Return Of Play-action?

July 17th, 2020

Bucs QB Tom Brady.

Bucs coach Bucco Bruce Arians claims park-violating, home-invading, NFLPA-ignoring Tom Brady will be learning his offense — not the rest of the offense learning what Brady ran with the Belicheats.

Still, one would expect Brady to influence what to run. At least a little, no? Well, jet-flyin’, kiss–stealin‘, data-analyzin’, Bucs-film-studyin’, limousine-ridin’ Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times, typing for Football Outsiders 2020 Almanac, believes the signal of how much influence Brady has will be the number of play-action passes used.

Keep an eye on Tampa Bay’s play-action pass rate. If we see a surge, that will be a tell-tale sign that this is Brady’s offense.

Though the Buccaneers had tremendous success off play-action last season, averaging 10.4 yards per pass, they seldom used it. Their 18.2% rate ranked 30th, which is typical of Arians’ offenses. Going back to his stint as head coach of the Cardinals from 2013 to 2017, Arizona ranked 26th, 27th, 21st, 31st, and 28th (in the number of play-action passes called).

As for Brady, play-action has been one of the staples of his game. Though the Patriots’ frequency (24.5%) slipped last season to league average, they’ve long been among the top 10 in yards per play. As recently as 2018, they ranked fourth in play-action rate (30.7%) and first in yards per play (9.8).

One other notable difference between Tampa Bay and New England: when the Buccaneers used play-action last season, they did so to set up deep passes; Brady attacked at the intermediate level, targeting receivers on in-breaking (crossers and digs) and seam routes.

It is going to be very interesting to see how Brady melds with Arians. One guy is conservative. The other guy is a bomb-throwing anarchist.

Joe wrote about rethinking Ronald Jones and perhaps the Bucs should, too. While Arians has stated RoJo is not a third-down back, he is strong with YAC in the passing game averaging nearly 10 yards after the catch.

Given how RoJo is putting in extra work with Brady, maybe we could see the real RoJo, based on the way Brady uses him in the intermediate game, which is why he was drafted in the second round?

17 Responses to “Return Of Play-action?”

  1. WyldKat Says:

    Is this one of those “if we called it more often, it wouldn’t have worked as well” things?

  2. Rayjay1122 Says:

    Last few years I felt like we throw too many long fly routes along the sideline. I hate those because usually the WR has a defender and the sidelines working against him. It’s value is I guess a sense of security with it being near the sidelines in case of Interceptions but that is planning for failure and not success.

    More slant, seams and post patterns please. Need to master the screen plays also. Hopefully a big year for Bucs RB’s and TE’s

  3. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    With the Pandemic, there will not be much time for players to learn a new system, however with Brady out there during the offseason running his own offense, I would bet that BA is going to let him call most of the plays. Expect the offense to run more like the Patriots offense than last years Buc’s offense. For the most part, this will be Brady’s offense not BA’s.

  4. BigHog Says:

    I’ve seen Mr. 5000 hit plenty of play action passes….but is he better than the GOAT…most would say not but I’m not one of them!!!

  5. gp Says:

    Ima thinking that Brady came here partly because he felt held back by the ‘conservative’ offense in NE. Yes it will look different than last year, how could it not? That doesn’t mean that it’s not Ariens’ offense. it will just be Tom putting *his* twist on it.
    Tom will throw more long balls than he did in NE
    We will also see more of the ‘play action’
    Look to the open man, more often than not, that’s where the ball will go.
    Oh, BTW, this *is* going to open up the run game as well(at least it should)
    The pieces are in place for a very special year if we get a chance to run it.
    High hopes for a bright(immediate) future

  6. gp Says:

    Also, If Tom and ROJO truly get on the same page, we may not *need* a ‘third down’ back.

  7. Sport Says:

    Bighog – don’t be so hung up on the past. Sit back and enjoy watching a true pro lead on the field.

    Unless of course you like 1 step forward and 2 steps back, solely focusing on individual stats and you don’t care about winning football games. Then by all means keep living in your own Janeis 1 of 1 world.

    In BA I Trust!

  8. El Buco Realisto Says:

    Yea BigHog!!!!! Sport is right!!!!!!!! Just sit back and enjoy it!!!!!!! Now that ole stale biscuit has the “right” kind of QB to run his offense!!!!!!!! Just wait and see how the old goat becomes the Head Hancho in Charge!!!!!!!! Wait and see how the roster will “relate” to the old cheating goat!!!!!!!!!! Nkw that Bruce Arrogance has the white errrrrrrrrr, I mean the “right” qb, the sky is the limit according to the sheep!!!!!!!!

    But if it is not!!!!! Then they will be held accountable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    go bucs!!!!!!!!!

  9. HeyItsAdam Says:

    In order for something to “return” it had to have BEEN HERE at one point.

  10. Craig Says:

    The best game plan or play call doesn’t last past the first blitzer or linebacker comes through the line.

    This is the point where our new QB is so much better than the old QB. Brady will make a quick decision and get rid of the ball, hopefully into the hole the blitzer came from, first down.

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    Ah! The perfect troll. Congrats Realist(o)!

  12. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Agree with your observation about utilizing the sidelines a lot and this year but not last I’ll agree with

    “More slant, seams and post patterns please.”

    I never felt like JW understood defenses or read the field very well so I always held my breath whenever JW tossed a slant…perhaps it was the scar of so many pick sixes.

    TB12 sees the field better and has over a decade more experience.

  13. chris L Says:

    maybe we can advocate for masks so we can actually see football. but i guess science is wrong.

  14. Chesapeake Bay Bucco Says:

    Brady will be learning his offense — not the rest of the offense learning what Brady ran….of course!

  15. JimBuc2. Says:

    America’s Groper, Mr Crab legs, Jack “check yo sheet” Wagon was very consistent on the screen pass. He threw the ball where his reciever was at the point of release, instead of leading his target. Ever notice how many times a JW screen was only caught because the reciever had to reach behind himself? TB12 throws his guys open. Ask yourself, did Patriot recievers have to contort themselves on pass plays? Sometimes, perhaps. Mostly they ran the route, made their hands a ‘basket’ and caught the ball in stride. Those are the kind of details that separate champions from chumps. I am so glad that Jack Wagon Jameis was let go. As a long suffering Buc fan I once again have hope for a playoff berth. Go Bucs!

  16. Jeagan1999 Says:

    I love watching a good play action passer. And if you can get those linebackers to bite, even if it’s just for a second, you can work all kinds of magic, especially with the receiving weapons that this team has! I think Gronk, OJ and Brate may be poised for one of the most prolific and productive years a TE Group has EVER seen in an NFL season!

    Could we see 3 TE’s each with over 1,000 yds this year?

  17. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Don’t be so sure. Arians has never ever used his tight ends much, in the past.