“Bad” Third Down Offense Hurting Bucs’ Run Game

October 19th, 2023

Bucs beating Bucs.

Joe could listen to Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales talk football all afternoon.

Joe is a big believer that coaches are teachers and the critical element for a coach is communication. If you cannot communicate well, you cannot get your point across so your pupils can understand learn and grow, then how good of a coach can you be?

Canales breaks down football in such a refreshing common-sense manner,

Today at his weekly presser, Canales explained that the Bucs struggling on third downs is actually stunting the learning curve of his offense, specifically running backs.

Of course, the lack of production from running backs was a big subject of discussion. Canales explained that in a perfect world everything should be clicking by midseason.

However, the Bucs’ inability to convert third downs is not only keeping the defense on the field, it’s taking his running backs off the field. That means less snaps to hone their skills and knowledge of the offense in game situations.

Canales said it is extremely difficult to mimic game snaps in practices so it is critical the backs get game snaps.

“We were bad on third down,” Canales said of the offense in the loss to the Lions. “If we convert a few more third downs, we get a few more opportunities to get those game reps of runs, whatever the style of run it might be.

“We just have to be able to execute on third downs so we can continue to be out there and learn the system.”

The Bucs converted a putrid 2 of 12 third downs for an unacceptable 16.7 percent against Detroit.

You see what Joe means when he types that Canales has a keen ability to explain football in a common-sense manner?

It’s also heartwarming to not be scolded for asking “fantasy football” questions and being told media should be satisfied knowing the Bucs “do what we do” offensively.

49 Responses to ““Bad” Third Down Offense Hurting Bucs’ Run Game”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We were bad on 1st 6 2nd downs allowing us to be bad on 3rd downs….

    We are running the ball too much on 2nd downs.

    The goal should be to not have 3rd downs.

    We need more passes to TEs & RBs……

  2. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Its a work in progress. Shifting to a zone blocking scheme is a good way to go, maximizes the skill set of the O line players they been drafting. Next year Hainsey needs to go to LG and Feiler needs to take his butt somewhere else. Just my opinion but they need a fire hydrant in the middle, 6 2 330 or si

  3. HC grover Says:

    Last week it was that we were great on 3rd downs. Now bad?

  4. Since76 Says:

    I think Canales can be a good OC. He has great receivers and good offensive tackles. The interior line ..TEs….RBs…and QB need improvement. If they could just play average level or a little below the rest of the team can carry them into the playoffs. The defense will carry more than their weight.

  5. Irish Laughter Says:

    If Tampa Bay doesn’t go 12-5 this season and make it to the Super Bowl with this loaded roster and tier one quarterback in the weakest division, I don’t care what they do on 3rd down, they’re all fired. Keeping it real in Ireland. Go Bucs!

  6. sdm5821 Says:

    If it is an accepted truism that the run is used to setup the pass, then I believe that conversely, the opposite should be true also. Namely that the pass can setup the run. We seem to do a lot of deeper routes, be they crosses, curls, outs, posts, whatever. Why can’t we fake to the back and throw a quick out, curl, slant, etc. So we only gain 3-4-5 yds. that’s better than what we’ve managed with run on 1st and 2nd down. Let the defense hang back and not clog the box and see what happens.

  7. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Big Vita Vea missed practice with a foot injury….

  8. SlyPirate Says:

    Joe, You’re quickly finding yourself on an island with this guy.

    Game 5: Preseason + 4 Games + 2 Weeks to Prepare + 100% Healthy

    What did we get? 6 Points

    Canales has produced the 3rd Worst Offense in the NFL.

    They need more time to learn the offense? That’s BS. These are pro NFL players. They’ve had 3.5 months to learn the offense.

  9. Anon Says:

    You cannot rely on being great on 3rd down. It’s unsustainable.

    Stop trashing so many early downs on an all time bad running game and you’ll be in a lot less 3rd downs. Downs are way too valuable to tinker around with an up the gut loss of 5.

  10. TonySoprano Says:

    What weird circular logic. How about we’re bad at 3rd downs because we’re always in 3rd and long? When you continually run for 2 yards and -1 yard on 1
    and 2 downs, of course it’s going to be difficult converting on a consistent basis. These excuses are getting comical, and Canales’ stubbornness to keep doing what’s not working is becoming Byron-esque.

  11. Jack Clark Says:

    “It’s also heartwarming to not be scolded for asking “fantasy football” questions and that we should just be satisfied knowing the Bucs “do what we do” offensively.”

    So that’s how Super Bowl winning offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich hurt Joe’s feelings 😂😂. Anyway, I had an epiphany. Our offensive lineman and edge rushers are holding our team back from winning more games because they can’t run block and sack the quarterback, respectively. Baker Mayfield is playing well enough for us to win and not costing us any games. Our wide receivers, linebackers, secondary, field goal kicker, and punter are first class and our tight ends and running backs are average at best. Once we fix our sorry as run blocking and flaccid soft pass rush we will be able to beat the best teams in the NFL

  12. Joe Says:

    They need more time to learn the offense? That’s BS.

    Really? You do know it took Brady (not 10 other guys, just Brady alone) past Thanksgiving until he figured out Arians’ offense?

    So we should expect 11+ players with a new QB two or three weeks to know a new offense with a brand new OC to have everything down pat?

    The BS is coming from another place.

  13. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Joe

    ““Bad” Third Down Offense Hurting Bucs’ Run Game”

    How about this title –

    “Bad Run Game Hurting Bucs Third Down Offense”

    If you are able to get 4-6 yards on a 1st down run it makes 3rd down much easier…

  14. Boomer Says:

    I have flashbacks of The Mike Shula offense.
    And the guys ahead of me are right – it’s been 3 and 1/2 months.
    If we were better on 1st and 2nd down… but when the defense knows you’re gonna run the ball – makes it tougher.
    Canales talks and coaches like he’s in double A ball. This is the Big boy football and He needs to step up.

  15. Alanbucsfan Says:

    TE is not holding blocks
    TE and Tackle/RB are running into each other
    OLine is getting pushed back 2 yards on running plays
    The offense needs to EXECUTE, period.

  16. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Brady always said, what you did on 1st and 2nd down was the biggest factor in 3rd down conversions. 3rd and long vs 3rd and short.

    Averaging 3 YPC is on the low end of the scale?

  17. Jay Corr Says:


  18. Defense Rules Says:

    TonySoprano … ‘What weird circular logic.’

    Yea verily. The RBs aren’t getting enough reps in games to ‘practice’ … because we’re not doing good enough on 3rd downs. Uhhh, couldn’t it also be said that if our running game was better, we’d be converting more 3rd downs (either because we’d have shorter, easier-to-convert 3rd down situations thanks to an effective running game or because the RBs were good enough to convert the 3rd-and-shorts)? This sounds like the chicken or the egg all over again.

    Bucs are 29-for-69 on 3rd down conversions (42.0%). Prior to Sunday’s game, we were considerably better 27-for-57 … 47.4%).

    For comparison, Lions are currently converting 42.2% of their 3rd downs (same as us). Saints are converting 37.8%. Falcons are converting 37.5%. Panthers are converting 40.0%. Seattle (3-2 and the team we’re supposedly emulating) is converting 31.6%.

    We’ve had 2 meh games against 2 teams who are both 5-1 now. It’s interesting IMO that Miami is also 5-1, and has the #1 ranked offense … #1 passing (with 15 TDs) AND #1 rushing (with 15 TDs). Yet they’re only converting 44.1% of their 3rd downs. Hmmm, strange. Yet their Red Zone TD percentage is 81% (21 TDs in 26 visits). Bucs are converting 42% of our 3rd downs, yet our Red Zone TD percentage is 43% (6 TDs in 14 visits). Hmmm, strange again. MAYBE the Dolphins are doing a better job of ‘gettin er done’ on 1st & 2nd downs? Just a thought.

  19. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Some teams have less 3rd downs. Why? Because they don’t need 3 downs to make 10 yards.

  20. Alanbucsfan Says:

    The Dolphins are executing their run plays better and they’ve got the Cheetah

  21. Jason Says:

    Can we get Defense Rules his own podcast?
    I’d listen. Lol.

  22. Ed Says:

    After a BYE week, you should be the more physical team. The Bucs were much less physical than Detroit. Jared Goff never got hit hard. He was confident and stepping into his throws, the Bucs pass rush was really weak Sunday.

    Then you have top 5 paid corners playing zones. How many times are the Bucs going to not be successful stopping 3rd and longs because someone is wide open in a zone that is only good if opposing quarterback has to get rid of the ball quickly.

    The offense isn’t playing the the strength. It has to revolve around Godwin and Evans and as a third guy, Palmer. Thompkins and Otton are not starting quality targets. Stop push the ball to them. Stop the up the middle garbage runs by White. Let Godwin run or pass the ball as an option in short yardage situations. Chris can handle direct snap and find a hole to get a yard.

    Evans needs loads of targets to get his confidence back. He isn’t focusing on seeing the ball into his hands. He’s pressing.

  23. Anon Says:

    This is 3 consecutive OCs that have obsessed with kneeling every neutral 1st down up the gut.

    Less noticeable with Arians because the team was stacked and didn’t need 1st down. Could chuck it deep 2nd/3rd down and the interior oline was so strong that the predictable 1st down run would still get a yard or 3 instead of no gain/loss.

    We all know what Leftwich did.

    This run game cannot fix itself with “more reps” (aka telegraphing more wasted downs.)
    It requires better play sequencing first, then more talented RBs and blockers. Only a saboteur would “just stick with it” expecting different results.

    How does Bowles prep all year to stop these great offenses but wants his team to stick with what they do worst, plodding gut runs and an expectation of Mayfield miracles on a bunch of 3rd downs just to sustain 1 drive?

  24. adam from ny Says:

    canales needs to get focused mannnnn!

  25. SlyPirate Says:

    Joe Says:
    They need more time to learn the offense? That’s BS.

    Really? You do know it took Brady (not 10 other guys, just Brady alone) past Thanksgiving until he figured out Arians’ offense?

    So we should expect 11+ players with a new QB two or three weeks to know a new offense with a brand new OC to have everything down pat?

    The BS is coming from another place.


    Okay. You think one thing. I think another. Let’s let reality decide. Here is list of all the teams with new Offensive Coordinators. Each team had to learn a new offense in the same amount of time. How are those offenses fairing compared to the Bucs?

    Bucs – 90
    Chargers – 127
    Commanders – 133
    Ravens – 133
    Chiefs – 147
    Colts – 140
    Cowboys – 154

    WOW! Who would have guessed 100% of teams with new OCs score more than the Bucs. Not only that but the average points scored with a new OC scores 54% more than the Bucs. Joe, what do you say now? Is it the system or is it the OC? Six other teams certainly taught their players how to score points. Or are you saying the Bucs just have a bunch of Neanderthals? Commanders and Colts have new QBs, too. Don’t have that as an excuse. How many of these teams have two Pro Bowl WR? I do have that excuse. Plus, a lot all these teams have had harder schedules, too.

    I know you love Canales right now. He gives a way better interview that BL. You can only put lipstick on a pig for so long.

  26. Jmarkbuc Says:

    ME13 dropping passes that hit him between the numbers on 3rd down early in the game doesn’t help.

  27. Duane in Sanford Says:

    He is 5 games into his play calling career. He had to teach his offense, now he needs to find out what makes them go. It was a secret to noone that they would struggle to score points during the season.

  28. Dewey Selmon Says:

    If you get your question in before Jenna Lane you get good insightful answers. After her you get short curt and to the point answers by an annoyed coach lol,

  29. Buccos Says:

    Bad running backs and run blocking are hurting the Bucs run game

  30. Joe Says:

    If you are able to get 4-6 yards on a 1st down run it makes 3rd down much easier…

    The best offenses don’t see third downs. They convert on first or second downs. Problem is, Dave Canales (and his boss, the guy who hired him, Todd Bowles) wants a running offense.

    The only running offense Joe ever saw that moved the sticks regularly on first and second downs was Barry Switzer’s wishbone when he had Billy Sims.

  31. Bucs 95 Says:

    Look at the bright side saints fans are booing there own team at home 🤣🤣🤣

  32. Dewey Selmon Says:

    You can’t hear Bucs fans booing at home because they are out numbered 2-1 and the visiting fans are louder.

  33. Beej Says:

    “Then you have top 5 paid corners playing zones.”

    Actually 10 and 14…

  34. SlyPirate Says:

    Joe Says:
    You do know it took Brady (not 10 other guys, just Brady alone) past Thanksgiving until he figured out Arians’ offense?


    Do you know that Bucs team scored 139 point in the first 5 games? They were scoring 26 points per game when they didn’t know the playbook. Wow!

  35. Popcorn Mike Says:

    The question I have Joe is, we have 3 different RB’s that have played this year and none have been successful. When are we gonna start taking a look at the RB coach. I mean, I understand a new offense installed but 3 different RB’s 5 weeks not including pre season and the same results. I am just asking

  36. Jerseybuc Says:

    Saints look like total garbage!!
    Let’s get this W go to 4-2!!

  37. Faspro Says:

    Saints tied the game…

  38. Rod Munch Says:

    Amazon Prime Vision is the way to watch these games. I wish they had this for every game, being able to see the entire field and watch plays develop is such a great way to watch football if you’re more than a casual watcher.

  39. Rod Munch Says:


  40. adam from ny Says:

    thank you moreau…………..nice hands

  41. Rod Munch Says:

    Then that idiot Saints TE who can’t catch the ball is crying on the sideline? How embarrassing.

  42. adam from ny Says:

    the man has hands of stone…his next job will be working construction

  43. D1 coach Says:

    “We just have to be able to execute on third downs so we can continue to be out there and learn the system.”

    What the F !

    We Need to convert the 3rd downs so we can score more points not freaking wasting snaps practicing on the unproductive gd run game!

    These are games son, not practice sessions! You’re on OC now not a positions coach! Points scored not 3rd downs so your crappy ass backs and get more practice in your crap scheme!

  44. D1 coach Says:

    Marshawn Lynch! Is there a RB on this roster that is comparable to him?
    No! A wear them down back like Derrick Henry ? No!

    So why are we so obsessed with running the ball instead of moving the ball!
    A 10yd gain is a 10yd gain if it’s by a pass or a run! And we don’t have a ten yd run this yr do we?

    Last, running back is the most instinctual position on the field. It’s the easiest to transition from college to pro. Why? Because you run to daylight or thru defenders. Far as see, our RBs can’t run over anyone and avoid daylight like a damned vampire at dawn! But ok Dave keep wasting downs and yeah someone will trip and we may get a 25yd run. That doesn’t validate your system!

    How do you tell the difference between winners and losers? The score !
    Not how many 3rd downs are converted for practice reps!

    I would love for one Joe to ask this question, what are you seeing in practice or your imagination to believe that after 27 games of white starting that he is going to finally turn around and become a top 15 RB? Maybe if I could explain to my lying eyes that white just needs more reps , I could have explained it to myself and saved myself this pathetic rant!

  45. garro Says:

    Wow that is some convoluted logic.

    Come on Dave! Running game can’t get us in a regular third and manageable. We do not have a running play for Third and Dale Mabry.

    Maybe it would help if the defense could get a stop on third down more often? Defense is not forcing enough punts folks. More offensive possessions equal more reps for the RBs as well.

    We had a total of ten possessions against the Lions. Only four in the second half. Two of those after points. Only one punt forced in the second half.

    BTW Third down efficiency on offense is 11th in the league. Even after the Lions.

    Go Bucs!

  46. garro Says:

    Dewey Selmon Says:
    October 19th, 2023 at 8:12 pm

    If you get your question in before Jenna Lane you get good insightful answers. After her you get short curt and to the point answers by an annoyed coach lol,

    Now thats funny right there.
    Thanks for the giggle Dewey!

    Go Bucs!

  47. BucU Says:

    Why are we not seeing any adjustments from this offense? It looks like the same template every game.

  48. Bee Says:

    Someone should ask the OC why on 3rd and 1 & 3rd and 2 do you call long pass plays instead of a slant or an outside run? Where’s the creativity? He doesn’t trust any.of his RBs to get 2 yards!

  49. Chris Says:

    I call BS, in previous games this season where the offense was converting 3rd downs at a great rate the running game still struggled.
    All in all, the running game sucks because it’s a combination of ineffective RBs, and poor run blocking ability. How about, instead of wasting plays trying to run, throw more drag, slants, etc. to get ball out of QB’s hands faster?? Those types of plays would be more effective than 2 yard runs. And also, why not get Trey Palmer more involved with short passes and let him try to run in space??