Sputtering Offense

December 13th, 2016
Why is the offense stuck in the mud?

Why is the offense stuck in the mud?

Joe was digging and came up with frightening information.

Yes, the Bucs offense is sputtering. In the past four games, it’s averaging 19.2 points a game. That’s not a whole lot better than the 17.3 points a game the 2014 Bucs averaged. Mind you, that was an offense guided by ill-suited Marcus Arroyo featuring the likes of Stewart McClown, Anthony Collins, Garrett Gilkey, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Josh Allen.

(This is one reason why Joe doesn’t buy the too-easy, knee-jerk blame game heaped weekly on the offensive line. So the current offensive line of the Bucs is worse than the slop trotted out there in 2014? Hardly.)

Whether it is the career-worst struggles of Doug Martin (possibly) or a young quarterback still learning (possibly) or dudes pulled off the street to play receiver (quite likely), if the Bucs have an Achilles heel as they try to close out the season with a playoff berth, it is the offense that could do the Bucs in.

Yesterday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter discussed the struggles and did not leave out the possibility that he may be part of the problem.

“Well it’s a variety of things, it’s never one thing,” Koetter said. “On the very last time down there, third-and-seven on the seven, we couldn’t have had a better thing up. It’s the same exact thing we played at Philly last year to [wide receiver] Russell Shepard, it was wide open and we just missed it. That puts the game away, that makes it a nine-point game if we make the extra point. That’s just one example, there’s something different on every one of them.

“Sometimes it might be the play call, it might be execution, it might be a penalty, a combination of all those things. Trust me, we’re working hard on it over on that side of the building as we speak and I guess the thing that – it’s very concerning, but at the same time, I know how these guys can play on offense and I know when we get there, at least these last two games, they really didn’t need to be this close if we’re playing better on offense. But, we didn’t and we still won. So, we can’t forget, the object of the game is to win and now we’re wanting to win prefect. Some of us are.”

Koetter is absolutely right: The goal is to have one more point than the opposition. Still, one cannot reasonably expect the defense to choke out every opponent like they have been doing lately, can you?

It sure would help if the Bucs could put up 20 or more points a game. That doesn’t seem like an unreachable goal. That is, unless you really only have one legitimate receiver playing.

58 Responses to “Sputtering Offense”

  1. cmurda Says:

    There were multiple times I thought this offense was going to put this away. One drive in particular, either the 3rd or 4th qtr, Donovan Smith had a personal foul that killed a drive that was looking good. That was his 3rd penalty that i remember of the game. that is one of the reasons that our offense is struggling and it must be eliminated.

  2. I'm tired and 87 is right Says:

    Does anyone know how Adam Humphries is doing? Devon Hester was just released. Just wondering if we need to go find a weapon. Go Bucs! Keep the faith, and never look back!!

  3. Tampa Tony Says:

    Jameis missed a throw, Koetter clearly says it. Franchise guys have gotta make that throw and put a dagger in the opponent. No excuses for Jameis since Shep has been with this team all season

    Play calling has gotta improve to give the offense a chance as well. Too many predictable run calls with the same personnel need to get creative with the groupings.

    Last I checked Brate is a receiver as well

  4. tmaxcon Says:

    How refreshing a coach making adjustments and taking responsibility. The anti-lovie

  5. salish_seamonster Says:

    With Evans doubled and Martin not finding holes, Humphries out, they’re a bit crippled. They have to find a way to get Evans open on a few big plays. Maybe with Humphries back (if it’s this week), they can find a way to work him in the underneath areas and give Evans a little breathing room. Also, perhaps Coach K has dialed back the aggressiveness in play-calling a little bit since the defense has been lights-out.

  6. Doctor Stroud Says:

    It is true that penalties and sacks hurt the rhythm of the offense. For example, two penalties on Donovan Smith made up for Demar Dotson’s absence (although I hope that Dotson comes back healthy soon). Like Gruden once said, there are not too many plays in the playbook for 2nd or 3rd and 28. I would add that continuity with personnel is a problem, too. The Bucs were trying to integrate players into the offense that either had not played in a while (e.g., Sims) or were entirely new (e.g., Huff), and injured players out of the lineup, like Humphries and Shorts, took its toll. Still, the coaching staff and players have done a great job with the constant changes, and I am sure that they will fix whatever the problems are.

  7. BFFL Says:

    Put McClown behind this line and you’ll see just how bad they are. JW been scrambling around in the pocket like a magician.

  8. Gencoimports Says:

    This is a reasonable article on why the Bucs offense is sputtering. At last,

  9. Waterboy Says:

    Coach K can’t keep coaching not to lose when they get a lead. Sometimes you have to make a statement on 4th and 1 and go for it when you have the other team on their heel rather than settling for field goals. Especially when considering the fact that field goals aren’t automatic.

  10. Nole4JabooANDdBucs Says:

    Why not dial it back and let the capable defense carry the load til
    the offense get healthy. You know the way the offense carried it a few games ago when the defense was lagging. It’s called teamwork, family aka complimentary football.

    Be greatful we are not where we want to be and definitely not where we were…the question should be have we improved as a team.

    As JW said at the end of last year, “when WE get that winning culture WE will be HELL to beat.” Koetter echoed the same sentiment so let the offense get healthy, let the ROOKIE kicker get acclimated to the NFL, enjoy the defense success, the special teams and WE will be playin with all cylinders.

    It’s coming just WAIT 4 IT.

  11. Nole4JabooANDdBucs Says:

    Because the culture has made the change😆

  12. 813bucboi Says:

    oline could play better….play calling could be better….rb’s could use better vision….the play calling cant be predictable once we get a lead and we cant get pass happy when we’re down….GO BUCS!!!!

  13. R.O. Says:

    Play calling changes as DK has gained more confidence in the D.. injuries.. no matter what Becht says. Ok okay has not been good enough.

  14. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Well the good news in all of this is that it’s unlikely we do much worse on offense.

    2 of those 4 games have come against some of the best defenses in the league in Seattle & KC. I don’t event think of those games as offensive disappointments. Marcus Mariota only completed 6 passes last week beating Denver. You simply aren’t going to put up great #s on those types of teams.

    I’m disappointed in the performances of the offense the last 2 weeks more so than the last 4. That said – San Diego & New Orleans had to be thinking of those games like playoff weeks since losing essentially eliminated them. You saw San Diego against Carolina and they didn’t seem to give a sh1t anymore.

    We’ve averaged 24 PPG in the 9 games outside of the last 4 weeks. I think we’ll get it going.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Great (and refreshing) article Joe. I have zero doubts that Coach Koetter and his offensive assistant coaches spend hour after hour trying to figure out the best way to attack each team. Lots of other teams have better pieces (Dallas’ OLine for instance is supposed to be top notch). But Koetter is really doing a masterful job of getting the most out of Jameis and the rest of the talent that WE have (not unlike what Bill Belicheck has been doing for years with Brady & company by the way).

    I admit that I often forget that he’s still a rookie HC and is having to learn on the job. Fortunately he’s got Smitty to lean on (can you imagine where we’d be if this year’s Bucs defense was producing the same results as last year?). Bucs obviously have a ways to go to field a #1 ranked offense & defense, but hats off to Coaches Koetter & Smith for all they’ve accomplished this season in getting the absolute most out of the players we have on the roster right now.

  16. q Says:

    Joe another area of concern is the return game…now i just noticed decin hester was released by the ravens…maybe the bucs could use him?

  17. q Says:

    Excuse me devin hester

  18. Joe Says:

    Does anyone know how Adam Humphries is doing?

    Will find out later this week when Friday’s injury report comes out which will determine if he is available Sunday or not.

  19. Joe Says:


    Joe shares all of your concerns for the return game.

    Or, as Curly Howard might ask, “What return game?”

  20. Joe Says:

    With Evans doubled and Martin not finding holes, Humphries out, they’re a bit crippled. They have to find a way to get Evans open on a few big plays. Maybe with Humphries back (if it’s this week), they can find a way to work him in the underneath areas and give Evans a little breathing room.


    Thinking Koetter is conservative of late is he knows right now for the reasons you stated, can’t get anyone open so why not let the defense win it for you? In other words, don’t force guys to make plays they cannot make.

  21. Lord Cornelius Says:

    If Hump isn’t back then it had to be a pretty bad concussion. As far as I know he doesn’t have a history with them and players typically only miss the week after their concussion lately (vs multiple weeks). Even Jordan Reed returned after taking 1 game off this year with a concussion; and he’s had a ton of concussions in his career.

    Hump at least gives us a dependable underneath option. I don’t even think we have one without him unless you count Brate running 10 yards and turning around.

  22. GoBucsVA Says:

    I think Luke Stocker is more important to this team then many of us realize too, his impact is overlooked maybe?

  23. Eric Says:

    Exactly what Doctor Stroud said. This year on offense has been insane. Before the season started, we had a deep roster. Injuries and/or cuts suffered on that side of the ball that we were depending on include Martin, Sims, Quiz, ASJ, Murphy, Bell, Vjax, Dotson, EDS, Sweezy, Hawley, Stocker, Shepard, Humphries, Smith, Myers, and Shorts. That’s 17(!!!)) players who went down or let us down this year. That is crazy!! I’m actually even more shocked by how bad that really is when I took the time to write them all down.

    Anyways, it’s extremely difficult to build chemistry when your shuffling through players every single game. No consistency on offense outside of Donavan, Jameis, Evans, and Marpet. No wonder we have been suffering….

    However, I think we will get it together in the stretch. We finally get a chance to play some bad defenses. Sims back is huge! The guy was on fire Sunday. That check down option is a game-changer for Jameis and I really hope he utilizes him a lot more. Should also open up the run. If our receivers (Humphries, Huff, Shepard, etc) can stay healthy and build some chemistry, then we could excel rather quickly.

    If you couple our offense from last year to our defense as it is now, well let’s just I’d hate to play us. Sky is the limit as I’ve been saying all year long and it looks like we’re almost out of the atmosphere on defense.

    Here we goo………

  24. Bucamania Says:

    Evans has looked different the last two games. Teams are getting to him. He saw that hit coming on the pass that went through his hands at the 5. Couldn’t wait to cover up. First time I’ve seen him do that. And that one hand pass catch attempt was ridiculous. He was grabbing the defender with one hand instada of catching the ball with two. Cmon man. Just go get the ball.

  25. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    I know it’s a sports blog but do we really need all the hyperbole. There are some guys…and they know who they are…who must still not admire #3. So they pick a single throw and pronounce…a franchise QB must make that.

    And so am I the only one here who saw Drew Brees miss a wide open WR running behind our secondary for an easy six? Does this mean Brees is not really a franchise QB? Nowhere near an HOFer?

    The reality is that we are playing good football right now but not great football. The good news behind that is we have plenty of room to improve.

    CMURDA is right…Donavan Smith has to stop with the yellow fever…like NOW!
    Our O is not good enough to overcome those kind of penalties and they literally are drive stoppers and sometimes even take us from FG range.

    I see continual improvement in #3 and he’s bringing the rest with him. As people have noted…we are peaking at the right time.

  26. Patrick in VA Says:

    @GoBucsVA – I think you make a really strong point. The games that he was in it seemed like Winston had more time to throw and our running game was actually moving. It hasn’t been good all year, but it’s at least been a factor more than it has been the past few games.

    I wonder if that could also be because the opponents are starting to not respect the run as much. We’ve strung together a few weeks of unimpressive run games. That, coupled with our dearth of quality receivers could be a big reason why they’re able to keep our offense from doing much.

  27. Gencoimports Says:

    Charles Sims needs to be on the field more, lined up wide, at the same time Martin or Rodgers is in the backfield.

  28. Buc1987 Says:

    I have nothing to complain about for the rest of the season…

    Joe…now THAT feels weird.

    Anyone feelin’ me?

  29. GoBucsVA Says:

    We need to spread them out and so we can run against nickel and dime defenses every now and then, and take a shot with play action of FIRST down every now and then, we are not doing anything to keep the opposing teams guessing. Might as well just hold up a sign saying hey guys it is 1st down we are going to run it right up the middle okay?

  30. GoBucsVA Says:

    Also I would love to see some package used where Sims and Martin are both on the field at the same time, the defense wouldn’t know what the hell we are thinking.

  31. mike Says:

    @Stpetebucsfan- I know who you’re talking about. TampaTony and Bucnut2 still can’t resign themselves to the fact that Winston is our QB. They have a clear agenda and are probably blowing each other right now

  32. Dooshlarue Says:

    I feel ya 87.
    Funny, Dirk mentioned the extra point on top of the touchdown.
    Glad Aguayo is doing better, but I don’t think the coach trusts him yet.

  33. BucdUp Says:

    I agree with Nole4jabooANDdbucs. Very well put. Our team is playing outstanding compared to what we are used to and actually looks and feels legit. NOWW, let’s focus on the Cowgirls and go win us a playoff berth!!

  34. Name Required Says:

    Wishbone! 3 RBs, 1 TE, 1 WR! Work with what we have and kick up some dust!

  35. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    My face look like this😀 why??? I just recieved my Noah Spence jersey my Big homie SB sent as result of a bet from a few weeks ago. Capitol SALUTE my G. So my Fameis will be left on the hanger this week,sunday night SPAWN will be all over me.

  36. Buccaneer scotty Says:

    Roddy white would look good about now!

  37. Bob in valrico Says:

    I Know we need both stocker and Dotson.Stockewr for the run.And Dotson for pass pro.and run blocking.

  38. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:


    No complaining around here, hermano!!!

    Maybe just some good hearted roasting of Big Dog Haynes, and kobe faker (and whatever he called himself before he this summer, and whatever he changes it too after) as Licht and Koetter succeed.


    Is there a downside to moving Sims to the slot fulltime?

  39. Dave Says:

    It is all of it but it’s a domino effect.
    The lack of receiving targets causes the defense to really cheat on the run causing the online and RBs to not look as good.
    The fact that ME has gotten what he has this year is amazing.
    Shepherd and Humphries are good 3-4 but they desperately need another big time WR , a #2.
    Preferably a speedster. If not, they need two WRs this offseason along with more line depth everywhere.

  40. Dave Says:

    People, I including Joe, are saying to spread it out to run the ball.
    Sounds great but the defenses are selling out to stop the run lately. That and doubling ME constantly.

  41. James Walker Says:

    Around 2005, when Gruden was still coach and the old Buc boards were still up, I did an analysis of every Bucs offense using some tools I was learning in college. I determined that the Bucs historically, up until that tim that time, averaged only around 17 points per game . Also, surprisingly, the highest scoring offensive coordinator was Clive Christiansen, not Gruden.

  42. SB with Jameis Says:

    Anyone complaining about ‘sputtering offense’ while we are on a 5 game win streak because of Great Defense hasn’t been a fan very long. This is the formula I grew up on.

  43. SB with Jameis Says:

    Oh and Nos you guys kicked our ass. You earned that damn Jersey. Same bet next yr Homie.

  44. Jonny 2.2 Says:

    Because our defense is playing good, I think our offense is often going into the turtle mode. Because of our lack of downfield weapons, we don’t have big explosive plays. We have to labor for every single first down every damn game. Jameis is doing the best he can within the limited arsenal he has though. His only negative is poor accuracy at long passes.

  45. Dreambig Says:

    Not sure why the Oline is getting this golden pass. Winston has been hit a lot and sacked quite a bit. Those numbers plus lack of a running game suggest the Oline needs work. Its not some huge mystery, there is no hidden calculus as to why As a team our running game is not so good. Oline needs to do better. For example, take a look at most 3rd and short runs we have had this year. Our Oline gets completely punked, destroyed, blown two yards off the line of scrimage on every goal line run or 3rd and short. Dougs TD is one of the lone exceptions. Its been happening all year. Not sure why its so hard to admit what is so obvious.

  46. tval Says:

    Play it safe and rely on jameis/mike/brate and the d in the clutch. I like the recipe

  47. tval Says:

    Sims will be. Had to get his feet wet and let him get comfortable back in lineup. Looked great. Fresh pair of legs for the playoff push. Him at fb pro set is matchup nightmare

  48. Lamarcus Says:

    Everything starts w the lineman. Our line is grossly overrated outside of Marpet. D Smith has regressed. Winston takes too many hits. Too many drive killing penalties by the tackles. I notice they whiff on many run plays. I going w The PFF on their rating cuz it’s about right.

  49. Gencoimports Says:

    I always wished the Bucs would use Sims the way the Patriots used Shane Vareen when he played there, or Dion Lewis. Sometimes in the backfield but often split out wide. That’s where we need him now.

  50. Artemis Rand Says:

    Neither here nor there but how much longer are we going to have to wait until Hardy Nickerson and James Wilder are inducted in the ROH ?

    Please make it happen in 2017!

  51. Gencoimports Says:

    Both Nickerson and Wilder (still owns a NFL record for touches in a season (492) in a season) are both overdue.

    I’d also like to see Richard “Batman” Wood in the Ring of Honor.

  52. Artemis Rand Says:

    After James Wilder and Hardy Nickerson there are still some older players deserving consideration:

    Kevin House
    Batman Wood
    Mark Cotney
    Dave Logan
    Cedric Brown
    Mike Washington
    Mark Carrier
    Simeon Rice
    Warrick Dunn

  53. Artemis Rand Says:

    Sorry, should of also included:

    Ricky Bell
    Ronde Barber

  54. SOEbuc Says:

    Teams are definitely learning how to shut down and double team ME13. Another dominate receiver in round 1 this year would make this receiving core top notch. I want JuJu Smith from USC if available. Evans, JuJu, Brate, Hump, Sims would be sick. Not to mention Sheppard, shorts, and Martino as back ups.

  55. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    I’d rather have Mike Williams over JuJu.

  56. cmurda Says:

    GoBucsVA Says:
    December 13th, 2016 at 5:19 pm
    I think Luke Stocker is more important to this team then many of us realize too, his impact is overlooked maybe?

    Great point, It’s easy to overlook the guys that battle in the trenches especially when they aren’t one of the Linemen. I think Koetter is wisely being safe on offense instead of having Jameis force throws that could result in int’s. He knows his defense is playing well enough to win games. This Dallas game is where we are going to need to see that run game pick up the pace and we need to at least be competent throwing against a rather average defense.

  57. Shane Says:

    The offense has a good QB , a good RB , and a good WR. This offense is good but it’s missing pieces. The WRs don’t get separation and our good WR gets double teamed. The OL is not that good. You see Jameis on a ton of pass plays buy time to throw and that’s how a play is made. Those plays would be sacks with past QBs. Just think about what Jameis could do with Dallas’ OL. But they are still capable and have scored more points. Koetter has been way more conservative offensively since the defense has been playing better. I think he was a little too conservative the other day to the point where it was holding the team back from scoring points. Jameis threw the ball 26 times. Bree’s threw it 41 times. Still gotta play to win Koetter.

  58. Owlykat Says:

    If we picked up a proven free agent to replace Shepard on STs he has all the qualities to be a number 2 receiver next year. He is a tough, tall burner, with great hands. Take a left Tackle in the first round this year and make Smith a Guard. Our present LG is well suited to pass block and run block as a RT since he played Tackle in college. Tandy should stay a starting Safety and should also be cross trained as a CB if needed such as when Grimes retires. Sign him to a good long term contract so we don’t lose him.