Making the Buccaneers A Running Offense

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense has looked lost at times this year. They have tried to be a more balanced and run-centric offense, but after scoring one offensive touchdown in each of the first three games they have reverted back to their old pass happy ways. There is good and bad to this.

The thought was to protect the 45 year old Tom Brady, from both fatigue and an inexperienced interior offensive line, running the ball more would be best. In theory, that’s a smart move. With a team like the Buccaneers that is in a Super Bowl or bust window, preserving Brady for the playoffs is what matters.

However, this team has to make the playoffs first. If the offense doesn’t score touchdowns then that’s not going to happen. This offense scores touchdowns when they throw the ball and throw it often. You can see where the problem comes in here.

So, is there a way to be a running offense and still score points? Afterall, it’s not like this is Baltimore or San Francisco who are built to be a run first offense. Despite having the greatest quarterback of all time, a future Hall of Fame receiver in the prime of his career and pass catchers everywhere, this can absolutely be an effective offense that maintains balance.

Here’s how

Screens and Quick Passes

Okay, yes, this is cheating a little. However, as cliche as it may sound, screens are very much a part of the rushing attack. The Bucs have done this in the past and been very successful with it.

How many times have we seen an instant pass to Chris Godwin on a wide receiver screen and it picked up six or seven yards? This has been a staple in the Buccaneers’ offense over the last few years. The type of play that sets up second and short.

The same is true when throwing to the running backs. Screens slow down the pass rush and passes to the flats are a good outlet for a quarterback under pressure.

With stars like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin threatening defenses downfield, these types of short quick hitters are largely open. They won’t be game changing plays, but enough of them can be death by 1,000 paper cuts.

These kinds of plays also protect Brady. Getting the ball out of his hands quickly and not putting too much strain on his arm is ideal. This is the best of both worlds.

Different Ball Carriers

There aren’t many bell cow running backs who you count on to generate offense every week. Guys like Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor are a rare breed. To be frank, Leonard Fournette is not that type of back.

That’s not to say he isn’t a good player. He’s powerful, fast and can really do some of everything. He can and should get the lion’s share of the rushing attempts.

However, there are other guys on this team who can carry the ball. Rookie running back Rachaad White is more of a pass catcher, but has excellent patience and vision. A guy like Scotty Miller has great speed to break a big play on designed runs for receivers.

The more threats there are to run the ball, the more opponents have to account for. That slight hesitation that comes from thinking often leads to additional yards and sometimes big explosive plays.

Formations and Motions 

The Bucs don’t have the offensive line to just power the ball down the middle of a defense. They can’t just always go under center and expect to win their matchups in the trenches.

What they can do is spread defenses out and keep them on their heels. Running out of shotgun or pistol is something the Buccaneers must utilize more. This can lighten the box and create smaller opposing personnel packages.

Pre-snap shifts and motions can also help. The more the offense keeps changing, the more the defense has to communicate and adjust. It’s only a matter of time until mistakes are made or a defender takes too long to process what’s happening.

Just how different ball carriers can slow down a defense, different looks from the offense can do this even more. Keep defenses guessing and thinking and only good things can happen.

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