Was It Scheme Or Was It Personnel?

July 6th, 2024

Benefit of the doubt.

Winning is the greatest perfume. It covers up all sorts of stink.

So last year Baker Mayfield led the Bucs to the division round, damn near knocking off the favored Lions in their own Detroit cage.

Along the way, Mayfield had a career year with a first-time offensive coordinator and playcaller and even won the Pro Bowl MVP. Not bad for a quarterback most gave up on and the Bucs signed for $4 million in 2023 (plus incentives).

Now since former Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales left to take the Stinking Panthers job, a lot of people have been shatting on him. Too many Bucs players had either career years or near-career years for Joe to think that was all an accident.

Still, Canales wasn’t exactly Bill Walsh. The Bucs last year never scored a touchdown on their opening drive and whenever the Bucs trailed after three quarters, they never rallied for a win.

A lot of that is on Canales.

Now, noted handicapper turned stathead Warren Sharp put out quarterback completion percentages inside an opponent’s 10-yard line. Mayfield’s was not good. Not good at all.

Mayfield completed 47 percent of his passes inside the opponents’ 10. The good news here is C.J. Stroud and Trevor Lawrence were worse. So too were struggling quarterbacks Derek Carr, Gardner Minshew and Sam Howell.

So why did Mayfield struggle inside the 10 when he had receivers like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and receiving back Rachaad White to throw to? Or was this on Canales?

The Bucs offense ranked No. 27 in the red zone last year for touchdowns scored. Obviously, the red zone begins at the 20.

So while Mayfield ultimately has to bear some of the responsibility, it didn’t appear Canales crafted much of an effective red zone gameplan.

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34 Responses to “Was It Scheme Or Was It Personnel?”

  1. Beeej Says:

    I never saw corner fade routes to ME13, in general just never saw many possibilities outside of dump offs to White

  2. JimBobBuc Says:

    Inside the 10 during the regular season, Bake was 14th in TD/Att with no INT’s (Cousins threw two INT’s in his short year). Inside the 20 during the regular season, Bake was 19th in TD/Att and 20th in Compl%.

    Our red zone running game wasn’t great so there was no run threat or play-action game. With a better run game and play calling, I think the pass game will improve.

  3. Bee Says:

    Can Baker throw a corner fade? Cause I don’t remember seeing him throw one to Evans and thats how Mike ate in the red zone with Brady. Running the ball more doesn’t help completion percentage. Hopefully we’ll see more jumpballs this season with Mike.

    No excuses!

  4. Dave Pear Says:

    Reason #1 for red zone struggles – the worst run game in NFL history. No power back combined with The Three Matadors waving their capes as defenders shoot gaps is not a good way to,score touchdowns,

    Reason #2 for red

  5. Dave Pear Says:

    Reason #1 for red zone struggles – the worst run game in NFL history. No power back combined with The Three Matadors waving their capes as defenders shoot gaps is not a good way to score touchdowns,

    Reason #2 for red zone struggles – playcalling. ME executes the corner fade better than anyone in the NFL. Sure, defenses take that away some of the time but not all of the time.

    Canalwater was an upbeat guy, and it will be interesting to see how he flounders for Tepper in Charlotte.

    Meanwhile, expect significant improvement in 2024. Todd knows the Bucs need to score more points.


  6. Pickgrin Says:

    Pewter and Reddish Rose colored glasses at play with Mayfield here. When you talk about career year and Pro Bowl MVP etc.

    All in all – Baker had a “good” year – especially vs expectations coming into the year.

    He played well at some of the most critical times last year – so that “clutch” factor is definitely a quality you want to see.

    In Fact – Mayfield showed a lot of good things in his 1st year as a Buccaneer

    He’s scrappy, hard to bring down, unafraid of contact when the play is meaningful, has a very strong arm – and to top it off he’s a high level LEADER – and that ish is hard to find in its genuine form.

    Yet he was not all that accurate too many times in 2023 – especially on throws over 20 yards (29% completion rate – which is very bad).

    Bake showed why “moxie” was the buzzword last offseason. Now he needs show that he is a 5000 yard 35+ TD QB – as any “good” QB should be with these receiving weapons in a 17 game season…..

  7. Dave Pear Says:

    Agree Pickgrin, that captures Baker in a concise capsule. Give him a run game and some interior OL blocking. He knew that the offense was on his back last season. He did pretty darn well with that pressure. Expecting to see more from the run game and better early game, early down playcalling, which should open more opportunities for the Bucs’ QB.

  8. Fred McNeil Says:

    A middle of the pack run game will help keep those safeties honest.

  9. JimBobBuc Says:

    Most DB’s are looking for Mike to run the corner fade. A couple times when Mike faked the fade, he was WIDE open. Fake the fade or slant and Mike will be open. Bake is not at his best when throwing touch passes like a corner fade.

    How often was Godwin or Otton targeted in the RZ? My recollection is not much. Durham was drafted as a RZ possession type of guy, did he have ANY targets?

  10. heyjude Says:

    The completion rates inside the 10-yard line stats are compelling. We will have to see how the play-calling is this season. I keep thinking last season was sort of a transition time and Baker will be even better this season. He and Coen have a past of working together and that is only positive for us.

    Pickgrin says – “In Fact – Mayfield showed a lot of good things in his 1st year as a Buccaneer.” Agreed!

    Dave Pear says – “Meanwhile, expect significant improvement in 2024. Todd knows the Bucs need to score more points.” Agreed!

  11. JimBobBuc Says:

    R-White Regular Season Red Zone:

    Inside 5 Rushing: 6 TD’s (1st in TD/Att)
    Between 5-10yds: 0 TD
    Between 5-20yds: 0 TD

  12. BigBoiBuc Says:

    @JimBobbuc – 100% agree on not throwing to the TEs in the Red zone. Drafted Durham for that reason. Had 21 TDs at Purdue, most coming in Red zone. Had one target on the 1 yard line where he Moss’d the Colts DB

  13. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I don’t think Canalas was that good, but there were other factors as well. Mainly offensive line injuries and Baker himself.

  14. Cobraboy Says:


  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Pickgrin … ‘Now he needs show that he is a 5000 yard 35+ TD QB – as any “good” QB should be with these receiving weapons in a 17 game season’.

    I love setting high expectations with high goals, but Baker has never come anywhere near those numbers in his 6 years in the league. Last year in fact was his best year statistically … 4044 yards, 28 TDs & 64.3% completion rate … in the full 17 games. He’d have to up that ‘best’ passing performance year by a full 25% to reach 5,000 yards & 35 TDs.

    Nothing’s impossible, but I’d love to see the TEAM’s total offense numbers improve by just half that percentage. Bucs offense accumulated 5321 total yards last year, and if we can increase that by just half of that 25% number we’d hit 6,000 total yards. We scored 36 total offensive TDs last season, and increasing that by half of that 25% number would get us to 40 TDs total. If we can get our running game on-track, those numbers might not only be doable, but they’d probably earn us another NFC South crown.

  16. WiseCrack Says:

    Here I thought Joe was about to make a case for why BM is meh, and KT was the future.

  17. WiseCrack Says:

    For the record,

    Pickgrin won this thread, what Pickgrin said is 100% the vibe of Buc Lifers.

  18. Pickgrin Says:

    DR – Thats 295 yards throwing per game and 2 passing TDs per game…

    All we need is better interior OLine play and better play calling for those #s to be realistic.

    I think we will have both this year and expect to see our ppg jump by 5 or 6 points.

    The receiving threats are there. Baker just needs to trust his OLine – stand and scan – and hit the open guy. If he can find his deep ball accuracy this year (which he was usually pretty good at in past years) that alone will increase his ypg by 40 or 50 and increase TDs by 5-7 on the year….

  19. Brandon Says:

    OMG… you have to ask? Canales was so far over his head last year it was comical. Now he goes to the Panthers and it’s win win. We get better, Carolina gets even worse. Canales is the worst OC we’ve had since Mike Sullivan.

  20. Don'tBmad Says:

    If he was such a guru, how come he wasted the midseason trying to continually run the ball ineffectively. Them he decided to let Mayfield sling it more on 1st and 2nd down ….who knew.

    The rest of us who knew that you let Baker move the sticks and compliment him with a useful running game. Even if White can get more yards than last year, you’ll need Baker picking up those third downs.

  21. TampabayDJ Says:

    I think Canales held the offense back in many ways. Especially running the ball inside the red zone. He was not a good play caller inside the 20 . Run the ball twice, and be forced to throw on 3rd down. I think our Bucs got better in the second half because Baker and the players were checking out of the crappie plays being called. We’ll see this year . Everyone said our Bucs would win 3 games last year and they tripled that . They say our Bucs will win 6 or 7 games this year, so hopefully we double that. I can see a 11 win season.

  22. GoneGator Says:

    I pretty much agree with what @Pickgrin has commented in this thread. Intelligent optimism !

  23. HC Grover Says:

    Hope he does the flop in Carolina.

  24. Defense Rules Says:

    Pickgrin … Interesting difference in philosophies me thinks, and if Leftwich was still the OC we’d probably be passing enough to make that happen. Still, I expect that Coen will take a more ‘balanced’ approach to run-pass than Leftwich did, and that’ll keep Baker, even in a good year, down on those numbers.

    Over Baker’s career he’s averaged 7.2 YPP and 11.6 YPC. And that’s pretty much what he averaged last year also (7.1 YPP and 11.1 YPC). At his best completion percentage (64.3% last year), Baker would need to throw 670 passes and complete 430 of those (at 11.6 YPC) to hit 5,000 yards. That’s a tad more than 100 passes than he threw this past year. It’s possible IF our running game is a total bust once again and Coen & Bowles give up on it, but I don’t think that’s the direction the Bucs want to head.

    I think Baker is at his best when he can run a balanced attack. In Todd Bowles’ world, that seems to be someplace between 41%-45% run-pass. Looking at Coen’s 2022 year with the Rams (41% run-pass), my guess is that his offensive philosophy marries up with Bowles’ quite well.

  25. Gipper Says:

    Impossible to run play action in red zone when every defense knew that running game was nonexistent. Baker got confidence in Otton late in season and Otton will probably be used more frequently inside red zone this year when ME and Godwin doubled. Also, look to see Rashad White used as swing out receiver down by goal line in 2024.

  26. KABucs Says:

    Also, put Baker’s 47% into a prospective. It’s only 3% worse than Jared Goff at 50%. There are about half of the quarterbacks in the league between that range. 3% difference isn’t that big a deal. He was basically average in the red zone and our offensive line problems probably didn’t help that any.

  27. ScottyMack Says:

    Easiest headline question to answer, ever. It was scheme. Plenty of personnel to get the job done, for sure. Far too many teams did more with less!

  28. Gotti-Dog-05-20-84 Says:

    Given his propensity to bounce out of and/or dodge tackles I won’t be surprised to see Irving receive a lot of red zone use……perhaps even two back sets with White.

  29. garro Says:

    No tight end and no run threat. Also not near enough 50-50 balls to Mike.

    Go Bucs!

  30. Shane Callahan Says:

    Mayfield has made every single one of his OCs since HS look good. He’ll make Coen looked good. If Coen is as good as I think, this could be a great combination!!!

  31. Oneilbuc Says:

    Canalas is gone now and that’s cool but I don’t want to hear the same thing about this OC . Baker has to play better and we can’t keep blaming the OC when Baker plays bad . Baker was inconsistent last year he plays bad in the first half and ok late in the 4th quarter. I hope he plays so good that he wins the MVP and we go to the Superbowl but Baker haven’t played good in back to back season yet hopefully he plays good this year. But last year was his best season in his career and that’s not a good thing if you break those games down in context. That’s why the only games Baker fans talks about is the Packers and Jaguars and the Eagles game in the playoffs. We have to start calling it like we see it regardless who the player is. Again I’m rooting for Baker but if he plays like he did last year or he regress then the bucs has to draft a quarterback in the first round next year even if they keep Baker.

  32. Glass Half Full Guy Says:

    Let’s not forget, when a QB has to throw the ball away out of the end zone, that counts against completion percentage. If receivers aren’t open or the QB is under pressure with a strong pass rush, a smart play is to chuck the ball into the seats rather than force a bad pass and a possible pick. Baker was very good at protecting the ball in these situations.

    Contrary to popular Bucs fan’s beliefs, ME13 isn’t always open on fade routes. Yes, he’s “likely” to win a 50/50 jump ball situation, but if the coverage is really good (or he’s doubled) it’s too risky and DCs scheme for that.

    I put a lot on Canales’s lack of creativity, especially his use of our TEs in these situations. Simple plays like a fake run to R. White with Otton blocking for a tick then peeling off to the right pylon is a basic NFL play and usually a walk-in TD. With ME and CG getting so much attention, Canales usually had Otton crossing over the middle (close to where Godwin was). It was baffling to me.

    Canales was in over his head. We had the players but his play calls put them at a disadvantage. Too many receivers in the same general location, creating traffic jams. I’m hoping to see better results this year from Coen.

  33. RustyRhinos Says:

    I guess not around here,

    “Winning is the greatest perfume. It covers up all sorts of stink.”

    With Back to Back to Back NFC SOUTH Championship “Brady Banners”. You would think we should be smelling nothing but Rosy.

    We have Mayfield as our QB. We had most of the personnel before Mayfield landed here, except OC Canales and his staff. (I am confident in OC Coen and his experience)

    Any NFL team is only from the result of all players from QB#1 to LS #3, all coaches from HC to the Offensive and Defensive quality control coaches, all the Management people Owners, GM, Player personnel, contracts, and scouting. All working in sync to reach the same goal.

  34. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Sort of a mix of the two. It took Canales half a year to figure out what the players thrived in. You won’t see that steep learning curve with Coen