Five Things

September 26th, 2022

Tale of two sides of the ball yesterday. One was beautiful. The other was uglier than Carrie.

Ugly Offensive Numbers Not New For Byron Leftwich

Joe hasn’t typed the following for damn near three years, and when Joe did fans went fully mental. But why be angry with the truth?

Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is the only person to ever walk the face of the earth who had two different quarterbacks throw for 5,000 yards in a season. That is a major accomplishment and it made Joe dismiss Leftwich’s ugly history in Arizona. So don’t try to paint Joe as some sort of hater.

Leftwich was the Cardinals’ quarterback coach and after Game 6 in 2018, he took over as offensive coordinator. Unlike here in Tampa this season, Leftwich had a future Hall of Fame receiver for every game, Larry Fitzgerald.

So how did the Cardinals’ offense do that year in third down conversions? They finished in last, ranked No. 32 with a 29.15 percent conversion rate.

The Bucs, through three games this year, are dreadful in converting third downs — 12-of-42 for a 28.57 conversion percentage.

In 2018 in Arizona, Leftwich was not working with Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians, who had retired (the first time) after the 2017 season.

Leftwich now doesn’t have Arians looking over his shoulder (allegedly) as Arians retired (again) in March and got bumped upstairs to the front office.

Leftwich’s Arizona offense averaged 1.5 touchdowns a game. Through three games this season, Leftwich’s offense is averaging one touchdown a game.

Anyone notice a pattern here?

Yeah, a three-game sample size is likely too small to make any sort of sweeping conclusion. But if the non-production of the offense doesn’t have you just as worried about the Bucs offense as Hurricane Ian, then seeing strikingly similar offensive numbers to when Leftwich last ran an offense without Arians on the sidelines should have your antennae up.

The Bucs had Mike Evans, Julio Jones and Chris Godwin in Dallas but let’s tap the brakes with excuses about injuries and a suspension.

This narrative pushed by many that Arians was nothing but a figurehead the past three years and Leftwich was the one calling all the shots on offense is starting to smell.

Don’t Blame The Defense

Yeah, the defense didn’t play lights out in the first half, allowing two touchdowns. But damn they played like the 2002 Bucs defense in the second half.

After the game, Bucs head coach Todd Bowles moaned about how the defense didn’t do well in the first half. Joe understands, but let’s not go overboard and claim the defense is the problem.

If you have Tom Brady as your quarterback, no one should kill a defense that held Aaron Rodgers to 14 points. Joe had to go back to Week 1 of the 2019 season for the last time the Packers scored 14 points or less and won.

Holding Rodgers and the Packers to 14 was plenty good enough to win (with Brady at quarterback), so long as the Bucs didn’t shoot themselves in the foot.

Sadly, the Bucs are looking for several podiatrists today.

Scotty Miller May Have Played His Way Out Of Town

Joe has been a big, big supporter of receiver Scotty Miller. Sadly, it appears time has run out for the Bowling Green product. Since he caught that bomb from Tom Brady just before halftime of the 2020 NFC Championship, Miller hasn’t done squat in the passing game.

(Miller did have a cool Benn-Around touchdown last year.)

And goodness gracious he’s had chances. When injuries were piling up in the playoffs last year, Miller got snaps and what did he do? Not much.

Yesterday with the Bucs crying for someone, anyone, to step up and produce in the passing game, Miller, who was drafted specifically to take the top off defenses, caught one pass on five targets.

The result? A four-yard catch. Four friggin’ yards! How many guys pounding beers in The Licht House yesterday could pull that off?

Look, Cole Beasley was pulled off the street last week. He had three practices and didn’t remotely know the playbook. He very likely was not even in game shape. But he produced!

Scotty, if you are still on the team Sunday when the Bucs host the Chiefs (somewhere, depending on Ian’s desires), you better produce. You are out of time. The Bucs are all-in and don’t have time to babysit guys who cannot make an impact.

No, four yards is not an impact.

The clock is ticking, Scotty. We will always have Green Bay in January 2021. You made the second-greatest play in Bucs history. You will forever be loved in Tampa Bay and may never have to buy a drink here the rest of your life.

But that is history. This season is now. Produce or step aside for someone who can.

Joe never imagined typing the following, but dang, does this team miss Tyler Johnson.

The “Sensitive” Subject Of Gronk’s Potential Return

Joe cannot be a hypocrite, so Joe is raising a hand. When (former?) Bucs foot-rubbing tight end Rob Gronkowski retired in June, Joe was banging the keyboard for the Bucs to sign veteran Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph.

Yet after a few weeks of training camp, Rudolph’s lack of snaps and few targets made it clear that he was the Bucs’ No. 3 tight end and perhaps No. 4 the way Ko Kieft was blocking his arse off and displaying reliable hands.

Rudolph was not active the first two games, joining Mr. Inactive himself, Kyle Trask, watching Bucs games in street clothes.

Yesterday was Rudolph’s first action. Joe is convinced a large reason why is because rookie Cade Otton was back home in Washington state after his mom passed away last week.

Rudolph had one first-quarter target and one catch for 12 yards. It was telling that when the Bucs got in the red zone in the final minute needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion, the 6-6 Rudolph was not on the field.

The Bucs couldn’t have used a big target like that to body-up a defender? That tells Joe a lot.

There seems to be nothing not to like about Rudolph. Smart and hard-working. Excellent teammate. Unless he is hurt, the reason Rudolph is playing so sparingly is that he’s a poor option at tight end. It’s no more complex than that.

Joe can understand why Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht wouldn’t want to hack off Rudolph. But dang it, Rudolph is a big boy and the Bucs are going for a Super Bowl. If he’s not cutting it, he’s not cutting it. If you think Gronk coming off the street with no OTAs or training camp is a better option, then you owe it to the team to bring Gronk back if he wants to play.

Joe is confident Brady’s uneasiness without Gronk is a much bigger factor than Brady missing 11 days of training camp over a month ago.

Mike Edwards Going Banking In March

Boy, talk about flying under the radar. Take a wild guess who led the Bucs in tackles yesterday. Not Devin White. Not Lavonte David (close, though). It was safety Mike Edwards.

He’s making the most of his first season as a full-time starter. While Edwards didn’t have a pick yesterday or a pass defended, he racked up 13 tackles and a tackle for loss.

One reason the Bucs defense is playing lights out is that Jamel Dean is playing the best ball of his career. Edwards also has raised his game. Someone is going to drop a s(p)itload of cash in his lap in a few months.

If somehow Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht can re-sign Dean and Edwards, the Bucs may have the best secondary for years to come.

39 Responses to “Five Things”

  1. HC Grover Says:

    The Prevent Offense is offensive. I was so disgusted watching that fiasco. It will not work. KC will clobber us if this continues.

  2. OHBucFan Says:

    Before we go burying Leftwich, read this part: Look, Cole Beasley was pulled off the street last week.
    BL didn’t fumble. BL didn’t hold. 50% of the offense wasn’t on the field yesterday and still at the end, playing for a tie. Oh yeah, BL didn’t delay the game.
    Offense will be fine…. If they get healthy.

  3. Byedon Leftbi*ch Says:

    The buck stops with Leftbi*ch. It’s a simple as that. I’ve never seen Brady in my life go three and out so fast, this many times.

    This is NOT Brady’s fault. Period. End of story.

    Everything is atrocious with this offense but nothing more so than the play calling.

  4. Bob in valrico Says:

    BL is still calling plays that don’t get a yard for a first down. Running Lenny up the gut is predictable and rarely successful. Too much focus on the receiver of the week and not utilizing the players on the roster. Getting a couple of first down from Cam and one from Rudolph was a step in the right direction.

  5. PewterStiffArm Says:

    Joe, thanks for this article. Scotty doesn’t turn around and when he does it’s too late, the ball has been thrown already. When wide receivers go out for passes you have to curl around and come back to your quarterback!! This way there is a chance the cornerback will reach over and create interference. I am no expert so when an article like this is written on an open forum I can dig it. Perriman loses sight of the football consistently, to me he’s another stiff. What the hell did Keyshawn Vaughn ever do to not be able to see playing time on the offensive side of the ball? In crucial times athletes step up to make plays, Beasley, Otten and Vaughn, sounds like a new law firm in South Tampa.

  6. RuKa_44 Says:

    It does feel like that story of Arians bringing his red marker to meetings and “correct” BL and TB game plan may be true… What everyone failed to understand is that was actually a positive thing!!

    I think BA was trying to boost BL’s career by saying that the offense was all him, but in fact it seems that without BA’s “mentoring” BL cannot make it… Was it the case the last 2 years that the slow starts on offense were the result of BL’s game plans? Was the fantastic production on second halves the result of BA corrections at half time? The question is now open for debate…

  7. adam from ny Says:

    what if:

    we could maintain our offensive output like during the past couple of years…


    combine that with possibly fielding the best defense we’ve had since the sapp, brooks, lynch days…

    we could potentially be like 15-2…

    then toss in one tom brady and we could be playing with the idea of an undefeated season…


  8. Christos Says:

    The Defense has been playing really good (better than i imagined) these 3 games with maybe the 1st half yesterday. Packers cam with a good plan, short quick passes and the D miss some tackles. But they adjusted, the Vea fumble was crucial and in the 2nd half they were outstanding. Defense has allowed only 27 points in 3 games and has scored 7.
    The Offense is bad and that is an understatement. Playcalling, execution and everything seem out of sort. No rhythm, no chemistry, nothing. Maybe the Brady 11day off has caused some issues with chemistry and coherence that we didnt expect and i believed that it was not a big deal. But the Offense looks not ready, unprepared and with no flow. And yes WRs have missed games but i think that is only a part of the problem. Offense has scored 19,13,12 points in 3 games. 3 games only 3 TDs. Unreal. From the performances it doesnt look like they will figure it out soon. hope i m wrong

  9. Beeej Says:

    I had always assumed Scooter would be the #3 receiver, but clearly Brady didn’t see him that way, else he wouldn’t have lobbied for AB

  10. fern Says:

    stop blaming
    No Evans No Godwin simple as that.
    Offense is built around these 2

  11. dmatt Says:

    Will someone please explain to me what happened on the reverse trick play that back fired? Also, I watched scotty get jammed at the line at ease, he’s a one trick pony n with so many dropped balls n missed opportunities to redeem himself it’s time to activate DThompkins from the practice squad. For every nice catch Perriman makes, look at the missed blocks n dropped passes he’s had. He’s inconsistent.

  12. alton green Says:

    I’ll tell you what the most disgusting thing was about the game. It’s some of the stupidest comments after. I was really shocked. Some of you spoiled brats actually blamed Brady. You remind me of a spoiled “tween” Let me remind you people that before Tommy boy came to Tampa, the Bucs couldn’t stick their finger up their own &^% if they used both hands. PATHETIC!!!

  13. Capt.Tim Says:

    4 new offensive linemen
    3 of them never started until this year.
    There lies the problem.
    None are playing badly.
    But watch them. They arent working as a unit.
    Totally understandable.
    Im a big Jason Licht supporter- but he should have addressed the line

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Excellent piece Joe & it’s easy to agree with all 5 points. BUT … there’s a 6th that’s the root cause of the offensive issues that we’re experiencing right now: the OLine. Put another way, the beasts in the trenches aren’ beasts at all.

    This Bucs’ offense doesn’t look to be capable of stringing together a CONSISTENT drive using short-gaining plays. It was obvious yesterday that we simply didn’t have the play-makers to create those explosive plays that were our bread-and-butter over these past 2-3 years. IOW we suck as a plodding offense.

    But to me that almost always comes back to the OLine’s run-blocking & pass-blocking. There was nowhere for Lenny to run yesterday; the OLine wasn’t creating any running lanes at all. Their pass-blocking was somewhat better on most plays (Brady dit get sacked 3 times yesterday), but more importantly it looked to me like he was having to take deeper drops & was being forced to go with too much underneath stuff. IOW the pocket was collapsing quicker than usual.

    LOTS of new offensive pieces out there yesterday (in comparison to the team we fielded last year at this time). Brady, Fournette & Wirfs were really the only starters yesterday who also started last year at this time. All 3 are big-time talents, as is Shaq Mason. The other 7? Let’s just say they all left a lot to be desired. We need to get the REAL starters back in the lineup ASAP.

  15. Day 1- 76 Says:

    Our defense is lights-out brutal. They obviously gave up some early plays but after that, Jeopardy boy couldn’t do sh#t. Settle down Freakshows: when the offense gets some players back we’ll roll.

  16. Aaron Says:

    It’s just Shady brady is getting to old like said before gotta get more than one touchdown on offensive in a game to reach the superbowl this year Shady lol and you got all them weapons lol

  17. Chris Says:

    Can someone explain what’s the problem with Kyle Rudolph? This guy is a pro bowl guy. Isn’t he meshing well in practice?

  18. lambeau Says:

    Joe, you’re right–the playcalling is bad.
    Watching Miami, Eagles, Buffalo, Ravens, Rams, Packers the short passing game is creative and imaginative–BL is stuck in the past.

  19. Anthony Says:

    Would love Gronk to return but let’s move on put 3 TE. On the field and let the D try to match up and figure who’s blocking who’s running route. And ya 6.6 inside the 5 and he’s not on the field pathetic put him in. If nothing else he’s a match up problem a decoy anything but what Keftwich does. And ya Miller needs to go. But hey let’s keep him because he can play on special teams oh ya let’s release a better receiver who can fly bigger better but. Oh wait he doesn’t play on special teams. And what happens he gets picked up immediately and Miller stays on the practice squad until yesterday. Wow the people that made that decision still have a job

  20. Jonny Says:

    Only the BUCS are capable of drafting RBs in 2nd and 3rd rounds that look like hot trash at least for a couple of years before they look like they need not be cut from 53 man roster. Lenny has some skills, but he gains momentum very slowly. There are many runs that can be had from a RB that can combine power with some burst like Javonte Williams, Dameon Pierce, Pacheco of the Chiefs, Wilson of the 49ers, Michael Carter of Jets etc. Licht is horrible at finding RB talent.

  21. Infomeplease Says:

    Let’s not forget TB12’s sore finger is twice the size of the one next to it! And that’s his throwing hand. Injures will heal and this offense will be great again!! It’s a long season!! Patience!!!!! LFG!!

  22. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    What do you need when you don’t convert 3rd downs?

    A punter…..and we have one……Camarda can hang it high!!!

  23. PSL Bob Says:

    What I got from the game yesterday is that the Bucs effectively moved the ball when Brady was either in shotgun mode or they ran play action and he passed. He was on target with most of his throws. What lost the game was the two fumbles after completed passes and running Fournette for 2-3 yards a play. When things stall out, just let Brady throw the damn ball. I know you’ve got to keep the opposing defense from keying on Brady by running the ball. But damn, too many wasted downs running the ball. C’mon man!

  24. Goatfarmer Says:

    Defense Rules nails it again. Only three — 3 — of last seasons offensive starters were on the field Sunday. The Bucs OL, once the strength of the offense and a bright light of continuity, has been shredded between retirement (Marpet), injury (Jensen, Donnie), free agency (Cappa), and rookie/youthful inexperience. They don’t know what they are doing as a unit much of the time. That, point blank, is the biggest problem.


    Knowing that, Brady needs to call the meeting. BA, Todd, the Boron, JL, and himself. Blunt discussion – scheme, playcalling, execution, and personnel. Let’s fix it and go. There are elements in each topic that will be relevant and should be implemented.

    There are remedies. Many were calling for more screen passes. Those require detailed execution. They’ve been poorly executed. That’s one example, how to better execute a screen. Also, when Brady feels the pocket collapse, give him a hot somewhere close by so he doesn’t just have to eat it. Looks like we’re back to Boron’s everyone go deep plays that take 3 seconds plus to develop.

    Then after the meeting, BA takes Boron aside and gives him an old fashioned JPR (job performance review) clarifying that if he ever wants to become a head coach, he can’t use the injuries as an excuse and must — MUST — produce with who is on the field. Smack him on the arse, give him a brohug and yell “Let’s GO.”

  25. Ultra ClodHopper Says:

    Well, I wasn’t panicking until I read thing 1.

  26. BucsNoles Says:

    BL said he needed to do better last week – he didnt
    The playcalling is often pretty bad – particulary on 1st down and short yardage where we all know it run up the middle.
    I understand he is short handed on the OL and WR but you have got to come up with some better plays in tight games. Hell, maybe Brady should be calling the plays

  27. Ed Says:

    Brady did change the plays in the hurry up and thats when they caught the Packers off guard and moved the ball.

    Leftwich has to stop depending on Fournette 100% of the running plays. He needs a break and a speedier Vaughn to hit the holes faster may help the running game.

  28. lunchmeat Says:

    1) This is a Super Bowl defense. As long as they don’t miss tackles.
    2) This team cannot afford to miss practice time. They are not going to be able to practice in Tampa after tomorrow. Ol’ JL had better be lining up a practice field and accommodations in Miami or Orlando or somewhere *now*.
    3) I do blame BL for the delay penalty. Calling a play with two or three shifts, and then not getting the unit to the line until 9 seconds to go, well, that goes to preparation.

  29. gotbbucs Says:

    Brady calling the plays in up tempo offense, chains move. Leftwich calling plays, impotent offense. Small sample size, yes, but glaringly different results.
    Leftwich is clueless, always has been, but he’s one of Arians legacy experiments. If Bowles wants to prove that this is his team and wants to take full advantage of his second chance at being an NFL head coach, there likely won’t be a third chance, then he should not fall on the sword for Byron Leftwich.
    If/when Evans, Godwin, and Donovan Smith are on the field again, and if/when the offense still struggles, the excuses for Leftwich are gone. At that point the decision should be obvious.

  30. Defense Rules Says:

    Good point Ed that the have ‘to stop depending on Fournette 100% of the running plays’. He was the only ball carrier yesterday with a whopping 12 carries for 35 yards (well, except for Brady’s carry for -1 yard and Perriman’s carry for 0 yards). Not too hard for the Packers’ defense to figure out who’ll be getting the ball if it’s a run play.

    Still though it comes back to run-blocking, and our OLine isn’t getting it done, for whatever reason. I’ll give Lenny credit in that on several runs he got a lot more, because of his 2nd efforts, than was there thanks to the run blocking. Saw the same thing from Dillon & Jones BTW (they worked very well together I thought). I’d also like to see us at least try several plays next game where we have BOTH Fournette AND White on the field together to give TB12 another option to play with. And oh ya, to dress Vaughn & let him have several carries to see if he can provide a spark.

  31. gotbbucs Says:

    And the running game can’t get going because almost every single run play call is out of two TE set with all the recievers bunched in close too. It creates an absolutely stacked box to run against every time. Five offensive linemen and two TE’s trying to block 8+ in the box? Good luck.

  32. Craig Says:

    I will blame BL for the sloppiness of the offense. The offense needs to get some basics down pat.

    This is a transition team. Next season will be predominately about the defense, so Edwards and Dean could be here, sharing what was Brady’s salary.

    Things will get better for the offense. Smith should be back soon, Evans will be in place, Jones, maybe. Godwin might have been back already if they hadn’t rushed him in game 1.

    There are some things that look like desperation, but Brady will get mad soon and force things to progress.

  33. Cobraboy Says:

    Bucs really need Jensen & Smith.

    The patchwork OL is not a total disaster, but really are not getting the job done to the level needed to dominate offensively.

    And the Bucs need Evans, Godwin, & Jones. No DC is the least bit concerned what Gage, Perriman, or Miller bring to the table.

    I didn’t like the loss that was really ugly all around, but maybe it could be a wake-up call.

  34. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Would be hard for BL to call plays, and then play too.
    I didn’t see BL on the field once, getting pushed around, or fumbling & stumbling.

  35. Day 1- 76 Says:

    Tampabaybucfan Says:
    September 26th, 2022 at 8:54 am
    What do you need when you don’t convert 3rd downs?

    A punter…..and we have one……Camarda can hang it high!!!


    Says the punter’s Dad.

  36. lambeau Says:

    Peter King makes the point today that scoring is down league-wide due to the increased use of two deep safeties. This probably stymies the “no risk it” approach that BA and BL have traditionally used. Brady is great at play action and a more horizontal passing game, but gradually matriculating down the field is exactly what BA hates. The BA/BL philosophy may need a makeover, due to modern defenses increasingly taking away the deep ball.

  37. Goatfarmer Says:

    Scoring definitely is down. I find that refreshing overall as a fan who loves watching defense (thanks, Monte Kiffen). Of course I’d still like to see the Bucs averaging 31 ppg while that trend continues and our defense definitely looks the part.

    And what a twisted times we live in, when the Detroit Lions boast one of the league’s highest scoring offenses. Crazy world.

  38. Mike Titan Says:

    Regardless of obvious problems, I think Beasley can be a problem once he gets back into game shape & on the same page as Brady.

  39. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    Defense Rules Says:
    “I’ll give Lenny credit in that on several runs he got a lot more, because of his 2nd efforts…”

    Yes. Lenny was high-effort yesterday. The box score doesn’t tell the whole tale.