Third Down Pass Routes Too Short

December 15th, 2013
Unless Bucs coaches expect Chris Owusu and others to break three or four tackles on third down, it is setting the offense up to fail by running pass routes short of the first down marker.

Unless Bucs coaches expect Chris Owusu and others to break three or four tackles on third down, it is setting the offense up to fail by running pass routes short of the first down marker.

Look, Joe knows the fundamental strategy of football is to take what the defense gives you. While that sounds great, in practice, it’s not so great.

If a team does that, then that means the defense is dictating what the offense calls. Only teams with defenses like the old Bucs, the 1985 Bears or the 2000 Ravens can overcome such limp offenses, which bow to whatever the defense gives.

This came to mind while Joe was watching the Bucs struggle so much and so often on third downs. How many times on third down have you seen the Bucs call pass plays where the receiver is a good four yards shy of the first down marker?

This infuriates Joe to know end. Look, the 49ers can get away with this because a receiver like Anquan Boldin will flat out run you over. Tight end Vernon Davis is a monster.

The Bucs don’t have guys like that. Oh, Vincent Jackson is a stud, no doubt. But when your secondary receivers are Tiquan Underwood and Chris Owusu, running routes well short of the first down marker is irresponsible.

Calling plays like that is selling out your receivers. To run routes like that, a receiver has to break two or three tackles to make the first down. When is the last time you noticed Underwood breaking a tackle? Or Owusu?

Having your offense run pass patterns that require receivers to run through concrete walls in order to gain a first down is basically handing the quarterback a bullet for his pistol so he can shoot himself in the foot.

27 Responses to “Third Down Pass Routes Too Short”

  1. Westsidebucsfan Says:


  2. Couch Fan Says:

    Absolutely agree with you here Joe. This is a frustrating and boring offense to watch. Do you still really think Sully is a hot commodity? I dont, I think he has been over rated both years he’s been here. He is still a terrible play caller. If he is the one calling plays anyway.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Is our O-line so weak that we need a FB as an additional blocker on almost all plays….and why are we carrying 4 FBs?..
    It seems like we can use the RB/FB on more passing plays…this is why we need a real TE…..Tim Wright is doing great…but he is really like a 3rd WR.
    I agree that the pass routes should at least go to or beyond the 1st down mark.
    Glennon says he goes through his progressions and…that’s all he has left…poor design!!!

  4. RastaMon Says:

    simplistic headline……the more talented roster won today…..

  5. Chef Paul Says:

    I couldn’t even finish the article yet. I was too eager to say how much I agree. It would also be nice if those third downs were a little shorter by not running it on 2nd and more than 10 so stinking often.

  6. Eric n DC Says:

    I can’t help but wonder how much mike Williams and Doug Martin means to this offense.

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We completed just 1 pass to a back today…..ran for only 39 yards….

  8. buc fan south tampa Says:

    Sorry game. Left with 3 min on board. 23-14 is doable, 30-14 is inexcusable. Keep schiano, Fire Schiano dont care. Just find a way to win something. Its interesting when you play a team where you know you are outmatched.
    When Shepard fumbled (yes he fumbled not Paige), I thought I was going to throw up. That was the most sickening feeling I have felt since Edell Sheppard dropped the pass in the end zone in the Bucs playoff game against the Redskins in 2005. Thats the same one where Cadillac fumbled one the skins 30 yard line and skins ran it back for a touchdown.

  9. Laughing Stock II Says:

    trying to build good stats for Glennon is important. This keeps Glennon confident of his performance. This is called QB development. Keep every pass safe and Glennon will develop nicely.


  10. mark2001 Says:

    Thank God he isn’t Tony Romo, at least. Talk about a franchise killing QB.

  11. WalkdaPlank Says:

    Maybe if they didn’t call so many predictable running plays on 1st and 2nd they wouldn’t have a 3rd and long and those short routes might actually result in 1st downs. Smh

  12. 911bucs Says:

    Off-topic Dez Bryant of the cow girls is a tool bag

  13. mark2001 Says:

    911…some people rise to the occasions in big situations…other collapse like a house of cards. In the biggest games of his career, Romo has always been, and will always be that. And we thought we had a problem with Josh Freeman….at least we didn’t give him the keys to the bank and find out that he was another Tony Romo.

  14. Ladyfan Says:

    Could not agree more. I am always yelling at the TV the exact same thing. So frustrating. So dumb. So what if they have a completion that is short of the first down. Grrrrrr. Shouldn’t these kind of calls be Coaching 101? I am not as down on Schiano as I was, after all we both went to Bucknell ( wha? ) but I really don’t respect him as an NFL coach at this stage of his career. That is just one example. His trick call at the end of todays game is another example.

  15. stratobuc Says:

    I saw the same thing. Don’t they teach these guys to get to the marker on third down passing routes? If they don’t – whoever is responsible needs to be terminated. It didn’t really matter anyway, because most of those short passes were dropped.

  16. Jerry Says:

    So Mr. Schiano … “turn out the lights, the party’s over …”

  17. Paul Says:

    Watched on TV so I couldn’t see the routes all the time, but it seemed receivers were quitting on routes in the 4th qtr. Chris Owusu defiantly quit on one when Glennon tried to lead him out of coverage, but Owusu just stood there and the ball landed 5 yds in the middle of the field. When coaches tape comes out on Wed, the quitters will be exposed.

  18. chickster Says:

    yeah its Owusu fault wow paul quit typing and go back down on your boyfriend

  19. patrickbucs Says:

    IMO when they are up against a good team Team Schiano wants to play conservatively and not make Glennon look bad at home. The kid obviously cannot move or get rid of the ball for some reason. To throw picks on top of that (Arizona game) is only that much worse in the public eye.

    Defenses have tape and see Glennon’s tendencies, he doesn’t have much to work with but you can tell the opposing defenses are not afraid of him passing ability over 10-15 yards.

  20. stratobuc Says:

    BS – Glennon has shown he can get the ball downfield in the receivers hands. Don’t blame him. Blame the playcallers who run this “pop warner” style offense – until its too late, at which point they will switch to a no huddle and begin to score points…..

  21. Paul Says:

    @chickster If you’re local, then send an e-mail to and we can set something up so that you can try to make me stop typing.

  22. Paul Says:

    @chickster I just realized that is a girls screen name..disregard the above post Ma’am.

  23. mvermulm Says:

    I cannot possibly agree more regarding the routes. I was screaming at the tv on every third-down play. We have two receivers running deep routes, and one receiver running a route short of the sticks. The deep receivers can’t get open, so the only option is the underneath route. The offensive scheme is complete garbage. Glennon’s best throws are the intermediate routes, so how about we maybe run a couple? Save the short routes for first and second down!

  24. Eric C Says:

    Hold on now! first and second down are for runs up the middle for no gain. C’mon man!

  25. Gus Says:

    I remember playing Madden when I was younger, and Madden used to say this all the time. “If it’s 3rd and 6, there should be no route under 6 yards” It’s common sense. Unless the guy has a tremendous amount of space, he is not going to be able to get a first down if you throw to him two yards off the line with four yards to go. Sully should be fired for this alone. It’s COMMON SENSE!

  26. Gus Says:


  27. Hawk Says:

    It looked like Dungy was running the offense.