“Pitch-And-Catch” Will Fix Red Zone

May 17th, 2018

When Joe thinks of the football phrase “pitch-and-catch,” Joe envisions a quarterback making a relatively easy throw to an open wide receiver.

If that’s what Bucs quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian was talking about today, then it sure was a finger-point at America’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston.

The Bucs red zone troubles last season were well known. Tampa Bay was excellent at getting there and terrible at converting.

Why? Why? Why?

Bucs coaches have been studying that all offseason. As Joe wrote earlier, offensive coordinator Todd Monken said the Bucs simply “chose to suck.” (See home page for story)

Bajakian offered a less complex answer.

“I can show you seven plays off the top of my head where if we just played pitch-and-catch, we’re going to score a touchdown,” Bajakian said. “And instead, maybe we don’t convert on third down, or we take sack and now it’s 2nd-and-long, we end up kicking a field goal on both of those instead of scoring a touchdown. So, it doesn’t take a whole lot to improve.

“It’s just a matter of execution, and as we pointed out to our players, you know you study those teams that are the top in the NFL. What you realize is they’re not re-inventing the wheel. I’m thinking I’m going to watch the Philadelphia Eagles and I’m going to get all these great ideas about what they’re doing in the red zone. You know what? Their plays are the same players we’re running, except they’re playing pitch and catch, or maybe their quarterback is scrambling and making a play for a touchdown.”

Alright! It sounds like the fix is simple enough. Keep it simple. Play pitch and catch more often. Take what’s there. Anyone got another cliché?

Big year ahead for Jameis with all those fancy weapons around him and coaches looking for very basic fixes, such as not fumbling and connecting with the open man.

29 Responses to ““Pitch-And-Catch” Will Fix Red Zone”

  1. Chris in WA Says:

    The problem is the other team can respond with a touchdown with 3 plays covering 70+ yards in less than a minute. See Buffalo and Tyrod Taylor. The biggest question mark is these rookie corners. The Steelers game will be especially telling because Brent Grimes can’t cover both Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster and that might be a slight mismatch anyways no matter which one he covers. VH3 needs to find his cajones and I’m praying Carlton Davis is the breakout rookie DB with good coverage.

  2. unbelievable Says:

    I’m not a fan of Bajakian at all. Nothing about him impresses me or inspires confidence.

    However, he is 100% correct on this.

    Can’t remember which game, but early in the season we were close to the goal line and attempted 2 or 3 fades in a row to Mike Evans in the endzone.

    Each pass was worse and further off target than the previous one. It was mind boggling. And yes, these were on Jameis.

  3. Trench War Says:

    I think Bajakian was saying that Jameis needs a little more awareness when inside the 20. I don’t think he was being highly critical but he must’ve noticed on film study a lot of missed opportunities with underneath routes that Jameis must’ve ignored or passed over.

  4. AlteredEgo Says:

    Brad Johnson > than back yard hero

  5. Wausa Says:

    Maybe the Bucs should never use max protection so Jamies can have options.

    PFF believes in Jamies Per their rankings that came out today.

    Jameis Winston on their top 25 under 25 list:
    The first quarterback to grace the list, Winston has finished all three of his career seasons graded 80.0 or above, making it hard to make the case for another quarterback to jump him. Winston has flashed the potential that made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. including this past season, he was more productive than any quarterback not named Tom Brady while under pressure, producing a passer rating of 84.4.

  6. ufour20 Says:

    He’s saying that when it mattered most (in the red zone), our QB didn’t get it done. @ unbelievable, I remember that game well, his fade passes were horrible and we ended up kicking a FG. Too many slow starts, too many fumbles, not enough touch downs. But all the 4th quarter garbage time yards you can stomach.

  7. Brooklynborn Says:

    Damm right, this is the year he proves he was the correct choice

  8. Bird Says:

    Nothing wrong with a 5 yard pass. Nothing wrong with a check down. Nothing wrong with throwing the ball away if nothing there. Don’t need to try and hit a home run on every play. Pretty obvious it was directed at #3 and it has truth. . That is what gets him in trouble. But again , I think he has his best year this year. To many weapons not to be able to put up points. People always point at defense. And that’s partly true. However, the defense got tired /abused cause the offense couldn’t produce so it goes both ways. Defense on the field way to much. Drug Martin gone is a bonus. He didn’t help Jameis one bit.

    This is the year… If not , everyone is gone. Maybe even Jameis as new GM or coach not interested in giving him 30mil/year.

  9. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Not sure wtf he’s honestly talking about. Just say what you mean. “We missed open guys too often” if that’s your point. Or “We didn’t check it down enough” That’s not what I recall but at least own your analysis on what we did bad.

    In the only game i recently re-watched (Carolina week 16) – the issue in the red zone was on play designs that were had no quick options and lead to sacks; or by running Doug Martin in key areas of the field for big losses. Even the only TD pass we threw was a long developing deep drop with no quick options whatsoever.

    I’d love to sit in the film room and see wtf they’re actually looking at

  10. Frank Pillow Says:

    How about pitching it to a viable RB, once in a while so we don’t have to catch a glimpse of a bone-headed red-zone turnover or missed FG…

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Nothing infuriated me more than to have 3rd and 5 and see a 20 yard high degree of difficulty pass down field….
    Well, one thing was worse…..3rd and 5 with a 3 yard pass….

    Nonetheless, we did a good job moving down the field….but were stuffed in the red zone…part of that was no running game there…and the other was exactly what Bajackian said…..hit the easy target.
    And with the weapons we have, someone will be wide open.

  12. passthebuc Says:

    He now has a running back. He will take the ball out of JW’s hand.

  13. AlteredEgo Says:

    Jameis…will not be any different than he has ever been even though he is surrounded on both sides of the ball with better talent than he has ever played with in the NFL…thus…if he stat traxs with the same bonehead’s and in accurate throws….the G’Boyz will pay him his 25 million option year and draft a QB in the 1st round 2019….I really hope Jameis is the guy…but he still has so many faults…

  14. Fire the Glazers Says:

    Don’t take too much from that. Our QB coach doesn’t care about all the other factors that affect poor QB performance.
    He is only concerned with what a QB has control over in every situation and how he can improve.
    Just because it looks like on the surface, that he is “blaming” bad red zone offense on poor QB performance, doesnt mean anything. Could be poor pass blocking on the blind side…
    Poor run blocking by broke back Sweezy and crew…
    Could be poor audible calls or forcing it to a diva WR…
    But he is not in charge of the OLine, or WRs, or RBs…
    he is only concerned with what Jameis and Fitz can improve on…

  15. feelthepewterpower Says:

    The problem is that THE BUCCS ARE OFTEN TOO PREDICTABLE. Yes, execution is paramount, and Dirk keeps parroting the phrase. It’s frustrating. But Joe, think how much easier to execute when the opposing team doesn’t know what’s coming. If the opposing team knows what is coming, logically, youd say theyd have an even chance in being successful. If you keep the defense off balance, their success rate dips….even if its only a five percent dip, that five percent becomes huge leverage throughout the season. Too often the opposing team would be calling our plays out before we ran them. See the Carolina game last season when Luke Kuechly was playing.

    The IRONY OF IT ALL: the coaching staff wants Jameis to cut down on his turnovers, boneheaded plays, etc. Sounds good, right? I think we’d all agree. While Winston must do his part, think of how of many turnovers and rushed plays that led to silly mistakes were because Winston was put into precarious positions by predictable play calling…IE – third and longs. And who cares about third down success. It’s a BOGUS statistic. THE BEST offenses in the NFL try and AVOID third downs altogether. When you stay ahead of the sticks and downs you keep the other team off balance. When you are forced to throw the ball in predictable situations the turnovers skyrocket.

  16. DB55 Says:

    So if the qb is getting sacked and the RBs are losing yards, what does that tell you?

  17. Duke Says:

    Lord C,

    Wtf are you looking at? That play you mention time and time again
    ….how you miss the drag( which is open within a second) that goes from one side to the other…3 sec.of wide open.. are you blind. I think it’s DJax on the far side .He’s beats the safety and is wide the f open. But no ball is in the air….On that play brate and jax have their hands out to side saying what the hell…Yet you missed it…..

    Now to his credit JW makes a hellva spectacular throw for a TD….But the point is it wasn’t necessary. He should have DJax for the TD, or ck down to the drag….that’s the play design and JW went off the reservation , made a play, but …..why?

  18. DB55 Says:

    Bucs’ Todd Monken with a wild stat from 2017: Longest rushing TD for Tampa Bay last year was 2 yards. Other 7 were 1 yard each. That’s why you see Ronald Jones in the second round …
    This tells me that we simply do not have a strong oline.

  19. unbelievable Says:

    @DB, shhhhh were not allowed to criticize the play of the o-line.

    But we should be all good in 2018, I heard our 3rd round pick rookie Alex Cappa is going to play RT and RG. At the same time!

  20. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    @ Unbelievable

    Cappa will also play DE on passing downs and be our sack leader…..

  21. DB55 Says:


    You kid but that’s exactly how it looks. Julius Peppers and Cam Jordan are grinning from ear to ear. Carolina sacked JW a total of 9 times in 2 games and the saints 7, 5 sacks in their last game.

    I’m sure this is all JWs fault though.

  22. JAB83 Says:

    you guys…. you guys….

    HEY YOU GUYS!!!!

    Its a HARD KNOCK LIFE…. For You…. and da Bucs…

    Listen, last year was a joke… We all agree… The year before is why we agree…

    We are Super Bowl Bound… Already put 100$ on it!!!

    put your money where your mouth is Boys!!!!

    Glazers and JL have!!!!

  23. SOEbuc Says:

    Not just in the red zone, but LET JAMEIS OUT OF THE POCKET!!! He might be the most accurate QB throwing the ball outside the pocket. He’s great at communicating with receivers when scrambling, and he’s not slow and knows when to slide or go out of bounds. Play action pass with him on the run and I guarantee much more red zone TDs and even TDs in general.

  24. JBucc Says:

    Shout out @unbelievable for comment of the day

    Man I almost just spit beer!!

  25. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Entering last year Jameis was still trying waaaay too hard. He put way too much pressure on himself and he seemed to interrupt his own “flow”.

    The last 5 games though I saw an improvement in this area from #3. He started looking down all his options and not fixing on just one target…ME13…or DJAX or whomever was in his head. The last games he seemed to be much more relaxed and inclined to take the open play instead of forcing the ball.

  26. Dooshlarue Says:

    @ St. Pete
    Except for the fact that he foolishly forced balls to Evans so he could get his 1000 yards.

  27. unbelievable Says:

    haha thanks guys. I’ll be here all season

  28. Defense Rules Says:

    Never liked ‘It’s simple to fix’ as an answer. If it’s so simple to fix, why the heck didn’t you fix it last season?

  29. Ed Says:

    Jackson and Godwin can both run routes that are west-coast crossing routs that are difficult to defend. Koetter’s offense is flooding too many receivers downfield so Evans and Brate can get open and JW throws to the Windows.

    Change it up, use Godwin and Jackson horizontally in those seams so they can play catch and run. There is enough size to run Evans and Howard vertically and bunch the horizontal west-coast and slants to the sure handed faster quicker guys.

    dirk has to adapt this offense to his players. He doesn’t have Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez kind of players.