The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs.

This week’s topic: What Is Your One Fix For Bucs Offense And Defense?

Scott Reynolds: Less AB, More Miller; Keep Shaq And JPP Where They Are

In his first four games as a Buccaneer, Antonio Brown has been targeted 29 times and caught 20 passes for 168 yards (8.4 avg.) with no touchdowns and just one reception over 20 yards. He also has two carries for minus-2 yards. After a full month in the Bucs offense, Brown’s production fizzled to just two catches for 11 yards against Kansas City, which was his lowest output of the year. Meanwhile, Scotty Miller had 25 catches for 400 yards (15.3 avg.) and two touchdowns in the eight games prior to Brown’s arrival. Since Brown became a Buccaneer, he’s essentially replaced Miller in the line-up, as Miller, who has the highest receiving average on the team, has had just five targets and two catches for 14 yards. I’m not suggesting that Miller is a better receiver than Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler. But there’s no question he’s played better this year and has a better rapport with Tom Brady dating back to training camp. I think the Bucs should play Brown less and Miller more down the stretch.

Bucs Shaquil Barrett

Bucs Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

On defense, the Bucs need to keep playing outside linebackers Shaquil Barrett on the right side and Jason Pierre-Paul on the left side like they lined up against Kansas City. The two edge rushers combined for nine pressures, two sacks, two QB hits and one forced fumble. After notching 19.5 sacks – 13 of which came on the right side – last year, Barrett was moved to the left side where Pierre-Paul recorded 8.5 sacks last season in 10 games. While Pierre-Paul has played well this year with 8.5 sacks through 12 games, Barrett has struggled getting sacks despite a good, steady pressure rate. Barrett has just six sacks when he had 12.5 at this point last year. The undersized Barrett will benefit more rushing from the blind side one-on-one against left tackles than he would against bigger, stronger right tackles where the 270-pound Pierre-Paul can match up better.

Mark Cook: More Protection For Brady, Less Worrying About The Run On Defense

Offensively I think it still comes down to protection for Brady. Yes, he was sacked just twice in the last two losses, but for a quarterback with less than ideal mobility, even having to rush throws a fraction too soon can be the difference between a first down completion or an interception. It really is that much of a fine line when you go back and watch the last four games, with three of them losses. So what if you have one less receiver running routes? Max protecting Brady more than the Buccaneers have done so far this season will lead to less errors, more completions, more touchdowns and ultimately more wins. Keeping Brady upright – and not hearing footsteps – is the key to offensive success for Tampa Bay.

Bucs QB Tom Brady and Rams DT Aaron Donald

Bucs QB Tom Brady and Rams DT Aaron Donald – Photo by: USA Today

Defensively we can all pat the Bucs on the back that they are the No. 1 team in the league against the run. Yay. Woo hoo. (Insert golf clap here) Sense my sarcasm? Of course it is always great to stop a team from running and make them one dimensional. But when you have the 24th ranked pass defense, does it really matter if you stop the run? Are the Bucs too committed to stopping the run, so much in fact that it hurts their pass defense? And if you are a team that has a halfway decent quarterback with solid receivers, why even attempt to run? Tampa Bay needs to get more aggressive in their coverage and play more man, and if they get beat, they get beat. Hell, I’d much rather just rip the band-aid off quickly than to die a slow death playing soft zone.

Jon Ledyard: More Play-Action Please! And More Coverage Rotations

On offense, the Bucs have three fatal schematic flaws: not enough route creativity (this includes motion at the snap), too many first down runs and not nearly enough play-action. But because Scott is only letting me pick one thing to harp on, I’ll go with requesting more play-action, please! The Bucs have the largest discrepancy between play-action and non play-action yards per attempt in the NFL, gaining an average of 3.4 more yards per attempt on play-action passes than all other passes. This isn’t a Tom Brady thing, this is an entire NFL thing! Every piece of data tells us that the more play-action you can use as an offense, the better. And the Bucs are 36th out of 39 quarterbacks in percentage of play action throws, per Pro Football Focus. It has to change.

On defense, the Bucs have become stale and predictable in their coverage shells, with one reason being the disproportionate amount of the time they play single-high. Tampa Bay plays as little Cover 2-man as any defense in the NFL, while playing well over half their coverages with a single free safety. Their commitment to stopping the run is admirably, but ultimately unnecessary. Teams have abandoned trying to run the ball in order to simply shred Tampa Bay through the air. If they don’t start to alter their coverage schemes and play more Cover 2-man and disguised coverages, this defense will continue to get worked each week.

Matt Matera: Feed RoJo; More Aggressive Defense In First Quarter

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Ronald Jones II is fourth in the NFL with 820 yards rushing, fifth in yards per carry among running backs with at least 100 attempts with a 5.1 average, third in the NFL in having five runs of at least 20-plus yards, and yet at times he still feels like an afterthought in Tampa Bay’s offense. In Sunday’s 27-24 loss to Kansas City, Jones had just nine rushing attempts and was not given the ball in the red zone. That just can’t happen. I understand that Jones is a liability in the passing game and sometimes the score dictates his usage, but when Jones gets involved in the offense, the Bucs are at their best. In three of the four highest scoring games for the Bucs this season, Jones has been given 20 carries and surpassed 100 yards. The offense is more complete when they get the run game going. It opens up the play-action and creates better opportunities for the receivers. Bruce Arians said on Monday that Jones needs at least 20 touches per game, so hopefully that happens down the stretch.

Defensively, the Bucs are starting off slow at an alarming pace. As Scott Reynolds pointed out recently in his 2-Point Conversion post-game column, the Bucs have been outscored 52-10 in the first quarter of their last five games, which all happened in the month of November. But it doesn’t stop there. Tampa Bay has failed to record a sack in the first quarter over the past month, and has just one turnover. Ironically, that was a fumble recovery at the 1-yard line in the Saints debacle. The Bucs are sitting back and getting beat rather than setting the tone with aggressive, physical play like they should be doing on defense.

Taylor Jenkins: Be Patient And Stick To What Works

The Bucs’ offense needs to become a more patient one. Tampa Bay’s offense currently averages 5.97 plays per drive, good for 26th in the league. What this tells me is that there are far too many three-and-outs, where Tampa Bay sits 15th in the league, or short drives that fail to result in points for this offense to be at its best. The Bucs have all the talent in the world on offense and one of the smartest, most risk-averse quarterbacks to play the game. Use more spacing concepts, put players in position to make high-probability catches and stop putting such an emphasis on chunk plays when efficiency and scoring should be of the utmost priority.

On defense it’s as simple as sticking to what works. Losing defensive tackle Vita Vea was a massive loss for the defense, especially when it comes to run defense and drawing double teams on the interior that allow outside linebackers Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul to take advantage of one-on-one matchups off of the edge. But despite the loss of Vea, Tampa Bay remains the league’s best at stopping the run while their secondary now sits in the league’s bottom third in passing yards allowed. The Bucs have built a defensive lineup that thrives in press man coverage to create contact with receivers at the line, make plays on the ball and give the front seven a chance to get after the quarterback. That’s the formula that worked over the second half of 2019 and it’s the formula that worked early in 2020. I’m not saying that zone defense for this secondary should be completely thrown out; it has its place in the defensive scheme and players like Jamel Dean have thrived when given the opportunity to read and react, but if this defense wants to be at its best it has to be deployed in a way that’s yielded the best results more frequently.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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seat26
seat26(@seat26)
1 year ago

Protect Brady, more Rojo. Find a pass rush, and this struggling secondary will blossom. Those are the short term solutions. Long term? Get a young QB to groom who can step up, when Brady goes down. (we might already have him on the roster) And start drafting offensive and defensive lineman like we do defensive backs. Early and often.

bucballer
bucballer(@bucballer)
Reply to  seat26
1 year ago

Sounds good to me Seat26. Give RoJo 20+ carries and let’s see what happens. Would love to see BA call one complete game to find out if it is indeed BL’s fault for lack of fluidity with this offense.

matador
matador(@matador)
Reply to  seat26
1 year ago

I agree Seat. But you’re asking the GM to do things he has never done. And our coaches need to do things they’ve never done.

In other words we need a complete overhaul, with the new staff building from the inside out which, absent a true franchise QB who can make up for other team shortcomings, is the only reliable pathway to long term success.

seat26
seat26(@seat26)
Reply to  matador
1 year ago

I am just happy we are improved over what we were 2 yrs ago, and Covid did not completely disrupt our season. I think BA is still a very good coach. Licht is probably middle of the road as a GM. Not as bad as most of us have painted him. He has hits and misses. Lately his drafts have been pretty productive. I think some of his FA choices have been brilliant and some just head scratchers. We are still a few good players away. And unfortunately, we have ourselves in a pickle as we will draft pretty low.… Read more »

Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
Reply to  seat26
1 year ago

New England has been drafting last for numerous years and still have 6 super bowl rings to show for. So drafting low is not necessary a pickle as you put it — if you have a good football system and team identity– The “Bucs way”

seat26
seat26(@seat26)
Reply to  Eddie
1 year ago

It is when your scouting is suspect. Our record for late round picks is horrific. And our record for high picks is only marginal and that is because the last 4 drafts have worked out pretty good.

MWD
MWD(@mikewestdominguez)
1 year ago

Question is do we have the players on our current roster to win- answer to me personally-YES, we do. The problems have been scene and play calling, specifically what coverages on defense and which packages on offense- Defensively- we left Davis out to dry last Sunday and should have had the plan coming in- if Mahommes stops us by himself then we will live with it but we are taking Kelce and Hill out of the game and double teaming their asses for four quarters, that being said-whoever has underneath has to be fearless to play aggressive and close knowing… Read more »

twspin
twspin(@twspin)
1 year ago

Our best solution was to have moved up in this past draft and got a good QB. Next draft, no telling what we will have to do to move up. We were in the ideal spot. As for now, I’m rollin with Marks and Scotts comments. Look..we got Brady for another year and I’m tellin ya all, he will not last back there unless we get him better protection. He can’t run or get out of the way. So we gotta protect him better. He’s starting to take a lotta hits. And I think we need to concentrate on AB… Read more »

Dave
Dave(@bucball02)
Reply to  twspin
1 year ago

Out of all the QB’s taken in this past draft(which was a quite a few) only 1 of them, for sure, we absolutely know can play in the NFL. Everyone else is in prove it mode. So who should we have traded up to get? Other than Herbert, who would have cost us, half our draft, who should we have gotten? Tua hasn’t proven whatsoever that he can play in this league. And I’ve said, long before he was drafted, that I think he’s the most overhyped QB to come into the NFL since Tebow. He’ll never amount to anything… Read more »

Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

I truly believe if Arians can change his system to be more NFL competitive or replace him with a coach and system Brady is familiar with he can be talked into another year beyond 2021. It also depends on whether his family is happy in Tampa Bay. He is a family man and will put them ahead of his football decision. Also I was told, his wife has higher net worth than him so money is really not an issue, just how happy his family is.

Dave
Dave(@bucball02)
Reply to  Eddie
1 year ago

Agreed. If we ran a Brady offense, and junked this no risk no biscuit crap, this is a SB caliber team. But we continuously junk the short to intermediate passing game for the deep ball(even though A- the protection never holds up long enough to throw deep, and B- we have 2 of the best short game WR’s in the nfl in Godwin and AB). You run a bunch of slants, option routes, short outs, and short curls with Godwin and AB, along with a ton of Rojo, and play action seam passes to Gronk and Evans, and this offense… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Dave
Spruce
Spruce(@mdb06074gmail-com)
1 year ago

Defense is fine. What they need most is to bring the intensity from the opening kickoff and not after they’ve been burned for big gainers and touchdowns.
There is no cure for Brady’s situation. He is clearly less mobile then even last year and he’s always going to launch the ball under pressure because he won’t take hits until the playoffs.
How about being coached up in all phases. Better morale with a bigger chip on their shoulder would help. A personality and identity.
They ain’t getting any of that with this coach and staff.

RW
RW(@rwp111)
Reply to  Spruce
1 year ago

The defense isn’t fine. The D backs have some challenges but in addition, the linebackers collectively are bad in pass coverage and the D line cannot generate consistent pressure unless they blitz. Not a recipe for success against good teams.
And Brady is no less mobile than in the past 2-3 years. He does however need a back who can catch and make YAC when he is under pressure. Just like he had for the last 15 years in New England.

Spruce
Spruce(@mdb06074gmail-com)
1 year ago

The media always tries to get Brady to comment on coaching and play calling decisions. I can tell you right not he’ll never do it. He learned under Belichick you never do that in public. Listen to Belichick after one of the many terrible games Newton has had and he won’t say boo. Arians should learn that too. Rip any player a new one if you want but only behind closed doors.

drdneast
drdneast(@drdneast)
Reply to  Spruce
1 year ago

Whatever organization you work for the rule of thumb is always praise in public criticize in private. I doubt if this coaching staff is going to make any changes because they self analyze every week and haven’t seen anything wrong in what they have been doin so far.

Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
Reply to  drdneast
1 year ago

I agree Arians will not change, that is why we need a change quickly. The Glazer family who also owner Manchester United was much less patient with that soccer team. Hope they can do the same here.

RW
RW(@rwp111)
Reply to  Spruce
1 year ago

The one thing I admire most in Brady is that he never bitches to the media about his coaches or his teammates.

Spruce
Spruce(@mdb06074gmail-com)
1 year ago

Really funny to read one of the comments concerning Antonio Brown. Losing steam is he. No matter signing him was a mistake no matter what he catches. He’s a team morale virus. A ticking time bomb. You’ll see.

MWD
MWD(@mikewestdominguez)
Reply to  Spruce
1 year ago

AB is the least of the concerns right now and I’ve heard nothing about him acting up as of yet since he’s been in pewter

gcolerick
gcolerick(@gcolerick)
1 year ago

Coach and game plan to your players strengths.

Bradenton BucFan
Bradenton BucFan(@bucsblues)
1 year ago

No Vita hurts alot for our defense. We have gotten out coached in two many games on both sides of the ball. More flexibility with scheme. We run the same stuff even when the other team knows it. They are not using the talent properly as they gel and adjust to injuries. start calling coverages that take away the big play. The coaching looks like they only want to win one way they way. The players besides Brady need step to the coaches & then the owners, something like Sapp & co. did.

drdneast
drdneast(@drdneast)
Reply to  Bradenton BucFan
1 year ago

Id like to see them play defense like they did in the first four games of the season and yes that includes the Saints too. The defense primarily played man to man and attacked. I’m seeing way to much zone with players laying off until the ball is caught. The same could be said for the offense. Make Jones your primary back and give him the ball at least 20 times a game and run play action off of it. Brown should be subbed more with Evans and Godwin, not your best deep threat.

JSW
JSW(@pewtereyes)
1 year ago

My hope is that the Bucs coaches and players will meet together and come up with a plan for the rest of the season in which EVERYONE is willing to step out of his comfort zone a little to do what has proven most successful for this team so far… These would include (as I see it): 1) Bruce Ariens – willing to use more pre-snap shifts and motion; and more play action passes. 2) Harold Goodwin – willing to include more misdirection and outside the tackle runs. 3) Tom Brady – willing to stand in, or slide around in,… Read more »

plopes808
plopes808(@plopes808)
1 year ago

Feed Rojo and stop taking him out of the damn game! That will key the play action which will also lead to more protection for Brady. 3 birds, one stone…I can’t for the life of me figure out why they keep rotating Fournette in when Rojo is in rhythm smdh. On defense, we gotta adjust coverage to the team we’re playing. Press man is what our corners are best at, but when ur playing Tyreek Hill and your fastest corner is out, you gotta roll safety help over there. Work in those blitzes a little more and leave Shaq and… Read more »

Hockey Duckie
Hockey Duckie(@hockey-duckie)
1 year ago

Offense: Copy Koetter’s vertical offense, which offers layered verticals that has routes that run into the middle of the field. We’re already a vertical offense and every receiver, except for AB and Gronk, already knows Koetter’s layered vertical offense, which is also very TE friendly.

Defense: Be aggressive with your front 7. There’s proof that if you apply pressure to a QB that a QB doesn’t perform well.

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
1 year ago

What I find most curious is that our opponents seem so much better prepared to start the game than the Bucs. Then, after the initial onslaught, it’s like our coaching staff finally has a clue of the other team’s plan of attack and decides to do something different to combat it. So, from my perspective, our offensive and defensive game plans developed during the week prior to the game, too often proove ineffective and are being changed on the run after it’s too late. It’s like the scouting and analyzing of the opponent is lacking. Guess the OC and DC… Read more »

bucballer
bucballer(@bucballer)
Reply to  scubog
1 year ago

Exactly… almost as if we r unprepared yet BA says we knew exactly what they were going to do. Something doesn’t add up???

The Wall
The Wall(@the-wall)
1 year ago

When you synthesize all the comments, it comes down to coaching. What is amazing is everyone seems to see this, except the coaches.

BigSombrero
BigSombrero(@bucwild02)
1 year ago

I like Matt Matera’s take to run the ball more. Play more aggressive on defense.

I agree with SR about lining up 90 over RT and 58 over LT.

I think Taylor Jenkins is right to recommend staying patient with the rushing attack, while starting faster on both sides.

If the Bucs do that, then Jon Ledyard’s advice to play action will be more effective.

Mark Cook is calling for better pass defense, which seems to be highlighted in Ledyard’s shifting coverages.

Great takes PR.

bucballer
bucballer(@bucballer)
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

A agree with all! Doesn’t all that come down to coaching?

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
1 year ago

Offense is easy. Run the damn ball with Jones more!!! Balance! Play action! None these words are in Arians vocabulary anymore and it’s asinine to expect good results every week.

I would say less zone and attack more on D, but Defense isn’t getting fixed this year. It’s a average at best. We are thin at pass rushers. Vea is misses big time. We need likely at least another good CB and pass rusher. Safety other than Winfield isn’t great either.

Dave
Dave(@bucball02)
1 year ago

It can be considered a cop out, but there is no way that one fix each on both sides of the ball can fix this team. This season more than ever, has shown me how important coaching is in this league. And our coaching staff is flat out not good enough to win a championship. I don’t care how much talent is on this roster. But for the sake of the article I’ll narrow it down, and list my one fix for each unit. Offense: 1A) fire BL. 1B) let Brady call the entire offense Defense: play tight, press man,… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Dave
JC
JC(@sixtchamp)
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

Couldn’t agree more. This team will not win a superbowl this year and the coaching staff is to blame. Hopefully they bring in someone like a Josh Mcdaniels who can design an offense that can actually win the whole thing.

Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
Reply to  JC
1 year ago

Oh yes, Josh McDaniel, that will be great. Tom may even stay for one more year beyond 2021 for that

Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

Having Brady call the offense won;t work IF all the plays he can select from are from the Arians not NFL competitive playbook.

Dave
Dave(@bucball02)
Reply to  Eddie
1 year ago

They wouldn’t be. They’d be from the playbook he ran successfully in NE for 20 years. If you take away the deep passes, Brady is in the top 3 in every single passing statistic in the NFL this year. When Brady is working the 5-15 yard short to intermediate game, he’s absolutely deadly. This offense needs players running routes east and west, not straight down the field. And if you are going to be stupid enough to not take advantage of Brady’s strengths, at least use a lot of motions and play action. Our passing game design is the most… Read more »

Donkey_Hunter
Donkey_Hunter(@donkey_hunter)
1 year ago

Pretty much echoing what @hockey_duckie posted.
OFFENSE – Add in some of the wrinkles from DK’s offense, since its familiar. Arians scheme and gameplan is nothing but iso route after iso route. Throw in some rubs, zone beaters, crossers, natural picks, etc.
DEFENSE – Pull Devin White off the field on obvious passing downs unless you’re blitzing him and allow the corners to play more press man.

bucballer
bucballer(@bucballer)
1 year ago

The only thing holding back this offense and it’s effectiveness is coaching! On defense, the woes of our young defensive backfield is directly related to the defensive pass rush. Get penetration by ur DLine on a consistent basis and the defensive backfield will look tons better.

B T
B T(@btk-tpa)
1 year ago

Everyone has hit the same themes… we have been out coached game after game. Two big things need to change.Do not abandon the run so quickly and use more play action. Also, never -or rarely -go with the empty backfield set. That only works with a Qb who is a threat to run. When the Bucs do it, the D line tees off and the pass coverage is super tight because no RB to worry about and no threat of a run from Brady.Stupid formation for this offense. The defense needs to stop continuously playing a single high safety .Mix… Read more »