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May 7, 2010 @ 7:05 am
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Carlson: Benn & Williams Change Bucs Offense

Written by Jeff
Jeff Carlson


Contributing Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Pewter Report contributing writer Jeff Carlson discusses how the Bucs offense is much more dynamic with the additions of Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. Carlson discusses how the Buccaneers can now match up against nickel and dime coverage to have a potent passing attack.
Jeff Carlson is a regular contributor to PewterReport.com. In his regular columns, Carlson will share expert analysis and insight regarding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL based on his previous playing experience with the Bucs and in the league.

Carlson played quarterback in the NFL from 1990-92. He spent two seasons (1990-91) with the Bucs and one season (1992) with the New England Patriots. The former Weber State signal caller originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick with the Los Angeles Rams.

Since his NFL playing career ended, Carlson has remained active and busy in the Tampa Bay area by heading up America's Best Quarterback, which is a clinic that trains quarterbacks privately or in groups in Tampa year round. To inquire about America's Best Quarterback, visit AmericasBestQB.com, e-mail
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
or call 813-789-9255.

In addition to his work with Americas Best Quarterback, Carlson is a regular host on Bright House Sports Network, which is PewterReport.com's television partner.

I really liked the Buccaneers draft, and think the team did a really good job. I've been on the record for many years eally happy to see the Bucs get some players that can be playmakers for them this year, and that happened when they traded up and landed Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn.

Benn looked good at Illinois, but he was difficult to evaluate because there aren't many Illinois games down here in Florida, and they didn't throw him the ball as much as they should have. From what I have seen he looks good and I like him. I'm excited about him because I think he can bring a lot to the offense from a yards-after-catch perspective.

In the NFL it is always about what else you can do. Last year, you saw Sammie Stroughter do that as a wide receiver and kick returner. That is just playmaking, plain and simple with the ability to get yards after the catch. Benn is excellent when running with the ball after a reception. Benn returned kicks and was used in a variety of ways at Illinois, but nobody sees him returning kicks instead of Clifton Smith or Stroughter. However, Benn is a playmaker and coaches see that and will try to get the ball in his hands in variety of ways, especially after seeing Juice Williams, the quarterback at Illinois struggle to get Benn the ball in the passing game.

I think that it is a great thing that Benn is so good after the catch because of the type of routes that the Buccaneers are employing in their offense. They love the slants, digs, and crosses that work the short and intermediate part of the field. Guys that are good run-after-the-catch receivers are very important for this offense because the routes are not these straight down the field sprints where receivers are by themselves, where you have one tackle to break and you're off.

When you stop on your routes like the Bucs do on curls and digs, the yards after the catch becomes critical because you aren't getting the 25-yard or 30-yard catch just by making the reception. The Bucs routes are more of a 10- or 12-yard gain when the pass is caught, and they have to make yards after the catch. Benn brings that to the offense, and thus I think he was a very good second-round pick.

Mike Williams is a guy that management and the coaching staff have taken a bit of a gamble on. His off-field issues sounded somewhat simplified in interviews. I'm not making any grand statement, but the story about his suspension we heard after the draft doesn't match up to the punishment of losing the rest of the football season, so that is a red flag for me. I hope that he can put all those things behind him, and doesn't bring that into his NFL career. The coaching staff and management put themselves on the line for the guy.

There are no concerns about Williams as a football player. I like the fact that they were able to get a top-quality athlete in the fourth round. That's how you get steals in the draft, and sometimes you do have to take risks. As the saying goes – with great risk comes great reward. And then there are also some flops.

With Williams' speed and explosiveness I'm looking forward to seeing him go down the field. That will make defenses have some hard decisions with where to use their safeties considering you have Benn and tight end Kellen Winslow on the field as well.

That's the chicken and the egg problem that defensive coaches are presented with in the passing game. If you loosen them up over the top you can get underneath. If you work them underneath and they cheat, then you can go over the top. This combination of Williams and Benn has to be seen as a very exciting one for Josh Freeman and Buccaneer fans.

Considering the receivers the Buccaneers have on the roster, those two guys should be impact players on Day One. They shouldn't be receivers that get in the game in mop-up time. They should be impact players immediately because Tampa Bay simply doesn't have a good four wide receiving corps.

Watching the Bucs on third-and-long or even fourth-and-long under Jon Gruden was aggravating for me because they didn't have four receivers that could play. They would have tight end Jerramy Stevens as the slot receiver and they might have a fullback out wide. They didn't have four legitimate wide receivers, or sometimes three receivers that they could put in longer yardage situations. The Bucs have been in that situation for a long time, but now it looks different.

With Stroughter, Benn, Williams, and Maurice Stovall/Reggie Brown/Mark Bradley – who ever wins that spot – the team now has four receivers for all situations whether it is first-and-10 or third-and-long. They have moved themselves into a position where they can compete and match up against nickel or dime coverage.

In recent years, defenses have dominated the Bucs in nickel or dime coverage when the Buccaneers had long yardage to cover for a first down. If you can't compete in third-and-medium and third-and-long situations you're not going to be a very good passing attack or offense.

I'm as excited as I've been in awhile that the team has the option of having four receivers out there on the football field that can go up against nickel and dime coverage. Benn and Williams should make that change for Tampa Bay starting in Week 1.

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