Behind The Third Down Numbers

September 20th, 2022

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich.

The numbers are gross. But what made that so?

Last week, Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said he had to do a better job of putting guys in position to make third-down conversions.

The Bucs were 5-of-14 on third downs for a 34 percent average in Week 1. Not good. So what did Leftwich’s attention to detail produce in Week 3 at New Orleans? How about an even worse third-down percentage.

Time to get to the lab. Aaron Rodgers isn’t Cooper Rush.

However, further study suggests Leftwich was indeed putting guys in position to make plays.

Brian Baldinger of NFL Network did a third-down breakdown of Sunday’s offense. The Bucs were 5-of-17 on third down for a miserable 27 percent conversion rate. Ugly stuff. But Baldinger broke down some third-down success (including a drop by Breshad Perriman) and the plays seemed well-crafted and guys were in position to make plays.

See them in detail in Baldinger’s video below.

Joe wishes Baldinger would have dissected more third-down plays that didn’t work to see why they were unsuccessful. Still, this is great insight.

24 Responses to “Behind The Third Down Numbers”

  1. TombsEN Says:

    I think at this point BL is working with what he has and the fact is that the interior of the line is new and at the start of the game the Bucs were starting the 2nd string LT. I think the play calling is being designed as to help the young guys up front, TB’s receivers aren’t really quick twitch guys, they kind of stride hence why they signed Beasley, he’s someone who can get open quick and I think as the season goes on Gage will also be that guy and the cherry on top will be when CG comes back healthy.

  2. Goatfarmer Says:

    The failed 4th and 1 on the Saints 8 was clearly the O-line not all being on the same page. Rather than pulling guys – it’s 4th and 1. Just ram them straight ahead and have Tom sneak it.

  3. Goatfarmer Says:

    Also in 2020 the Bucs were 1-1 at this point and Tom hadn’t cracked 300 yards yet. 3rd string LT, 2nd string center, rookie LG and brand new RG. The OL continuity rock is fractured and Tom doesn’t trust their pass blocking yet. He’s getting rid of it quick except for the TD to Perriman. Maybe that play can spark some confidence and more success.

    Activate Sneak. Need some fresh healthy burst.

  4. A Bucs Fan Says:

    @Goatfarmer – I agree with you but I don’t think we’ll see Tom sneaking the football much this year for two reasons: One is there is no Marpet? Jensen. Two: He hurt his throwing shoulder against the Bills sneaking it last year.

  5. ViSyl Says:

    BL has to make some improvements for himself, but there were several ugly drops from receivers and misplays.

  6. Bucsfan13 Says:

    Brady was much better than his boxscore would indicate. It’s really starting to piss me off with these talking heads, especially the ones at BSPN, dismissing Brady as washed now. These people have been praying for his demise for like eight years. He’s the most scrutinized QB in the league. Every single errant pass means he’s washed. You have arm chair psychologists examining his body language every second.

    Sunday, the Bucs had like by my count six drops, and i’m being generous. Some say it was eight. If you look at the box score it says Brrady was 18-34. That number is deceptive. The is where PFF is actually useful. They take into account drops when grading QBS.

    People who were expecting this offense at his current state to put up fantasy football numbers are crazy. We have a patchwork OL, new faces, injuries at receivers. We have absolutely no continuity on offense. When you look at the defense, they’ve been healthy and have more continuity at key positions.

    Let’s examine his first two games: He’s played two very good defenses so far. People have dismissed the Cowboys defense, but they are very good. Here’s what they did against two pretty two good QBs the season:

    Brady: 18-27, 212 YDS 1 TD 1 INT
    Burrow: 24-36 , 199 YDS, 1 TD

    The high-powered Bengals offense only managed a meager 17 points! Parsons wrecked havoc that game like he did against us. Brady was labeled washed after that game even though he and Burrow had played similarly. Maybe let’s not dismiss Brady and give Dallas D some credit .

    Then you have the dreaded Saints. Brady actually played a very good game against them in comparison to other games. He was smart and avoided mistakes, except for the fumble, but he didn’t throw any picks like he has in other games. If a receiver wasn’t open, he didn’t force anything. He played most of the game with Scotty Miller as his WR1. When we needed a big play, he delivered with a bomb to Perriman. People looked at the box score and just dismissed him as washed.

  7. Redeemer Says:

    The play designs are not the problem on third down. This is where the loss of Gronk, AB, and Godwin is felt most. Last year Brady had an embarrassment of riches at his disposal. Brady isn’t that guy anymore who can make things happen with anyone.

  8. Bucsfan13 Says:

    Gage was wide open on that TD to Perriman. He was waving his hands widely. Brady instead went for the home run. He understood the moment. Perriman had a step, and Brady trusted him in the big moment. That’s where trust plays a big part in the game. I would like to see the ALL 22 activity of Gage and see how he’s been playing. I know on one play the broadcast showed that Brady had time, but no one is open. The All 22 gives you a better look at the game than the broadcast.

  9. Bucme?...Bucyou!!! Says:

    TE usage and success is needed. GRONK!

  10. Darkwing Buc Says:

    Anyone else notice we’re rebooting through our championship run? First the Saints, then packers and then chiefs.

  11. Bucsfan13 Says:

    @Redeemer. I disagree. There are some play designs on third in the first game that have been pretty bad. Also, the biggest issue is that we are constantly behind the chains on third downs because of the predictable of the first and second down play calls. Asking your QB to bail you out on third and long situations is not efficient. If you think Brady is the main problem with this offense, you’re mistaken. I would not say he needs an all star weapon of receivers. He needs good OL play and some reliable guys. That’s why we signed Cole Beasley. he’s not exactly an all star.

    People look too much at the results of failed plays on really hard down and distances to convert, instead of the failures that led to those spots in the first place.

  12. Maniac Buc Says:

    We played two of the best defenses in football. If anything, I’m more confident in our team after the first two weeks. We showed we can win ugly games.

  13. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    There were some drops……14 & 17 3rd downs seems like a lot……we need to do a better job on 1st downs….short passes….use the backs & TEs more….
    Our running plays got stuffed.

    The best way to succeed on 3rd downs is not to have any.

  14. Redeemer Says:

    Bucsfan13, Brady is not the problem. I didn’t mean to insinuate that he is. The problem is the lack of separation. Brady is a human being, contrary to popular belief. I’ve watched the all 22 for both games, and nobody is open on third down. Third and long is a problem for any QB, Brady included, especially against good a secondary. Add on the fact that they couldn’t run, and it’s a perfect storm for failure on third down. I suppose play calling is something to dig into, but it’s way down on the list for me. By the way, I enjoy your insite and analysis.

  15. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Up the gut for 0-2 yards on first down makes every 3rd down a B. Same in the red zone . Giving away a down constantly.

  16. Hodad Says:

    So if the Bucs think TB is not up to anymore QB sneaks, or are afraid he may get injured the answer is simple. Bring in the younger stronger Blaine Gabbert to run it. Do that enough times defenses will be looking for it, then have Gabbert play action off it. Could this solution be any worse than what we’ve witnessed so far? Our problem offensively has been lack of creativity, consummed by predicability.

  17. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Ding ding ding!

    Kentucky Buc gets it.
    1st down is a wasted down up the gut for 1-2 yards.
    THE MASTERMIND needs to get his big head out of his azz and change it up IMMEDIATELY.
    Everyone knows what we’re gonna do on 1st down.
    It’s maddening.

  18. gotbbucs Says:

    We’re also only able to send two or three guys out on routes much of the time because our TE’s and RB’s are staying in to max protect, and when we do send more out on routes Brady is having to do everything he can to manipulate the pocket to get passes off.
    We’re basically forced run a Wing-T offense right now to make sure our QB stays upright.

    Right now our offense looks like what our defense looked like last year. A M.A.S.H. unit that has an extremely limited playbook and has to play nothing but vanilla ball to be functional.

  19. Redeemer Says:

    What gotbbucs said ^

  20. Bucsfan13 Says:

    @Reedmer. Agree with your points. He has reached a stage in his career where he needs some reliable skill players. I’m a Michigan alum and followed his entire career. I held my nose and watched those Patriots’ games lol. I know he’s had better seasons statiscally, but his best season to me was in 2006 where he led a group of rag tag receivers to the AFC Championship game against the high-powered Colts. He had FL great Reche Caldwell as his WR1!! He would’ve made it to the SB if the defense didnt throw the game away. He’s no longer that guy anymore at his advanced age, and honestly i don’t think he has the patience anymore to work with substandard receives. In the same sense, Aaron Rodgers is the same guy.

  21. JimmyJack Says:

    Part of the issue against the Saints was that we were stuck in 3rd and long all day. Lack of running game was a big reason for this but i say it was necessary to stay committed to running into the brick wall.

    We have all seen what happens when you go pass-happy and let the Saints passrushers pin their ears back. It aint pretty.

    My really big issue 2 games in is 3rd&1. We were bad against Dallas and horrible vs the Saints. I could argue 2 missed 3rd&1 took 10 points off the board(one was on 4th&1).

  22. Rod Munch Says:

    Brian Baldinger is a great follow on Twitter, really breaks stuff down – but I agree, I’d love to see him take a look at the stuff that didn’t work. BUT, it’s still interesting seeing the plays that did work, and why. Just needs to learn to hold his camera sideways.

  23. Goatfarmer Says:

    Agreeing with Maniac. I love winning ugly. It means you’re winning. There is no such thing as losing pretty. Ask Lamar Jackson.

  24. orlbucfan Says:

    I’m echoing what a lot of commenters have already said. I hate the constant run-up-the-middle on 1st down. Leftwich has a real fixation there, and it’s stupid! Doesn’t Brady have the power to change it?