If there’s one stat that stands above the rest to reflect Tampa Bay’s offensive improvement, it’s red zone efficiency.
Since ending 12 of 28 drives with a touchdown through the first eight weeks (43 percent), the Buccaneers have capitalized on nine of their 12 opportunities inside the 20-yard line over the last four games. With a 75 percent success rate in the third quarter of the season, Tampa Bay is now exceeding its goal in the most critical down and distance.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/PR
“Our goal is 55 percent touchdowns in the red zone,” offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said Wednesday. “You want points every time. In the NFL, [if] you get inside the 20-yard line you should have a field goal in the bag. Fifty-five percent touchdown rate will usually put you top five in the NFL.
“That sounded like a statistic right there, but it really wasn’t. It’s one of the nine (important statistics), though. We had a great week last week – 75 percent. We really should have had 100 percent.”
The reason for the sharp incline, according to Koetter, has been a better understanding of personnel and the ability to strategize to the offenses’ strengths.
“Maybe we’ve calmed down our scheme a little bit,” Koetter said. “We’re a running football team, so we are running it a little bit more. You learn your guys, and everyone fits in their role.”
While everyone has fit into their role quite well and contributed to the overall team-effort, it starts with the quarterback and Jameis Winston has been nearly perfect once the Bucs cross the 20.
Of their nine red zone touchdowns since Week 10, the rookie quarterback has thrown for six and run for two while committing zero turnovers. And of those eight, two came last Sunday against the Falcons, a five-yard run and a six-yard toss that proved to be decisive in the 23-19 victory.
“I just think the red zone is a reflection of Jameis overall,” Koetter said. “I think you could just take Jameis in red zone, Jameis on third down, Jameis on decision making. We’ve talked about that every week. He’s had a very steady progression of his improvement throughout the year.”
Winston, for his part, re-directed the praise back towards his offensive coordinator.
“What Coach Koetter has done for our offense has been amazing,” Winston said. “Not only his schemes and what he brings to this team with his brain and how he does things, but we play for him. For a coach, I think that’s when you meet your max – when you have guys playing for you and you have guys that want to do good for you.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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