Todd Bowles And First-Quarter Scoring

July 3rd, 2024

Is it fair to slap around a defense-first head coach, one who calls his team’s defensive plays, for his club’s struggles to score in the first quarter?

Tough question.

Ultimately, however, the head coach is responsible for everything.

Last year, the Bucs ranked 26th in first-quarter scoring with 2.9 points per first quarter. In 2022, they ranked tied for 27th (2.8). Rumor has it that Team Glazer was heard often in luxury suites telling guests, ‘Grab more lox and Kobe beef sliders and wait. Things will get better.’

So that got Joe wondering how Todd Bowles teams scored in the first quarter when he spent four years torturing Jets fans coaching the Jets.

In 2015, Bowles’ Jets ranked 11th in first-quarter scoring. That was pretty good, but it was downhill from there. A year later, the Jets ranked 29th, then 15th and 19th, respectively, in 2017 and 2018.

Is it a Bowles thing? Joe’s not sure. Consider that defense-first Greg Schiano’s losing Tampa Bay teams (2012 and 2013) ranked 9th in first-quarter scoring in 2012 and 10th in 2013.

Every team wants to start fast in all phases of the game. Get a lead. Gain confidence. Stay unpredictable offensively because you’re not playing from behind.

Bowles teams haven’t done a great job with that.

Perhaps this is a year Bowles oversees a fix.

25 Responses to “Todd Bowles And First-Quarter Scoring”

  1. Bucfan Says:

    Stop running on 1st & 2nd down 99% of the time would be a good start.

  2. Dom Says:

    This is definitely more of just having bad offenses. Those Jets teams were awful on offense. In 2016-2018 the Jets scored only 17.2, 18.6, and 20.8 points a game. The Bucs weren’t good on offense either with the 20th ranked scoring offense. This falls more on Canales, Baker and the offense. This could be a pretty good team if the offense can average 3 more points a game to get ro 24 ppg, and the defense remains relatively the same as a top 10 scoring defense

  3. Dom Says:

    The Jets also haven’t fixed their offense since Bowles left either. Ranking 31st, 32nd, 28th, 29th, and 29th in ppg since he left. That’s God awful. Bowles clearly wasn’t the problem with the Jets offense. That franchise is just incompetent on offense

  4. All_da_way Says:

    If the Bucs can average 3-7 more points in the first quarter of games that improves their total average per game and that all but ensures that the Bucs have a high chance of being a playoff team or even sneaking in.

    24 PPG or higher is the goal for the offense and it helps the defense out a lot for more pass rushing opportunities like sacks, pressures and hurries with an offense that scores more points early.

    Added benefit is that the Bucs can improved yards per attempt and yards from scrimmage on the ground if they have more leads to play with.

  5. SlyPirate Says:

    When you commit to the run, you score less points. It’s really that simple. The opposing defense starts the game fresh and they’re able to get to the ball faster and stop the running back. As the game goes on, the constant pounding tires the defense out. The defensive players speed, strength, and desire get fatigued which allows the running back to break off longer runs and you score points. That’s why all the long runs happen late in the game.

    If you want to be a successful run first team, you need a big bruising back. A guy LB and DB don’t want to collide with. Think any Alabama RB. If Bowles and Licht were on the same page, then why keep drafting little, contact adverse, PAC12 RB? BTW, 9 of the last 15 Pro Bowl RBs are from the SEC. 1 from the Pac12 (McCaffery).

    Chip Kelley innovated an insanely fast hurry-up offense. The philosophy is to prevent the defense from setting up and expedite their exhaustion. Save the slow ground and pound for the 4th.

  6. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    That’s right Dom, the Jets are a joke of a franchise that stunk before Bowles ever got and they still stink now. Joe Namath was a looooong time ago. Antivaxxer Rodgers won’t even be able to help. This particular Joe is a not so closeted Jets fan.

  7. Hodad Says:

    I’ll blame Bowles for never wanting the ball when winning the toss. I know the logic of deferring, but if you really want to score first, youneed to have the ball first.

  8. Dude Says:

    You can change OCs, install new offenses, and even add new talent. If your core cogs in your offensive machine aren’t synergized and executing at a high level on a consistent basis nothing but improving in that area can help them.

    Remember Brady corralling our guys in 2020 and putting in extra work? That’s the type of stuff that puts a little polish on the groups’ ability to move like 1 cohesive unit and even then, it still took time for that offense to get on track.


    11 punts, 5 FGs, & 1 INT is what happened on all of our 1st drives this past season. Even when we lost the toss, teams elected to play our weaker side of the ball before our taking a crack at our defense.

  9. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    It was 100% Bowel’s fault.

    He always wanted the team to start out playing conservative so they could test the other team, find weaknesses. He almost never allowed the offense to take risks in the first-quarter.

  10. Allen Lofton Says:

    The Bucs have the talent on this team for the fix to happen.

  11. Dave Pear Says:

    The buck (and also the Buc offense) stops with the head coach. Accountability cannot be deflected. Koetter ultimately took the tailpipe because of his refusal to recognize that he was accountable for the defense, too.

    The last two seasons, Todd has wanted to emphasize clock control and ball control, risk aversion, and running the ball. Then he’s behind. Then the offense starts doing better. Why? Being more aggressive.

    It’s pretty clear, Todd now realizes that the offensive focus should be scoring points first, ball control second. We should look for more first drive big play shots in 2024.


  12. Pickgrin Says:

    Ya’ll trippin – saying its Bowles fault the Bucs are not scoring more in the first Quarter – or scoring more period….

    Leftboob and Canales both had free reign to score as many points as possible in the 1st Quarter, 2nd Quarter – ANY Quarter.

    You think Todd doesn’t want to play with a lead from early on in the game?

    Silly Silly commenters…..

    We are counting on Coen and Baker and the improved OLine and thus improved running game to show us the way to 25+ ppg.

    If that happens – this 2024 Buccaneers team will be hard to beat!

  13. Dude Says:

    “He always wanted the team to start out playing conservative so they could test the other team, find weaknesses. He almost never allowed the offense to take risks in the first-quarter.”

    “The last two seasons, Todd has wanted to emphasize clock control and ball control, risk aversion, and running the ball. Then he’s behind. Then the offense starts doing better. Why? Being more aggressive.”

    Sounds like fan fiction to me at beast, at the very least attempts at tryin to pass off opinion as reality.

  14. Rod Munch Says:

    Well you generally script your opening series or two, and since Todd is the head coach, and the OC’s are trying to appease his backwards 1970s run first offensive mindset, it means scripting a bunch of runs that go nowhere and waste downs – and it’s not until you’re into the flow of game that things start to open up.

    That would be my guess.

    Although that guess is based on Canales. In 2022 the issue as having a complete moron in charge of the offense – and I could sit at home write out the opening script a month in advance and be right 110% of the time with Leftwich in charge.

    Last year Canales, overall, I thought did a good job without the confines of trying to please Bowles and having Baker Mayfield, who is completely inconsistent from game to game. This year I fear Bowles is going to be more involved than ever in the offense – and that means more runs for 1.2 yards per carry as defenses sit on the calls – but it also means an ALL-PRO punter who leads the league in yards, so we got that to look forward to.

  15. heyjude Says:

    Bowles has done a good job. His first season as head coach he still had Bruce Arians staff. Then we lost Brady. Last season was a work in progress and this season I am optimistic we will see more positive changes. Go Bucs!

  16. GoneGator Says:

    Again with the Bowles keeps his OC handcuffed with his run 1st blah blah blah.
    I asked where this OPINION came from in another thread… no real EVIDENCE to support it as fact was forthcoming.

    Obviously the responsibility lies on Todd, for the whole teams performance incl offense, but I’m not really buying the narrative that Todd has held the offense back.

    I’m cautiously optimistic about Coen. Potential exists for a potent, explosive offense. Just need to figure the OL out

  17. Dave Pear Says:

    So according to some, the Head Coach is not accountable for the offense. Right.

  18. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Dave Pear – Bowles is responsible for the offense as Joe pointed out. That doesn’t equate to him limiting the offense to fit his mold. He and the OC clearly agree on a balanced attack (non air it out), but the play calls are 100% on the OC – unless anyone has proof that says otherwise.

  19. heyjude Says:

    The last podcast I listened to of Ira’s there was a discussion that Bowles probably didn’t micromanage offense and probably let Canales have free reign. I believe that. He probably will allow Coen too.

  20. Rod Munch Says:

    heyjude – Canales said that Bowles had to keep reminding him to run the ball. Which make sense, since one game the offense looked like a modern NFL offense, mixed things up, then next game they’d spend the entire first half trying to run it up the middle.

    I actually liked Canales quite a bit – and I wasn’t high on his hiring at all. But after years of ultra predictable Leftwich, it was just nice to not be able to tell you the Bucs were going to run while they were still in commercial and I couldn’t even see the formation – yet would be right 98.7% of the time.

    This year, I fear, Bowles is going to be more involved. I hope to God I’m wrong and he stays at least 500 yards away from the offense meeting rooms, but I got a feeling we’re going to hear from Cooper Top about how ‘helpful’ Bowles has been as the Bucs lead the league in 3 and outs. Again, I hope I’m wrong – I really hope I’m wrong since they’ll not only be bad, they’ll be extremely boring.

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    Got a suspicion that Todd Bowles starts off most games quite conservatively, but becomes more of a risk-taker as the game progresses. Also have a feeling that he has a lot more confidence in his defense than in his offense, at both the start of games & at the end of games. One indicator? Bucs won the toss 6 times last year, and Todd deferred all 6 times, putting his defense on the field first.

    Took a quick look at opposition scoring last season (TDs & FGs) by quarter, and here’s what our opponents scored by quarter:

    o Qtr 1 – 6 TDs & 7 FGs
    o Qtr 2 – 8 TDs & 10 FGs
    o Qtr 3 – 10 TDs & 4 FGs (plus 1 Safety)
    o Qtr 4 – 10 TDs & 9 FGs

    Opponents went for 2 points after a TD 7 times last season, and only 2 were successful. That accounts for the 325 points that the Bucs’ defense allowed last year. That’s 34 TDs allowed plus 30 FGs allowed (I’d say that holding opponents to almost a 1:1 TD-to-FG ratio on the season is pretty danged good, and the 325 points allowed is the best of any Bucs’ team since Monte was here.

  22. heyjude Says:

    Rod Munch, I wasn’t high on Canales hiring but gave him a chance too. In the end, he didn’t seem effective either. Surprised he got a HC job. But doesn’t surprise me since hearing now that Panther fans are upset learning that the owner got his wife’s input for their draft picks.

    On the fence if Bowles will be involved with offense that much. He may change things up and allow Coen free reign too. I am optimistic about it.

    Defense Rules, agree about defense and conservative actions by Bowels. Thank you for the stats!

  23. garro Says:

    Todds vaunted defense gave up way to many yards on third and long! Todd has stated that he wants to keep it close. As in not play to win.

    We had an aversion to scoring TDs in the first quarter despite promising drives. No imagination or risky passes on third downs. We have one of the all time greats at coming down with the 50-50 ball yet we rarely threw those to him. Especially not in the first half.

    As a result of all this we played from behind…alot. You allow teams to dictate what you do offensively when you play from behind.

    Go Bucs!

  24. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    It all starts with Blowels, then the OC he picked and the he handed the team to. None have a record of being consistently good. Always playing catch up never goes well for any team.

  25. GoneGator Says:

    “Todd has stated that he wants to keep it close. As in not play to win.”

    If you’ll find me the exact quote/quotes where Todd discusses keeping games close and his desire to be conservative to keep games close, and I’ll go thru the trouble of finding his quote, in a fairly recent press conference, where he’s says something about wanting to keep scoring unless we’re up by 3 touchdowns with less than 3 minutes left. Not sure of the exact quote but the above is pretty close.

    Maybe he’s saying he wants his offense to score a lot, be explosive etc but he SECRETLY wants a slow grinding offense that’s cautious and “keeps it close” or “not win” just to mess with y’all – lol