Third Down Inefficiency Killing Bucs

October 1st, 2012

Yes, one could go all Skip Holtz and try to make an argument that, but for one play in each of the Bucs’ three losses, the Bucs would be undefeated.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, and if Rachel Watson wasn’t married, Joe would be coming home to her each and every evening.

Results. That’s what counts in the NFL. This isn’t horseshoes or hand grenades. There is no such thing as “almost,” just wins and losses, no gray areas here.

One reason the Bucs are not winning is a pathetic third down conversion rate. Why is Joe calling this “pathetic?” Because it is dead last in the NFL (tied for worst, ironically, with Washington).

This is not lost on Alan Dell. The Bradenton Herald columnist wagged a finger at Bucs coach Greg Schiano, and indirectly at quarterback Josh Freeman, for not producing better results on third down, despite a bevy of weapons. This is sinking the Bucs, Dell believes.

The comeback started when the restraints were taken off Freeman either by himself or Schiano.

Despite the heroics at the end, the Bucs are far from a finished product and can’t be excused for creating their own problems. They had 10 penalties for 107 yards, some of them significant and showed why they are last in third down efficiency converting only three of 12 third down opportunities.

“Because you lose at the end you fail to finish, but we really didn’t do a bunch of stuff before that to put us in a position to win,” Schiano said. “We had penalties, we didn’t play smart, we didn’t create takeaways. Like most teams in the NFL, it’s going to be tight ball games and we need to find a way to win.”

Joe thinks people should temper any excitement over the comeback by the Bucs. Sure, it showed some character, but if skittish Redskins place kicker Billy Cundiff doesn’t leave nine points on the field with three missed field goals, there is no comeback to discuss.

If Cundiff made just two of those three makeable field goals, there is no comeback.

The Bucs played terribly in the first half. Solving that hole the Bucs dug themselves into is what the coaching staff should strive to resolve during this bye week.

29 Responses to “Third Down Inefficiency Killing Bucs”

  1. bucfanjeff Says:

    I understand your points, but it’s not fair to dismiss “if’s” in the first two paragraphs, and then validate your point by saying “if” cundiff makes those FG’s it’s not a comeback.

    There’s no “gray areas”, remember? You can’t have it both ways. That was my interpretation anyway.

  2. flmike Says:

    But Cundiff did miss them and the Bucs did make a comeback, and if my aunt had balls she’d have been my uncle…

  3. Jerry Says:

    Regardless…..the Bucs have lost 13 of 14 games. Moral victories do not count in the NFL.

  4. BucFan20 Says:

    Freeman and his picks don’t help either. He’s lucky the 2nd one was broken up yesterday or he would now have 5.

  5. Caleb Says:

    3-1 last year, 1-3 this my my how we have improved.

  6. Bobby Says:

    @Caleb…if you can’t see improvement from last year you must not have watched any of the games. We are light years ahead of last year.

  7. Caleb Says:

    Our first four games last year were light years ahead of our first four this year….period!!!! yes the last ten games were awful, but to this point in the season id take last year.

  8. Justin Says:

    I swear to Christ, these guys better blow the Chiefs out of RJS next Sunday. I cannot sit through any more of these excruciating losses. Its Week 4 and I’m already emotionally drained.

  9. Jessup Says:

    Joe… start this article off by saying how stupid it is to buy into the “WHAT IFs” Then you close the article by saying not to buy into our comeback because IF Billy doesn’t miss three field goals….

    Quite the contradiction no?

  10. Jessup Says:

    Caleb, you are delusional buddy. We were horrible from day one last year and everyone that had a brain was wondering how we managed to get to 4-2 playing as horrible as we did. Just barely beating teams like the 2-14 Colts and the 3-13 Vikings. It was ugly.

    Our offense is unfortunately just as bad this year, but our defense has made significant improvements from last year.

  11. Macabee Says:

    Anybody notice? Mike Will cut his beard. Had his longest reception, but we lost. Good omen or bad?

  12. Caleb Says:

    @ jessup

    And wins over the falcons and saints (two playoff teams)….i noticed you left them out. selective memory i guess. everyone on this site saying we are just a few breaks from 4-0…we are a few breaks the other way from 0-4 and blown out every game….. defence has been better??? you must of missed that giants game that eli put up a cool 500. I am the only one who is realistic about this bucs team

  13. ShutTheBucUp Says:

    I think we’ll see it turn around and get some W’s racked up. With W’s comes confidence, something we’re clearly lacking. It was embarrassing to watch this team last year. So far we’ve hung in every game and have had our flashes. Plenty to fix from top to bottom, but I think we’re headed in the right direction, albeit slowly. I’m keeping the faith….for now!

  14. Patrick Says:


    It didn’t help that the Bucs defense got NO REST during the Giants game. When Freeman can’t even keep us on the field at all during that whole 2nd half, the defense is gonna eventually fall apart and get worn out…….which is exactly what we saw and Eli came back.

    The Dallas game was the game we definitely should’ve won. Freeman didn’t have to do much at all, hell if we would’ve just gotten us into field goal range a few times, Barth could’ve kicked a few to give us the W……looking at how we only allowed Dallas to score 16. But no…..he couldn’t even get us past midfield for pretty much the whole game.

  15. Caleb Says:


    You’re making my point. Im sorry, but this team isnt very good. We have some nice your players. Barron and David have played great on defense. But we have a D line that cant stay healthy and our DB’s are not very good. On offense….. lets face it other then Jackson it has been as ugly as it can be. Yes injurys have hurt the O line but the running game and freemans play have been a joke. this is a 4 to 5 win team! we are just not talented enough yet. I am a lifelong Bucs fan but i know what i see and i see we are still a few years away from the possibility or playoff football

  16. Caleb Says:

    PS we are 30th in the league in team defense……

  17. robert Says:

    jfro is killing the team…can’t believe he was not benched @ or before the 1/2. you know when people start losing interest when they get tired of saying the same thing. i’m over it. jfro sux.

  18. Miguel El Magnifico Says:

    Caleb is right on many things and if the Buc’s defense is indeed #30 in the NFL, the Amen chorus has absolutely zero to hang their hat on.

    The Bucs started great last year and then something horrible happened on a plane over the Atlantic. I’ve never heard the truth about what happened but it was the end of Raheem.

  19. Buc Fan South Tampa Says:

    So how is this year different from another other year? Watching yesterday’s game was like watching the games from 2009-2010-and 2011. Draft another damn quarterback.

  20. stimpy Says:

    We have the players Caleb. We need to put it ALL together ans we will start winning. But with two weeks of prep and we come out flat again this team and coaches can kiss my ass.

    This loss and others fall on POOR game planning. Did the coaches not get the memo that talked about strategy?

    Our receivers are what 6-2and their DB’s are 5-9 and giving up all kinds of yardage coming into the game. Why not come out slinging? THAT would have opened up the run game.

    Also, STOP playing to loose!!!! PLEASE!!!!

  21. Robbie_G Says:

    When hired Coach said he ” wants to pound the ball and take shots down the field.”
    Since we can’t run a lick, try the Green Bay, Nola, Patriot way. Throw the ball to set up your run. But then Freeman can’t make up his mind, or has a brain fart, or goes stretches where he is missing WIDE open guys, so guess it’s another long year. Have they improved in some areas, yes, at least they play hard. I want to see if the keep loosing, will they still play hard.
    A good staff can make adjustments to the personnel the have, and play to their strenghts, and not try and put a round peg in a square hole.

  22. Bobby Says:

    @Caleb, stop being a cry baby. We haven’t even played the Falcons or Saints yet so your point is pointless about last year. If we beat the Falcons and Saints then it really won’t matter that we lost 3 to teams outside our division will it? You’re like a whiny little teenager. We are WAY better than last year. It’s not even remotely comparable. We are competitive in every game and before the season started that’s all most Bucs fans expected out of the team this year. No one other than the delusional expected us to go to the playoffs or something. Next year I’ll be upping my expectations but this year I’ll be happy with .500 as long as we aren’t getting blown out of games like last year.

  23. Patrick Says:

    Talib needs to go and Barber needs to retire. David and Foster are getting better but we need a veteran added to the linebackers. Our rush defense is very good…..something we haven’t seen in 5 years.

  24. Robbie_G Says:

    When hired Coach said he was “going to pound the ball and take shots downfield”. Well since we can run a lick, mybe it’s time to go the Greenbay/Nola?Patriot route. Thow the ball to open up the run game. But then Freeman goes stretches where her can’t hit open guys, and has brain farts, so what do they do? Everyone says play calling, but if Freeman keeps having these issues, what are the going to do? Play to the strenghts, a good w/r group, what to they have to loose. Yes they play harder, I want to see if the keep lossing, if the will quit like last year. They need to stop trying to fit a round peg in a square hole on the O side of the ball!!

  25. BucfaninMi Says:

    More Blount!! Let Josh loose, Sullivan is running the offense too tight. The defense needs more disapline! And more Blount!! Anything less than 20 carries a game is stupid. Doug Martin has done nothing to earn the right to start.

  26. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    “The Bucs started great last year and then something horrible happened on a plane over the Atlantic. I’ve never heard the truth about what happened but it was the end of Raheem.”


    I think you are forgetting the game against San Francisco, which was before the London trip. I won’t, because I flew the red eye from Hawaii the night before, went straight to that dump they call Candlestick, and watched us get trampled 48-3. That game showed that something wasn’t right, and was the first time the word “quit” was used (the SF players were saying we quit, and it was pretty hard to argue). Although we won the next week against NO (For some reason, Raheem was able to beat NO 3 times in his 3 years in Tampa), to me that game was the beginning of the end.

    No, this team is considerably better, but still has a long way to go. Part of me hates losing close more than getting blown out every week, but then common sense kicks in and tells me that’s crazy. If the light ever comes on for Freeman (for 4 quarters), we are going to be very good. It’s all about #5. Our defense is good enough to give us a chance, and we have the playmakers on offense. That wasn’t the case last year. Can’t win without a QB, period. Blame the coaches, blame the refs, blame the playcalling, but it’s all irrelevant if Freeman play like he’s capable of playing. I really don’t see how anyone can argue that.

  27. Brandon Says:

    This team IS definitely better. The fact that we’ve been competitive at this point in the season after losing 10 straight last season shows the culture has changed. On top of that, just because our record was better last season when compared to this season, that doesn’t mean we were better last season, just had a more beneficial schedule.

    This is a brand new coaching staff complete with brand new philosophies, it takes many games to adjust to a new system. Didn’t Dungy start off 0-5 and 1-8 with the Bucs while putting in his systems and brand of football? We are better this season than we were that season as well. This team is close, close to being 4-0, close to being 0-4, close to being a playoff contender, but this team is competing, and considering last season’s debacle, I’ll take it.

    That being said, it looked like we tried to let Griffin win the game. An overload blitz on the 16 yard run. A safety blitz from 10 yards out on the Fred Davis pass where he ran to the spot the safety vacated and then kept going for 21 yards. These were horrible defensive calls. The players are getting better, let’s hope our offensive and defensive coordinators get better as well.

    I for one believe that if Cundiff had made one or two of the missed FGs, the Bucs would have had a better chance of winning. It would have forced them to score, which would have taken more time off the clock, which would have given the Redskins less time to march down the field. I would have loved to see the Bucs either commit to kicking the FG and running the ball 3X or continue pushing the ball down the field. We did a weird and ineffective version of both. Either way, terrible playcalling. Hopefully, Sullivan improves, God knows Sheridan has called up some heinous plays when we needed them most.

  28. JSmalls Says:

    It starts and ends with Freeman. Yeah, we could have sneaked a win or two more but our fate at the end of the season will be the same, no Super Bowl. The Bucs will be at an elite level once/if Freeman does.

  29. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    @Brandon & JSmalls,

    Agree 100%. Great posts.