Bengals Show How Good Coaches Adjust

January 23rd, 2023

Good coaches find a way.

Joe knows the favorite pastime of so many Bucs fans is to holler about the Bucs’ offensive line. Just because. It’s more habitual than based in hard facts.

(Then again, what Joe believes is a bad line and what many fans believe is a bad line are as different as a dog and a cat.)

So Bucs fans, nursing their bruised ankles from stomping the floor so much during the season kvetching about the Bucs’ blocking, had to have noticed that the Bengals yesterday went on the road and beat many people’s preseason pick to win the Super Bowl, the Bills. The Bengals did this without three starters on the front line out, including both tackles. Left tackle Jonah Williams, right guard Alex Cappa and right tackle La’el Collins were not available.

Yet what happened? The Bengals crushed the Bills.

Cincinnati gouged Buffalo on the ground and quarterback Joe Burrow ripped apart the Bills’ secondary.

Last year the Bengals had truly a godawful line. Yet somehow the Bengals were one play away from winning the Super Bowl. Again with a bad line due to injuries, the Bengals are one win from returning to the Super Bowl for the second time in as many years.

So if you really believe a Bucs offensive line with Tristan Wirfs and Shaq Mason is garbage, you shouldn’t lay the woes of the failed Bucs offense at the feet of its blockers. Cincinnati showed, once again, good coaches know how to adjust.

One reason why failed Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is looking for work today is that he had no clue how to adjust. If he did, why didn’t he? That is, if you believe the Bucs front line was so awful it was the root cause of flooding in California and unrest in Ukraine.

(Joe remembers last year in the playoffs the Rams were abusing Donovan Smith and Josh Wells with a pass rush and were hammering Tom Brady. What happened? Bucco Bruce Arians and company adjusted on the fly and the Bucs nearly pulled off a miracle comeback in the second half.)

So if you really believe the line this year was worse than the 2014, when left tackle Anthony Collins was so brutal the Bucs Keyshawn’ed his arse and told him to go home after Thanksgiving and not to come back (he never played another snap of football), then you must ask yourself the following:

Why didn’t lunkhead Leftwich adjust?

If any coach the past two seasons had a right to curl up in a fetal position on the sidelines and bawl uncontrollably about his offensive line, it was Bengals coach Zac Taylor.

Instead, Taylor used football savvy and smarts to find a way to win, no matter the obstacle. Adapt, adjust, overcome.

37 Responses to “Bengals Show How Good Coaches Adjust”

  1. dmatt Says:

    And where do u think we got Anthony Collins from?After six years of inconsistency, the bengals shipped him to us. I said in a previous post that coaches that play aggressive offense are the ones that make it to the big dance. I don’t see Bowles being with us long. Our savior will probably be an aggressive college coach who will not lay an egg during crunch time but will go toe to toe to compete with these creative high octane offenses. Don’t see Bowles doing it even with a good OC. We should go get an aggressive offensive mind as head coach, then bring in an aggressive mind as dc. Buccaneers players were poorly coached. By the way, when will our special teams coach be fired?

  2. PewterStiffArm Says:

    Well said Joe, hopefully if the Bengals win this upcoming weekend their offensive can be intact for the big game. I like the Bengals, especially with Cappa playing. I try my best to follow ex-Bucs, he was missed this season.

  3. Brandon Says:

    Usually like your rants but today’s backups on the Bengals mauled the Bills on the ground something the bucs did once opening game against the cowboys those backups destroyed the Bills defensive line

  4. Leighroy Says:

    I saw a clip of Eli and Peyton after the Bucs cowgirls game, bc like Joe I prefer to watch the regular broadcast, where they were talking about halftime adjustments. Peyton remarked it’s the most overblown thing in sports bc all that happens at halftime is they took a p!ss, ate a snack and then had to suit back up to take the field again. No huddles tweaking X’s and O’s, no series of impassioned speeches, literally just a bio-break.

    Interesting stuff. However, agree w the premise of the article as adjustments can and should have been made literally any other time. The Bucs played checkers this year while everyone else was playing chess.

  5. stpetebucfan Says:

    I totally get the frustration with EVERY part of this team from QB to coaches to star defenders like DW45 not showing up every week.

    I just think perhaps we could slow our roll a bit on Leftwich. When BA was head coach he claimed Leftwich was calling the plays. How did BL turn to crap in one single season. What changed. Duh a head coach who changed the team’s strategy completely.

    This is not to defend BL just pointing out that an HC and a GOAT QB were also involved in our suckitude. Again…who had more power. Todd Bowles or Leftwich? Who had more power and input? Tom Brady or Leftwich?

    Leftwich has to bear his share of the blame but he’s far from alone and there are at least two people more culpable.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Leftwich was bad….Leftwich is gone, history….time to move on.

    One of the problems is that we will have to find a replacement perhaps before Brady decides if he will stay….and the replacement will want to know the QB situation……that’s a tricky proposition.

  7. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Maybe, like us, most of their backups are better than the starters?

  8. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Methinks it is not as simple as just adjustments. Oline coaching quality or lack thereof , and quality of your back up Olinemen or a lack thereof would both seem to be major factors in the ability of an Oline to not miss a beat after a string of starters missing the game. Adeniji and Scharping are 3 and 4 year vets as the back ups , so it is easy to see the Bucs had a big disadvantage with the quality of their reserves compared to the Bengals. On the coaching side-The Oline coach Joe Gilbert of Tampa Bay never played in the NFL and has limited experience compared to Bengals Oline coach Frank Polllack who played in the league for 9 seasons and has well more experience at the Pro level. Bengals oline has attitude and aggression. So hire away Pollack from the Bengals and when you have the opportunity to replace an All Pro Center that goes down with injury with a player with loads of experience that was the 6th rated Center in the NFL-you freaking have to make that move every time which the Bucs did not.

  9. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Joe the same people crying about the line are the same people who think Brady is washed up. They have no clue.

  10. OHBucFan🎁 Says:

    The amazing thing is that the Bills didn’t have a similar game plan given the similarities of the teams. What are the odds that there’s a Bill’s fan page with an extremely similar take as Joe’s this morning? Disappointingly, there’s no mention of Leslie Frazier’s defense being totally outmatched by Burrow and crew. Kind of looked like Bucs/Rams from last year. I wonder which coordinator is getting roasted more in Buffalo?

  11. D-Rok Says:


    Love this site, and love your reporting. However, I think you are grossly overestimating our O-line.

    – Worst run game in NFL. Objective fact.
    – Very poor run and pass blocking grades. Can be subjective here (PFF).
    – Tons of TFL’s given up this year by this line.
    – How far back is the pocket pushed back on most passes? Into Brady’s lap?
    – Several drive-killing OL penalties and bone-head plays.

    Now if you are trying to say the talent is here on this OL, but they suffered due to incompetent coaching (trying to be nice here…) then I could say your point is debatable. Subjectively, this OL was consistently…poor.

    How the OL performs is a marriage of talent, grit, game-planning, scheme, and coaching. The bottom line? That marriage fell apart this year.

    So I’ll push back a bit on your premise that fans who be hollerin’ ’bout the OL aren’t valid in their arguments and assessments. For whatever reason, the OL wasn’t good enough this year, and that’s the bottom line.

    GO BUCS next year!!!

  12. Allbuccedup Says:

    With that we should definitely trade or release Donovan Smith.

  13. Bucsfan13 Says:

    They ran for over 170 yards! All of the teams left run the ball very well and play good defense. That’s playoff ball right there. I don’t think people realize just how historically bad our running game was this year. People please read the articles that the Joes have written about our anemic run game. To blame Brady for this season and not noting the horrible run game is disingenuous.

    The Bengals OL wasn’t good, so what did they do? Did they try to do long developing quotes? No! Short and precise routes. Chase is a deep threat. Cincy didn’t go deep all game, but Chase still made some clutch plays

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Allbuccedup … ‘With that we should definitely trade or release Donovan Smith’. With all our other ‘expenses’ this coming season, it’d probably be too expensive to just release Donovan ($8.0 mil CAP hit would result), and with his $17.9 mil salary I doubt anyone would trade for him. Thus … welcome to the 2023 Bucs Donnie.

    But that doesn’t mean we have to keep him at Left Tackle. He’s shown me that, for whatever reason, he’s become a liability out there. I say move him to Guard (preferably Left Guard) and look for another option at LT.

    Moving Tristan Wirfs comes to mind (and putting Hainsey or Goedeke over at RT). If that’s not feasible, draft a LT with our #1 pick (assuming there’s a potential starter remaining in the draft when we pick at #19). Or if we must keep Donovan at LT, find a QB who is really good at running to his right.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Bucsfan13 … I too was impressed with the Bengals’ adjustments, but no one’s mentioned 1 minor fact: Joe Burrows has been a pinata this year. They gave up 44 sacks in the 17 games (over 2.5 per game) and have already given up 5 in the playoffs in 2 games (very consistent at least). And some of those were brutal hits from the games I saw.

    Do you really think a 45-year old Tom Brady could’ve withstood that kind of punishment? Burrows made a lot of plays this year because he hung in there & took the hits. Tom Brady couldn’t have done that; that’s not the path to longevity.

  16. D-Rok Says:


    Have you watched Smith’s feet? He is big and strong, but his feet are slow to me. Can you really imagine Smith having the lateral quickness to be an effective pulling guard? Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I see, and I don’t see him as being a good guard – except that he’s big.

  17. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Joe is in O line denial. The O line was subpar and that’s being kind. The only push they got was backwards . Injuries played a part. We definitely would’ve been much better with Jensen and Stinnie. In their defense BL could’ve helped them out by being creative and unpredictable. I watch a lot of football and I didn’t see much worse in the whole league. This false narrative that Brady needs an all pro line is garbage. He just needs an average line and some semblance of a run game. Look at Josh Allen last night. His line sucked so he sucked. I can’t give you a more glaring example of the importance of line play. Mobility doesn’t mean shjt if your line sucks.

  18. Goatfarmer Says:

    Stupid is as stupid Yucs.

    Toad the Incontinent Bowels.

  19. BelleGladeBuc Says:

    The Bucs had the worst rushing attack in the history of the modern day NFL.

    The success or failure of the running attack is all on the OLINE. Run blocking is about toughness, physicality and want to.

    The Bucs OLINE was historically horrendous when it came to run blocking.

    There’s no debate about it.

    When your OLINE is the worst ever at something in the history of the NFL, you aren’t good, you aren’t mediocre, you aren’t bad. You’re TERRIBLE.

  20. D-Rok Says:

    Good stuff, Kentucky and BelleGlade.

    It’s rather pointless now, but I’d like to see how us fans would grade this OL in a Joe poll.

    I know earlier in the year, with the article where Goodwin graded the OL, it seems to me a majority of posters here gave grades well below the coach. But, what do us fans know, anyway? *SHOULDER-SHUG*

  21. Alanbucsfan Says:

    It was Cincy’s day yesterday. Burrow was terrific, no turnovers, practically no penalties, and Allen and Bills receivers were not on same page much of the game.
    Are the Bills coaches that bad?
    I don’t think so- sometimes it’s just not your day and the other team is firing.
    Leftwich didn’t have what he had in the past to work with- could he have adjusted more? Probably, but the Bucs are talent deficient at alot of positions.

  22. SB~LV Says:

    Can’t blame Leftwhich …. He did the best he could ( Peter Principal)
    Bruce Arians is to blame not realizing that his 2 protégés were NOT NFL material for the position that they were promoted to.
    I would like the Cowboys OC to come to Tampa as HC

  23. Infomeplease Says:

    IMO, the O-line played middle of the pack…average!! Considering all the on going injuries, that was as expected. It’s up to the game plan and play calling to make a difference. Joe is right, BAD COACHING and VERY PREDICTABLE play calling did the line in. Also the lack of play action and motion, to keep the defense on their heels instead of their toes!! You know. Coaching!!!

  24. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    Byron is a cinder block head compared to the Bengals coach. I heard the guys on a popular podcast expounding on the bengals HC: “they passed put of Jumbo run formation, they spread the field and ran, there was shifting and motion. After the Chase TD on the next drive they faked it to him and found Hurst wide open”. And what did we get with Byron laughing while saying, “analytics is just fantasy football…..we gon’ do what we DO”. Good riddance. Now we just need a better HC and a half dozen players. Lol.

  25. ATLBuc Says:

    Coaches like Shannahan and Zac Taylor, Andy Reed scheme great plays repeatedly. Runners actually have lanes to run in. Receivers are schemed open. With Leftwich, running backs had to break tackles just to get back to the line of scrimmage. Receivers had to beat their man on their own. The most creative play Leftwich had was the Godwin screen that everyone had scouted out

  26. Your Mom Says:

    It’s really true.

    The apologists for Leftwich would claim: He’s the same guy that called plays for the Super Bowl, and now he can’t call plays?

    But even my grandmother can call plays for a perfectly running offense. An offense with problems separates the men from the boys and that’s what we saw play out this year.

  27. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    Without red pen Bruce apparently he couldn’t

  28. Fitz Says:

    Watching the games yesterday only reinforced how bad our line was this year. Many times I saw running backs with huge holes to run through. I also saw quarterbacks having time to go through multiple reads and then hit receivers on slow developing plays. I also heard announcers say “Did you see how they schemed that guy open on that play. Something that rarely happened in Bucs games.

  29. Craig Says:

    That would be something totally new for the Bucs. They haven’t yet had a good coach, not even Gruden.

    It will not be Bowles, because he thinks his schemes always work, which is a delusion.

  30. Matt Says:

    The main problem with the running game was the play calling. We ran in predictable spots with a predictable play. We rarely ran to the edge as an example. We rarely ran out of different formations.

    1st and 10 up the middle was a joke for a reason. NFL teams are well equipped to stop something if they know where and when something is coming.

    That being said could we have been better with a better OL and less Lenny? Sure. But we are probably talking 5-10% better. Good play calling would have been substantially more important

  31. Defense Rules Says:

    D-Rok … I’ll be the first to admit that D Smith has slow feet (kinda slow reflexes too it seems). I agree not ideal for a pulling Guard, but even worse for a Left Tackle. We can’t trade him, we can’t cut him without major $$$ impact. At least inside he should be pretty much the immovable object (kinda like Vita Vea?). How do you move that much weight? Very slowly.

  32. sasquatch Says:

    Leftwich did not adjust because he lacked the creativity. He was Bruce’s guy, and when daddy left, he was lost. He’s dumber than a bag o’ hammers.

  33. catcard202 Says:

    Bengals run a McVay(Rams) style OFF…Use a ton of 11 personnel, bunch sets & pre-snap motion to scheme release separation and personnel mismatches using play-action….(IE…A much more creative OFF than Lefty’s!)

    Need to see who Bowles brings in as OC/OFF Staff before we can ascertain direction of 2023 Bucs…Regardless of who’s behind C.

  34. gotbbucs Says:

    This offensive line wasn’t bad enough to have these results. They were put in no win situations weekly with a poorly developed scheme and predictable play calling, a fat running back that typically refused to fight for yards, and an old balls QB that was way more concerned with protecting his blind side than establishing a respectable run game.
    I think the fact that they fired the OC, RB coach, and WR coach let’s you know that the old scheme is getting blown up.

  35. D-Rok Says:

    Well, yes, DR – Smith would have some value at guard.

    As a HUGE paperweight, LOL.

  36. Roc Says:

    I think it is funny that Joe and some of the Fans believe Leftwich is gone so this horrible coaching is fixed!

    Bowles is still here NOTHING CHANGES PEOPLE !!!

    We will be a loser next year too.

  37. Joe Says:

    I saw a clip of Eli and Peyton after the Bucs cowgirls game, bc like Joe I prefer to watch the regular broadcast, where they were talking about halftime adjustments. Peyton remarked it’s the most overblown thing in sports bc all that happens at halftime is they took a p!ss, ate a snack and then had to suit back up to take the field again. No huddles tweaking X’s and O’s, no series of impassioned speeches, literally just a bio-break.


    Back when Joe played high school football long, long time ago our coach was making adjustments while we were on the field in the middle of a possession. If he didn’t holler something to us (he would often call over a linebacker or defensive back to relay something back to the defensive huddle) he’d send in a backup for one play to relay adjustments.

    If teams wait until halftime for adjustments, they’re buried.

    Schiano tried to say this when he was here (“Halftime is for peeing”) he got killed.