The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be at Heinz Field Sunday to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers and after going through all three of their games, here is a good idea as to what to expect out of their offense.
For starters, the Buccaneers like go big on offense as they have used either 12, 22 or 21 personnel on 82 of the 164 (50%) plays that they have run so far this season. They also are big at the wide receiver position as both Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson are 6’4″ and expected to help block in the running game.
The Buccaneers like to run both the inside and outside zone along with some power. Most of their success, however, seems to come between the tackles and that’s most likely where you will see running back Doug Martin try to run Sunday as their offensive line will attempt to get off of their combination blocks and into the second level.
In their first three games, the Buccaneers offense has run 68.4% of the time when using 12, 21 or 22 personnel.
As far as play-action goes, the Buccaneers have used very little of it in their first three games. In addition to that, when their quarterback has been in the shotgun, they have only run 10 times, according to my charting.
Conversely, when their quarterback has been under center, they have only thrown the ball 18 times in their first three games. Only nine of those passes were completed while three of them were intercepted.
The Buccaneers like to rely mostly on a short, controlled passing game and only 10 passes have been thrown 20 yards or more down the field. They like to use their tight ends in the passing game quite a bit and of the 20 passes thrown to that group so far this season, 17 have been completed.
So far this season the Buccaneers quarterbacks have had problems getting the football to Jackson and Evans. Of the 40 times those two players have been targeted they’ve only caught 23 passes (57.5%) for 240 yards. We’ll see on Sunday whether or not Mike Glennon makes a difference as he will be making his first start this season.
Diminutive running back Bobby Rainey is a threat out of the backfield as he has 12 catches for 102 yards. 80 of those yards, however, have come after the catch.
Based on what I have seen while looking at the tape, the Buccaneers offense is not one that likes to go vertical. They like to mix high percentage short throws with an inside running game in order to stay ahead of the chains.
Expect Steelers inside linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Sean Spence to be very busy Sunday and how they play will go a long way in determining the outcome. As usual, the defense must tackle the catch and that won’t be an easy task with all of the big bodies that the Buccaneers have.
If I am the Buccaneers, I try to run some outside zone early to keep the Steelers defense honest. That’s not their bread and butter, however, but their offensive line should be better at running it than the Carolina Panthers were.
I’m not convinced that the Buccaneers have the talent to put together several long drives against the Steelers defense so it’s very important not to give them short fields or offensive yardage in chunks.
In short, as long as the Steelers don’t turn the football over, I can’t see the Buccaneers putting many points on the scoreboard.