with some Wishbone dressing.

    No really, good offenses need to be successful at both run and pass. Balance is the key to beating good defenses. If you can run the football against Haloti Ngata and the Ravens, you can beat anybody. Running the football down the opponent’s throat is very gratifying and fun to watch. I am more with Schiano on this point, but I still feel he is being deceptive to other teams and not wanting to truly tip his hand. The Bucs didn’t give V Jax $55 Mill to sit on is hands. Balance again.

  9. BigMacAttack Says:

    Oh yeah, and more Cow Bell.

  10. jvato24 Says:

    the bucs had the fewest rushes in 2011 how did that work for them ??

  11. FactsMatter Says:

    A lot of worry over nothing.
    Rutgers ran a pro-style offense under Schiano. In fact Rutgers was the first and only team to ever accomplish this:
    2,000-YARD RUSHER AND TWO 1,000-YARD
    Rutgers, 2007 (Mike Teel [3,147 passer], Ray Rice [2,012
    rusher], Kenny Britt [1,232 receiver] and Tiquan
    Underwood [1,100 receiver])
    That is a balanced offense accomplished under a college schedule in 13 games.

    The running game will set up the passing game using play-action and keep defenses honest.

  12. Adam Says:

    I think Greg might be misinterpreting the term “running” team for “wishbone offense of the Tom Osborne Era at Nebraska.” It’s not going to be like that.

    I think what the Bucs are wanting to do is run the ball effectively just to get in the position of 2nd and <7.

  13. mikeck Says:

    According to these guys…what works is what worked the last two years. That simple. Fact is, statistically, to win a championship, you need a good defense more than a good offense. For all of those “Peyton manning Td’s” Cosell talks about, he won one Superbowl out of all of those years. Spent most of the playoffs losing to the Pats (who at the time had a decent D) and the Steelers.

  14. DieHard_Bob Says:

    Here are a couple more angles to look at. If the league has become a passing league then most teams are building their defenses to primarily stop the pass first which means they might not be as strong at defending the run, especially a good running attack. Another point is that if Freeman returns to his old form (or better), I believe he finished two seasons ago as the 6th rated passer in the league. We are not talking about a below average QB who can only hand the ball off and will panic if he has to play catch up at the end. Also, two seasons ago Freeman was considered “clutch” in the 4th quarter with several come from behind wins. With V. Jack and company to throw to and our OL to protect, I’m not going to worry at this point about throwing the ball when needed.

  15. princespanky Says:

    Love the fact that Cosell zeroed in on the Colts….. they had one of the best QB’s of all time play for them in his prime and came away with exactly one superbowl. Why? Because the team was all about passing attack and nothing else.

    That’s the only stat I need to see…… bring on the balanced offense and get some defensive stops once in a while…. thanks

    I hear that having the offense on the field keeps the defense from being gassed and that having a stable of backs to run the ball keeps them fresh.

  16. Oregano Says:

    I believe they should aspire to be different. In an NFL that that wants to play wide open offensively, most teams will draft talent, practice and game plan to stop it. Opposing teams don’t have enough time to change focus during the regular season between games. That’s why the wildcat worked so well at first. Teams would have to waste time one week a season to practice how to stop it. When every team started using the wildcat, game planning against it would become simply a quick refresher course.

    That’s why a great offensive team will not work as well against a division opponent. Familiarity.

    That’s why the 3-4 defense is so effective at first, then when everyone starts to use it, it becomes less so. These are trends, effective at first, but if every adapts to it, GM’s will draft players who can counteract the trend.

    We have drafted and signed players who are best suited for a smash mouth offense. It should be effective in a division that has trended towards wide open offenses and even more effective outside the division.

  17. Mac Kelley Says:

    The Bucs may advertise themselves as a run first team but it appears to me that they have all kinds of fine receivers to change their way with. I’m thinking this offense has great possibilities. Go Bucs!!!

  18. Bobby Says:

    What has ever been wrong with a balanced attack?? I think ‘run first’ simply means that if you are going to be a play action offense then you have to establish the run in order for the play action to work. Once the run is established it’s a beautiful thing because the defense is constantly guessing at what is coming next. I think Schiano has the right idea. Don’t be one dimensional and you will be very hard to stop.

  19. buxter Says:

    It’s the NFL. The league is a constant state of flux. Defenses are now configured to counter the pass first mindset and not shut down the power run game.

    The fact is, a power running first scheme can take significant pressure off of your defense. Something we sorely need this year. As long as extended drives result in points or good field position, then it’s effective.

    After three seasons of a Greg Olsen offense, at least this staff has some plan in place.

  20. Lion Says:

    Two-words, Vincent Jackson! Enough said. I say the team will be close to 50-50 in passing/running plays this year.

  21. Drew Says:

    Nice article Joe… there’s not much merit in the analysis, given not one offensive play has been played yet. Cosell (not Joe) is clueless with respect to the Offensive strategy and is basing his statements on pure speculation.

  22. Captain Stagger Says:

    Teams that pass first:
    Manning’s colts

    All prolific offenses with super bowl rings. We are trying to be the niners/ravens…’s a great formula for a good strong physical team, but it seems the pass first philosophy with an elite QB is what is now needed for championships

  23. Thomas2.2 Says:

    Jvato: they were last in rushes bc they were getting their a–es beat every week and playing major catch up.

    Lion: 50/50 is a joke. I doubt that any team, except maybe Denver who had 3 RBs on a lot of downs, was 50/50. Look it up.

    The great thing about our new offense with a RB who can play in the passing game, Martin, is that we can now run high percentage screens, wheels etc which are hybrid run/passes.

    With a RB who doesn’t know the assignments or how to run routes, Blount, you are unable to do that.

    The offense is immediately more balanced with Martin. Great pick by Schiano, I am thrilled by Schiano thus far.

  24. Teddy Says:

    By the time the year is over, I expect our offense to look a lot like the Giants’ offense, for obvious reasons. However, they’re built the same way: big Clydesdales up front, a stable of good running backs, and a passing game that takes shots when they’re available.

    And I’m good with that.

  25. Gusjackson Says:

    Cosell makes it seem like we are going to run it every play. Schiano said we will take shots down the field. We have to weapons(Big Arm QB and WR with speed) to accomplish this. Teams will have to RESPECT the passing game yet FEAR the run.

  26. SilenceTheCritics Says:

    I do not believe that there is only one way to win in this league. As we all know this is a copy cat league for a reason. People will go with what works. And the only for sure thing that works is if you can teach your players how to effectively utilize whichever game plan you come up with. You can have all the talent in the world but if you dont know how to coach it then they are useless. Passing, running it does not matter…. It starts with the coaches… If Schiano and Co. can teach these young men what they are suppose to do, which clearly Rah could not, then they will be successful. It sounds to me like he is on the right track to sucess starting with the fundamentals. Cant wait for training camp to start! GO BUCS!

  27. Jeff Carlson Says:

    Cosell makes a great point that I have believed since Tony Dungy was the Buccaneers coach. He played a conservative running game–remember “Buc Ball” was run Alstott and Dunn and keep it close into the fourth quarter. This philosophy will generally make you a winning team, but not a championship team.
    The philosophy works with a great defense as the Bucs did back then, but as Cosell points out, games too often turn on one big play and when you are in the playoffs in a single game elimination tournament, one play sends you home–anyone remember a single play in the NFC Championship game sending us home? Can anyone say “Ricky Proehl?”
    Dungy’s philosophy worked in Indianapolis because of the improved offensive output with Peyton Manning, which caused far fewer games to be played in a one score differential.
    When Schiano was hired he said his winning philosophy was to play great defense, win the special teams battle and then he could play his conservative style physical run and take shots offense. Unfortunately, playing great defense is hard, especially for this group and winning the special teams each week isn’t realistic, so the philosophy basically breaks down from the beginning.

  28. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Bottom line is that teams with talent win championships. Teams that have to shorten the game by running the ball a bunch are typically less talented, which is why they don’t win championships. If we have an explosive offense and a great QB, then we will toss the ball around and score a bunch of points. If we don’t, then we will run the ball more. It’s pretty simple. Ever hear of a great QB that wasn’t allowed to throw the ball in the NFL? I haven’t. If Freeman makes the throws and eliminates all the turnovers, then he will be able to do his thing. If he doesn’t, then he will be Alex Smith. At least by running the ball effectively, we won’t go down 42-0 early in the second quarter. I’ll take close losses every week over that BS.

  29. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    @Jeff Carlson,

    You would know much better than I, but don’t you think if we had the weapons on offense (namely a great QB), Dungy would have opened up the offense much more? If we had the personnel to throw the ball more, I would think we would have. We just didn’t have many weapons. However, if we are chucking the ball over the field and throwing INT’s, I pity the fool that has to deal with Warren Sapp after the game.

  30. BigMacAttack Says:

    I agree with Hawaiian Buc. There is little reason for this offense not to succeed. Good O line, good receivers, good backs, and Freeman can play well. Freeman just needs to bring it every week. TE may be the one weekness, but Clark is a baller if he stays healthy, and Demar Dotson is a good blocker. Stocker is a big question mark for me.

    Dini got banned, LOL. What an idiot.

  31. Ladyz Says:

    As I see it, Coach’s “Bell Cow” is just another way of saying, ” Ball Control”. Ware down their defense with strong runs, move the chains, surprise them with a bomb on first down. A balanced game doesn’t have to be a 50/50% attack. It’s like cards, “you gotta know when to hold them and when to fold them”. I for one, believes our new coach knows how to do it. Can’t wait to see us run it down their throats, quick zip throws about 5 yards and then a long one. Go Bucs!!

  32. Eric Says:

    Joe where did you get that picture of my ex wife?

  33. Ben Says:

    I sort of think that the article is arguing against a strawman. Are we really builing a run-first team? Let’s watch some games. We added Vincent Jackson in the offseason. The closest thing we have to a marquee back is either a “one-dimensional” player or a rookie. I think it’s more likely that Schiano is a pragmatist. Building the “run-first attitude” can be more beneficial than actually being a run-first team. I just want to be able to run the ball when we need to. Run some play action.

    In the words of Raheem Morris: “Score touchowns.”

  34. OAR Says:

    Well, the difference between winners and losers is the score!

  35. Lion Says:


    Do the math dude, the Broncos were running the ball 30+ times a game and attempting, what, 1O passing plays a game under Tebow. How is that even close to 50-50? That’s at least 75-25 in favor of the run.