After five turbulent weeks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit at 3-2 and on top of the NFC South. There have been some good and a lot of bad for the offense and a lot to unpack. Here are three aspects that could play bigger roles as the season unfolds.
The Run Game
Outside of the issues with play calling and a sometimes predictable offense the run game is not materializing as some thought it should after last season. I am one of those in this group. Thus far this season Leonard Fournette has been the primary back. Compared to last year though he has so far averaged one yard less after contact (1.3 yards vs 2.3 yards in 2021). Additionally, he has severely increased his average attempts per broken tackle. Last season he averaged 16.4 attempts in-between broken tackles. This year he’s at 24.7. Even if you consider the offensive line play these stats solely rest upon Fournette’s shoulders. He needs to get back to “Last Year Lenny”.
Bad Free Agent Signings (So Far)
In previous seasons the free agents that have been brought in played major roles. From Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Shaquil Barrett big names have been brought in and performed. This season is not the case. Julio Jones is NOT the Julio we were sold on during the offseason and has only appeared in two games. Like Jones, Kyle Rudolph has appeared in as many games and has one catch. Akiem Hicks has five tackles in the two games he has appeared in and only registered a hit and hurry per PFF.
Not everything is bad. The Buccaneers are surely missing Rob Gronkowski, but they may have a a tight end who can fill in admirably. Cade Otton has been showing flashes. His targets have gone up each week, reaching seven this week. He is also posting a high catch percentage with decent yards per reception (7.6). His upward trajectory will continue and he will be a stellar part of this offense.
Many things are not working nearly as expected. It’s still early and the team can turn certain things around. The run game can can improve, the free agents may come in and produce, and possibly unexpected heroes may emerge. Only time will tell.
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