Play-Action, Please

January 6th, 2021

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich.

For a long stretch of the season, it really gnawed at Bucs fans why the Bucs didn’t run more play-action passes.

Tom Brady’s history suggested he was very good at those plays. And the few times he had them to execute earlier this season, he was damn effective.

(This led to Joe’s favorite quote of the season. When Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was asked, with Brady so damn good at play-action, why he doesn’t call for more play-action plays, Leftwich responded, “I don’t know to be honest with you.”)

Perhaps it is the lack of play-action passes that has Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic suspicious of the Bucs offense. In his ranking of the 14 playoff-team offense, Kapadia has the Bucs at No. 6.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
They are a high-variance offense. When it looks good, Tampa seems unstoppable. When it looks bad, it seems like a ticking time bomb. But the truth is the Buccaneers had many more good stretches than bad stretches. … The numbers suggest that Brady could benefit from more play-action. He ranked just 26th in play-action frequency (17.9 percent), but only Rodgers was better (EPA per play) on play-action throws. As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Mike Evans will be healthy enough to play in the wild-card round.

This is borderline irresponsible. If Brady is that good at play-action, why is he among the bottom-feeders in the NFL calling them? This makes no sense to Joe.

In the recent three-game explosion of Bucs offense, one thing you will notice is that Brady has used play-action on first downs more.

Coincidence? Joe’s not a big believer in coincidences.

18 Responses to “Play-Action, Please”

  1. Cannon Says:

    Keep attacking.

  2. sincethebeginning Says:

    Joe, you are absolutely right. And might I request a few more slants every now and then?

  3. chris L Says:

    joe – it is wednesday…why hasnt shaq been activated from the covid-19 reserve list. am i missing something here? kind of scared

  4. m0j0 Says:

    Pass when it looks like you’re going to run and run when they think you’re going to pass… 🙂

  5. Lunchbox Says:

    Also, something I’ve wanted to see more of for years, and have seen some of this year: hurry up offense. Buffalo played it to perfection in the 90’s (Except for those pesky Super Bowls lol)

  6. Mitch Says:

    Chris L – Shaq was back at practice today.

  7. 813bucboi Says:

    not worried one bit….


    GO BUCS!!!!

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    That’s the best analysis of our offense I’ve read yet … “They are a high-variance offense. When it looks good, Tampa seems unstoppable. When it looks bad, it seems like a ticking time bomb.”

    As of late, our offense leans towards ‘unstoppable’. Right before the ‘Full Play-By-Play’ breakdown, Pro-Football-Reference always lists what each team did with each drive (nice recap).

    In the first 4 games of this 2nd half of the season (1 win, 3 losses), Bucs had 45 drives, which ended in 11 TDs, 7 FGs, 13 Punts, 8 Turnovers & 6 Other (end-of-half, etc). Our opponents had 46 drives, which ended in 14 TDs, 6 FGs, 14 Punts, 6 Turnovers & 6 Other. So we put up points on 40% of our drives, but allowed our opponents to score on 43% of theirs. Turnover Differential of MINUS 2 (8 giveaways vs 6 takeaways) appears to be a major factor.

    In these last 4 games, all wins of course, Bucs have had 44 drives, which ended in 19 TDs, 6 FGs, 11 Punts, 1 Turnover & 7 Other (end-of-half, etc). Our opponents had 40 drives, which ended in 8 TDs, 4 FGs, 16 Punts, 5 Turnovers & 7 Other. So we put up points on 57% of our drives, but allowed our opponents to score on only 30% of theirs. Turnover Differential of PLUS 4 (1 giveaway vs 5 takeaways) appears to be a key factor.

    Bucs can apparently hang with anyone when we don’t beat yourself. Hmmm, I wonder if that’s something Tom Brady learned in his 20 years of all winning seasons with the Patriots.

  9. Cobraboy Says:

    Defense Rules Says:

    Bucs can apparently hang with anyone when we don’t beat yourself. Hmmm, I wonder if that’s something Tom Brady learned in his 20 years of all winning seasons with the Patriots.

    Don’t beat yourself. Where have we heard that?

    I don’t have to “check yo sheets” to figure out how to win in the NFL.

    “The Brady Effect.” When he throws the ball out of bounds, I think “great job!”

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    If you will recall…I’ve been calling for play action on 1st downs for months…..defenses expect us to run because we usually always do…

    Another thing we need to stop (perhaps for the exception of 3rd & long) stop empty backfields….why….because you can’t play action with an empty backfield.

  11. geno711 Says:

    I thought I saw a comment from Brady… I am not sure that he meant it totally… But I found it very instructive to how he does not want to beat himself…

    The quote was something like, Any drive that ends with our offense kicking the ball is a good drive.

    Again, I am sure he is not really satisfied with that…. But I go back to the Green Bay game. I was watching with two guys from Green Bay and another Buc Fan.

    The Bucs were down 10 – 0 and I think it was our 3rd drive of the game. Brady had a third and short and to me looked to have a possible but a little risky throw to Godwin to get the 1st down in the flat. Brady clearly just threw it away and we were punting again.

    I remember turning to the Buc fan and saying that I feel like there was a 50 percent chance being down 10 to nothing that Winston would have thrown the ball and we might have had a pick or even a pick six.

    Brady threw it away, we punted and then on the next defensive series someone for us had the interception and the game changed.

    Brady seems to understand, better than all of us fans. You are playing to win the game in the end. It does not matter as much on the individual drives. You just cannot beat yourself…. It gives you the best chance to win….

  12. SOEbuc Says:

    Better use RoJo if they wanna get to the Super Bowl. Bucs are 4-1 with him getting at least 17 carries. Four 100+ yards in those games. He got his 1,000+ yard season ripped away in the regular season and end of week 17.

  13. BucEmUp Says:

    Yup…more playaction and more short game passes. Early season up the middle first down, long bomb second down and 3rd and long . I hope the predictability stays away and the defense plays aggressive

  14. TomBrady_converted bucs fan Says:


    I have been saying this all season. The bucs offense was so frigging predictable.. run on first down almost every time. I have watched every single game of brady’s career and he is incredible at play action, short ins and outs and anything around timing soft spots in a zone to a receiver he trusts.

    The run run throw deep earlier in the season drove me nuts. just get first downs and keep the defense guessing on their toes. As someone else said disguise your plays, run when they expect pass and pass when expect run. Call more motions presnap and let brady do what he does best by reading the defense and audibling into the right play

  15. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Nonsensical response from Leftwich. He knows exactly why he doesn’t call more play action. He’s a hard head, just like Arians. The more you call for it, the less likely it is to happen.

  16. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Yep. It’s always good to change what works just when it starts paying off.

  17. All lives matter Says:

    so glad they listened to me

  18. FormerQB!=OffensiveCoordinator Says:

    Good offensive coordinator is one of the remaining missing pieces.