The Answer Lies In The Numbers

October 9th, 2018

Breaking down playcalling.

The Bucs — to the glee of some — are not running the ball as much as in the past on first down.

And while it may be a trend across the league to pass first, Dirk Koetter isn’t ready to give the Bucs a label as a pass-first team. Perhaps he should?

The Bucs lead the NFL in passing yards, 363.2 per game. Just typing that last sentence was jarring for Joe. Until this season, that was simply unthinkable for a Bucs team.

But here comes the flip side. The Bucs are one of the worst teams running on first downs. Per NFL Films’ BSPN NFL Matchup, the Bucs are the fifth-worst rushing on first down averaging 3.3 yards a carry, tied with the Texans. Of course, Houston’s best running option is DeShaun Watson scrambling.

“There’s a point of banging your head against the wall too, right?” Koetter said of playcalling. “There’s a point of sometimes you’ve just got to go with what works and not worry about it.”

The Bucs offense really could be that simple. The team is racking up passing yards like a pinball machine score and ground yards are hard to come by.

Koetter is displaying football common sense if you ask Joe.

24 Responses to “The Answer Lies In The Numbers”

  1. AndyInLa Says:

    Thanks. You caught that before Joe. –Joe

  2. Tampaspicer Says:

    Don’t know what to think about the top 10 teams on 1st down rushing average on 1st down. Of the 10 teams only 3 have winning records. Is there a breakdown on 1st down rushing average by quarter? If I took a guess my guess would be the teams with winning records run a lot more late in the game.

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    Tampaspicer … I agree with you. Being able to control the clock late in the game by largely running the ball (once your opponent’s defense is tired particularly) is critical IMO. It wears their defense out even more & keeps your defense rested in the 4th qtr. Bucs simply don’t do that well, and haven’t for quite some time.

    I personally love smash-mouth football, largely because it’s the simplest strategy that there is. “See your man, whoop your man” … duh. Unfortunately our Bucs are largely structured to play finesse football rather than smash-mouth football IMO (more-so on defense than on offense). And when we play certain ‘beast’ teams (like Chicago or Pittsburgh or Carolina) we seem to struggle. And that seems to show up especially late in the games if our defense has taken a lickin’ & is down players. Thank heaven we’ve got Scapegoat Smitty and his Band of Renown to blame it on.

  4. Tampaspicer Says:

    DR my favorite type of football as well. Bust the man’s mouth that’s in front of you regardless of your position. I hate how many stunts the Bucs run. They take longer to develop and with todays NFL offenses getting rid of the ball quickly they just aren’t as effective.

  5. Conte Piscatelli Says:

    Just so we are clear, David Johnson, Dalvin Cook, Leshawn McCoy, and Saquon Barkley are all worse than Peyton Barber according to this stat. Hmm

  6. J Says:

    Tua 2020

  7. BucEmUp Says:

    Other teams scoring at will kill the running game

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    It seems to me that our problems in the red zone are exacerbated by our awful run game….
    We practically always run on 1st down once we get in the red zone and it is rarely effective.

    Defense here is a stat challenge for you…..our run average in the red zone….let’s say 2017-18.

    Last year our longest TD run was 2 yards… that is eye-opening!!!

  9. Defense Rules Says:

    @TBBF … “Defense here is a stat challenge for you…..our run average in the red zone….let’s say 2017-18.”

    You’re right TBBF, a 2-yard TD is hardly something to brag about when it’s your LONGEST rushing TD. But that only tells a small part of how bad our rushing game REALLY is. Historically, we REALLY suck. Look at the comparison over the past years of the TDs we make rushing versus those we give up:

    2017: Bucs – 8 rush TD … Opponents – 17
    2016: Bucs – 8 rush TD … Opponents – 15
    2015: Bucs – 12 rush TD … Opponents – 12
    2014: Bucs – 7 rush TD … Opponents – 15
    2013: Bucs – 6 rush TD … Opponents – 10
    2012: Bucs – 13 rush TD … Opponents – 13
    2011: Bucs – 9 rush TD … Opponents – 26
    2010: Bucs – 9 rush TD … Opponents – 12

    So over the past 8 year span, Bucs offense has scored 72 TDs rushing (9 TDs average per year). Bucs defense has allowed 120 TDs rushing (15 TDs average per year) over that same 8-year span. And the irony is that the Bucs normally have one of the better run defenses. Kinda tells ya TBBF how BAD our rushing really is down near the end zone (oh ya, and elsewhere too).

  10. Walter Seidel Says:

    Hey Dirk……..catch any fish Sunday?

  11. Big Stinky Says:

    Running the ball on first down is overrated IMO. You can gain 5 or 6 yards on 1st down with a screen pass or a quick slant which is just as good as (or better than) a run. Our OL cannot block very well on running plays, especially on 1st down and that puts us at 2nd and 10. Then the defense knows you are going to pass on 2nd and probably 3rd down. Draw plays rarely work on 2nd down unless you are already good at running the ball. You should only run occasionally on 1st down just to keep the defense honest and only when there aren’t 8 in the box. There is no way you need to run the ball consistently on 1st down just to stay balanced. You will have plenty of opportunities to run the ball on 2nd and 1 AND 3rd and 1 to stay balanced. Our WR’s and TE’s are so good we need to take advantage when we can. You don’t need to run the ball on 1st down to be successful in the NFL, it’s not rocket science.

  12. 813bucboi Says:

    its pretty simple…when you have finesse coaches who love to “air it out” the run game will suffer…..

    ATL had the same problem under dirk and smitty….when they went up against smash mouth teams, they got exposed…..Arthur blank tried to warn the glazer boys…..the last time we had a good ground game was in 2015….when lovie was holding dirks hand and had a say so in the game planning…..the ground game has been a non factor ever since…..


  13. BringBucsBack Says:

    Screw the run! Stick with the pass-heavy attack; at least early. We are built for it on offense and the league rules favor throwing the ball. Also, our o-line are poor run-blockers. As noted above it’s more important to run late in the game. CLEVERLY designed run plays around the goal line would be sweet also! At this point the worst part of throwing so much (if the QB can reduce his turnover rate) is that it can make for short drives and puts our high school defense on the field sooner. No es bueno!

    Please, show us an effective wide pitch, shuttle pass or a delayed draw to a player with speed!

  14. Big Stinky Says:

    We need a GM that will draft more OL and DL in early rounds so we get better players overall. Drafting kickers, CB’s, and skill positions in the 1st and 2nd round does you no good when you are bad in the trenches. Licht has missed on DE’s and CB’s anyway which means we still need those positions in future drafts. Everyone is giving him credit for building this offense but the OL is still bad which makes all the difference. We need a GM that can evaluate talent better so we aren’t missing on so many early draft picks. Good teams build through the draft and we are NOT a good team because of missing so often. It does you NO good to draft a TE in the 1st round when you cannot give the QB time to get him the ball in the first place. Licht should get more of the blame for how bad this TEAM really is, it’s NOT all on coaching. We need more talent in the trenches, simple as that. Hell, we still don’t know if the QB he drafted with the 1st overall pick is worth where he was drafted. If the team finishes under .500 again this year Licht should walk the plank, he’s to blame.

  15. Big Stinky Says:

    Dirk should NOT lose his job this year no matter what happens. The DC and GM are the ones that should shoulder the blame if we finish under .500 this year. We need to give DK a shot with more talent and a better defense before we make a rash decision on his future. I am sick of getting rid of coaches EVERY 2 or 3 years. How are we supposed to get any better when we are constantly starting over with a new HC? Dirk has proved he belongs here with how well the offense moves the ball. It’s not his fault that Jameis has a hard time scoring inside the 10 yard line. He deserves better quarterback play and that’s the bottom line. Go BUCS!

  16. joestang Says:

    you need a running back to have a running game. Barber is adequate but thats it. Jones is a big bust, he will contribute nothing. Another fine wasted draft pick by Licht.

  17. Big Stinky Says:

    @ joestang

    Leveon Bell would look like an average RB on this team, simple as that!!!

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    @Big Stinky … “He (Dirk) deserves better quarterback play and that’s the bottom line.” You mean like a QB who threw for over 400 yds in his first 3 games this season? How much better than that does a HC need? Agree with ya about Leveon Bell BTW … any RB would look average running behind this OLine. Except Doug Martin of course.

  19. Big Stinky Says:

    @ Defense Rules

    That was just a jab at JW. Fitz put up great numbers the first 3 games but we knew Dirk would pull him at the first sign of him struggling. I do hope that Jameis finally shows that he was worthy of the first pick in the draft. In my eyes we should have traded that pick and got an extra first round pick while we had a chance to. Just another bad move on Licht but I think Lovie had a lot to do with it.

  20. Dapostman Says:

    All the bottom teams in YPC on first down have weak offensive lines. If you want to run on first down you either need to block better or get different blockers who can block better.

  21. Gambelero Says:

    With our defense, we can’t give away possessions going run, run for less than 3 yards then praying for Jameis to save us on third and long.

  22. 813bucboi Says:


    you blaming lovie for drafting Winston……..didn’t hear you saying that when Winston went 9-7……all we heard was how well dirk is doing with developing Winston…..

    fitz had his chance to shine…..he did and then he turned back into fitz…..same thing happened last year when he barely beat MIA & the jets and got blown out vs ATL…..

    he had his chance to prove he can be the guy against a good defense and failed…..dirk had his chance to prove he has what it takes to be a good HC in this league and he failed…..smitty had a chance to prove he’s a good DC and he failed…..

    put the blame on the HC…..he’s the man running the show…..


  23. joestang Says:

    to Big Stinky, You are probably right. I would like to see Leveon Bell run with this line.

  24. Sunday_44 Says:

    So let me get this straight.
    The Giants have Saquon Barkley and still suck in this stat.