TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As the Bucs look to get back in the win column against the Bengals on Sunday, a lot of the focus is on the offensive struggles.
On Thursday, Bucs Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich said getting out to a fast start and scoring more points are two keys to improving – along with several other areas that have been plaguing this offense.
“I think we’ve got to be better on third downs,” Leftwich said. “We’ve got to possess the ball – and not in a two-minute situation at the end where we’re getting all our time of possession at the end of the game. We’ve got to possess the ball on third down to allow our playmakers to consistently make plays. Too many three-and-outs, too many four-and-five plays and outs, and punts. We’ve just got to keep the ball. If we can keep the ball with the players we’ve got, we can make unique plays and score points. But you’ve got to execute on the down-in and down-out basis. You’ve got to be more consistent, really on first, second, and third down to give yourself an opportunity to convert third downs.”
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady echoed those sentiments, agreeing that those facets are where they need to do better.
“I think everything’s been a problem,” Brady said. “We haven’t scored a lot of points this year, third down, turn the ball over, third-and-shorts, third-and-mediums haven’t been great, red area hasn’t been great. I think statistically there’s not probably a lot of things we can look at and feel like, ‘Oh man, we’ve been [good].’ But we’re trying to work to get better at everything, and a lot of it comes down to what you do on first down. [That] creates better opportunities on second down and vice versa on third down. Being good on early downs is helpful about being good on third downs. The better you do on third downs the more likely you are to get into the red area, and once you get into the red area you’ve got to score points. I’m sure there’s not a lot of statistics that are great right now.”
In looking at some of those statistics, the Bucs’ total offense (338.6 yards per game) ranks 18th in the NFL, and rush yards (72.9) ranks last. The Bucs are currently 28th in the NFL in scoring, with just 17.2 points per game and they’ve only scored more than 20 points in four games this season. The most the Bucs have scored in a win this season is 21.
“It’s not like we’re going into ballgames thinking, ‘Man, we’re going to score seven points.’” Leftwich said. “Maybe we’re fooling ourselves, but we’re going into these games feeling as though we’re about to go do what we’ve always done – put up 30 or whatever it takes to win the football game. We just haven’t been able to do that. We’ve got four games left though. We’ll keep working and we’ll see where we’re at. The good thing is we’re in first place. At the end of the day, we’re in first place with an opportunity to make the tournament. We’re going to try and do that.”