Grading The Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Offense


We are through the first quarter of the NFL season. The first four games have told us a lot about teams across the league. Specifically, we have learned a lot about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers were a team that was full of unknowns entering the season. They had a new offensive coordinator, a new quarterback (who nobody else wanted), a head coach that nobody believed in, and a reshuffled offensive line full of inexperienced. Frankly, there was a lot of reason to doubt the Bucs, particularly on offense.

Now that we are 25% through the regular season, we start to have some answers to those questions. I went back and graded the first quarter of the season by position groups. Today we take a look at the Buccaneers first quarter offensive report card.

Quarterback: A

A month ago, Baker Mayfield was one of the biggest reasons people pointed to as to why the Bucs wouldn’t be good this year. Fast forward to today and he is one of the biggest reasons this team leads the NFC South. Mayfield has been everything we believed he could be in this offense through four games.

Currently, Mayfield is tied for 8th in touchdown passes and 8th in completion percentage. He also ranks 15th in yards per attempt. This is what we expected coming into the season; an efficient quarterback who is capable of making big time throws to drive the offense when that is presented to him.

However, it has been the things that don’t show up in the box score that have stood out the most. His ability to avoid pressure has been invaluable to this young offensive line and coaching staff. He has picked up key first downs with his legs and made life difficult for pass rushers.

Perhaps even more importantly, Mayfield’s leadership has been excellent thus far. His chip on his shoulder mentality has been embraced by the entire team and the Buccaneers fan base. I might even go as far as to say that he has become the heartbeat of this offense from a leadership perspective.

Running Back: C-

The numbers haven’t been pretty so far for the running back group. Starter Rachaad White currently ranks 24th in rushing yards, but 41st in yards per carry. While this is certainly the best of the bunch and in some ways an improvement over what we saw from the Bucs rushing attack last season, this still leaves a lot to be desired. 

This has been due to a variety of reasons. Some of it is a new offense and a new offensive line and the struggles that come with that. Some of that is White not trusting what he’s seeing in front of him.

I believe we will continue to see improvement from the running game as continuity is developed between these groups. I also think we’ll see more from White as a pass catcher. This is an area where White has been very good in limited opportunities.

Wide Receivers: B+

We knew what to expect from this group of receivers at the top of the depth chart. Mike Evans is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and Chris Godwin has been an All Pro player in the past. Together, these two make one of the best pass catching duos in the NFL.

After that, things got dicey on the depth chart. Between Trey Palmer, Deven Thompkins and Rakim Jarrett these three guys had proven basically nothing in the NFL. Afterall, two are rookies (one drafted in the 6th round and one undrafted) and one is an undrafted free agent from last season.

These three unknown entities have stepped up and played their roles well so far. Palmer has a pair of touchdowns in four games and Thompkins had a touchdown in the most recent game against the Saints to put the game away. In terms of depth role players, these three have done a very nice job so far.

Tight Ends: D+

Tight end is a position that has been featured in this type of an offense. Places like Seattle and Los Angeles feature their tight ends regularly. The Buccaneers haven’t seen the type of production you would hope for with that position. 

Cade Otton has been a bit of an afterthought this season. With just 12 catches for 89 yards and a touchdown in four games, it has been an underwhelming year to this point. If not producing for heavy yard totals, it was at least expected that Otton would be a security blanket over the middle who can pick up first downs.

Ko Kieft doesn’t have a reception this year, but that isn’t surprising considering his role. He is a blocking tight end and fullback who isn’t asked to catch the ball often. In terms of his blocking and special teams usage, he has done fairly well.

Offensive Line: B

The offensive line was my biggest area of concern this year. With a new starter from last season everywhere but center and the center being a backup playing due to injury for the second year in a row, there were a lot of questions to answer. To this point, they have far exceeded my expectations.

This is particularly true on the right side of the offensive line. Cody Mauch has been impressive as a pass blocker at right guard. There have been ups and downs, as you would expect with a rookie, but considering this wasn’t an area of strength in college he has done a great job making this transition. Luke Goedeke played left guard as a rookie last year, but moved back to his college position of right tackle this season. So far he has been nothing short of very good.

The pass blocking across the board has been strong, anchored by super star Tristian Wirfs moving to left tackle. However, the run blocking can stand to improve. This is particularly true on the interior of the offensive line.

Considering that Mauch is a rookie and Robert Hainsey is a second year starter at center, there is reason to believe that these young players will continue to improve. Regardless of the struggles, this group has been far more positive than not considering their inexperience.

Coaching: A-

First year offensive coordinator Dave Canales seemed like a good hire on paper. He comes from a good organization and he came in and won the press conference. However, that doesn’t always matter when players take the field.

Overall, the start of the Canales era has been very positive. He deserves a lot of credit for the development and usage of the offensive line and the revival of Baker Mayfield’s career. He has put together logical game plans and has made the offense much more advanced than the previous regime. 

It hasn’t always been perfect, specifically thinking of a bull headed commitment to running at the Philadelphia interior defensive line. However, this first time play caller has shown a willingness to learn and adapt and should only continue to get better with experience.

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