Before the season started, some Buc fans remained skeptical of the new regime under Bruce Arians. The team didn’t address major problem areas in the offseason with free agency and the draft. The two biggest problems that plagued the team in 2018 are still there in 2019: below average running and porous secondary.
Same as 2018 Bucs
The Bucs rank 23rd in rushing with the two-headed attack of Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber, who combined for 658 yards on the ground. The case to justify the lower numbers stems from the deficit the team finds itself in forcing to abandon the run early; especially when they’re down by more than one score. Neither have busted out for major gains to break the game open. While Jones was grossly misused in 2018, he hasn’t been the force to make the difference.
When the Bucs abandon the run to play catchup, clock management becomes an issue as incomplete passes stop the clock. Productive rushing downs allow for better ball control and improve time of possession. It’s easy to blame the offensive line, because teams tease eight-man fronts to make Jameis Winston beat them.
It’s no secret when Winston’s pressured, he’s prone to mistakes fumbling the ball nine times, which already beats his 2018 number of seven. He’s on pace to reach 18, which would be a career high. Winston is also two shy of matching his 2018 interceptions with 12. Given the team’s progression halfway through the season, he’s on pace to throw a career high 24 INTs. This obliterates his previous high in 2016 with 18 INTs. On positive notes, he’s also slated to post career highs in touchdown passes in 32 and yards with 4814.
Again playing catch up pads those stats despite coming up short within a score in most of the losses. The team has the 11th ranked passing attack in the league. Overall, they have a below average ranking of 18th in total offense.
Bucs fans can tout the team’s no. 1 ranking in rush defense, but why run when they have the 28th ranked defense? This amounts to 18th ranked total defense. Let’s also keep in mind Seattle’s Chris Carson ran for 105 yards to contribute to Russell Wilson’s 378 passing yards and 5 TD day in the Bucs’ 40-34 loss.
More Evaluation, Less Improvement
Expectations are always high for the new coaching staff, but given the moves or lack thereof, some became wise in lowering them. Jones wasn’t tested and Barber was the stout vet. Todd Bowles aggressive 3-4 scheme is feast of famine. When the opposing offense pick up on the blitz packages, the secondary gets into a world of trouble. The loss against the Seahawks proved one of the biggest negatives of Bowles’ system gassed the defense. There was no fight left and Seattle essentially walked into the endzone in overtime.
The only things fans should expect is more of the same. One more loss and the team plays for next year. Given current parity, it’s far more difficult to get into the playoffs as a 9-7 team. Bucs fans can hope and pray the team addresses the secondary, offensive line, quarterback and running during the offseason.