The Pros And Cons Of Scrambling

April 9th, 2021

No Lamar Jackson.

Leave it to the crowd at Football Outsiders to dig up really cool data on the Bucs, both on offense and defense.

Now we all know old man park-violating, home-invading, NFLPA-ignoring, down-forgetting, handshake-stiffing, jet-ski-losing, biscuit-baking, tequila-shooting, smartphone-phobic, waffle-grilling, trophy-throwing, roller-coaster-scared, Bucs-Super-Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady is immobile. He is nimble, even at 43. But he sure isn’t mobile.

So obviously, a guy who isn’t mobile would be a sitting duck for pass rushers, no? Well, with the Bucs offensive line? No.

How good was the Bucs’ offensive line last year?

Per Aaron Schatz, the founder of Football Outsiders, the Bucs’ offensive line was excellent at pass blocking. Again, per Schatz, Brady scrambled three times during the regular season. Only one other team had single-digit scrambles from its quarterback and this guy, too, was as mobile as a water fountain. That would be Philip Rivers and the Colts.

The story Joe linked to is about how scrambling does or does not change an offense or a defense. As good as the Bucs run defense was last year, its Achilles heel was a mobile quarterback.

On the other side of the ball, Tampa Bay is once again on the extreme. Just like the Buccaneers weren’t good on scrambles, they also weren’t good against scrambles, allowing 8.6 yards per carry on these plays. Because their defense was so stellar against the run otherwise, the Bucs see the biggest difference between … scrambles as runs and … scrambles as passes.

Joe thinks this intel is pretty cool. It demonstrates just how strong the Bucs are at pass blocking, and how dangerous scrambling quarterbacks can be on the ground against the Bucs defense.

35 Responses to “The Pros And Cons Of Scrambling”

  1. geno711 Says:

    The good thing for the Buc’s and those scrambling quarterbacks is that eventually they get hit by those Buc defenders.

    I continue to think that quarterbacks become less effective in games when they get hit. So let them scramble to make plays in the 1st half. It will come back to haunt them at the end of games.

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    Very interesting observations by Football Outsiders Joe. Our OLine was superb last year IMO in both pass blocking AND run blocking (when we really needed it). Personally think that the addition of Wirfs made all the difference. Well, plus the ’emergence’ of Donovan Smith and Alex Cappa (and of course his injury replacement Stinnie).

    I’m surprised by the 8.6 yards per carry allowed by our defense on QB scrambles, but I probably shouldn’t be. We faced a lot of scrambling QBs (today’s flavor du jour in the NFL it seems) and they’re gonna break free periodically. Quality scrambling QBs obviously add another dimension to any offense, and I’m sure that it’s a balancing act with defenses in terms of pass rush versus QB containment. Overall we must’ve done an acceptable job; we faced 4 pretty mobile QBs in the playoffs and rumor has won the Super Bowl in the process.


    I would think it is because the safeties and corners always played back in soft zone.

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    One stat that’s overlooked is fumbles….in 2019 Jameis fumbled 12 times losing 5… 2020 Brady fumbled 4 times losing 1 and that was on a handoff to Rojo.

  5. Youngbucs Says:

    Instead of running around and doing a 360 Brady is elite in the pocket!!!! It’s a thing of beauty. Seriously who in the nfl right now has better pocket awareness????

  6. Chris Thomas from Heaven Says:

    Brady is our 1st Franchise QB in 45 years. Mind boggling

  7. bojim Says:

    I was afraid that Mahomes would run us ragged in the SB.

  8. Doctor Stroud Says:

    Who needs to scramble? It’s amazing to finally have a QB who can throw a slant pass.

  9. Doctor Stroud Says:

    And more importantly, gets rid of the dang ball (to quote Colt McCoy)!

  10. SB~LV Says:

    Jameis scrambled 3 times in one series
    That said… the future NFL QB is one that can do it all!
    With the wussified NFL protect the QB at all costs a scrambling QB is a huge advantage

  11. gp Says:

    bojim Says:
    April 9th, 2021 at 10:54 am

    I was afraid that Mahomes would run us ragged in the SB.

    He did!
    500 yards worth
    I’m sure Shaq and friends were getting tired of chasing him!

  12. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    Sleep Well Bredren

  13. SOEbuc Says:

    Scramble? Bucs oline was fourth in least sacks allowed. Doesn’t look like a broken old hockey game where the player just keeps spinning in a circle.

  14. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    Sleep Well Bredren!!

  15. LUVMYBUCS Says:


  16. SOEbuc Says:

    *like Jamies.

  17. Natural Selection Says:

    I don’t think we got a lot better at pass blocking as a unit. We upgraded significantly at RT and closed up a gaping weak spot for sure. Our QB makes our oline look better now by getting the ball out quickly. PFF had a great graph charting time to pass with average depth of target. Brady was 3rd quickest time to pass and deepest average depth of target in NFL. So he’s pushing the ball downfield more than any other QB but getting it out 3rd fastest. We have the GOAT playing QB, not a top flight pass blocking line, imo.

  18. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    DMX – Let Me Fly

  19. Chris Thomas from Heaven Says:

    Bucs caller to NFL Radio wanted us to trade our 1st rd pick for QB Darnold. This is why we can’t have nice things Tampa. Bucs callers need to stay off National Radio

  20. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    DMX – Who We Be

  21. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Quick, name me one scrambling QB that has had a long career in the NFL ?
    When you read defenses as fast as Brady, there is little need to scramble.

  22. Bucthis Says:

    Brady, Brees, Rivers, both Manning’s, Rogers…all had long successful careers. Name 5 scrambling QBs in the last 15 years that have had long successful careers. Most are broken after 5 years.

  23. Bird Says:



  24. Bird Says:

    NDog scrammbles yardage for eggplant is 2 miles

  25. bucsfan951 Says:


    does steve young and randall cunningham count?

    sorry, those are the first 2 that came to mind quick.

  26. LongSeason Says:

    @Chris & @bucsfan951
    Fran Tarkenton was a scrambler. He was not a QB who ran to gain rush yards. He ran receivers open with his scrambling ability. He had an 18-year career.
    I think our defense was too hyped to get gassed. Mahomes was trying to run receivers open. Reminded me a lot of Tarkenton, that kid.
    @Natural Selection
    Maybe our Oline wasn’t as bad as we thought in the Jameis era. Maybe he just held the ball too damn long.
    I will admit that Brady’s quick-release helped a lot.
    A lot of great thoughts here.

  27. Jason Says:

    So is it crazy to grab the fastest scrambling qb we can find for the practice squad?

  28. K2 Says:

    Agree, it is a good thing that Mahomes is a pocket passer who can’t scramble. Who does this source have winning the Super Bowl? Sounds like the Bucs don’t have a chance. Guess I need to sell my fakeBucs Super Bowl gear.

  29. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Get ready fellas. Brady is gonna have a full offseason with these guys and this offensive line, which is far from offensive. I really can’t fathom the Bucs averaging less than 35 a game this year. Who is gonna stop em? Sign AB!

  30. buxszntkt Says:

    “…as mobile as a water fountain ” , WTF Joe ?

  31. Cobraboy Says:

    Actually, Lamar Jackson is no Tom Brady.

  32. D1 Says:


    You didn’t Brady in your comments, is that intentional?

  33. 2021 Year of the GOAT Says:

    Just win Baby

  34. D1 Says:


  35. Brandon Says:

    April 9th, 2021 at 10:21 am
    I would think it is because the safeties and corners always played back in soft zone


    Then you would be thinking wrong. It is much harder to scramble against a team in zone with 14-16 eyes staring at you than against man to man where the players often are running down the field with their backs to you.