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Right up until that final kick sailed through the uprights to seal the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ second win of the season, Roberto Aguayo cornered the market on fan frustration.

Two makes on four attempts may be excusable on Friday nights, but it’s abysmal on Monday nights on national television. The third and final conversion did help lessen Aguayo-based irritation, but the Bucs could help themselves out by limiting the frequency the rookie gets his number called.

Mike Evans and Alan Cross – Photo by: Getty Images

Getting the ball inside opponents’ red zones and then finishing those drives off with touchdowns is a struggle that’s rolled over from last season. The Bucs moved inside the Carolina 20 four times Monday night and came away with only nine points – three field goals and one missed kick. The final drive can be excused considering it ended with time expiring and Aguayo nailing a 38-yard game winner, but that still leaves Tampa Bay with a zero-percent red zone success rate on the night.

Through five games, only seven of 14 red zone drives have resulted in six points. The 50-percent touchdown rate and 2.8 red zone trips per game are low compared to the rest of the league. The Bucs averaged 3.2 red zone attempts in 2015 but still had a tough time finding the end zone, finishing with a 52.9 percent touchdown rate.

Monday night’s first opportunity came right off the bat. Head coach Dirk Koetter chose to establish the ground game quickly and running back Jacquizz Rodgers helped it pay off by picking up 35 yards on 10 carries. That drive stalled out at the Panthers 17 with a third-down Mike Evans drop on a hook that was short of the sticks, anyhow.

“To have a 14-play drive to start the game was huge,” Koetter said Tuesday evening from One Buc Place. “Hopefully in the future we can end it in a touchdown, not a field goal.”

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter and QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The first three of Tampa Bay’s red zones drives came in the first half. The Bucs hit the locker room with a 6-0 lead thanks to a solid defensive effort and two fortunate Panthers turnovers, but that advantage could have been much greater had Tampa Bay maximized its potential.

Quarterback Jameis Winston moved the offense down to the Carolina 5 midway through the second quarter. Then came Gosder Cherilus’ third-and-1 false start followed up by Winston’s delay of game that Koetter took partial responsibility for Monday. Winston missed Jackson near the right-front corner of the end zone and then Aguayo’s 33-yarder plunked the right upright.

The final first-half instance resulted in Aguayo’s 35-yard make that put the Bucs up 6-0. That drive ended at the Panthers 17 with a pair of incompletions intended for Evans in the end zone. Carolina managed to move Winston out of the pocket on second-and-5 and third-and-5, and both plays ended in low-percentage pass attempts.

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About the Author: Eric Horchy

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seat26
seat26(@seat26)
5 years ago

The painful part of this is that we moved up into the 2nd round for this guy. We got lucky in the last two drafts, and I had hoped we would hit jackpot again in this draft. But I think we blundered the 2nd round. Neither Spence or our kicker look like they will have much of an impact at all. Actually I wonder if Spence is a classic tweener. not big enough to play end, and not fast enough or the instincts to play linebacker. Hargreaves hasn’t looked much better. I hope I am wrong,and we get past the… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  seat26
5 years ago

OK – this is a post and thread about the Bucs red zone offense … and you’re griping about Aguayo, Noah Spence, and Vernon Hargreaves?

seat26
seat26(@seat26)
Reply to  Naplesfan
5 years ago

I Should have started it out differently,since the kicker is only mentioned at the end of the Article, but the kicker is part of the red zone offense. My frustration about this draft after two really good drafts is hard to contain. I expected more.

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
5 years ago

Spence is a five game rookie that’s been banged up. Might be bit early to call him a bust. Lol. Don’t forget McCoy started very slow with injuries and was labeled a bust by most. I still think he’s no warren Sapp by long shot but not a bust either….

I’ll agree on Aguayo though.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  fredster
5 years ago

Ditto my reply to seat26

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
5 years ago

Red zone offense last year and this year was atrocious. O line penalties,Winston,play calling, WR,all to blame.

Horse
Horse(@horse)
5 years ago

Any rookie can’t be called a bust until next season. I’m referencing draft picks from the 3rd round and above. I’m more critical of the 4 year veterans and above who have signed sweet contract with the Bucs and are under performing. Examples, Daryl Smith, Sweezey, Grimes, Jackson, Hawley, Evan Smith, Conte, Tandy, Verner, Banks. and RT Cherius something, Glennon.

JohnBuc06
JohnBuc06(@johnbuc06)
5 years ago

On the plus side it appears the Buc’s red zone issues are internal mistakes (penalties, misses, etc.) and not so much being shut down in that area. Hopefully this is something they can clean up and finish these drives going forward.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
5 years ago

Several developments have conspired to reduce our red zone efficiency … a combination of offensive penalties, and turnovers, along with the loss of ASJ. Nothing we can do about the latter, plenty that can and must be done about the former two factors. Another thing we can do is come up with more passing plays for medium yardage once we get down inside the opponents’ 30 yard line. When we are crammed up against the goal line, and particularly without Doug Martin to go busting through small slivers of space between the defensive linemen, defenders drop 8 guys into coverage… Read more »

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
Reply to  Naplesfan
5 years ago

Russel Shepard a “clutch receiver”? I’ll agree that he’s a great gunner on Special Teams and perhaps should be given more opportunities as a receiver. To say he is “clutch” is a bit of a reach.

Maybe it’s just my perception, but does it seem like Jameis dials it in a bit and becomes more cautious in the Red Zone? Sure miss the A-Train.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  scubog
5 years ago

Russell doesn’t get many targets, but he’s very good at getting first down conversions, and making big plays when they’re absolutely necessary … that’s what I mean by “clutch”

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
Reply to  Naplesfan
5 years ago

I know you’re a good fan Naples, but as they say on ESPN, “C’mon Man” Shepard has been on the team for three years and has done little as a receiver. 2014 he had 4 catches for 63 yards. 2015 he had 3 catches for 28 yards. So far in 2016 he has 3 catches for 22 yards through 5 games. If you project that out for the entire season he could have a whopping 12 catches for a pedestrian 88 yards. Clutch? By your standards Rosanne might be a beauty queen.

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
5 years ago

Red Zone production was something I circled in pen as a must improve this season. Obviously losing ASJ & Doug has not helped, but horrible penalties, play calling, clock management, lazy routes & errant throws are the main culprits. Dirk & Jameis have to be more on top of the clock inside the Red Zone. The OL HAS to stop false starting and getting holding penalties. As mentioned by Naples, teams not fearing our run game has severely limited the throwing lanes inside the 20. We get easier defenses going forward. It’ll level out.

e
e(@e)
5 years ago

Grimes hit with a tax lien?

drdneast
drdneast(@drdneast)
5 years ago

Point on Naplesfan. Some people just can’t stop being negative.
I’m also done arguing and talking about the 2nd round pick we used on Arroyo. What’s done is done.

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
5 years ago

Me too Dr. D. While a bit unconventional, I had no real issue with the selection of who I thought was the best college kicker I’d seen. As you said, “it’s done”. I’m ready to just ride it out this year with Roberto as I would for any rookie 2nd round pick. We have sure had our share of flops over the years. As much as folks want to blame the missed FG’s for the loss to the Rams, there were many more culprits.

Mb Nfl Double Your First Deposit Football Team Vs Bucs Pewter 728x90 Jpg