Put the Ball in Jameis’ Hands
Sunday’s game was a strange loss that fans are familiar with. Familiar because a young QB comes in and has his first performance of the season, Bucs take a lead at halftime and ultimately blow the 18 point lead. But strange, because there were great individual performances. Shaquil Barrett goes on a tear yet again with four sacks. Mike Evans has a career day with eight receptions for 190 yards and three touchdowns. Jameis Winston protected the ball very well for the majority of the game, throwing only one interception. However, he also threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns on 37 attempts. Giving him a 10.3 yards per pass attempt (YPA).
10.3 YPA. Isn’t that an impressive number? To give some clarity on how good that is, Patrick Mahomes has had a 10.5 YPA so far this season (8.8 in his MVP season last year). Winston threw the ball 37 times so it’s not like he didn’t throw the ball, but he threw it significantly less in the 2nd half abysmal performance. Why didn’t Leftwich call more pass plays? Most importantly, why didn’t he call more pass plays on first down?
In the first half, the Buccaneers had an even 50/50 split for pass vs run on first down. In the second half, it was not even close that even. 10 out of 15 plays on first down, were runs. It would be 10 out of 12 plays if you take out the final drive where Tampa Bay needed to pass in order to have a shot at a game winning field goal.
Another statistic, the Buccaneers had 22 first downs, 16 of which were from pass plays. So, with Jameis Winston on fire and playing so well (minus that one interceptions), the Bucs were so committed to running the ball. If the average fan can say on Twitter, “the Bucs are running the ball too much on first down.” What are defensive coordinators saying? The Giants were coming back and the Buccaneers play calling allowed it.
Let this be a wake up call to Byron Leftwich, this isn’t the 1990s anymore where it’s essential to run the ball to set up the pass. Kansas City has more than proved that. When you have a lead, you stomp on the opposing teams throat and don’t let them come back. Come out in the second half as if it was 0-0. Giants took momentum by scoring a 75 yard touchdown on the first play of the second half. Answer back next time.
Stick to what’s winning and when your quarterback is having a career day, keep the ball in his hands. Do not force the run when it’s not working.
Featured Image Credit: Monica Herndon- Tampa Bay Times