Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense were reminded once again that there’s a simple recipe for success, one Tampa needs to utilize more.
Before the worst second-half meltdown that Tom Brady has been party to, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense was on a roll in Week 15.
In fact, it was some of the Bucs’ best football all year. A discombobulated unit plagued with untimely injuries, the Bucs look put together for the first two quarters against the Cincinnati Bengals. Then, it fell apart spectacularly, thanks to classic Tampa Bay penalties, miscommunication, and a fateful fake punt gone wrong.
But before all that, the Bucs got something right: leaning on play action plays. ESPN Bucs reporter Jenna Laine noted how the play action was successful in the first half, with Brady completing eight of 12 of these passes for 115 yards.
It still worked in the second half, with Brady completing two of three play action calls for 21 yards. But the Bucs pushed for it less, leading critics of the offense to question this decision.
Key to Bucs, Tom Brady success remains the run
The fact that the Bucs need to run more frequently is the resounding note of 2022, especially with the emergence of Rachaad White and the durability of Leonard Fournette. The Bucs do have two fantastic running backs, and the offense has seen increased success when the team employed them, evidenced by their Munich victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
The run is needed for play action calls to work, and understandably, it’s not something the Bucs did after their botched fake punt. That essentially sparked an unraveling that allowed Joe Burrow to come back for the lead. The next four drives for the Bucs resulted in turnovers, while shifts the game situation — even though the team still had a lead for many of these drives, on three of them, the Bucs turned the ball over before they could even get a first down.
In other words, the drives were much shorter (the longest of these being five plays), and the rapid turnovers limited opportunities to even try play action passes or runs. Essentially, as soon as the Bucs tried any play, it was already turned over on these drives.
Tom Brady and the Bucs only saw success this half on their last drive, a nine-play drive that went 75 yards for the touchdown. This was a reprisal of their first-half efficiency, something they were unable to do on dysfunctional, turnover-ridden drives.
Yes, the Bucs need to run and utilize play action passes, and it would be great to have no-huddle heroics in the first half to get an early lead. But the Bucs beat themselves with turnovers, limiting their choices to virtually nothing in the second half.