Best Offenses Avoid Third Downs

September 22nd, 2023

Bucs coach Todd Bowles.

Joe is honestly stoked about the new Todd Bowles.

It began with Week 1. In the fourth quarter needing a yard from the Bucs-32, Bowles went for it. Somewhere, Chargers coach Brandon Staley blushed.

And then Bowles decided to boot a 57-yard field goal on the same drive.

It was like an out-of-body experience for Bowles. The same guy took the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands and played for overtime last year — against the Browns.

What got into Bowles?

Alas, the play-it-safe mentality still exists. For example, Bowles was talking about offense yesterday.

“I think if we get in third-and-manageable – I know [Baker Mayfield has converted] some third-and-longs – if we can get in third-and-manageable, that gives us a good chance to succeed,” Bowles said. “We’ve been running it [well] enough to get in third-and-manageable positions so we’re going to try and continue that.”

Joe will get to the running part in a moment.

All kinds of statistical evidence demonstrates the best offenses avoid third downs, much less “manageable” third downs. The best offenses move the chains on first or second downs. But it is hard to be the best when you’re so focused on running the ball. And that brings Joe to the run game.

Joe hears Bowles discuss how the run game is “efficient.” Not sure that should be a goal.

Efficient, to Joe, means good enough to get by. For a team like the Bucs that wants to run the ball so much, shouldn’t they strive for something better than “efficient?”

Yeah, it’s early in the season. But sorry, very little that Rachaad White has done since he was drafted gives Joe much confidence that he can or will flip the switch running the ball.

42 Responses to “Best Offenses Avoid Third Downs”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We will not ever avoid 3rd downs by running on 1st & 2nd downs…..

  2. Beej Says:

    We had success with a bunch of stuff in the Bears game that won’t work against the Eagles

  3. Alanbucsfan Says:

    The 49ers were very successful last night creating holes for McCaffrey to gain significant rushing yards- I’m confident in Canales to draw up similar plays- do the Bucs have the backs to take advantage?

  4. adam from ny Says:

    win the game and coach big balls is about to become BMOC

  5. John Sinclear Says:

    By rule, you get 4 downs to make 10 yards. There must be a reason for that – otherwise they would give you 2 downs to make those 10 yards.

  6. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Efficiency is the goal as they learn the scheme. Bigger runs will happen as the RB’s learn to use their vision zones.

  7. Jack Clark Says:

    Dan Says:
    September 22nd, 2023 at 10:28 am
    Let’s review, LMAO…. The Yuccaneers have won 2 games, barely I may add against 2 winless teams.. The Bears are the worst team in the NFL followed closely by the Vikings, The Yuccaneers barely beat the Vikings, with Faker Bayfield throwing for a measly 160 yards, then the Yucs had to have a int late in the game against the cupcake Bears to seel the win mind you, with 25,000 BEARS fans at the Yuccaneers stadium…Now the bloodbath begins, Faker Bayfiend will emerge Monday Night in front of the nation, he will throw 3 ints and no td passes, Bucs will get exposes and destroyed in front of the nation, Eagles 37 Yucs 13… Then they head to NO where the Saints D will expose the Fakers, Saints 30 Yucs 10….. Yuccaneers will soon be an afterthough and emerge back to there 1:00 regional games shown to 2 percent of the country, LMAO,, Then you unemployed folks will have to find something better to do w your weekda

    You still angry? LOL

    Who hurt you? 😂

  8. Jp09 Says:

    The Eagles must suck too seeing they also beat two 0-2 teams. One of those being the same terrible team the Bucs beat….

  9. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Bucs fans don’t feed the troll. It’s best not to pay attention to someone so insecure that they brag about their a grand lifestyle and personally attack strangers on the internet.

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    Best offenses avoid 3rd downs … yea verily. Best offenses also score a ton of points. Is that the 2023 Bucs? Not so far, and that’ll probably hold true for the season. Our 47 points scored puts us squarely in the middle-of-the-pack, ranked at #16.

    But there are 4 offensive categories that we’re doing significantly better than average at.

    1 – Turnovers: thus far 0 INTs & 0 fumbles lost … #1 in NFL.
    2 – Time of possession: thus far 33:17 … #7 in NFL.
    3 – Passing yardage: thus far 486 passing yds … #9 in NFL.
    4 – 3rd Down Conversions: thus far 43.75% … tied for #9 NFL.

    Defensively we rank #8 overall and we’re excelling at stopping the run (ranked #1). We’re also doing outstanding at creating turnovers (5 thus far), ranking #4 in NFL.

    Those strengths as a team tell me that we’re playing heads-up, mistake-free football to date. Nothing fancy, but we’re getting the job done. Monday night’s game will be a good measuring stick IMO in regards to how we’re progressing. Still picking the Bucs to win 24-20.

  11. BucU Says:

    Don’t respond to this loser at all. Don’t take the bait guys. Make like he doesn’t exist at all. As far as I’m concerned he doesn’t exist.

  12. Dwayne Cone Says:

    San Francisco Ran 39 and Passed 37 times last night. As far as 1st downs they ran on 2 of every 3. First 3 and out was on 3 straight passes.

    That exact formula took them to the NFC Championship last year and have the 49er’s on a 13 game regular season win streak.

    God that Shanahan must be an Idiot.

  13. Defense Rules Says:

    And oh BTW, for all those bemoaning the demise of ‘No Risk-it, No Biscuit’ consider this stat:

    Last year Bucs were #1 in Passing Attempts, #2 in Passing Yards, but #12 in Passing TDs and #19 in Net Yds per Pass Attempt with 5.9 Yds/Attempt average.

    This year Bucs are #18 in Passing Attempts, #9 in Passing Yards, but #9 in Passing TDs and #6 in Net Yds per Pass Attempt with 7.0 Yds/Attempt average.

    Kinda sounds like the performance we’re getting out of our PASSING GAME this year is considerably better thus far than what we were getting last year. The current 7.0 Yds/Attempt is actually the same as the average we got in 2020 & 2021 when ‘No Risk-It, No Biscuit’ was in full bloom. Whodathunkit?

  14. HC Grover Says:

    So far all the changes are working well. I bet we beat the Filthy Eagles.

  15. JB Says:

    Dan sounds like a frustrated Falcons fan still struggling with 28-3 years later.😆

  16. SlyPirate Says:


    The Bucs have been AMAZING at sustained long drives this year. Long drives and long punts have been the hallmark of success this season. So, 3rd downs are fine as long as we’re converting.

    RECOMMENDATION: Don’t sneak Baker on 4ths and short. He’s too small. Why risk injury? Put in a Trask, RB, or …. SUPER RECOMMENDATION … Vea.

  17. PSL Bob Says:

    I think efficient to Bowles is a) don’t turn the ball over, b) eat up the clock, c) convert to 1st downs when it’s 3rd and very short, and d) keep the opponents guessing whether it will be run or pass. He doesn’t care if White breaks it for a long gain. He’s as much as said that before. Run as much as you pass regardless of how many yards you rack up. I’m not a big fan of that philosophy, but can’t complain about the bottom line after the first two games. Let’s see how that philosophy works out this week.

  18. TDavis Says:

    Running it well enough to get to 3rd-and-manageable…that is a recipe to not be a head coach for long

  19. D-Rok Says:

    DR says,
    “The current 7.0 Yds/Attempt is actually the same as the average we got in 2020 & 2021 when ‘No Risk-It, No Biscuit’ was in full bloom. Whodathunkit?”

    This stat is predominantly due to the massive YAC from Evans, in my opinion.

    Let’s see where this mean lies in about 8 weeks. Hope they can keep up this level of production – it’s a pleasant surprise so far!

  20. TDavis Says:

    Nobody runs the ball like the 49ers, and no one ever will.

  21. orlbucfan Says:

    If a team gets at least 3.5-4 yards on every down, they hang on to the ball and run clock. It also wears down a defense, thus opening up plenty of scoring opportunities. Can the Bucs pull it off? Whew, that’s a hard one to answer even if I am a devout fan. 🙂

  22. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    I think Dan is Jimmy Haslam (Browns owner) trolling Mayfield because he bit into a big ole crap sandwich when he dumped Bake for Massage Man. LOL

  23. Cobraboy Says:

    I will not be surprised if deep in the dark planning war rooms at OBP, the braintrust thought they could do well vs. Minn & Chi showing just enough to win, and saved a bunch unseen stuff for Philly.

    For example: have they shown a Palmer deep streak yet? How about screens?

  24. BucsBeast Says:

    If your hate for the Bucs is that bad, do us all a favor and find a new team to follow. We all know your a Brady follower. Go back to the Pat’s. Ride your little band wagon back to NE.

  25. D-Rok Says:

    @ Cobra,

    I had similar questions, and if they do to the Eagles what you’re suggesting, then Canales is way better than I thought he would be. Let’s see what happens on MNF first!

  26. Bojim Says:

    Danny’s butthurt.

  27. Cobraboy Says:

    @ D-Rok: The Sage mentions a convo with a D player’s father who stated he was told the D will carry until the O “gets it.”

    Maybe this is the week.

    Fact is the O has been consistently improving, and I think there are no cupcakes in the NFL. The D already “gets it.”

    The Iggles have new D & O coordinators. I suspect they, too, have some growing pains…although with many stud players.

  28. JimBobBuc Says:

    Like a lot of people here, I was watching the 49ers run game. My biggest takeaway was the patience and vision of McCaffrey. When McCaffrey gets the ball, he’s running at 3/4 speed or maybe less and using his vision to look for any hole. With zone schemes, the hole can be anywhere and many, many times the hole is not in the designed location but on the backside of the play. Our backs, White and Tucker, seem to be running a lot faster and are focused on hitting the designed hole hard, so they aren’t looking for a hole as much as McCaffrey and certainly aren’t looking backside. I think they are being coached to do this to avoid the negative or zero-yard plays like last year. The problem is that they miss opportunities for gains over 5 yards. I think Bowles would be very happy to run a guaranteed 3.5 yards on every play to eat the clock and rest his beloved defence.

  29. Cobraboy Says:

    JimBob: I’d be delighted with 3.5ypc…and an occasional big play.

  30. JimBobBuc Says:

    I loved it when we ran 3 consecutive runs for a first down in the Bears game and Bowles and I would love to see that more often. But like you, I want some variety with successful passes. To me, time of possession is great, IF youre ahead in the game by two scores. Our conservative play calling near the goal line bothered me but Canales doesn’t want Baker to force it and create an INT. I was not happy in the Bears game that it was a one-score game at the end. I don’t have the infinite confidence in our defence that Bowles has.

    To beat the Eagles we need more TD’s and less FG in the red zone and keep up the turnover-free play.

  31. NE Fan Says:

    Brandon Staley will be out of a job soon, he makes Bowles look like a HOFer. Could you imagine having all that offensive talent and can’t win games? I got to tell ya that Bowles guy is ahead of the curve. What an enlightenment, getting your offense in manageable 3rd down situations. How about don’t run up the middle every first down? That’s a start.

  32. NE Fan Says:

    Cobraboy, what ward did you escape from? The men in the white jackets are looking for you.

  33. Dwayne Cone Says:

    TDavis Says:

    Nobody runs the ball like the 49ers, and no one ever will.

    You are probably right. Browns tried last year and only out rushed the Niners by 130 yards.

    Other 6 teams with more rushing had running QB’s except for Atlanta.

  34. NE Fan Says:

    DR is at it again, let’s compare entire seasons to two games against the bottom feeder defenses. You are beautiful!!! Anything to mouth another hunk of Bowles peepee.

  35. Duane Says:

    The problem with the “good teams move the chains on first and second downs” is that the offense spends relatively little time on the field. Which then leaves the other team’s offense on the field more, which tires out your own team’s defense more, leaving it susceptable to a late game comeback.

    In the fourth quarter of the Chicago game the Bucs offense sputtered, resulting in short drives that kept putting Chicago’s offense on the field, and did not close out the game. A team that steadily runs an efficient offense is the best able to put the game away in the fourth quarter … along with an efficient defense.

  36. NE Fan Says:

    Duane, do you really think KC, Buffalo, Miami, SF, the Bucs under BA give two shats about a tired D? If they can throw up 30+ points a game go top that, that 99% wins games. This don’t tire the D crap is a horrible way to approach games. Yes, like last season short drives resulting in no scores adjustments have to be made but in 2020 & 21 Bucs averaged 31 & 30.5 a game, any coach should want to take that ALL day and not worry about a tired D. NO SUCH THING as.SCORING to QUICKLY!!! Take the points.

  37. Mike C Says:

    Go The F AWAY ne fan!!!! Ffs

  38. Cobraboy Says:

    @NE Fan: the same where I kadoodled your mother.

    I have forgotten more football than you even know.

  39. LongSeason Says:

    We are tied 4th in league in 3rd down attempts with 32 and tied 7th in the league in 3rd downs converted with 14.
    Ball control is an old fashioned notion. The result of this ball control is our offense stays on the field longer and our defense stays off the field longer.
    The running game week one was weak one. As Sir Chuck of the Barkleys would say, it was terble. Just terble. Week two was much improved. The o-line is and will be a work in progress for the next few games.
    I did see poor blocking from the TEs in game one but against the Bears they were blocking better still with room for improvement. Saw some lineman make it to the second level. Just need to be more consistent. Again, room for improvement and for becoming proven.
    White had a terrible week in game one as did the rest of the Buc backfield. Week 2 saw White post 4.29 ypc. The rest of the team was rather pitiful. White isn’t the problem. Tucker is not ready for NFL, yet. Vaughn will hopefully produce some better results.
    Does anyone remember when Mike Alstott kept running into a brick wall over and over again in the NFC Championship game against the Iggles? What was the outcome of that game?

  40. Aceofaerospace Says:

    If we beat Philly I’ll definitely rethink my opinion of Bowels, even if we have a close loss. If we get blown out, it’ll look like we lucked out previously against 2 marginal to bad teams. I’m dying to eat some crow. Go Bucs!

  41. stpetebucfan Says:

    D.R. Since I know you are the fan of “complementary” football so you must love this team.

    All phases seem to be working together and given the Bucs kickers the potential to have the best ST’s in the league.

    Cobra Thx for that explanation. I’ve been wondering where the screens have been. I didn’t know if our OL is too young to get out and execute…White is made for screen passes so it’s not him.

  42. Mark Says:

    Dan says: “Let’s review, LMAO…. The Yuccaneers have won 2 games, barely I may add against 2 winless teams… The Bears are the worst team in the NFL followed closely by the Vikings,…Now the bloodbath begins, Faker Bayfiend will emerge Monday Night in front of the nation, he will throw 3 ints and no TD passes, and the Bucs will get exposed and destroyed in front of the nation, Eagles 37 Yucs 13… “So sayeth Dan Nostradamus. Buc fans are so lucky to have a soothsayer to draw upon! Hell, we don’t have to watch the game now.

    Dan Nostradamus