“Smudged Beyond Recognition”

October 21st, 2022

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Let’s clear up a misconception dogging the 2022 Buccaneers.

Nobody, least of all Byron Leftwich, has turned this into a run-first football team. A year ago, Tom Brady averaged 42 pass attempts per game. He’s down to 41 throws this season.

Big deal.

The real difference is in efficiency. There’s been a marked drop in one key metric of productivity from the past two years. During the 2020 championship season, Brady averaged 7.6 yards per pass attempt.

That number fell to 7.4 last year and Brady is currently struggling at 6.7. Instead of ranking in the Top 10, the Bucs now dwell at No. 22. That’s a problem. More specifically, it’s Leftwich’s problem because Bruce Arians is no longer actively involved and Todd Bowles is smart enough to focus on his side of the football.

The Bucs passing game is active, eager and impotent, explains Ira Kaufman.

Now that we’ve established Tampa Bay’s issues through the air, let’s turn to the ground game. Guess what? More problems.

In 2020, this team averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Last year was even better at 4.3. Now Buc fans are looking at a rushing game that averages 3.1 yards, last in the league by a wide margin.

In one sense, Leftwich has been remarkably consistent in his offensive approach. The 2020 Bucs threw on 67 percent of their snaps. Last year, it was 66 percent. Through six games, the 2022 Bucs once again throw 66 percent of the time.

The blueprint for success hasn’t changed since Brady arrived, but the details are smudged beyond recognition. Nothing’s really working for Brady’s group — except the trusty right foot of Ryan Succop.

Leftwich keeps saying he has trust in players and coaches to turn this listless ship around. What else is he going to say? The cavalry, otherwise known as Rob Gronkowski, isn’t coming.

Given the struggles of this ground game, which has averaged a brutal 2.6 yards per carry since Week 2, Leftwich has no choice but to dial up 40 or 50 passes each week.

Some of those throws need to be further downfield. Much further.

Chunk plays have been rare this season, far too rare considering Brady’s weapons.

Dozens of pass interference flags are waiting to be thrown, if only Leftwich and Brady had the will to test outmanned defensive backs. Russell Gage averages less than 8 yards per catch. Scotty Miller averages 9 yards per catch. Chris Godwin is at 11.4. Leonard Fournette leads the Bucs in targets and receptions.

For this franchise, that’s nothing to be proud of.

More “Risk-It”

Send Mike Evans what he’s earned, Ira notes.

No wonder Brady has thrown only one interception. Going forward, the Bucs can live with a few giveaways if it means they don’t have to engineer 14-play drives. Mike Evans doesn’t have to be wide-ass open for Brady to give him an opportunity to make a big play. He’s earned that respect and confidence through eight years of historic accomplishment.

Speed is Miller’s forte, so why not engage him more as a deep threat?

While there are risks involved, one fact cannot be denied: what the Bucs are doing on offense isn’t working. They’re not scoring enough points and there’s too much pressure on a defense which misses the veteran presence of Ndamukong Suh.

Given the few passes directed his way in Pittsburgh, Evans figures to be a busy man in Charlotte Sunday. It would surprise no one if Brady looks to get Evans involved early and often.

The Panthers realize the dynamics in play. Evans is good enough to overcome all the attention he attracts and Brady is seasoned enough to make defenses pay for overcommitting resources to stop one guy.

Whether Brady is scanning the field or handing the ball off, better efficiency is the key. For the third consecutive year, this attack throws on two of every three snaps. That ratio is unlikely to change over the next 11 games.

This remains a passing team, but those passes need to cover more ground.

What about Captain Checkdown?


Ira loves that lifetime warranty on new and used vehicles!

Ira Kaufman Enters Multiple Tom Brady & Todd Bowles Debates, Talks State Of The Bucs And Picks One Reason For The Steelers Loss, And More

37 Responses to ““Smudged Beyond Recognition””

  1. WillieG Says:

    My three biggest problems with the Bucs offense:

    1 Running every first down

    2 Treating 2nd and short like 3rd and short. Why not assume you’ll pick up the 3rd and short if you fail on an aggressive 2nd and short play? Take a freakin shot! Use your damn weapons.

    3 Treating 3rd and 9 like 3rd and 7. Don’t they realize by now that their receivers go down immediately after contact 90% of the time? Every pass catcher should be beyond the marker. And Brady needs to make damn sure he throws beyond the marker instead of relying on his guy to break a tackle.

  2. Bucfan Says:

    Very simple fix. Just mix it up a bit on 1st down. Ever hear of setting up the run with the PASS?

  3. alton green Says:

    WillyGsays: 100% correct. Sometimes i think my head will explode when we need 8 yds for a 1st down and the receivers run a 6 yd route. JESUS LORD know where you’re at on the field. One more thing; our return players act like we are playing flag football. the minute a player gets close they immediiately run out of bounds.!!!!!!

  4. SufferingSince76 Says:

    WillieG is correct. The receiver not getting beyond the first down marker for a 3rd down pass play is inexcusable. It happens too many times.

  5. Bucfan Says:

    WillieG -You NAILED it!!!!!!!

  6. Kentucky Buc Says:

    It’s not how much you run the ball. It’s how and when. Get a clue.

  7. #8 Says:


  8. Hodad Says:

    There’s this misconception this team has a lot of weapons. Yes, and no. Evans is our best receiver right now, and he is being under used. He’s not a burner type receiver tho that keeps defenses on their heels, and safties way back. Same goes for Godwin our other best. Great receiver, but he’s not scaring defenses with his ability to get deep. I’ll keep the rest of the weapons simple. Gage, Miller, Perriman, Darden, ha ha, are all a joke. Calling them weapons is like calling Joe hansome. Lenny is a lumberjack. Good back, but he’s not burning defenses with the threat of taking an 80 yarder to the house. Tight ends? Yeah we’re really loaded with weapons.

  9. Show Me the TDs Says:

    I’m driving back from a road trip on Sunday and will miss the game. I have been a Bucs fans since 1976. It used to be that I wouldn’t miss a game for anything. Now, it’s, whatever. If I see it, I see it. Too many excuses on this team. If they don’t care, I don’t care.

  10. LVMYBUCS Says:

    Good teams know how to replace lost good players and recover. For example, you would think the Cheifs would be “not so good” because of who they lost but no they keep getting better. Its coaching guys from the top to the bottom, Leftwith has never been good even in the SB era and Bowles needs to go back to doing what he does best as a D coach.

  11. Craig Says:

    On top of those things already mentioned I’ll call this:

    Yards per run last year was boosted when K. Vaughn got a little over 5 yards per run down the stretch. Now they are looking to trade him without a single play from scrimmage.

    Mike Evans best position on the field is at the first down marker. He is not a slot receiver, though most of this season he has been used as such.

    Leftie is losing it if he can’t see what worked the last two years.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Great article Sage; you nailed it. Production (efficiency?) is way down this year on the offensive side, and the biggest change has been in our OLine. Until we ‘fix’ that, I can’t see that much will change against quality opponents.

    Oh and the other half of your analysis is spot on too: ‘there’s too much pressure on a defense which misses the veteran presence of Ndamukong Suh’. And you could add JPP in there also. This defense lacks LEADERSHIP right now. Losing Logan Ryan hurt a bunch; I don’t see anyone else stepping up to the plate. Bring back Suh.

  13. Smashsquatch Says:

    Ira you’re spot on. Thanks for bringing the facts. I wonder if Brady getting rid of the ball so quickly is by design. In other words, is he afraid to hold it longer and allow those deeper routes to develop? An inexperienced interior O-line coupled with a stale run game and statuesque QB says yes. Indeed, something has to change; because you can’t bake the same cake without all the ingredients.

  14. Lakeland Steve Says:

    There is no attempt in this offense to disguise what it is doing. When they line up everyone knows if they are going to run or pass, everyone! We don’t use any shifts pre-snap to get the defense moving and thinking. The only time we use pre-snap motion is when Brady wants to see if the defense is in Man or zone. We could actually use some motion once in a while to set up a play or send Ko Kieft in motion and then block on a run play. When Ko is in the lineup he lines up at fullback and the defense knows we are running right or left by how he is lined up. Give the defense something to think about!

  15. Cobraboy Says:

    Too bad there is no metric for heart, because that metric is in the gutter.

    These guys are just going through the motions.

  16. BucsBeBack (Artist formally known as: BringBucsBack) Says:

    Hopefully, Ira has a job at JBF after the Suh endorsement.

    Since we fans can anticipate the play call with great accuracy, MAYBE the league has figured out this Vanilla, repetitive and unimaginative offense where, if the offensive players don’t beat their opponents outright or executed it perfectly, the play will fail. We have very few plays that are creative, create mismatches or cause confusion for any defense.

    Last night the Cardinals had at least a couple of plays where the quarterback dropped back, simply faked a pitch to the running back to the right and the entire right side of the defense was frozen. They became spectators, for one second! The defensive lineman on the right side stopped rushing the passer, all from one simple fake pitch to the running back who was simply running out to the Flat. The QB threw the ball down field for an easy first down.

    I’m not suggesting that the playbook be rewritten to exclude all of the “left-trip PX 347-89 Omaha Brexit max-protect COVID y-banana” but, what is wrong with simple adjustments? A zig or zag, wrinkle or flare! Something new & imaginative?!

  17. JJuice32 Says:

    Defense u call it “Leadership” I call it DOGS, JPP, Suh, & Jensen all DOGS. There’s a famous youtube clip of a coach needing more dogs and he has a “cat” in the house. Too many players just going through the motions.

  18. Beeej Says:

    The Redskins could telegraph what they were gonna do with Riggins and the counter-tray. If it was 3rd Ave 1 at the goal line EVERYONE knew Riggins was gonna follow Grimm and Jacoby, but it didn’t matter. Bucs can’t quite pull that off

  19. darengibo Says:

    Take more shots! I can live with an INT more than our 3 and outs or failing on 3rd and 1.

    MORE SCREENS!! This includes Lenny, White I LOVE when they screen Godwin as he takes off like being shot out of a cannon.

    Please for the love of all things holy. STOP with the run up the middle on first down. My God. If Brady did play action on that during first snap of the game, the entire defense would be at the line of scrimmage and all WR wide open since NOBODY expects them NOT to run up the middle…

  20. Pewter Power Says:

    Ira the solution is simple but Bowles won’t do it.

    It’s Bruce Arians offense so bring back “the red pen” With the analytics teams use leftwich has to know without a doubt where the issues are he’s just not very imaginative.

  21. SlyPirate Says:

    Screen, draw, reverse, flee flicker. Mix it up.

  22. JimbobBucfan Says:

    Now we have some real football suggestions and discussions here at JBF. We don’t have trolls and backbiters dominating the threads these days. Hooray!

    Let’s see if Todd and Byron came to similar insights to those of WillieG this week. We can do it with our current guys. We don’t need a major shake-up this week as some propose.

    Go Bucs!

  23. Defense Rules Says:

    JJuice32 … My favorite tune at the Bucs games … ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’ I miss that.

  24. Ed Says:

    Evans may not be a burner but I’ll take my chances with him running downfield all day long vs throwing the short stuff. It seeing enough throws along the sidelines. Evans is a great toe-taper and on sidelines he can outfight a DB for the ball. Pump takes, stop and go’s, clear outs, motion, pick plays, screens and shoulder fades all need to be practiced of or a better offense.

    Leftwich has to speed up the offense, bring Thompson off the practice squad, they are really lacking a speed guy without Antonio Brown. Bucs never draft or sign fast receivers. Miller has speed but can’t get in and out of routes. He is fast but terribly JBL athletic.

    Grayson was fast too and made some big plays

  25. BillyBucco Says:

    The dynamics of this leadership will never work.
    Do we really think Lefty went to Brady this week and said I know what will fix this, we are gonna roll you out of the pocket to extend plays.

    Do we see him going to Brady with ANYTHING?
    Do we see the same Brady who slid plays under the door?
    Too much distractions in his life.

    Now we have a bunch of bystanders who don’t know what they are doing.
    BA wondering why no team hired Lefty as HC. LMAO
    I don’t think Brady even respects Leftwich.

    How hard is misdirection?
    Lefty thinks we just beat our man.

  26. JimbobBucfan Says:

    Defense Rules, I loved that one, too. It was not so long ago that it was hard to get our home crowd on our feet. Some of our younger fans don’t realize how bad it got during our long drought after our first Lombardi!

    Go Bucs!

  27. PewterStiffArm Says:

    Yes sir Ira, for a second there when you mentioned dialing up 40 I thought you were referring to Mike Alstott. He couldn’t get any yardage either with this blocking scheme. No holes to be found Ira and by the way keep the articles and Podcast coming, awesome work.

  28. Cobraboy Says:

    @DR: if only the Bucs had some “dawgs.”

    Maybe the Baha Men can do a remix with “Who Left the Pit Poodle M-Posters out”…

    I am SICK of leaderless, heartless football, especially on MY team…

  29. The South African Says:

    Root cause… poor O-Line

    Tom brady with the least pressure in the league is not because of the O-Line but because he is releasing the ball the fastest in the league. He is releasing the ball the fastest in the league because his O-Line is underperforming.

    Tom wants to push the ball down the field but to do that you need to hold on to the ball for a second longer before you throw. A second his O-Line isn’t giving him.

    The running game is set up by the O-Line. The O-Line is underperforming which is why the running game is suffering.

    Play calling has not been in line with recognizing the weak O-line. 1st down play calling is too predictable. Run run run until we trailing on points and have to throw more.

    Mom always said don’t come to me with a problem without a solution;
    Push the ball down the field without holding on to the ball using higher arching throws, jet sweeps *cough* scotty Miller *cough cough* , screens, variance in play calling and lots of encouraging messages to Jenson to “get better soon” so we can shift hainsey and bench goedeke. Receivers can drop less balls and offense can stop killing drives with low IQ penalties.

  30. Goatfarmer Says:

    The brain dead boob is a waste of time in an interview. Start asking him about his golf handicap and what his long term plans are after coaching.

  31. orlbucfan Says:

    A major part of our offensive problem isn’t just BL, it’s Brady. Now, why isn’t that addressed? It sure is on other Bucs blogs I’ve visited.

  32. Buczilla Says:

    You are the best Ira and no arguments from me.

  33. Beeej Says:

    “2 Treating 2nd and short like 3rd and short. Why not assume you’ll pick up the 3rd and short if you fail on an aggressive 2nd and short play? Take a freakin shot! Use your damn weapons.”

    I seem to remember a stat from last year that showed team by team how aggressive they were on 2nd down after a sort gain on first. The most aggressive teams were the playoff teams

  34. Darin Says:

    They’re too predictable. Five aren’t gona block 8. Spread the field if u wana run here n there. Go deep at least once a half. We all know whats coming why wouldn’t the other team. The game plan in Pittsburgh was horrendous. Same routes all game and the other team forgot to bring their starting secondary. Inexcusable sums it up. Get your stubborn head out of your ass Byron

  35. garro Says:

    The South African Says:
    October 21st, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    Root cause… poor O-Line
    Please read his comment.
    He nailed it. Hope Byron…. and I’m Sorry Ira too…read it as well.
    I agree totally with The South African!

    “Play calling has not been in line with recognizing the weak O-line. 1st down play calling is too predictable. Run run run until we trailing on points and have to throw more.”

  36. garro Says:

    JimbobBucfan Says:
    October 21st, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    Defense Rules, I loved that one, too. It was not so long ago that it was hard to get our home crowd on our feet. Some of our younger fans don’t realize how bad it got during our long drought after our first Lombardi!

    Go Bucs!

    Veteran of the 0-26 years. Attended every home game back then. Before they priced the average real fan out of the stadium. We were loud even for a very bad team. Anybody remember the buggle music and then Charge!!! ?

  37. Ed Says:

    Yes, I agree, the offensive weapons on this team are not what some people think. They have lost Gronk, and AB from the SB team, and Godwin is coming back from a major injury. Fournette “is what he is” a powerful plodder who won’t wow you with speed or moves, but now can’t even pick up third or fourth and short. Ultimately goes back to the o-line though. Brady trying to get the ball out too fast, and no push for the running game. They might win the division, since it is so weak, but I can’t see a deep playoff run.