With week two in the books, possible trends are starting to emerge. Looking at the stats from the game against the Falcons, one thing is certain, the Buccaneers offense is potent. For now, let’s look at two stats from the game that may start to show trends for the remaining regular-season games.
Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski twice for touchdowns on Sunday. Marking the third game in a row (going back to the Super Bowl) the duo has done so. Gronk is now the second tight end in NFL history with three games of multiple touchdowns in a row. Additionally, he is the first Buccaneer to do so.
Looking even more closely, this is only the second time that Gronk has had five or more targets in a three-game span since becoming a Buccaneer. As a Patriot, it occurred more frequently. With more time in the system, Brady is being allowed to tweak the offense a little more. Last season he targeted Gronk 77 times. After two games it seems as though Brady will utilize Gronk more, adding a wrinkle for defenses to plan against.
When looking at running backs you get a better idea of their actual performance if you remove their best run of the game. This alleviates the disproportionate stats. For example, a running back with 11 rushes for 98 yards looks to average an amazing 8.9 per carry. The story changes rather drastically when their longest run was for 66 yards. Now their average drops to 3.3 yards a carry.
If you subtract the longest run from each running back (ten yards), these are their average yards per rush. Leonard Fournette finished week two (using this look at their play) with an average of 4.2 yards per play. Ronald Jones finished with 3.4 yards. In the first week, using the same math, Fournette averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Jones, three yards.
Many fans are scratching their heads as to why Fournette is not getting the same treatment as Jones. When Jones fumbles, he’s on the bench the next play. Fournette fouls up a play and he can be back out on the field for the next snap. If this gap between their yards per carry widens you can expect it to exasperate the issue.
I believe running backs need to get in a rhythm to be effective. Jones will not get the chance right now.
The Buccaneers will need to get more out of their run game. But to do so the play calling will need to allow for each back to get in a rhythm. At some point the offense will call for the ability to establish a run, burn out the defense, and eat up the clock. They need to ensure they can do that, and this week they may need it against the Rams.