Running On First Down

September 26th, 2023

Bucs QB Baker Mayfield.

Now this is a little bit of a surprise.

Bucs coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Dave Canales always talk about running the ball, sticking to the run, and having a strong run game.

Yet stats show Bowles and Canales’ words may be overstated.

For example, the Bucs are 20th in the league when it comes to running on first down. The Bucs have run on first downs less than 30 percent of the time. Joe was pretty surprised by that last figure.

Today Bowles noted defenses seem to be waiting for the Bucs to run on first down. As a result, Bowles said maybe changing things up may loosen up defenses for the Bucs to be able to run more effectively.

“I think people load up when they see certain things. Maybe we start out passing a little more and open it up a little bit later, but we’ve got to block it better.

“We’ve got to continue to grind it. You don’t want these guys [pinning] their ears back and trying to come after Baker [Mayfield] like that. We’ve got to do a better job of executing – it’s really that simple.”

Joe doesn’t expect the Bucs to be pass happy and again, Joe doesn’t want Baker Mayfield putting the ball up 40 times a game.

Yes, Joe understands in the first two weeks of the season the Bucs had Mayfield put the ball up 34 times in each game — and the Bucs won both games. Last night Mayfield had 25 attempts and the Bucs lost. Coincidence?

Or could it be as simple as the Bucs the first two games were better off offensively getting their playmakers the ball rather than forcing the ball to a guy who has yet to prove he deserves to be an NFL starter?

52 Responses to “Running On First Down”

  1. Boss Says:

    Earlier today Bucs coach Todd Bowles noted that defenses seem to be waiting for the Bucs to run on first down. As a result, Bowles said maybe changing some things up may loosen up defenses for the Bucs to be able to run more affective.


    It only took lovie 20 games to notice what people have been saying for 2 years. LOL

    just went from little to zero confidence.

  2. CyberDillemma Says:

    “Yes, Joe understands in the first two weeks of the season the Bucs had Mayfield put the ball up 34 times in each game — and the Bucs won both games. Last night Mayfield had 25 attempts and the Bucs lost. Coincidence?”

    The Bucs only had 17 rush attempts, so they passed it 60% of the time. They only had 25 pass attempts because Philly controlled the time of possession.

  3. Mike S Says:

    Baker is a fraud. 1-6 over the next 7 games.

    Then the firing of Bowles will be assured and and this fan base will be granted a mercy and we’ll hopefully get a decent coach to come in.

  4. PSL Bob Says:

    Really, Bowles figured that out? All by himself? I’ve only played sandlot football. Never played in an organized league. But, geez I could tell you don’t run the ball on 1st down every time you start a drive, especially when you don’t have a RB that can get you 4 or 5 yards.

  5. PSL Bob Says:

    Maybe passing the ball early will open up the running game. Worth a try/

  6. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    We’re gonna see Plan-B, on offense… Don’t tell anyone.

  7. David Says:

    Joe says,
    “Yes, Joe understands in the first two weeks of the season the Bucs had Mayfield put the ball up 34 times in each game — and the Bucs won both games. Last night Mayfield had 25 attempts and the Bucs lost. Coincidence?”

    The OC and HC both know Baker can’t be trusted with more than 30 passes per game while running a safe offensive game plan for him. They do not want to showcase the ugly head of Baker from the past to lead the NFL in throwing picks.

    Bake is lucky they didn’t have him to throw more than he did. Otherwise he would have multiple interceptions against that DL and defense.

  8. Mostly Peaceful Trask Fan Says:

    It’s not going to matter if they run on 1st down or 2nd down – the running game is trash and Baker cannot carry the team.

  9. Day 1-76 Says:

    I know everyone on here thinks Jason Licht is a draft Guru, but can anyone tell me if he has ever drafted a good RB? Rachaad White is not a #1 back and 3rd rd.pick Vaughn probably has 250 total yds. in his career.

  10. DFW BUC Says:

    Rewatching the game it sure seemed like Philly could pick up the run 60-70% of the time pre-snap with linebackers taking a step forward. Have you seen where anyone has pointed that out? Is there some keys the Bucs are showing? I do hope going forward we throw to open up the run. Baker does not have me sold just yet but I believe he is still building chemistry. That was an aspect of Brady that I appreciated in that he worked to be perfect. I hope Baker has that trait.

  11. WyomingJoe Says:

    @MikeS: Baker’s not the fraud Mike, you are! You know nothing about what Baker can do. I’ll take your bet about Baker going 1-6 in his next 7 games. Just tell me how much you’re willing to lose. I’m serious…

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’d like to see the stats on running on 1st & 2nd down….I’m noticing a lot of 2nd down runs….and they get stuffed

    We need to get the backs & TEs more involved with our offense…..

  13. Sooners44 Says:

    I find it interesting that with a non existent running game, everyone wants to blame Baker for a badly called game plan. Yes, the INT was unfortunate, but if you can’t run, and have little protection from the offensive line, don’t expect a lot of production from limited pass attempts.

  14. MelvinJunior Says:

    Wonder where we rank in total number of ‘First-Downs’ gained… I’m guessing it can’t be good?

  15. Beej Says:

    I was hoping for a play action on that play out of the end zone

    As for Baker—do any of you honestly believe Trask would have been more effective with all that pressure?

  16. orlbucfan Says:

    PLEASE NO MORE RUNS UP THE MIDDLE ON FIRST DOWN! SCREENS, SWEEPS, even a trick play like a bootleg option, BM to a RB, Godzilla CG14, Otton, etc. Aints won’t know what hit them!

  17. Bucs13 Says:

    Canales doesn’t allow him to audible at the line?

  18. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Seattle doesn’t seem to be missing a beat without Canales

  19. Pelsbuc61 Says:

    Bowles is Lovie 2.0 along with his stubbornness. Between him and Canales, they’ve got to realize their Oline and RBs suck. Baker had his receivers (Evans and Otón) make Simeón crucial drops.

  20. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    ROJO is better than anything on the roster-Licht should make the call and get ROJO in here.

  21. Nope Says:

    “Time to Bake.” Shake n bake, that is.

  22. gp Says:

    DFW BUC Says:
    September 26th, 2023 at 4:26 pm

    Rewatching the game it sure seemed like Philly could pick up the run 60-70% of the time pre-snap with linebackers taking a step forward. Have you seen where anyone has pointed that out?

    Good observation.
    It seems the Eagles did their homework, and we didn’t, IMO.

  23. unbelievable Says:

    The Eagles were ready for it pretty much every time we ran.

    But our runs also felt very predictable last night. I kept calling it out before the ball was snapped, and then watching the same thing each time: stuffed for no gain or minimal gain.

    30 seconds before we snapped the ball on our 1 yard line I tuned to my buddy and said whatever you do, don’t run it here or they’re going to get a safety… 30 seconds later.. duh. Like how did anyone not see that coming? Philly was completely destroying our o-line, ESPECIALLY in the run game.

  24. TonySoprano Says:

    It’s not just that Canales keeps running on 1st, the problem is it’s the same damn run play every time! He goes to a heavy set and slams it between the Guards. It puts 9 damn defenders in the box and out TEs do absolutely nothing to help block, they just get in the way and cause more traffic. Try some sort of other run okay on first. Spread out the D, run wide of the tackles, a reverse – try anything else besides the same damn run play!

  25. Beej Says:

    Wow, just read Eagles have SEVEN #1 picks on their defensive front

  26. HC Grover Says:

    Runs for none.

  27. Jack Clark Says:

    I doesn’t matter which down you run on when your offensive line can’t run block for $#%&!

  28. Why Bowles? Says:

    The Bucs actually did mix it up on first & second downs. Whose offense is this? It sure looks like it mirrors quite a bit of last seasons. Sure there were some different sets and lacked the bubble screens but everything else looked the same. Any OC that doesn’t feature Godwin in the game plan is not a good one.

  29. Joshua porter Says:

    I’d check there math joe cuz it sure does seem like they run alot on 1st down……. I have seen enough of Mr I’m getting 1500 yards this year and time to play tucker in the starring role .

  30. Marine Buc Says:

    I’m starting to think that our head coach is to blame for the constant lame arse runs up the middle that we saw under our last OC and we are now seeing under our new OC…


    Only a handful of plays testing the edge or running off tackle. It is a severe mental illness at this point.

    Doing the same idiotic thing over and over – while expecting different results.

    I mean – these guys are getting paid millions of dollars to be this dumb?


  31. Jmarkbuc Says:

    ME13 makes his catches last night, and the outcome could have very well been MUCH different.

  32. TonySoprano Says:

    I’m not opposed to running on 1st, but maybe instead of running the exact same run play, try a little variation? Maybe don’t go to a heavy formation because we have terrible blocking TEs that only get in the way. Maybe try a misdirection run, a run outside the tackles? Anything besides that same basic crash up the gut. I swear, it’s like Canales’s playbook has one run play.

  33. K_bassuka Says:

    Or maybe Maybefield is not that good and doesn’t instill fear in defenses therefore they load up the box and get ready for the run and hope Barker passes and reverts to what he does best turning the ball over and/or miss open receivers etc.

    I can see Barker having a middle of the pack ceiling as a QB and backup QB floor meaning everything else has to be perfect in order for him to succeed. Let’s go Bucs!

  34. HC Grover Says:

    We lost

  35. Voice of Truth Says:

    Doesn’t it seem just like last year?????

    Start fast, D plays lights out – then a beat down by a better team, injuries set in and then the spiral to a 6-10 finish after a 2-0 start

    We will be lucky to win 6 games total this year

  36. Aceofaerospace Says:

    I wouldn’t care if we waved White. He’s shown me nothing.

  37. Statguy Says:

    Last year white wasn’t good and it was cause he “didn’t get full carries”. This year he has and had a whole off season being gifted the guy and goes out and puts up 3.1 ypc (3.7 when he was bad last year)

  38. gp Says:

    I thought Canales said he was going to try to put his skill players ‘In position to succeed”?
    Running White “up the gut” through the interior of our O-line (our weakest link) and into the strength of the Eagles D-line, doesn’t sound like he was ‘set up to succeed’.
    More like he was set up to fail.
    Doesn’t matter how good of a running back he is, he can’t run through walls.

    Add to that the predictable nature of our play calls and sets, and the Eagles had all the advantage. It’s actually a bit amazing that he had any positive yards at all.

  39. SlyPirate Says:

    UH DUH?!

    R White can’t run the ball. You cannot have a balanced attack without a RB.

    GIVE JOE PROPS HERE … I was willing to give White a chance. Joe’s “advanced stats” said White was horrible. I was also super high on Tucker. Tucker is slower than his reported 40 and he can’t make players miss. It’s time to move on. The Bucs won’t be able to run a 50/50 offense until they have a RB. (And please no Vaugn! He fumbles.)

  40. Defense Rules Says:

    Beej… ‘Wow, just read Eagles have SEVEN #1 picks on their defensive front’.

    Scary good huh, and especially in the middle.

    Took a look at the play-by-play for last night’s game, specifically the 1st down plays. Bucs had 18 opportunities all together.

    o 7 runs: 5 middle, 1 over LG, 1 over LT. TOTAL yardage: 10 yards, for an average of 1.4 YPC.

    o 10 passes: 4 deep (3 complete for 64 yards total), 6 short (4 complete for 32 yards).

    o 1 sack: Baker fumbled at the Tampa 32 (defense held Philly to a FG on that one).

    Looks to me like Canales did mix up the 1st down calls (run vs pass) pretty well, he just overdid the runs up the middle (5 of 7 on 1st down for 9 yards total on those 5 runs on 1st down). Against the Eagles, one might call that a fool’s errand.

  41. ModHairKen Says:

    It does not matter how many runs or when. It does not matter how many passes or when. The Eagles whipped them at the LOS. The RBs were weak. The OL were handed their a$$es.

    They were more talented. Better prepared. Played harder. They were stronger. How many other teams will be? That is the question. 11 wins still likely.

  42. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Idk y’all. Running hasn’t bin working and we got 2 stud WR who can do a lot of damage. RW1 can make people miss in space so use him more in the passing game. Pass to set up the run. Not run to set up the pass

  43. Bucs'n'Bucks Says:

    You know if you complete a couple of short passes behind the linebackers then the linebackers have to stay out of the box. Then, maybe, you can run up the middle after the QB pump fakes.
    I think it’s called a draw play.

  44. garro Says:

    If you refuse to play to your strengths you are a fool. Run first Philosophy or not. Or Bowles play it safe and stop the run/10 yard cushions. Wish in one hand and $#!^ in the other. Canales and Bowles both need to do some introspective thinking. I do not know the game plans on either side of the ball but I do know we were not playing to our strengths.

    We refused to game plan for our stars and barely included our #3 WRs. Not much in the way of spreading out Phillys Defense that I noticed either. We could have helped Baker with more quick slants and bootlegs in my opinion.

    Pass rush and LBs were way to worried about Hurts getting loose to the point that we could not defend the pass OR the run.

    Despite his INT Diva was not where he needed to be most of the time and using him to spy was a waste. If he was too injured to run full speed he needed to be on the bench.

    Go Bucs!

  45. Onetrickpony Says:

    I wonder what Mike Alstott is doing these days ?

  46. BUC CHEEKS Says:

    Jonathan Taylor?

  47. Dwayne Cone Says:

    Game One 34 Pass to 34 Rush
    Game Two 34 Pass to 33 Rush
    Game Three 25 Pass to 17 Rush

    Had Baker not thrown a Pick and White had not Fumbled there would have been more Plays and Passes. Eagles draining the last 9 1/2 minutes of the game which would have had the Bucs passing 100% if they would have gotten the ball back.

    First two game were wins with balanced attack. Apparently it was working well enough for them to stay with it. Perhaps they may change their formula going forward. Maybe they will realize they got their ash whooped by a Top 3 team and stay with it and make a few tweeks.

    King Henry was held to 20 yards on 11 carries by the Browns and I doubt they will quit running the ball.

  48. JeffreyLane77 Says:

    We don’t have a three down back. Defenses are cued by who’s in the backfield.

  49. JeffreyLane77 Says:

    Some of you are acting like there weren’t any holes for White to run through. There were holes although they would collapse quickly. Unfortunately instead of hitting the hole hard White would stop and stutter step. I can only imagine White saw a safety or a linebacker stepping up to meet him in the hole. In White’s defense. A run zone blocking schemes bread and butter is pushing the Dline horizontally. This does a couple things. It allows the runningback to choose a hole. As the runningback’s possible hole moves horizontally. The linebackers run side to side mirroring the runningback. The linebackers are waiting for the runner to make his cut up field before they commit. The runner is waiting for the linebacker to either commit or get caught up in traffic then he makes his cut. Unfortunately for White on the plays he stopped and stutter stepped. It didn’t look to me like a zone blocking run play. Looked to me like they practiced running a zone blocking scheme so much White runs like it’s 100% zone blocking all the time.

  50. Glass Half Full Guy Says:

    I agree with what DFW Buc says. The Philly defense could snif out our run plays no matter what down and distance it was. Not sure if it’s formation or personnel, but we’re giving something away and not helping matters by have very little pre-snap motion or play action.

    And if course Canales isn’t exactly showing much creativity in the run department either. I can’t recall a single counter play and against an aggressive defense like Philly, it’s baffling to me.

    So far Canales only gets a C grade from me in the passing game too. Against that Philly pass rush, why weren’t there any designed roll outs then a quick 5 yard toss to the TE after the safety cheats up to defend Baker from keeping it and running? I have zero issues with some running by Mayfield as long as he slides instead of going for another Angry Run scepter.

    We may not have great blocking TEs but a chip on an edge rusher to move him to the inside then peel off a few yards downfield ahead of a Mayfield rollout is an easy pitch and catch usually. Honestly I was expecting a lot of that from Hurts if we got pressure up the middle but it was only about twice but worked both times with YAC.

  51. Bucs4Life Says:

    100% the later! Quit trying to force a freakin ground game when you don’t have one. Go out and get a horse if you wanna run, this kid ain’t got what I thought he had. I’m pretty sure we have been sold a bag of poo. The young man talked an awfully big game all summer long but we ain’t seen $hit.

  52. Bucs96NYC Says:

    Against certain teams you have to be prepared to match their firepower. So running to keep them honest I understand but they’re blitzing those run looks & creating sacks during play action…

    I would maybe do more drop back passes…