Missing Big-Play Offense

June 26th, 2023

Depressing numbers.

If you thought the Bucs dialed back the offense last year and went more conservative (safe?) than in the previous six seasons, your eyes did not deceive you.

During the days of former Bucs coaches Dirk Koetter and Bucco Bruce Arians, the Bucs were a high-wire, high-energy, high-scoring, electric offense always looking for the big play.

Last year? Well, let’s just say the offense wasn’t eating any little blue pills.

The Bucs had the seventh-lowest number of big plays on offense, that’s plays of 20 yards or more. And with the exception of the Giants (who had Saquon Barkley, so why throw it?), every team with fewer 20-yard plays than the Bucs had a brutal offense.

For a team with Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Playoff Lenny, so few big plays was borderline criminal.

46 Responses to “Missing Big-Play Offense”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    “We do what we do to help players do what they does”

  2. Voice of Truth Says:

    Byron just reinforced what everyone thought – BA was the genius, the rest were hanger-on’s

    Bowles and Byron were riding coattails and when left alone look at the mess they have made

  3. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I think Bowles is proven as a solid DC and ran that show on his own when Arians was here. It’s the HC role that he hasn’t proven himself in; although he hasn’t had the best situations between the Jets and the mid-offseason coaching change / Brady divorce last year.

    I’m guessing Bowles is to blame for a lot of conservative punt type decision making (i.e. Browns game), but we have to all hope for the sake of a potential turn around that Leftwich really was running the entire offense.

    This team should challenge for the division and post a top 10ish defense. I’m not sure what that translates to in terms of a record but if we are just mediocre at defense or a bottom team in general he needs to go IMO. He has all the tools he should need for a top defense between returning players and an entire defensive draft class and was able to hand select his own OC and is in his 2nd year as HC.

  4. Destinjohnny Says:

    If we had the Eagles line, we would have been elite
    Instead our gm gave us the worst line in football

  5. Buc4evr Says:

    Committed to the running game with no O line. Could not go deep, because no O line. No TE to exploit coverages or to block for that matter. Will this season be more of the same?

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    Hmmm, I wonder if our woeful OLine had anything to do with the lack of big plays in the passing game (intermediate & deep passing routes need time to develop?) or in the running game (it’s helpful if the OLine actually opens up some holes?).

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    Buc4ever … ‘Will this season be more of the same?’

    Great question; really wish someone had a clue what the answer is. LOTS of changes on offense, and all we can do is hope that it all comes together relatively quickly or we’ll be at the bottom looking up.

  8. Cobraboy Says:

    @DR: The idiots-in-charge were responsible for at spit sandwich put on the field, period, end of story.

    The rest is just excuses.

    Carolina, Houston, and Denver had more big plays. Do you think their OL was superior to the Bucs? I do not.

    I will be happy when this underachieving staff is in the rear-view mirror. I felt the same way under Lovie Smith.

    I expect 2023 to be equally as painful as 2022, Canales or not.

  9. Brandon Says:

    That’s what happens when your QB is content audibling to smoke screens and checking down the first three quarters of every game last year.

  10. Marine Buc Says:

    Get ready because this new offense will be even more conservative than the offense we saw last season…

    Our new OC admitted recently he will encourage the QB to take what the defense gives and that 2 yard passes will be the norm – especially during the first 3 quarters of play.

    Enticing the defense to play closer to the LOS will open up the deeper routes in the second half.

  11. Dooley Says:

    Our offense was NOT “conservative” last season, it was incapable. Incapable of stringing together stretches of production, incapable of scoring, incapable of moving the ball, started flat damn near every game(like 2020), and struggled to win games we held teams under 20 points because we could barely score 18.

  12. Glass Half Full Guy Says:

    I expect Canales to open things up more than the “run it hard and throw just enough to move the chains” that he’s selling the media. Gino Smith had big numbers in the deep ball game last year and with ME13 being so good at 50/50 balls, he might trust our QB enough to go for it more than last year. As long as the run game gets some respect and the oline can hold up, we might see a little more of the ol’ “no risk it, no biscuit”. At the very least I think we can all agree that the play calling will have more imagination this year. Plus having a “speedster” in Palmer who can actually run routes and catch (sorry, Scotty) can only help our cause.

  13. gp Says:

    I’m guessing Bowles is to blame for a lot of conservative punt type decision making (i.e. Browns game), but we have to all hope for the sake of a potential turn around that Leftwich really was running the entire offense.
    I’m all in on Bowles’ ideal of controlling the time of possession through a more conservative(mostly) offensive game plan. I also think that when the opposing defense loads up the box, we should strike deep and sting them.

    Was last years abomination due to a change of offensive mindset? Was it due to injuries, retirement, leading to major changes to the offensive line? Was it due to TB12’s off field problems? Could it be that our OC was just completely unable to adjust to the new mindset and personnel situation?
    Maybe it was the perfect storm of all of those things combined.

    None of us in the fanbase knows for sure what Canales will do with the offense this year. Based on the word salad responses he has been giving to questions, I’m not convinced that HE knows yet. It’s very easy to interpret his responses to what you want to believe he will do, but I see nothing solid myself.
    Since ’76 (yes I lived through the winless times) This is the first time that I have had low confidence at this point leading up to the next season.
    I’m hopeful that the coaching staff can bring the players together and scheme for the best possible (skill use/output/outcome) game plans.

    Right now, it’s all just words and smokescreens IMO.

  14. Bucsfan13 Says:

    Warren also had this incredible stat line from the same post, the Chiefs explosive pass offense of 2022:

    10.8% of attempts gained 20+ yds

    more explosive than 2021
    or 2020
    or 2019

    DESPITE the fact that they dropped their avg target depth massively:

    2022: 7.2 air yds/att
    2021: 7.4 air yds/att
    2020: 8.1 air yds/att
    2019: 8.5 air yds/att

    Interesting. Fans complained that the lack of explosiveness was from shorter passes and not deep shots. K.C. proved that when you a competent play caller who adjusts his scheme you can succeed. Mahomes had receivers wide open thanks to innovative play designs. Less deep shots to Hill and more shorter throws to receivers for YAC.

  15. David Says:

    Interesting to know if it was BL or Bowles.

    If you watched them last year, you do not need graphs, charts or statistics to tell you how putrid the offense became

  16. TOMMY MORDUE Says:


  17. DBS Says:

    The entire team had faults all year. Started with Brady and his personal problems. Injuries starting in training camp carried right into the season. Leftnut and the coaches. In all it was luck this team even made it to the playoffs.

  18. Cobraboy Says:

    I suspect Brady checked down as often not to get hit as to gain yards.

  19. Boss Says:

    he makes some mean shrimp though!!!


  20. Just Leave Trask Alone Says:

    Whelp we got a QB with a career 226 PYPG that has declined every year since his rookie season. Last year he had a 180 PYPG, including a 170 avg with LA who he had a “resurgence” with. I don’t know how you can have a resurgence when your yardage production drops.

    June and July are generally a time for optimism, but I’m looking at metrics trends and I just don’t see a rational indicator for offensive improvement over last year.

    Baker Mayfield gets in front of the mic and says the right things. He puts on a good show in underwear practice and “commands the huddle” – fools the Rick Spielmans of the world – but the reality is the yard production has been missing for multiple seasons.

    I feel like I’m shouting into the void and nobody is listening. One thing is for sure, if we get under 200 PYPG after the bell rings that will not be something able to be kept hidden. The line is “he’s the guy with game experience” but where are the yards? You can’t throw for 180 per game and win in the NFL.

  21. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Just Leave Trask Alone

    If Baker throws for 3,500 yards with a 3 to 1 TD/INT ratio I will consider that to be a successful comeback season for him. Similar to what Geno Smith had last year.

    Combine that with a top ten defense, a top 15 running game and a weak schedule the Bucs could have a solid season.

  22. Buc4evr Says:

    The long suffering fans on this blog are concerned about this upcoming season. I am not sure if the Buc’s staff has the same level of concern about the product they are going to put on the field as us fans? The whole idea of an offense that is not going after the big plays is not how football is played in this day and age. Bowles is going to hide in his shell and think he can rely on a defense that is going to run out of steam by game 8.

    I guess I don’t see anything that leads me to believe the the Bucs have really improved over last season. Not on the OLine, not with the TE’s. The QB is certainly a huge downgrade. Kicker is an unknown. Special teams is an unknown. Defense has issues with the pass rush. Shaq, white, JTS are all questionable. Overall the more I read on this blog, the less optimistic I am.

  23. Defense Rules Says:

    Cobraboy … ‘The idiots-in-charge were responsible for at spit sandwich put on the field, period, end of story. The rest is just excuses.’

    I’m gonna regret this because I know that you have a far better football background than I do, but I’ll give it a shot. We seem to have entered a period in our nation’s history where we vote AGAINST people rather than FOR people. (Just look at our most recent presidential elections as evidence?) I think I’m seeing that carry over to things in everyday life like sports.

    The Todd Bowles saga seems to be a recent example of that (lots more against him than for him if you believe Joe’s polls). BA’s best years (in both Arizona & Tampa) were with Todd Bowles as his DC; in the other years, BA was just slightly above average. And yet BA’s ‘No riskit, no biscuit’ offensive philosophy is lauded, while Bowles’ ‘hybrid 3-4 defense’ is under-appreciated IMO. He turned a woefully under-performing defense into a Top-10 defense pretty much overnight. And that was with most of the salary CAP going to BA’s offense, not Bowles’ defense.

    Todd Bowles made 2 critical mistakes last year far as I’m concerned. One was retaining BA’s coaching staff (yes, especially BL). The second was dual-hatting himself as HC AND DC (relatively few coaches can pull that off, and especially without a strong counterpart on the other side of the ball). As a consequence of those 2 decisions, BOTH the offense AND the defense paid a price & backslid (injuries helped certainly, but every team has injuries).

    He fixed 1 of those 2 mistakes this off-season by replacing BL & most of the offensive assistants. Only time will tell if his selections were good ones, but at least there’s hope for the time being. Bowles has remained dual-hatted as the DC however, and I’m still not an advocate of that. BUT … if Canales works out & gets full control of the offense, it just might work. We won’t know until the end of the season more than likely.

    In the meantime, I’m always wary of the notion that ‘the grass is greener on the other side of the fence’. Usually it’s not in my experience. We followed Dungy’s 6 years (54-42 W-L here) with 7 years of Gruden (57-55 W-L here), 3 years of Raheem (17-31 W-L), 2 years of Schiano (11-21 W-L here), 2 years of Lovie (8-24 W-L here), 3 years of Koetter (19-29 W-L here) until we hit upon BA (31-18 W-L here). And BTW Cobra, BA without Tom Brady went 7-9. With Tom Brady? 24-9 W-L record. You gotta have the horses to win consistently, and last year we had a bunch of Shetland ponies.

  24. Crickett Baker Says:

    I, too, have been watching the Bucs since ’76 and last season was the one that I completely lost confidence (and hope) in. I am pretty excited about this one, even with Todd. It was a LOT his fault and you heard it in his pressers. Afraid Tom would throw pics, Darden did nothing wrong, etc. etc. I also think Tom was scared because his ex was not performing her type of voodoo to protect him (like she had done for each game previously). The whole team felt half-asleep and not having any fun (except the Munich game for which Todd had a good preparation scheme). Things will be better this year as Bowles has some better assistants and besides, it can not be worse.

  25. HC Grover Says:

    The Bowles Chug a Lug game plans….

  26. Just Leave Trask Alone Says:

    Geno threw for 4200+ yards roughly a 250 PYPG average. For my money that’s the floor for a big time NFL offense if you have a top 10 rushing attack.

    3500 / 17 = 205 PYPG which would be a 25 PYPG jump over his last year’s totals.

    Last season Bucs had 76 rushing yards per game. Last in the league. Let’s say they jump to the middle of the pack which was 125 YPG.

    205 + 125 = 330 YPG which would put the Bucs at 20th in total yards based on last year’s rankings. Bucs were 15th last year in total yards.

    People fall in love with names and don’t look at the numbers.

    Mayfield needs a huge rebound year that surpasses his career highs to keep Trask on the sideline. No way he keeps the job with 230 YPG or lower.

    Bet your house on Trask finishing out this year at a minimum.

  27. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Just Leave Trask Alone

    If Trask wins the starting job I would be fine with that but it seems like Mayfield is considered the front runner so far.

    Whoever the starter is I will be keeping low expectations… Brady is gone and so are the gaudy statistics he accomplished the past 3 seasons.

    If the Bucs are going to be successful it will be due to our defense and a much improved running game. Not due to our QB “lighting it up”. Taking care of the football and limiting turnovers will be more important than passing yards…

  28. Marine Buc Says:

    @ JLTA

    I also believe that Baker Mayfield is a better fit for the offense that is being installed…

    Lots of play action bootlegs and moving pockets.

    Not exactly a good fit for Kyle Trask who is more of a traditional pocket passer.

  29. Cobraboy Says:

    DR, with all due respect, nothing you mentioned excuses poor coaching.

    IMO, the #1 issue with the 2022 Bucs was terrible coaching and game planning. Sure, injuries are a thing, but I did not see any adjustments on O (primarily) with coaching or game planning.

    And BOWLES let it happen. Flat Brim was bad, but BOWLES let Flat Brim incompetence continue for an entire season.


  30. Dooley Says:

    “IMO, the #1 issue with the 2022 Bucs was terrible coaching and game planning. Sure, injuries are a thing, but I did not see any adjustments on O (primarily) with coaching or game planning.”

    Hyperbole, So what did you see when you watched games? did you see tip top execution? did you see a team that had something to lean on to keep them in game or keep them ahead on the scoreboard or catch them up from behind before the game ends? For crying out loud, we lost a game because our endzone video boards tipped a play off to the opposing defense towards the end of regulation.

    What I do know just reading off this site, is a lot of posters are absolutely clueless about the trade-off of responsibility from ownership to the GM to the coaching staff and to the players and struggle pinning who messed up where to make something go wrong. Because coaching stops Donovan Smith from holding on a given play, or Coaching makes that tackle on a QB not look like a roughing the passer flag or coaching is going to tip that errant throw out of a defenders hand and negate the turnover.

    Some of you guys make it really evident, that you’re either biased against our HC for whatever reason or don’t want him to succeed for all the wrong reasons, but anybody mentions SB LV and the first name you mention is Tom Brady when you should be praising Bowles equally for shutting down an offense that seems to be the next, most consistent thing in ALL of the NFL.

  31. Cobraboy Says:

    I am biased toward excellent football and winning.

    If any coach or player is not biased toward the same thing, I have no use for them.

    Dooley, good coaching leads to good execution leads to on-field success.

    And, no, I have not seen that consistently with Bowles. He didn’t bring it with the J-E-T-S JetsJesJets, and he’s not bringing it with his HC stint with the Bucs.

    OK/decent DC, abysmally terrible HC.

    One good game shutting down KC was nice. But he was not HC, and KC was seriously banged up on the OL.

    I gave Bowles a chance last season, hoping he’d succeed. I saw nada that shows 2023 will be any different than 2022. Canales is a total unknown, and I don’t buy rookie coach or player majik dust.

    CB’s Law of Rhetorical Economics: The reason “talk is cheap” is because the Supply outweighs the Demand.

  32. captivajim Says:

    If the O Line performs as they did last yr ; Licht and bowleszo should Both be fired ..

  33. Cobraboy Says:

    BTW, Dooley, not only did Bowles shut down KC with coaching for one game, he also shut down the Bucs’ 2022 Offense…all season.

  34. Rod Munch Says:

    I literally said FOR YEARS that if Leftwich got total control of the offense, you’d see him go super conservative – and with that offensive talent, what we saw last year was super conservative.

    MAN did Jacksonville screw over the Bucs by not giving Leftwich his handpicked GM. If the Jags did that, then he would have taken that job, which would have meant Leftwich would have been gone – AND the Bucs would have gotten like a 3rd round pick out of it. What a bunch of pricks in Jacksonville. DeSantis needs to boot that garbage city out of Florida. Plus that blue bridge is hideous, who paints a bridge that ugly shade of blue?

  35. Rod Munch Says:

    Cobraboy – while Bowles is a coward and did cost the team at least the Cleveland game, he is NOT the one who grinded the offense to a halt. If you listened to Arians over the years, he talked multiple times about having to stay on top of Leftwich and keep yelling in his headset to open things up and not be so predictable. That’s why for years I said if Leftwich ever got full control of the offense and ran it his way, he’d run it straight into the ground.

    Leftwich is such an idiot he actually thought, now that Arians was gone, he’d improve on the Arians offense by making it more predictable and less aggressive, and adding a ton of 1-yard WR screens on 2nd down, to add to his remarkable ability to constantly run it up the middle for 1-yard on 1st down, never making adjustments or using the playaction to make defenses back off. Leftwich is 100% to blame for the offense last year, and we even had the reports of Bowles going to Leftwich and telling him to mix things up, to put in some new concepts, to try something different, and Leftwich blowing him off.

    In all Leftwich literally sounds like he’s a complete moron, and Arians was trying to pull the greatest gag of all-time on the NFL by making him into an NFL headcoach. And he nearly pulled it off, except Arians didn’t count on even Leftwich being so clueless as turning down the Jags job because he thought he’d have his pick of the litter this offseason.

  36. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Rod

    I believe the Bucs would have received two 3rd round picks if BL would have been hired as a head coach.

    “Under the revised league policy on “Equal Employment and Workplace Diversity,” the employer-club of a minority who has been hired as a head coach or general manager by another team will receive compensatory third-round draft picks for each of the following two drafts.”

    What a bummer…

  37. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    It’s still ridiculous that we didn’t get a comp 3rd for promoting toilet Bowles

  38. Defense Rules Says:

    cobraboy … ‘But he (Bowles) was not HC, and KC was seriously banged up on the OL’.

    Kinda sounds like you’re using KC’s injuries in that game as an excuse not to give Bowles credit for an excellent defensive performance in that SB game.

    Bowles went 8-9 in his 1st season as Bucs HC and won the division (OK, by default?). BA went 7-9 in his 1st season as Bucs HC and came in 3rd in the division. Can’t remember you or anyone else calling for his head, but then again my memory isn’t what it used to be. It wasn’t until Brady, Gronk, Brown, Fournette & Wirfs were added to the offense … 5 new starters … that it really took off in 2020 & 2021. It took Bowles a year (2019) to ‘fix the defense’, but that certainly paid off in 2020 & 2021 also.

    Both our offense & our defense had some vey significant injuries last season as well as the loss of a number of key starters (Gronk, Brown, Marpet, Suh, JPP, Whitehead, etc) but it was the lack of real depth that did us in. We sucked as a TEAM, not just the HC. Our GM did a miserable job, our OC did a miserable job, our QB did a miserable job, and many if not most of the players on both sides of the ball did a miserable job.

  39. Defense Rules Says:

    Rod Munch … ‘while Bowles is a coward and did cost the team at least the Cleveland game, he is NOT the one who grinded the offense to a halt.’

    Calling someone a coward where I grew up was a VERY strong accusation & and in the military profession that I chose after graduating from college. I hardly think that Todd Bowles is someone who ‘lacks courage to do or endure dangerous things’. Strange way to come to Bowles’ defense (which sounds like what you were attempting to do?).

  40. Cobraboy Says:

    Oh, I agree that Leftwich sucked more than any OC in NFL history. He makes me pine for Les Steckel.

    But In my world, the guy on top is responsible for his managers. Bowles was Flat Brim’s boss, and Bowles is responsible for Leftwich’s success.

    DR: we disagree. You make excuses, injuries, etc. The league shows many great coaches can coach around many injuries I do not believe that Bowles has any ability to coach around injuries.

    KC’s injuries were for ONE game, not the entire season. I also recall Mahomes was hobbled, also. I also recall that BA was HC and not Bowles.

    I do not deny that injuries are a part of the game. But beyond injuries, what exactly did Bowels do that deserves such optimism? His D was just semi-OK, and when it mattered the most got gang-raped by a mediocre Cowboys team.

    I’d opine cap strangulation had a bigger impact than injuries in 2022.

    I gave the new staff a chance last season and got whacked. The Bucs did NOTHING to give me any warm fuzzies going into 2023. And coaching performance gave me even less.

    Look, we have no choice but hope that Bowles does something he’s never done before, and prove what a great HC he is. But I won’t hold my breath.

  41. unbelievable Says:

    @DR – Rod is right about the Cleveland game,

    Bowles was coaching scared. Playing not to lose, instead of playing to win. We saw that in a few other games, questionable calls to punt when we were already on the opponent’s side of the ball, etc.

    That said, I think Bowles is a very good defensive coordinator. His ability as a head coach remains to be seen… as I can’t hold his Jets tenure against him, given that that organization was a bigger dumpster fire than the Bucs for a while…

  42. stpetebucfan Says:

    “I am not sure if the Buc’s staff has the same level of concern about the product they are going to put on the field as us fans?”

    If you ever had the chance to hang around any locker rooms as a reporter you’d see that these guys are ALL fiercely competitive.

    It doesnt’ even matter how they feel about the Bucs. NO pro athlete or coach does not want to win in the worst possible way. It’s almost a sickness…a definite need. We get to turn off the TV and beotch here on JBF no real skin in the game but our feefees. The team has EVERYTHING on the line every year and again it’s a game composed of FIERCELY competitive guys.

    Doesn’t mean I disagree with Cobra that coaching didn’t suck last year. But it wasn’t because they didn’t care.

    In total I do agree with Cobra because while injuries..spotty play…bad luck…an over the hill QB…lots of reasons…But Bowles cowardly HC calls did stick in my crawl. I’m ready to see if he’s learned from his mistake.

  43. ATLBuc Says:

    Very interesting. Especially since we recently saw stats that showed Brady threw the most 20+ yard throws.

  44. garro Says:

    Criminal is the correct descroption Joe.
    The reason is very simple as many here have stated.
    Brady did not have time to throw. 2.6 second average release time.
    Do people really think the GOAT prefered to throw the ball that fast? He prefered not to take sacks. Add Leftnut/Bowles to this and you get what we had last year.

    Go Bucs!

  45. garro Says:

    “If you listened to Arians over the years, he talked multiple times about having to stay on top of Leftwich and keep yelling in his headset to open things up and not be so predictable.”

    @Rod Munch

    I aggree that Leftnut was an Idiot. I aggree with most of what you post here, but this one leaves me with questions.

    So was Bowles yelling into the headset last year? A fail if he was not. Still a fail if he waited too long to do it. Who signed off on Leftnuts game plans?

    Go Bucs!

  46. Nybuccguy Says:

    Brady was too scared of getting hit to let big plays develop