After 11 games the Buccaneers offense is still a head-scratcher. From ill-advised penalties, to bad quarterback play, and the complete inability to run the football, Tampa Bay’s offense is complete void of any type of identity and continuity. That’s a big reason why this team is 2-9 after a 21-13 loss at Chicago.

Nothing more illustrated that point than the Bucs’ second-to-last drive, when after getting the ball in great field position – the Bears’ 45-yard line – and 3:04 left on the clock, Tampa Bay couldn’t pick up a first down.

On first down, quarterback Josh McCown completed a 9-yard pass to running back Charles Sims leaving the Bucs with second-and-1. With 2:42 left from the Bears’ 36-yard line McCown threw a deep sideline route to rookie receiver Mike Evans who was unable to make the grab (the refs missed a hit on a defenseless receiver – make no mistake if that was Dashon Goldson a flag would have been thrown).

Tampa Bay next faced a third-and-1, and the Bucs lined up in a shotgun formation and handed off to Sims, who was slowed up by the Bears penetration after left guard Logan Mankins whiffed on his block.

Then the complete and utter disaster of a play call decision took place. With 2:18 on the clock, Tampa Bay inexplicably choose to run a hurry-up quarterback sneak instead of calling a timeout or letting the clock run to the two-minute warning and talking things over. The most crucial play of the game and head coach Lovie Smith is signaling the offense to hurry up and run the play?

An offense that showed a lack of urgency all day, including having to call a first half timeout, and also getting flagged for a delay of game in the second half, finally decides to rush a play?

Besides the rushed play call, the decision to run behind Evan Dietrich-Smith, an average center, who had been beaten routinely all day by defensive tackle Stephen Paea and the interior of the Bears defensive line is even more puzzling.

As we all know, it didn’t work. McCown was stopped well short of the yard to gain, and the game was essentially over. Then Smith wasting a timeout to challenge a spot that had no chance of being overturned was just icing on the cake. Blame McCown, blame the offensive line, but when you think back on the reasons the Bucs lost this game, add Smith and the offensive coaching staff to the long list of problems on Sunday.

Smith talked about the last series following the game.

“We had a second-and-1 and we had opportunities there,” Smith said. “You have to be able to pick those up. Whatever we did was not good enough. We have to be able to handle that situation a lot better.”

Of course there was no guarantee the Buccaneers would have driven down and scored and then converted a two-point conversion to tie the game and send it to overtime. Even had they accomplished that, they were still facing overtime. That series wasn’t the only reason Tampa Bay lost, but was a microcosm of an inconsistent unit that wasted a great defensive effort in holding Chicago’s offense to just 204 yards.

There are numerous issues to fix this offseason, including addressing the quarterback position and upgrading the offensive line, but finding an offensive coordinator and possibly some new assistants on that side of the ball needs to be at the top of the list.

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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

24 COMMENTS

  1. I think this offense looks exactly the way it should when you lose Tedford right before the season starts and replace him with a QB with no experience as an OC in the NFL (and little experience as a OC at the college level). We need a great QB and a great OC, plain and simple. I’m sure the lure of either Mariota or Winston based on where we’ll be drafting and the free reign of the offense since Lovie is a defensive guy will draw in the OC’s in the country.

  2. I don’t know about anyone else but I’m totally done with this McCown experiment. While everything wasn’t all his fault today, his awareness looked questionable at best. I’m also done with Warhop. I’d love to see us land Chudzinski, especially if we plan to draft a QB

  3. We have two decent Back up QB’s but after today’s game it is very clear why McCown has never been a starter. If you put pressure on him he will turn over the ball. We need a QB that can start and lead this team to greatness. And neither of these guys can.

  4. The fact that this team called a QB sneak on a long 4th and 1 shows just how DUMB these coaches can be…and how this team can keep making stupid penalties is beyond me…Everyone on the Oline needs to be replaced next season…cant run and can barely protect.

  5. Honestly, I’m ok with losing to stay ahead of the Jets in the draft at this point. I’m not sure it makes a difference given the assessment of PR on Mariotta and Winston. I think given what we’ve seen thus far this year if we’re going to be given a really high pick and can’t find a trading partner we should just draft a left tackle and be safe about it. I also don’t watch college so I don’t honestly know whether Mariotta or Winston have ‘it’ but I do know that high 1st round QB’s are busts more often than they’re successful and it sounds like there are no sure thing QB’s in this draft.

  6. I agree Mark it has and always will start up front on offense or defense. This O line is a joke and Lovie put it together after getting rid of most of last years starters. I still don’t see McCown or Glennon being Starter Material though even with a good O line.

  7. True Fredster but I don’t see many QBs succeeding with this offensive line as it is currently. Mankins whiffed on the 3rd and 1 run. That run would have easily gone for a first down. McCown was off all day, even when he had time. And an accurate QB today probably wins that game, but against a bad Bears D. They gave up over 50 points two games in a row a couple weeks back. And this team scores 13? Can’t run, can’t pass block, continued mental errors and just overall bad play. I liked Carr a lot but not sure he is any more successful behind this line. That is one reason I was behind the move back to McCown as he at least has some mobility. But even he looked super slow today.

  8. The play calling was bad, but I think they had to hurry up in case they scored and didn’t get the 2pt conversion. They would need time for to offsides kick. At least that was my thought process.

  9. Haven’t said anything about this loss, no need to. Anybody who saw the game knows what happened! But there is one question that keeps popping up in my head – “why would a winning football team fire a coach with a 10-6 winning record? It won’t go away! I can hear it now – “why would a winning football team fire a coach with a 10-6 winning record? There has got to be a reason!

  10. Good points as always Mark. You may be right to a degree and I doubt any qb would be very successful in this offense right now. I just feel even if we were playing good defense and special teams and the O like was playing good, would either of these two guys be good enough to get you deep in the playoffs or to a super bowl? To me the answer is very clearly no. I have no doubt they could play better but glennon like you said has no mobility. A pocket passer statue doesn’t succeed unless you are Peyton manning. McCown just does stupid stuff when he’s pressured. If the whole offense played better I’m sure he would too but I just can’t see us getting into playoffs and him not throwing an ill advised int. at a crucial time or fumbling because he held it too long. We need a QB and not a mediocre one or a career backup. Build the o line and get a QB please! As far as Lovie I’m not sold at all. Yes there was a reason he was fired after going 10-6. Have to be careful too and not just knee jerk fire unless we have a better option for sure. It does not look like to me Tressman was an upgrade over Lovie, or Lovie was an upgrade over Shiano. Maybe but doesn’t seem like it.

  11. Mark, I COMPLETELY agree and have been trying to say the same thing as well…O-line! The D-line is improving but the O-line is consistently horrible. I also believe Glennon MAY become better given a reasonable chance, McCown is no way a starter and after a decade he still makes rookie mistakes. Glennon appears to be very intelligent and that is the biggest key weapon IMO. Secondly, strong arm..he has that as well. Now, I am NOT a Glennon supporter yet but feel strongly if he went somewhere else and had GOOD coaching he would become a good QB, perhaps not great but good. I DO NOT subscribe to “mobile” QB as the top necessity like most. Look at the best most consistent QB’s in the league…much more smarter than mobile. Rogers is both and still GB struggles to make deep playoff appearances. QB’s HAVE to adjust during game time situations and recognizing formations, schemes, counts, etc. in an instant is for highly intelligent people. It has to be done very quickly and only a select few can do this. That is why they are consistent every year, they Know what the defense is doing and what they can get from it…Mariota or Winston is a gamble and not sure how intelligent they are. Let’s draft GOOD linemen on both sides and get a smart QB in mid rounds. Start Glennon next year all out and see what he can do with a better OC?? assuming we get one.

  12. The point about good linemen is that you can draft them in the middle of the 1st round (or even late 1st round, or even 2nd and 3rd round)…but the odds of getting a “franchise” QB are highly skewed (not guaranteed of course, and of course the Tom Brady lottery approach exists) to drafting one at the top of the 1st round. Unless we plan sucking for years to come, the 2015 draft will be our best chance at a QB…we can pick Oline in 2016 with 32nd overall pick.

  13. I agree glennon is smart and has a strong arm. You don’t have to be a “mobile” quarterback but he just has no mobility. You have to at least be able to move around in pocket and buy time becasue the best o line will break down at times. If things break down he’s just done. That won’t work consistently IMO. Also agree greenbay not making super bowl multiple times had nothing to do with A.Rodgers or offense. Injuries, defense, luck, and homefield all play in. They consistently compete though and packers won superbowl recently largely in part due to to A.R.

  14. Mark, I’m glad you’re finally starting to smell the morning coffee, maybe you can talk to your partner. The biggest problem in the Buccaneer’s organization is Lovie Smith. Do you ever notice that nobody talks to him or even goes near him during the game? He built this mess he owns it. Lovie Smith deserves to be fired at the end of the season, period. This team has all the lack of discipline, confusion and penalties that young Coach Morris’ teams had, Coach Schiano’s teams never looked this lost. I’m fully aware of all the arguments, you can’t pay 3 coaches, you can’t change staffs every year, he needs more than one year ect. For what? To have 1 win at Halloween every year. The Bucs need a legitimate, NFL experienced staff or there will be a lot more than 4 loosing seasons in a row.

  15. St. Lovie Smith IS the problem and has been from day one. We are stuck with him and the downward spiral continues. I’m still paying for next year’s seats but have to wonder how many are not. This is as bad as it gets. I’ll even go so far as to type that if Coach Schiano had not been fired we’d be in the thick of it for the South and probably in first place. We had hope and now we have St. Dope.
    Does ANYONE see this mess turned around under the “leadership” (HC and GM) we have now? And yet we are stuck with it. Great.

    • I agree with you Gary…I for one was screaming hire Lovie, reason is…I figured this guy has been out for a year and has been studying a new approach to the game and will have a new attitude and demeanor. I was wrong…as soon as he comes to town he brings in an unproven offensive coordinator who hasn’t been here, he brings in Josh McCown and names the starter, and gets rid of a decent offensive line and takes a chance on a sorry line that we have today! He only had to make a few changes and draft a few pieces…I had liked Jimmy Garapolo who would have gone nicely with Mike Evans….SMH Just think where we would be today!!!!