The Bucs & Fourth-Quarter Playcalling

January 8th, 2018

Interesting stuff from quarterback turned analyst Tony Romo yesterday during the throwback playoff game of the day.

Forty years ago, half the NFL teams scored less than 20 points per game. The Bills’ Joe Ferguson led the league in passing, averaging just 200.2 yards per game. Defenses played to injure offensive, and the rules let them do it.

That stuff, of course, is ancient history, except in Jacksonville, which has revived old school football brilliantly.

Romo called yesterday’s 10-3 Jaguars playoff victory against Buffalo. In the fourth quarter, he talked about the woeful stats of the Bills’ fourth-quarter offense over the past six games, just three points total.

Romo said the fourth-quarter failure is a common byproduct of defensive coordinators catching up.

“What happens in the NFL, teams start to understand your system and what you’re trying to do,” Romo said. “And in the fourth quarter, you’re going to your core plays. It’s not new plays each week. It’s the stuff that’s who you are and what you do well. So the defenses get a bead on it.”

This really intrigued Joe because the Bucs’ fourth-quarter offense was fantastic nearly all season long, culminating in 18 fourth-quarter points a week ago against the Saints.

So that’s tough to wrap your head around given Romo’s theory, which makes a lot of sense.

But Tampa Bay averaged less than nine points in the first halves of games this season. That’s inexcusable, and if you boil down the Bucs’ woes, that’s where Joe would start looking for fixes first — easy fixes.

The talent is there to start faster and score. It’s squarely on the playcaller and America’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston, to find a way. If you consistently can do it late, then you can do it early, too.

36 Responses to “The Bucs & Fourth-Quarter Playcalling”

  1. DB55 Says:

    Well according to the geniuses of the Tampa area MM only came back bc KC was in a prevent defense after the first half. Right? Garbage time and what not or do the rules change since it’s not JW coming back from behind? You never know the goal posts are always moving with certain people.

  2. tnew Says:

    I heard that too, and it made me do some checking. I think Romo was trying to make an excuse for a poor offensive/solid defensive (it was a little of both) game. (BTW, those FSU lovers that were clamouring to move up for Jalen Ramsey are looking pretty good, anyone out there willing to trade VHIII and Aguayo for Ramsey?) When you look at scoring totals by quarter, for both teams, since 2010, there is only a .1 point difference from one half to the next.. The first quarter is the lowest.

    I think tho you are correct, this is a fixable problem. You are 100% correct. I think Jameis would do well to have the first three drives scripted. I think the visualisation process would help. I also believe Koetter has to be more aggressive early in the games.

    Just saying Romo was trying to make an excuse for a good but poorly played at the QB position and a very defensive game.

  3. AlteredEgo Says:

    Come back stats still losing the game are different than come back stats wining the game….there were no “garbage time stats” in the Titans/Chiefs game…
    mix and match half truths fawning football stats for dummies

  4. The Buc Realist Says:

    Head Coach Koetter of our Buccaneers said there are two major problems to fix in his end of the year press conference!!! Pass rush and Red zone scoring for the offense!!!!!!!! Fix that, and this team is right in the mix!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!

  5. DB55 Says:

    Like I said moving goal posts. Some of you are very predictable.

    Doug Marone: “I’d be a fool to not be concerned about the offense”

    That’s cuz your qb is garbage Doug. Derrick Henry on the other hand is a monster.

  6. AlteredEgo Says:

    55….the goal posts are also moved rationalizing Jameis’s poor play…

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    Wow, I can’t believe what I’m reading. Where was this Joe during the course of the year? All I ever heard was “It’s the defense’s fault”. Or “Where’s Scapegoat Smitty?”

    Watching this first round of playoff games, almost all teams stepped it up a notch defensively. Bucs’ defense has a high mountain to climb to be on the same level as what I saw this weekend from Carolina, Atlanta & New Orleans. It’s not JUST the pass rush. Our secondary also needs to be revamped. Without a major infusion of TALENT, we won’t be able to compete with these division rivals.

  8. tmaxcon Says:

    Cancer93 and his pansy arse defense not being able to hold leads is a far bigger concer n than playcalling or jameis… Jameis is an easy target yet cancer93 gets a free pass blown lead after blown lead…

  9. AlteredEgo Says:

    DR….I say the Buc are 2 full seasons away, assuming they get better each year, one must also factor in that many of the solid home grown Bucs vets on the 2017 roster will be nearing or at the end of their careers and will be needed to be replaced….we have all been deluded into thinking we are only the next off season away from a “play off team”…actually the play offs don’t start until next week..and yes watching the games this weekend was a sobering experience …
    IMO if everything falls into place 2020

  10. James Walker Says:

    Defences are fresher to start and more gassed by the end. Simple as that.

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    Defense- Watching those secondaries made me think the same thing. Jax has TWO ALL-PRO corners in addition to that nasty d-line. Their LBs aren’t bad either. You can go down the line with every team that played this weekend. It’s not just one level, it’s every level on defense.
    Mariota benefits from being on a better football team than Jameis.

  12. D-Rome Says:

    Romo may be right but I gotta say, neither of those QBs in that game should be starters in the NFL. If Jacksonville had an average QB like Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum they’d likely be Super Bowl bound.

  13. Bucsfanman Says:

    @D-Rome- Isn’t it amazing what a good run-game and a nasty defense can do for your QB?!

  14. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    “The talent is there to start faster and score. It’s squarely on the playcaller and America’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston, to find a way.” – J0E

    Actually…I think the players executing the plays has a bit to do with it too. It’s not like opportunities have not been there.

  15. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    That game was boring. I actually had to watch a movie then return to it for the second half because I was falling asleep during the game.

    Neither defense played lights out. Neither did either offense.

    And so far as our divisional opponents, only Atlanta (dang it) looked like a contender. I’m hoping the Saints go to the superbowl (and lose it), but it doesn’t look promising. Its a shame, because Brees needs a trip there before retiring.

  16. Bucsfan951 Says:

    Tmaxi: how can the defense hold leads when the offense only scores 8 points in the first half? Reading and comprehension is not your strong point, sir!

  17. DBrad67 Says:

    Guess we’ll start by looking at next years coaching carousel because
    1) This Coach has developed the losing culture, by acknowledging other teams and their players
    2) Not enforcing standards or accountability
    3) His play calling is weak and unchallenging to opposing defenses
    Not to mention the 8 playoff teams we’ll face and Dirks football IQ just doesn’t scare anyone

  18. Mike Johnson Says:

    Somebody..Anybody needs to come in and look at..revamp..retool this entire Defense. Starting with the Defensive Coordinator. Guys, I watch J-Ville yesterday and they were..HITTING HARD!! No pattycake crap. They make you pay! We had this..once upon a time long ago. Our Defense is so soft. We ought to partner with Nabisco and share our..Soft bake formulas! I’m tellin yas, we ain’t goin nowheres with binocular wearing DC Smitty sittin upstairs..NOWHERES!!!

  19. Pa Privateer Says:

    Well to support the theory……how often did we see Godwin show up “big” in the 4th quarter?

  20. 813bucboi Says:

    watching these playoff games reminded me just how far behind we are coaching and dline wise….GO BUCS!!!!!

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    @Bucsfanman … “It’s not just one level, it’s every level on defense.” B-I-N-G-O !!! I think that our LB corps is our best unit, but even they lack quality depth.

    @AlteredEgo … “I say the Buc are 2 full seasons away, assuming they get better each year.” Your second part is the key IMO … ASSUMING we get better each year. With several BIG payouts coming due (Jameis, ME13, D.Smith, Ali, Kwon, etc) Jason Licht is going to have his hands full ove these next 2-3 years. I’m not at all convinced that he’s the one who can pull it off, but I sure do hope I’m wrong.

  22. Buc Fan South Tampa Says:

    This is sort of off topic, but I actually enjoy Romo as an announcer. I didnt think I would, as I believed most of the press that he was an idiot. But this guy is perfect. He sees the plays coming up. He tells the audience why this is happening and explains his thought process. One can learn football from him. He actually drew out on the screen where the Bills were going to throw their last ball, a few seconds before they did so, and before Ramsey intercepted the last ball thrown. Amazing. i vote Romo to replace grudenon MNF. Maybe a promotion too soon. But he is good.

  23. 813bucboi Says:

    Buc Fan South Tampa Says:
    January 8th, 2018 at 11:53 am
    This is sort of off topic, but I actually enjoy Romo as an announcer.

    I agree….just wish he was on fox….GO BUCS!!!

  24. 813bucboi Says:

    The Buc Realist Says:
    January 8th, 2018 at 8:26 am
    Head Coach Koetter of our Buccaneers said there are two major problems to fix in his end of the year press conference!!! Pass rush and Red zone scoring for the offense!!!!!!!!

    he’s the offensive guru…..scoring should be no problem!!!!!!…that points to poor coaching…..or just his incompetence!!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  25. SOEbuc Says:

    But you and Tony are also missing the fact that Tyrod Taylor looked like pure dog poop until he got a concussion with two minutes left. And yeah the Bucs ran the same plays every week, maybe in the same order. I adore Koetter’s run plays with the single back that we didn’t have till the last four games (I rep hard for Peyton Barber) that got stuffed constantly cus the other defense knew what was coming. Other teams could’ve had a pee-wee coach in the DC box telling opponents what the Bucs were gonna run.

  26. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    Travis Kelce was annihilating the Titans…just eating them up..when he catches that pass across the middle…first guy hits him and the second guy coming across the field simply plants his helmet in Kelce’s helmet in one of the worst head shots I’ve seen this year. It was total helmet to helmet and it was also just as clear that it was intentional and the Titan DB was head hunting. I do not know how he escaped a penalty and suspension.

    Instantly Kelce crumpled…when he tried to stand up he fell back down and his teammates grabbed him and tried to help him cover it up. But I knew he was gone on the concussion protocol. He had obviously been concussed by the helmet to helmet shot.

    And when Kelce went out…the Chiefs offense went in the crapper. It was the perfect example of “old school” football. Find the right offensive player to injure and change the game. Just like Doug Atkins did to YA Tittle in an NFL Championship game.

    I’m not a fan of that football. I enjoyed watching Kelce on the field not on the sidelines.

  27. lambchop Says:


    I was thinking the same thing. I don’t know if it was head hunting since Kelce dipped low at the end of the catch, but there still should have been a helmet to helmet penalty just due to the severity of the hit and how fast it was. You can tell in slow motion that Kelce dived at the last minute before the hit but not in real time. Should have drawn a 15 yard penalty.

  28. lambchop Says:

    I’m pissed that the refs call games in the playoffs differently. It’s total BS. Call it the same the whole season cuz as much as they don’t want to change the outcome of playoff games, they are changing the outcome of playoff games by calling it differently. And what about changing the outcome of games in the regular season that may have playoff implications?

    The catch rule better get changed. If the ground can’t cause a fumble outside of the endzone, it needs to be the same in the endzone as well, especially if you allow people to score by just breaking the plane and fumble the ball away in the pileup (which is a score and not a fumble).

    The present rule has no consistency at all.

  29. 813bucboi Says:


    that wasn’t helmet to helmet…..he didn’t get flagged because at that point he was a runner….the db hit him in the back which he didn’t see coming…..those are always the most dangerous hits….the ones you don’t see coming….

    I honestly think had kelce stayed in the game they still would’ve lost….titans have a good defense…..they would’ve adjusted and took him out of the game…..

    my thing is, up 21-3, why not ride your nfl rushing leader to victory….11 carries…C’MON MAN!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  30. loggedontosay Says:


    There were games whereas the Bucs were winning and needed the defense to get off the field on third down.

  31. loggedontosay Says:


    You do not understand stats.

  32. lambchop Says:


    Even if he’s a runner, helmet to helmet is illegal as far as I know. They’re trying to get it out of the game. And I also don’t think it was really back of the head, it was more to the side of the helmet, but he didn’t see it coming cuz he was going to the ground at that point. But, they may have seen it the way I’m explaining which is that he didn’t seek out the head, it just came into his strike zone. I didn’t see intent to hit helmet to helmet on the play.

  33. lambchop Says:

    And I think it made a HUGE difference in the outcome of the game because till that point, the Chiefs were driving and scoring. Kelce can dominate a defense with his size, speed, and hands. But yea, they should have run the ball more. It looked like Gruden and his sidekick were discussing how Andy Reid gave up the offensive play calls to the coordinator. And then they came back and noticed Andy Reid still had the play call sheet in his face and chuckling that he can’t stay away from it. I think Andy Reid relies too much on the pass at times. Every time the Cheifs went into a funk this season, Kareem Hunt wasn’t getting the workload. Oh well.

  34. Rod Munch Says:

    It’s because of Dirk’s awful predictable playcalling. In the first half every first down is a run up the gut and play action passes aren’t used. In the final few games Dirk opened it up, but for most of the season you could script the Bucs first 20 plays since at least 7 of them would be a run up the middle against a defense that was run blitzing up the middle, followed by an attempted long pass to Evans or Brate, then on 3rd down you get a screen or other short pass to Charles Sims.

    In the second half, by which time the Bucs would generally be down big, the Bucs would then abandon the run game and play from shotgun and put up stats.

    The only silver lining is starting with that Atlanta game, when Dirk was coaching for his job, he actually changed things up quite a bit on play calling. You had 1st half play action passes, you didn’t have an empty field shotgun on 3rd and 3 every single time, and while the passes generally go to Sims on 3rd down it wasn’t every time. Dirk was, I dare to say it, mildly unpredictable for the final few games, much like he was in 2015. If Dirk can/will coach like that next season AND Jameis ignores Dirk’s pleas to play for FGs, the Bucs should be in great shape.

  35. unbelievable Says:

    To put things in perspective:

    The Saints had the worst defense in the NFL for 3 seasons in a row (including last year). Now they are in the top half of the league.

    The power of a pass rush and strong defensive line can not be undervalued.

  36. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Think of this guys…if you didn’t lead with the helmet it would be a shoulder to helmet hit. I remember “spearing” as a penalty when it was determined a guy led with his helmet.

    I grant that Kelce was in motion but if the defender had not crashed in head first but instead used his shoulder or body there would not have been the helmet to helmet crash. This is why I suspect the DB knew EXACTLY what he was doing.

    But I concede that’s just opinion. Only the DB knows what was in his head.
    He also may just be a victim of poor tackling technique.