Play-Action Struggled

July 20th, 2018

Riddle solved.

The Bucs offense last year was pretty good. Except in the red zone and, of course, at scoring points.

The Bucs moved the ball last year, finished No. 9 in the NFL in total yards and only one team that finished ahead of them (Chargers) didn’t make the playoffs.

However, when the Bucs tried play-action passes, well, that didn’t work out so well. Bryan Knowles of decided to chart each and every play-action pass in the NFL last year and the Bucs success with it ranked No. 13.

Per Knowles, the Bucs used a play-action pass 21 percent of the time, which ranked No. 22 overall in the NFL.

Why was play-action just ok and why did the Bucs not use it that often? To Joe, it was simple. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter usually called for everyone’s favorite strong rodent to be in the backfield for a play-action play. Defenses were not fooled or baited and adjusted accordingly.

31 Responses to “Play-Action Struggled”

  1. ChanEpic Says:

    @Joe(s) – Yeah teams need to respect the run game for PA to work well. Everyone knew what plays were being called before the Bucs called them. This team was just too predictable. I also think they should consider forgoing PA plays in favor of playing an up tempo 4 minute drill brand(inclusive of some PA), more often because that WAS pretty successful when it was run.

  2. DB55 Says:

    If I were Licht I’d be looking for a power back and a RT but wtfdik

  3. Jeffbuc Says:

    @chan epic. I’m with you we need to run more hurry up. Especially in the beginning of the game when we come out flat. I have always said that we should do that to get dirk and Jameis into a rhythm. I don’t know if slow starts are jameis or koetter thing. But I remember in college watching FSU games it seemed like Florida state would always come out flat. And be down big in the first half. Then jameis would bring the team roaring back in the second half in a hurry up offense. So it might be him. So just run hurry up early wear the defense out. You have the Florida heat as your advantage to get these guys into the best shape in the league. Maybe some more running and gassers every practice would be a good idea. Where they can have the stamina to run hurry up. And the defense will be gassed by the 3rd quarter then you can start running it down there throats and doing play action. Because tired players make the most mistakes. But I’m sure we will have another country club training camp to keep the guys fresh. And look horrible in preseason again and pull the starters. And hear the same line that preseason has nothing to do with regular season. If you look confused and out of sync in a glorified scrimmage. What would was you to believe they will magically be ready to go in week 1. Never understood that either.

  4. BucNole Says:

    Bingo Joe
    Sticking with Martin didnt fool or scare anyone.
    If Koetter pulls another boneheaded move like that he needs to be shown the door.

  5. JameisNOT Says:

    Here is the real reason why the head coach did not call play action: he is very aware of his starting quarterbacks mental capacity. Throwing in play action is one additional step/mental process that the quarterback would have to remember. Here is the real reason why the head coach did not call play action: he is very aware of his starting quarterbacks mental capacity. Throwing in play action is one additional step/mental process that the quarterback would have to remember. JameISNOT does not have the mental horsepower to remember multiple steps in a play. Hell, he can’t teme grabbing the Uber Drivers crotch. You can’t teach a dumb dog new tricks. I speak the truth, I am the truth, and the truth hurts

  6. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Chan and Jeff

    Agree completely about running a hurry up offense to start the game.

    And in fact with all of our targets I wouldn’t mind seeing an N.E. look for long periods of the game…too many guys to cover Brady immediately finds the open man and boom…and the chains just keep moving.

    Again I know this is against my normal desires but I’d rather see more quick hits in our pass game and throw deep just enough to keep the D honest…can’t have a great running game unless you can move the safety out of the box.

    Then we find out if ROJO is for real and if we made enough repairs to our OL.
    Still lots of questions on the right side.

  7. Joe Says:

    Agree completely about running a hurry up offense to start the game.

    Absolutely should! Seems Jameis shines when running a hurry-up offense.

  8. BrianBucs Says:

    Play action doesn’t scare defenses when they are not afraid of your running game or your QB. Or when you are way behind late and your QB is just racking up garbage time yards or playing against loose or prevent defenses.

  9. Joe Says:

    Here is the real reason why the head coach did not call play action: he is very aware of his starting quarterbacks mental capacity.

    Sure! Had absolutely nothing to do with a running back with the worst yards-per-carry average in 83 years. Right.

  10. BrianBucs Says:

    Totally agree that Winston looks best in the hurry up offense as it gets the ball out of his hands quicker and cuts down on his mistakes, turnovers and bonehead plays

  11. Owlykat Says:

    I agree fully with Jeffbuc. I believe also that the biggest problem scoring in the redzone is because Jameis is poor in the redzone. However, thank goodness, Fitz has no problem scoring in the redzone. The answer is simple when Jameis comes back if he is still striking out in the redzone just bring in Fitz every time Jameis gets down in the redzone. Problem easily solved. If Koetter had figured that out last year we would have won a lot more games! I think the play action problem will be solved this year because we should have a good running game alternating Rojo and Barber and using Vea as the fullback when in short yardage situations (like the Bears used to do with the Fridge, and Vea was a running back in high school). We also could bring in Whitehead as a change of pace back too.

  12. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Once ROJO takes it to the house a few times, it will really open up play action passing for us. Jameis had the benefit of a great running back at FSU, and that made him all the more dangerous.
    I also love the idea of putting Vita Vea in on short yardage situations.

  13. Lord Cornelius Says:


  14. OneBucPerson Says:

    Well duh, we either had an awful run game or were in positions where we had to pass in most games.

  15. ChanEpic Says:

    @St. Pete – imagine the howling from people if we ran a dink and dunk with D-Jax, O.J., Goodwin and Evans(who has been woeful with YAC recently), and Humphries out there. BUT THAT WOULD BE THE RIGHT THING TO DO. Hurry up, intermediate routes, with some PA long-balls thrown in when the D’s tongues are out and they are drained. That’s a winning brand for THIS team with this QB, who has yet to master the deep ball in the NFL. Oh to be so lucky to have this prayer answered.

  16. SchwiftyBuc Says:

    having the 13th overall rating for playaction is actually pretty good when you consider how abysmal the running game was outside of maybe 3-4 games.

  17. Pickgrin Says:

    As bad as our running game was most of last year – I’m surprised the Bucs rated as high as 22nd in play action attempts.

    If the OLine is “fixed” – this offense should be much more balanced in 2018.

    If Rojo breaks some long runs early in the season – play action will work just fine this year.

  18. Bucsfanman Says:

    Yep, and instead of adjusting to our inability to run, such as quick slants, drag routes, and screens, we continued to try the same failed plays. How many times have we heard the mantra of “utilizing the pass as your run-game”? “Dink and dunk” works when you can’t run the football.
    No not Koetter! Lets drop back 7 steps with a porous offensive line and hurl the ball downfield 30 yards. Heaven forbid we throw short to a wide open DJax!
    We can blame it on Martin if we want the easy route. The point is that the play-caller did not adjust. Sometimes you have to use the pass to set up the run. You can’t fool a defense when almost EVERY 1st down play is a run up the middle! Just saying!

  19. ndog Says:

    Like I have said a thousand when talking about Jameis. If LB’s don’t respect the running game it makes the windows tighter and usually results in more interceptions or sacks, both in which we had plenty of. It sure is nice when people validate what I say and make people like JameisNOT look foolish.

  20. 813bucboi Says:

    so dirk used the wrong personnel….what else is new…..dirk still hasn’t figured out what his players strengths are… sad…..

    this team still doesn’t have an identity?….who are the bucs?…..a run heavy team with stout defense?….a finesse team that loves to pass and play bend don’t break defense?…..a team with a balanced attack and solid defense?…..a mentally weak team that folds at the first sight of adversity?…..a team that makes excuses?…..

    what is our identity right now at this very moment?……


  21. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Agree about fan reaction. LOL And up till this year I would have been with them.

    But I’ve surrendered to the dark side….defense wins championships.

    With all the targets and quick hits it takes the ball out of Fameis hands more quickly so he doesn’t fumble or get tackled for losses or force a ball to a covered receiver. Somebody WILL be open if Koetter has an adequate offensive game plan.

    The other upside to this for me is if you hit DJAX quickly he can still take it to the house…does it hurt if it’s YAC or a 50 yards through the air…six points and a QUICK score is six points and a quick score.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    @St. Pete – Well said, as per usual with you.

    @813 – that question is THE question. Who are the Bucs? What are they about? The lack of identity all goes back to what we discussed as the biggest issue of last season. NO LEADERSHIP on this team. No leadership = No Identity = No winning schedule.

  23. ChanEpic Says:

    @St. Pete – well said as per usual from you.

    @813 – That question is THE question and it all leads back to our on-going lamentations from last season. This team lacks real leadership and no leadership = No Identity = Losing records. Proof is in the pudding.

  24. Season Is Over Says:

    This offense will fail if it does not get another quality veteran RB on this team before season start.

  25. 813bucboi Says:

    no leadership = No Identity = Losing records. Proof is in the pudding.


    chan, I agree….

    so let me ask you?… players create the identity of the team….or does the HC create that identity?…..imo, its the HC….

    the HC sets the tone and the leaders(players) of the team carry them out….if no tone is set by the HC then players just go thru the motions….fingers start getting pointed, excuses start being made and before you know it, we’re talking about the draft before Halloween…..

    what your take?


  26. BucEmUp Says:

    Had Barber gotten 22 carries a game they would have respected the play action..

    defense still would have given the game away though

  27. D1 Says:


    If you’re looking at changing the offensive scheme to a “dink and dunk” , lol
    killing me with dink and dunk, then you’re looking for a new coach and QB .
    Winston is not who should have been picked , nor DK.

    But here you are blaming the HC for basically being to stupid to understand your analysis and/or too stubborn to change. Yet your own expert analysis fails to fix the problem specifically but hopes that massive changes will simply fix it by default. Like taking a shot at fixing your auto’ s ac by buying another car.

  28. AmericasEnabler Says:

    No Koetter didn’t faking call it. Play action got them back into the game against Buffalo after numbnuts stopped calling zero sets in the opposition 50 BUT funny story just for this game. The result? Jameis went off. Did dipsheeeet call play action in the redzone after that game the rest of the season?…. NOPE.

  29. jay adams Says:

    The poor Red Zone performance is just 1 of many reasons that America’s QB was not even ranked at in the top 100 players.

    Less than 50% completion ratio in the Red Zone and it seems like it’s an issue of hesitation, of poor decision-making. Now that is odd considering we have 2-3 targets 6’5″ or more.

  30. Trench War Says:

    richie incognito?

  31. Bucsfanman Says:

    D1- I’m not sure why you feel the need to analyze opinion. My point is simply that if you aren’t moving the ball, you need to change what you’re doing. Not change the QB, not change the coach, but change the PLAY.
    I never proclaim to be an “expert” D1. Just giving my opinion. You can disagree if you want, but don’t act like you know anything either! You’re on JBF, so clearly you have the same football knowledge as anyone here.