Lack Of Separation Key To Uneven Pass Game

October 31st, 2022

Fighting to get open.

Now this is good stuff.

For those who don’t know Doug Farrar, he’s an X’s and O’s guy, not so much a stat geek, who has worked for various football publications over the years. He even got Richard Sherman to sit down with him once to go over coverage schemes — just him and Sherman.

Farrar tries to learn from the guys on the field. Who would know better other than a coach?

Typing for, Farrar tried to find out what is wrong with the Bucs offense. It’s a long, but fun read. It’s also sad because it seems there are things Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich could easily tweak to help things out.

But, Leftwich is Leftwich.

One element of the passing game is Mike Evans and Chris Godwin aren’t getting separation like they used to. Farrar isn’t sure why, but he believes injuries and a very elementary, vanilla throwing concept are two culprits.

[E]very throw in this offense is a tight-window throw. More and more, defenses are pressing Brady’s receivers and getting away with it, because Brady’s receivers are not separating from coverage. Per Next Gen Stats. Mike Evans had averaged 5.9 yards of cushion (how close a defender is to him at the snap) per target, but he’s averaged just 2.7 yards of separation per route. Evans has been dealing with injuries this season, and it unfortunately shows. Chris Godwin has averaged 6.7 yards of cushion per target, and 2.8 yards of separation. Brady’s primary receivers aren’t getting open, even when the defense presents more favorable opportunities with coverage. The more that happens, the more defenses are going to press them.

And Farrar later pointed out if your best receivers are in one-on-one matchups, which Leftwich prefers, imagine how the secondary/lesser receivers are struggling to get open?

So yeah, what this boils down to is that Leftwich isn’t creative (smart?) enough to mix things up more and work in more concepts to help Evans and Godwin spring free.

38 Responses to “Lack Of Separation Key To Uneven Pass Game”

  1. Greg Says:

    “So yeah, what this boils down to is that Leftwich isn’t creative (smart?) enough to mix things up more and work in more concepts in order to help Evans and Godwin spring free.”


  2. Bucsfan13 Says:

    Thank you, Joe! I’ve been saying this from the beginning. Every damn this is so hard for the QB. Most of Brady’s throws need to be in a tight window. He has an incredibly low margin for error. If he’s off, we have no chance to win, and that’s sad. We have no run game to complement the pass game. Look around the NFL today! You had some guys with lesser talent than us running wide open. That’s creative scheming and putting your QB in the best position to succeed. Brady has to hold the ball longer because his receivers can’t create consistent separation. Godwin is a shell of himself so far. Evans was never an elite separator. Miller can’t get off press coverage, and Perriman is just a JAG

    The Dolphins are a prime example of what real elite WR skills and a creative OC can do for the team. Waddle and Hill are sometimes running WIDE open. Tua only has to make one read and that ball is out. Those receivers also get prime YAC. Brady throws short and his receivers fall down or are lumbering guys running in cement boots.

    The people who think Brady is the problem are out of their mind. Has Brady missed some throws? Sure, but what QB doesn’t?! Josh Allen was sailing passes and threw two egregious picks. One of which was in the RZ. And you know what? They still won. Brady is still completing 64% of his passes, even with his scattered accuracy of late. People have been complaining about the influx of WR screens. We’re using them frequently because we can’t run the ball. They’re being used as an extension of the running game.

    The offensive scheme has always been flawed. This is a volume offense that can put up video game numbers when healthy, but this offense is predicated on our man beating your man, and when that’s not happening this offense diminishes spectacularly. We got exposed when we lost our receivers. Leftwich can’t scheme guys open. He’s not an offensive mastermind. I can’t imagine him on the blackboard like Bill Walsh.

  3. Da Bucs Guy Says:

    If the O-line protected Brady like Joe does, there would be no sacs, no pressure and he would have 20 seconds to throw every play.

  4. Leopold Stotch Says:

    It really is annoying seeing all these exotic plays and just how easy other teams are getting their guys open consistently compared to us.

  5. Bucsfanman Says:


    Whether run or pass, if a team knows your tendencies it’s far easier to defend.

  6. adam from ny Says:

    gisele is into hexes and voodoo and stuff…for real, and it’s big in brazil…

    she might have hexed the f out of tommy b and the squad…

    i’m not playing, she did it to the falcons when the patriots made that huge comeback in the superbowl…

    she really does this stuff…

    check you tube and all…she used to do this stuff for tom to have success

  7. HC Grover Says:

    This season is a Slo-Mo calamity.

  8. BUCkleup Says:

    We will be separating….from the playoffs or any type of contention.

  9. BucU Says:

    True there’s been virtually nobody open downfield all season and the rare times one of them do get open Brady over or under throws the receiver.
    It’s truly a disaster and they can’t beat ANYBODY.

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    So let me see if I understand the premise here Joe. Mike Evans has been playing hurt (Farrar’s words) & isn’t getting the separation he’s traditionally gotten. Check. Chris Godwin is probably not yet 100% from last year’s season-ending injury & isn’t getting the separation he’s traditionally gotten. Check. Russell Gage has been playing hurt & isn’t getting separation either. Check. Our speedsters … Miller, Perriman, Julio & Darden … have a grand total of 51 targets and 27 catches this season, so they’re probably not stretching the field much, largely because they’re not getting on it. Got it. Our TEs have a grand total of 55 targets with 36 catches so they’re not really contributing very much either. Got it.

    What could possibly go wrong in a scenario like that? Especially with Lefty orchestrating the whole thing & an immobile 45-year-old QB probably fearing for his life as his OLine protection continuously collapses around him.

  11. Da Bucs Guy Says:

    One would imagine, that these so called creative plays that would get the so called injured WR open down field would need even more extra time to develop to work. I would love to hear these fantastical creative plays that would work? Do they involve flying unicorns?

  12. Bucsfansince89 Says:

    I wished I had BA red pen!

  13. Todd Says:

    Leftwich gonna Leftwich.with that stupid flat brim hat if his.

  14. Da Bucs Guy Says:

    Funny that some wrongly think that BA has any answers. Brady ran the team and they had better talent during the short window win streak.

  15. JimmyfromNY Says:

    Always the excuse for Evans!! Fact is he has regressed the past few years. He is still top 15 in the league due to size and red zone ability but he is hardly a top 5 or even even too 10. He’s had some game changing drops this year and basically told you we quit after the Carolina game. After most receptions he is either going right out of bounds or down. Pretty inexcusable. Godwin gets a pass he’s coming back from injury he’s still Brady’s favorite target. The other secondary guys are horrible either no separation bad drops or bad route running.

  16. BigMacAttack Says:

    I think Todd Bowles is afraid of Leftwich and Tom Brady has checked out, just counting the games until he gets that $500 mil contract with the network.

  17. Oddball listens to what #8 Says:

    We’ve been talking about Mike’s lack of separation for years and the guy still posts 1000 yard seasons. This is nothing new.

  18. Jerseybuc Says:

    Seen what hurts a brown did to that banged up Pitt. Secondly? Frickin beat the brakes off them DBs but no Byron keep running up the gut for no gain or a loss.
    Unreal man this dude can’t figure this out with talent we have. It’s so basic play calling.

  19. Listnfrmafar Says:

    DAHbucs, Next gen stats prove this. When has Brady ever been mobile? Gage obviously has been playing hurt as well as Godwin not 100%. Evan’s and Brady haven’t been 100% on the same page since day one it just works because of their talent level. Scotty, Perriman, Darden please, none of these guys play on any other team. We keep pounding BL rightfully so but Bowles D I just as bad. Probably won’t make a difference but Kupp hurt his ankle yesterday.

  20. Duane Says:

    Receivers cannot get separation if TB12 is letting it go in under 2.5 seconds. Its his timing that is off (for whatever reason). Many throws are low or behind the receiver. I dont miss the red pen, I miss the voice that challenges Brady to stand in the pocket and get the ball down field. TB12 seems to now realize he a 45 year old man playing a collision sport. Evans gets open enough in the end zone- lots of overthrows on that back line.

  21. FortMyersDave Says:

    So lets say that Doug Farrar is right, it seems like minor adjustments can loosen things up on the offense. Thursday night, it looked like the Bucs scripted plays (unlikely dreamed up by Byron L alone) were effective but the wheel fell off the O when Byron went back to his predictable vanilla. Thus it comes down to whether Leftwich can make adjustments and if he is unwilling than Toilet Bowels or someone higher up the Bucs foodchain has to force him to or replace him. Since Byron is still emloyed after 3 completely inept weeks everyone knows the answer is “No”. The Bucs will continue to lose as long as Leftwich is allowed to call plays. Take the Rams and the +2.5 ; seems like Vegas is giving out early Christmas presents to those who bet against Bowels and Leftwich.

  22. Bucsfan13 Says:

    I suggest everyone read this very insightful and reasoned article. The author is very credible, as Joe stated, and he watches a ton of film. The TV broadcast analysts on this board might learn a thing or two. I suggest you read with an open mind. Perhaps your preconceived narrative is wrong? Oh, and Gisele was never mentioned in the article as a reason for our struggles. We all know that’s the main problem with this offense, according to big brain posters.

  23. Jack Sparrow Says:

    Our receivers are just overrated. They are slow and very fragile. As for Brady, we all know he needs to have a strong wall in front of him and that is the key. If the wall collapses, hell break loose.

  24. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Duane, the corner pass in the end zone was spot on, it is a timing pass, either Evan’s was grabbed or slowed down but for whatever reason he didn’t stretch out for the reception. Same play they’ve ran multiple times over the last two seasons. The reason for the high passes is the other WR’s can be covered one on one unlike AB and especially Gronk. Gronk in the end zone drew double sometimes triple coverage and we can’t expect Otton to be Gronk. Jones was.supposed to be that guy and we all know his story. A new interim HC that can call the O & new DC saves this season. Jimmy Jack, Brady has played with a worse line than this but he’s always had guys like Welker, Edleman, Amendola, White, Hernandez, Gronk etc.that could get separation.

  25. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    When I watch other games, I’m constantly seeing wide open receivers making plays…..
    I’m asking myself “Why can’t we do that”?

    Not even Scotty Miller with his speed can get open….he is contested on every downfield pass.

  26. Craig Says:

    Brady’s malaise is catching on.

    The scheme is a slow motion train wreck, and no one on the team cares anymore; they are just going through the motions.

    The only way to motivate the players is to build a better scheme, but, as noted, Leftie is Leftie.

  27. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Duane a 10th of a second really? C’mon man, where is the quality wr with speed on this team?

  28. Duane Says:

    This offense was clicking for the last few seasons, and now Evans and Godwin got old overnight and are too slow? Brady is shellshocked and distracted. Not a Lefty fan, but also not sure how he can scheme for Brady to save his marriage, and stand stronger in the pocket to let the plays develop. WR speed means little when timing is off. I think the timing is off because of TB12’s experience and advanced professional age.

  29. rrsrq Says:

    Have these receiver ever really had that much seperation, not at ll, they have had great catch radius and fight, with the exception of AB last year, even Gronk never had a lot of separtion. BL does not use the speed of Perriman or even Darden, using the freakin Benn’d around, let the big guys clear space for a Darden or Perrimen, even Scooter, but I’m no OC

  30. Mike Johnson Says:

    Lck of separation? LNAO here. Why is it Buc fans and beat writers go thru great lengths to protect the God Brady? He has been consistently over and under throwing target all year long. And he has missed quite a few of his simple outlet passes. Yet its player separation? . Please..stop bustin my knees, Give me a break.

  31. Boodidley Says:

    Duane. Don’t be a dummy dude. Brady always releases fast. Off receivers with good play calling get open. See every Julian Edelman play in history if you need education.

  32. Boodidley Says:

    Correction: good receivers with creative play calling

  33. Rod Munch Says:

    Evans has never been a seperation guy, he’s a guy who you throw the ball to regardless of coverage and he catches it, that’s why he’s special. He can get separation by using the skills that Vincent Jackson taught him, which is basically push off, but in a way the refs don’t see it. Go back and watch old VJ footage – then watch Evans, that was a case where ‘stacking’ the talent really worked out well, where the kid learned from the vet.

    For Godwin, it’s more concerning, since separation, being crisp in and out of routes, is his game. Leftwich could help create seperation by just putting him in motion. Although, with that said, it’s really obvious Godwin has been close to 100% – but did look his best far this year in this last game, so maybe he’s getting there.

  34. BradentuckeyBuc Says:

    I’m with Duane, our OL is garbage. Hard to get separation in 1.9 seconds!

  35. Boodidley Says:

    Poor Mike Johnson. At least you got one super bowl buddy. Good luck… seems like you’ll need it with your clear mental incapacities

  36. Bucamania Says:

    That’s what happens when your playbook is just a few plays deep.

    1. Handoff RB
    2. Screen to WR
    3. Slow developing deep WR routes with a TE short of the sticks

  37. My Momma Says:

    Joe: “Farrar isn’t sure why, but he believes injuries and a very elementary, vanilla throwing concept are two culprits.”

    So, Joe, isn’t this Bruce Arians offense?

  38. Bojim Says:

    I think BL is lost. He’s in a state of mass confusion. I’m sure he could kick azz as a high school coach. I hate saying that but this is our team.