The Bucs, Number Of Plays, And Time Of Possession

January 6th, 2023

Bucs coach Todd Bowles.

Now we know that Bucs coach Todd Bowles did not want the Bucs to run a no-risk-it; no-biscuit offense because he believed that the Bucs were gassed in the playoffs last year because of that offense.

(As Joe has typed before, the Bucs played in more games in 2020 than anyone — the Chiefs had a playoff bye; the Bucs did not. Did the Bucs look gassed against the Chiefs in the Super Bowl that year?)

So Joe was doing some research last night and came across a very interesting item by way of Rich Hribar of Sharp Football Analysis.

Would you believe (said in a Maxwell Smart voice) the Bucs lead the NFL in average number of offensive plays in a game? That’s right. The Bucs average 69 plays a game.

Well, now it all makes a little sense why the Bucs defense has played so well despite so many injuries. By leading the NFL in average number of plays, that would mean the defense is getting rest, right?

This is exactly what a defensive-minded coach like Bowles would want, right?

As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.” The Bucs are No. 23 in the NFL in average time of possession.

Joe is guessing the Bucs throwing so many short passes is why the Bucs have such a high average number of plays, yet the time of possession isn’t any good.

16 Responses to “The Bucs, Number Of Plays, And Time Of Possession”

  1. CrackWise Says:

    Of course, thank you for posting this. I don’t mean to shut down your comment section, but you got some REAL LOSERS trolling this site!!!

    Maybe even BOTS

  2. CrackWise Says:

    I was saying from DAY 1

    TOP was what we needed to dominate. Coaches be dammed

  3. sasquatch Says:

    You wanna own TOP, ya gotta have a good running game and use it. The Bucs have no running game.

  4. The South African Says:

    This is because of the bucs hurry up offense.

  5. Tap-Out Says:

    I did a little RESEARCH of my own and it tells me that this team at this time is right where it is supposed to be, which means after Sunday’s game, Win Lose or Draw we get to move on to the PLAYOFFS…..and those are the only numbers that mean anything!

  6. Crickett Baker Says:

    Yep, I am so proud of our players. With all the injuries and usually terrible coaching and play-calling, and too many penalties, we are going to the PLAYOFFS! So many on here laughed at that possibility and now we are in it! We are better than any other team in our division! GO BUCS!

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    Good article Joe, except that it’s still missing a bottom line. Yes the Bucs’ offense had 1,105 total plays thus far in 2022 (most in the NFL, averaging 69.1 plays per game, ranking them #1 in the NFL. But that doesn’t translate into a low TOP; like Corso says ‘Bucs are No. 23 in the NFL in average time of possession’.

    What it also doesn’t translate into though is a low number of opposition plays per game. While our offense has garnered 1,105 plays this season for an average TOP of 29:21 per game (excluding O/T), Bucs’ opponents have had 1,006 plays … 63 plays per game average … for an average TOP of 30:39.

    So our defense has been on the field longer than the opponents’ defenses BUT it faced fewer plays. I think it’s the number of plays the defense had to face that’s most important. Last year our defense faced 1,093 plays (64.3 PPG). In 2020 we faced 1,023 plays (63.9 PPG). In 2019 it was 1,073 plays (67.1 PPG). IOW, Bucs’ defense has faced FEWER plays per game average this year than in any of the previous 3 years Todd Bowles was here. He got his wish, but not the results that he was hoping for. Instead of ranking #2 in scoring like we did in 2021, we now rank #24. More plays didn’t translate into more points.

  8. Beej Says:

    All the incomplete passes that stopped the clock

  9. Goatfarmer Says:

    It seems disconnected Blowes wants a running game but does nothing in practice to demand and ensure that his OL improves at run blocking. They can’t move the LOS. They look like they are pass blocking when a power run is called. It’s been like that all season, excepting two flukes.

    Todd is the head coach. He has refused to do anything about it.

  10. Irishmist Says:

    One good way to make sure your players aren’t gassed going into the playoffs would be to give them a bye during the meaningless last game.

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Most number of plays is because we need to go to a 3rd down more often than other teams…..we don’t get first downs on 1st or 2nd down.

  12. geno711 Says:

    Time of possession has to be one of the more overrated stats for NFL football. If you are getting beat by an average 3 or more minutes per game, it may mean something.

    Otherwise, not sure that it will ever mean much in the NFL anymore.

  13. Infomeplease Says:

    Coach Bowles, how’s that working for you??? Record: 8W-8L!!! And your defense is still not well rested!!!

  14. Duane Says:

    This team was not constructed for a dink and dunk, ball control offense. Playing conservatively is playing predictably, and a great disservice to an offense that features the greatest of all time helming it. This franchise does not have the fortune of playing to not lose and be successful. The window is closing, you gotta take more chances, and snapping the punt into Gio’s face is not going to cut it. He is not Dungy, Tomlin, or Hoodie, and has not made the proper adjustments to take advantage of any of the close game situations that can make him successful in these types of games- AND they are not entertaining to watch. If he is allowed to come back next season, he better expect to have oversight.

  15. BucsfanFred Says:

    Kinda like what Beej said: the incomplete passes stop the clock and they take lots of time to snap the next play.
    They use up a lot of human time in a possession.

  16. garro Says:


    “They look like they are pass blocking when a power run is called.”

    Spot on Goatfarmer.

    Noticed this myself and it’s been almost ridiculous to see O-linemen in what looks like pass set pad level on run plays.

    Because of the Zone blocking schemes being used now I could be wrong but when we get no push on run plays I think this is a major problem. Particularly when we need one or 2 yards for a first down. Are they being coached to do this? Certainly wasn’t coached this way when I played.