Make Jacquizz The Focus

September 30th, 2016


Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter, eye-RAH Kaufman, has firm advice for Dirk Koetter in this pregame column.

The former Tampa Tribune icon offers plenty in this pregame look at Sunday’s Bucs-Broncos game. If you’re new around here, Mr. Kaufman now makes his home at world headquarters.



Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide.

Martha and her Vandellas weren’t working as NFL offensive coordinators back in ’65, when they released a smash hit for Motown, but they uttered a football axiom that is still valid today.

Without the threat of a credible ground game, it’s very difficult to win consistently.

The Bucs have learned that lesson the hard way through three weeks, with Jameis Winston averaging an NFL-high 47 pass attempts heading into Sunday’s home matchup against Denver. A year after averaging a gaudy 4.8 yards per rush, Tampa Bay runners are lagging with a 3.6 average, creating far too many third-and-long situations.

A hamstring injury to Doug Martin in Week 2 hasn’t helped, but let’s not forget that Charles Sims matched Martin with a 4.9 average in 2015. That number has shrunk to 3.4 this season, suggesting the real problems are up front.

“It’s really important to stay out of 3rd-and-longs this week,” said center Joe Hawley, noting Denver tops the AFC with 12 sacks. “To do that, we need to be able to run the ball. We’ve got to give our head coach confidence to call the runs.”

Dirk Koetter has built his reputation with innovative play-calling and a balanced attack. That was the case last year, when the Bucs set a franchise record with 6,014 yards, despite rookie Winston taking every snap.

Now, Tampa Bay’s offense is way off kilter as Koetter makes the transition from coordinator to head coach. The Bucs are throwing on 67 percent of their snaps and you can’t explain that away by saying they’ve been behind most of the season.

By the numbers, the Bucs have been a terrible running team in the opening half. They have gained only 70 yards in 32 carries before intermission, so the real issue is ineffectiveness rather than situational football.

“Guys want to get in a rhythm up front,” said center/guard Evan Smith. “We don’t want to pass block 55 times, believe me, but we have to make sure we’re producing in the run game.”

Super Challenge

Koetter talked this week about the ratio of success that comes with at least 40 rushing attempts, but the reality is the Bucs have topped 40 carries only three times in the past five years.

Make Jacquizz Rodgers the featured running back

Make Jacquizz Rodgers the featured running back

The answer is to run it better. Tampa Bay is 6-30 since 2012 when failing to rush for at least 100 yards, including a 1-2 mark this season.

If the defending Super Bowl champs have a chink to exploit, it’s a run defense yielding an average of 4.7 yards per attempt. The Broncos have been particularly vulnerable to quarterback scrambles, but Tampa Bay wants to rely on Winston’s arm, not his feet.

The guys up front, so prolific in pass protection, have to do a better job helping Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers reach the second level.

This Denver team reminds me of the 2002 Bucs in one important sense. Tampa Bay’s championship defense tormented opposing passers with a fierce pass rush and a stellar secondary.

Same here.

The Bucs applied pressure with a 4-man rush led by Hall of Famer Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice. Denver’s pressure is applied off the edges by Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and fellow linebacker Shane Ray, working behind a 3-man front.

Aqib Talib is the headliner in a ballhawking secondary that includes corner Chris Harris and safety T.J. Ward.

The motto of these Broncos is simple: stop the run, then hunt.

Firm Advice

The Bucs can’t let that happen Sunday, not if they want to avoid a three-game losing streak heading into a Monday night matchup at Carolina.

“Our goal is to rush for 125,” Smith said. “Doug gets paid a lot of money to run the ball — and he’s pretty darned good at it — but it’s not like there’s a huge dropoff.”

The Bucs have to prove Smith right.

Koetter doesn’t need my advice, but here goes: make Rodgers the focal point of the ground attack and keep Sims in his backup role, where he excels.

The Bucs surely don’t want to face Miller coming hard off the edge 55 times, but Koetter needs a reason to believe in this running game. By all measures, it’s been disappointing through three weeks.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have the Vandellas ringing in their ears when the Bucs take the field Sunday. And if a legit ground attack emerges from hibernation, there’s a good chance Tampa Bay players will blast “Dancing in the Street” after the game.

24 Responses to “Make Jacquizz The Focus”

  1. ElioT Says:

    Totally agree.

    Gotta come out and punch the Broncos in the mouth and don’t stop!

    Go Sucs!

  2. 2Players_1ChoreographedCelebration Says:

    On point, Mr. Kaufman! The story will go the same on both sides of the ball; whoever can win the up front battle and run, providing opportunities for the passing game, will have the upper hand. Jameis dropping back 50+ times will only spell disaster.

    3 offensive players who must show up for Bucs success Sunday: D. Smith, D. Dotson, C. Sims

  3. DB55 Says:

    2 things:

    I agree Rodgers should start over Simms, last week Simms avg 4.2 yards vs 3.0 for Rodgers. However Rodgers is avg 6.29 for the season vs 3.38 for Simms.

    Second, you said “Tampa Bay wants to rely on Winston’s arm, not his feet”. Agreed, but I say huge mistake. JWs secret weapon are his feet. I think we need to incorporate some option plays ala cam newton. Don’t be afraid of him getting hurt, he takes a pounding in the pocket as it is. Plus he plays better after a big hit. That’s what football players do.

  4. Jason Says:

    Could not agree more!

  5. buc15 Says:

    The problem with making him the feature back is that he most likely still only has a limited knowledge of the play book since he has only been here a few weeks. Other than that, Ira is right as they should use him as Martin’s replacement until he is back.

  6. Rich Says:

    I may seem like a lunatic, but I think the Bucs match up well against Denver assuming they can materialize some semblance of a rushing attack. I think Denver’s greatest strength (pass rush) matches up with the Bucs’ greatest strength (pass pro). If Quizz and Sims can at least force the defense to seriously consider the running game, I think the Buc offense can string some long, time-consuming drives together – keeping the Broncs O on the bench. All that’s left is to hope the defense can stifle their running game and force Siemian (sp?) to make plays with limited opportunities due to the Bucs owning TOP, and I think the good guys can pull this out.

  7. BigStinky Says:

    If we cannot run the ball on Sunday it is going to be a long day. Jameis is probably going to throw 3 or 4 INT’s again if he has to drop back over 40 or 50 times. When they put 8 in the box to stop the run on first down we need to throw the ball short, like 5 to 10 yards, and loosen them up. Then we can run on 2nd and 3rd downs which will be shorter. If Winston can be a little more accurate it would work. Sometimes you have to run to set up the play-action pass and other times you have to throw the ball on early downs to set up the run. JW has to complete the passes though or it won’t work. He is better with short passes early in the game to get him into a rhythm, even though he has a hard time completing all of those too. Just keep the game simple for him and we should be in the game the entire time, otherwise 1-3 for sure.

  8. Tony Says:

    This just isn’t sound advice. Jacquizz hasn’t latched onto a team with a major role in quite some time for a reason. The Bucs didn’t pass the ball 58 times because the ground game was ineffective. The ground game was ineffective because the Bucs passed the ball 58 times in a game that was very close throughout. Two missed kicks. An interception that bounced off Sims that led to a score. The strip sack return TD. That’s an 18pt swing in last Sunday’s game. Period. If the Bucs do not make those mistakes, they win easily and aren’t forced to pass as often.

    Football is really simple. Don’t turn it over. Make your kicks. The Bucs are 1-0 in games they win the turnover battle and make their kicks. the Bucs are 0-2 when they miss kicks and lose the turnover battle. Simple.

    Grasping at straws and plugging in undersized journeymen is what sad-sack teams do. Staying the course and eliminating mistakes is what winners do.

  9. Defense Rules Says:

    Surprised Ira that you didn’t bring up Luke Stocker’s name. Martin being out definitely hurts the Bucs run game, but so does Stocker being out since he’s our primary blocking TE out of the backfield. Our OLine was creating some monster holes last year, plus Martin was running with authority. Have yet to see those monster holes this year, even when Doug was in there. Maybe we do really miss Mankins more than folks will acknowledge. Also, Sims has been just fair running between the tackles, but did quite well on outside runs. Not sure how Rodgers does running inside, but if our OLine isn’t blocking well inside it won’t matter. The one thing I wish is that they’d let Jameis roll out a lot more … and take off if there’s an opportunity to pick up decent yardage. I’m convinced Bucs coaches have threatened him with benching if he leaves the pocket.

  10. unbelievable Says:

    @Ira, you are spot on once again!

    @DB55, those are great points about JW running. I don’t want him scared to run, he’s nimble and elusive.

    I just want him to slide once in a while, and quit trying to throw blocks on run plays.

  11. unbelievable Says:


    we have lost the turnover battle in every game this year actually, including our win against Atlanta.

  12. Johnny G Says:

    IRA, i love Martha and The Vandellas almost as much as Chuck Berry!

  13. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Says:

    Yes, we miss Logan Mankins, and Luke Stockers blocking too. Even more reason to start Rogers over Sims this week. Denver can be run on, as Carolina showed a few weeks ago. But it takes more of a power runner. Sims just goes down way too easy IMHO. Rogers knows the playbook from Atlanta, and I think he gives us the best chance to win this Sunday.

  14. Mike Johnson Says:

    Always enjoy your perspective there IRA. keep’em comin!!

  15. DB55 Says:


    Pamphile is doing sooooooo much better than Mankins or Evan Smith. That’s what you get when you play a young hungry guy vs an old vet that doesn’t want to be here. Rings true for Vjax vs Sheppard and martino.

  16. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’d like to be singing another song after Monday after the last three games….

    “Two out of three ain’t bad”

    I have more faith in Sims than most…..but I’d be OK with Ira’s suggestion. I certainly think Rodgers can run.

    For me, we need a very heavy dose of Sims, Humphries & Brate.

  17. Kobe Faker Says:

    1 thing must happen if the bucs have a chance to win…

    The ball has to be out FAST

    No 5-7 step drops

    Both run plays and pass plays – ball out fast

    Cant get miller and ray back where they can get a turnover from jameis

    It also helps our tackles tremendously

    No huddle uptempo and jameis

    I dont want you to hold the ball as a second needed

  18. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Wonder if we have been using the swing blocker as we did last year as much .
    That helped open holes for doug last year. What is clear is that Martin and Sims are still carrying the rock for same average on virtually same amount of carries and it is dropped to 3.4 yards.maybe our swing blocker needs to be changed.Also think Max protect might help Jameis build his confidence.and calm him down a little bit at key points in game.

  19. Buccfan37 Says:

    Go Bucs! Wow, if this goes through I’ll be happy .

  20. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    Rogers n Sims should both have at least 12-15 carries apiece and Peyton should get 7-10 IMO

  21. Blakmagic00 Says:

    Not many of you know me. Ive been on this site since the beginning and became a hermit just watching everything and everyone since my freeman homer days. Im a man of superstition and since the night i layed awake waiting for gruden to be fired ( the last real buc) ive waited and waited for this moment! Our turn around is next week. No one….and i mean…….NO ONE!!!!!! HAS WAITED FOR THIS MOMENT LIKE MYSELF!!!!! We have endured the most bs of any team since Kiffen made it clear he was leaving the week we played these a holes in 2008. We may lose to the donkeys, or maybe we win. But………monday night…….OCTOBER 10…… WE NEED TO TAKE BACK OUR REINS!!!!!!! Ive been a BUC since 97 and i truly believe this staff and team WILL go to the promise land!!!!

  22. Blakmagic00 Says:

    Sorry for putting my last bit on this post, but not sorry!

  23. SOEbuc Says:

    Ira i domt think you mentioned one positive buc note in that article. We’re gonna shut down Denver on Sunday. GO BUCS!!!!!!!

  24. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    I was sayin this last week but we had to see if Sims could carry the load I guess. He’s not a workhorse like Dougy, keep him in his current role and give the same role that Doug has to Rogers, simple as that. This team is not gonna win if we can’t establish a ground game, when Jameis has to throw over 50 times were gonna lose. This offense is built of the ground game and play action. The less Winston has to throw the better the chance we have at winning. “Simple as that” as our fav HC use to say.