Despite What Todd Bowles And Dave Canales Want, Bucs Are A Passing Team

December 3rd, 2023

Bucs coach Todd Bowles.

Nothing frosts Joe more than coaches who don’t use superior talent or use it the wrong way. If the 2023 season ended at noon today, this would sum up the Bucs season.

The Bucs, come hell or high water, want to run the ball. Responsible coaching puts the wants and desires of coaches to the side. They craft an offense around their most talented players.

Despite Rachaad White, a misplaced slot receiver, running for 100 yards last week for the first time in his career on American soil, the Bucs are still the worst running team in the league.

Yet the Bucs still want to pound the ball. Joe simply cannot fathom why.

It might be different if the Bucs didn’t have three of the best receiving weapons in the game in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and White.

The fetish for running when you have proven through course 11 games you cannot, well, this just goes beyond Joe’s comprehension. It’s horribly irresponsible.

Here’s a nugget Rich Hribar of Sharp Football Analysis dug up on the Bucs that demonstrates they really should rely on the pass.

80.9% (17-of-21) of the Tampa Bay touchdowns have come via passing, tied for third in the NFL.

Yes, Joe knows who the quarterback is. Baker Mayfield is not Tom Brady. Still, he’s having close to a career year. It’s certainly Mayfield’s best season since he led the Browns to the playoffs in 2020.

You may not like Mayfield and the Bucs may not trust Mayfield to throw 40 times, but it is not like Mayfield is the worst quarterback in the NFL. The Bucs run game is the worst. The Bucs have elite receivers. Freaking use them!

Bucs coaches may as well throw the ball. Because the way they like to run to nowhere, they’re going to run themselves right out of work in six weeks if something doesn’t change damn quick.

22 Responses to “Despite What Todd Bowles And Dave Canales Want, Bucs Are A Passing Team”

  1. Dave Pear Says:

    The Bucs defense is a Mike Smith – Lovie Smith hybrid. Can’t stop the run but at least they’d can’t cover anyone.

  2. Leopold Stotch Says:

    This alone should get Bowles canned. I mean seriously. I don’t get it either, Joe, I just don’t get it.

  3. FortMyersDave Says:

    I have to agree with Dave Pear, Bowles as DC this year has been Mike Smith awful! I am amazed that the Glazers have still allowed Bowels to call plays on defense. They forced Koetter to can his buddy Smitty so perhaps they should have (after the Texans loss) asked Todd if he wanted to relinquish play calling on defense or his head coaching position altogether. I think the Bucs will win a close one but in the grand scheme of things that will prove detrimental as the Bucs will simply move further back in the 2024 draft and away from landing a qb or generational player at another position for the new head coach.

  4. Crickett Baker Says:

    I loved the article. It left me with nothing more to say.

  5. Anon Says:

    I never understood the obsession with running the ball from defensive HCs. Don’t they want to chew some clock with 1st downs? Why do they insist on gassing their own defense with run run punt only taking 1 min off the clock?

  6. FortMyersDave Says:

    Anon, Bowles said why, he wants his defense rested. He does not want his D gassed because his O just scored in 3 plays. He wants to eat clock and rst his boys. He does not understand the concept of winning 38-24, he wants 16-13…. It is idiotic and worthy of launching/ immediate dismissal!

  7. JD Still Says:

    There is a reason we can’t figure out what they are trying to do, the powers that be have to figure out what they are trying to do first, before we can even begin to fathom the rationale for their actions.

  8. Anon Says:

    FortMyersDave that’s another good point, scoring should be the priority, not clock.

    BUT running the ball doesn’t eat clock is my point. Passing the ball to sustain drives does. When you go 3 and out because you run run punt, that only eats 1 min and puts your defense right back out there. Do coaches know the clock runs on a completed pass too?

    Now you may say well ideally you’d be good enough at running to a sustain long drives mostly running the ball. That’s impossible and has never been done in the modern pro era. You’re only supposed to run like that late in the game when the defense is tired and can’t tackle anymore. Constantly punting after a couple runs keeps the opposing defense fresh.

    It really does seem like the obsession with 1st down runs isn’t even to pick up yards. They’d be just as giddy taking a knee to run 30 seconds off on a 1 min drive to punt.

  9. Greg Says:

    Todd Bowles will NEVER figure this out. He is looking for style points.

  10. SufferingSince76 Says:

    They don’t want Baker to throw 40 times a game, but they do want to waste down after down running into the backs of the O-line. The defense is still staying on the field and getting gassed. Several folks have asked who will be Bowles’ replacement be if he’s fired. It’s hard to see anyone doing a worse job than Bowles, so what does it matter?

  11. Hodad Says:

    It’s really never about how much you run, or how much you pass, but when. When defenses are set on stopping the run, that would be a good time to pass. Mayfield has been passing plenty, 45 times against the 49ers, and still only scored twice. Seems to me the Bucs run the ball just to run it, not because it’s the right time for a run play. We rarely fool anyone with our play selection.

  12. Fansince76 Says:


    This is why i think Todd should and will be fired at the end of the season.
    He is a great Defensive coordinator and lacking as a head coach.
    you cant win how he wants to win anymore in the NFL.

  13. Defense Rules Says:

    Hodad … ‘It’s really never about how much you run, or how much you pass, but when. Seems to me the Bucs run the ball just to run it, not because it’s the right time for a run play. We rarely fool anyone with our play selection.’

    Thank you again Hodad, the voice of reason. Too many fans don’t take the time to delve deeper, and as a consequence just parrot the party line. It’s NOT that the Bucs are running too much; it’s far more that the Bucs’ play selection and its’ timing really sucks far too often.

    Bucs have rushed 267 times out of their 675 plays. That’s 39.6% of the time … round it off to 40% of our plays just for fun. Bucs rank #27 in terms of Rushing Attempts, tied with the Panthers. Only the Titans, Commanders, Jets & Bengals have run LESS than we have. Is that really what would be considered ‘a fetish for running the ball’?

    Drilling down a little deeper, we’ve passed the ball 382 times in our 675 plays … 56.6% of the time. That ranks us #17. Just as abysmally, Bucs average 6.0 yards per pass play, to rank #17 there also. For reference, we only average 3.3 yards per rush this season, to rank #32.

    Bucs’ offensive performance is really defined by the fact that we’ve ONLY run 675 plays TOTAL in 11 games … 61.4 plays per game average. That ranks us #25 in the NFL. We’re doing crappy with BOTH the run AND the pass, and that points to either players’ talent/experience OR coaching OR BOTH (I’ll always choose BOTH when given the chance). Running 40% of the time is not excessive (in our 4 wins we’ve averaged MUCH higher than that). Run play-calling on the other hand (WHEN we run, WHERE we run, HOW OFTEN we run, combined with PLAY DESIGN) has been abysmal.

  14. Beeej Says:

    Can they break that down by first half/second half? I suspect a lot of the passing comes when we’re down 2 TD’s late

  15. Mark hardt Says:

    Baker is no Brady for sure but even last year in a passing offense designed to take advantage of Tom,s quick reads and releases the Bucs were only 8-9 and got blown out in the playoffs. There are three things Baker does better than Brady which he can use in a pass offense which might put him closer to Brady: 1. Run, 2. Scramble, 3. Throw on the run.

  16. Voice of Truth Says:

    It’s one thing to have a weakness as a team, most have one at least

    The insanity of ignoring it and continuing to slam your head into a brick wall should tell the owners everything they need to know

    Logic and Todd do not belong in the same sentence

  17. Since76 Says:

    What you have to factor in is Mayfield has Godwin and Evans. If he was an average QB he would have better results than he has. Give any QB in the league these 2 receivers and their year would be better. They are running the ball because they can’t pass it more with Mayfield. No other excuse makes sense.

  18. Tom Says:

    It’s not how many times you run but when you run the ball that is troublesome for the Bucs. NFL stats historically show that the least successful down for running is first down and the most successful is second down. So what do the Bucs do? They keep trying to run on first down when the defense typicallly has their run stuffing defensive tackles on the field. After they stuff the Bucs for no gain then the DTs come off the field and then Bucs feel compelled to throw the ball when the D has their pass rushing D lineman on the field. Again no surprise that baker and the OL struggle to complete long pass plays with this set up.

    So pass the ball on first down and keep passing it when successful and then mix in some running plays on second and third downs. When D wears down after all of those early down pass plays then by second half, you can start running the ball effectively on all downs. This is the formula for good teams. It’s not complicated for any other team but Boles coached teams

  19. Larrd Says:

    Baker should throw 40 times, in a hurry-up offense. They always move the ball down the field when they finally go to it, two or three scores behind.

  20. Confido75 Says:

    Joe, I totally understand how you are feeling. If the fans can see what is needed, then why are these highly paid coaches not able to figure it out? Then the next question is why is Licht not doing anything about it? If I was Licht I would have read the riot act to Bowles and company weeks ago and forced the change. I don’t expect the Glazers to get involved, because what do they know about football. The Bucs are just another asset n their portfolio. They probavly are using this season as a write off.

  21. lanshark Says:

    The key point here is not that they try to run the ball. It’s WHEN – I would bet that at least 60% of our rush attempts are on 1st down (I’m sure I can look it up) and that the average ‘gain’ on first down is <2 yards. So, we are almost always in 2nd & 8, or worse. This is not a great position to be in.

    I've also noticed very little pre-snap motion, almost no play action, and in a lot of cases, no separation, even with 'Pro Bowl' wide receivers. It does not seem that Canales has yet mastered the 'scheme them open' skill. Baker does better with motion and play action, but they seem to refuse to run it. No idea why.

    Then we end up in 3rd and long, and expect him to stand in a VERY shaky pocket and make plays. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.


    1) more pre-snap motion
    2) LOTS of play action on 1st down
    3) scheme your receivers open
    4) Pass to open up your run game
    5) take what they give you – 90% of the time that will be the short ball..

  22. Rod Munch Says:

    “Baker Mayfield is … having close to a career year.”

    That is just sad.

    But at least he tries hard.