The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 5-3 record at the start of the season isn’t the only cause for concern, there also seems to be tension on the coaching staff. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Bucs assistant head coach and running game coordinator Harold Goodwin appeared to target offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich because the team was lacking in quick tries.
“It’s in there. I can’t control what the play caller calls,” Goodwin said as the Buccaneers prepared to face the Rams, according to Stroud. “But it’s there every week. It’s basically our base game. You start with creating everything you do in the running game, from game action passes to what we do while running.
“We’ve got it in there. We have many runs. It’s all about whether we reach them or not. This is how the play caller feels. It’s by far my favorite piece because we’ve had a lot of success with it. It just depends on whether Byron feels like calling that day or not. I can’t control that.”
Tampa Bay ranks last on several key rushing stats, including lowest attempts per game (20.4) and fewest yards on the ground (61.9 yards per contest). After Tampa Bay’s loss to Baltimore, star quarterback Tom Brady didn’t hold back on the team’s offensive struggles, laying down a laundry list of problems.
“I think we fought quite a bit on everything,” Brady said during his Oct. 28 post-game press conference. “I only had problems in the red zone. Had struggled in third place. Fought in running game, two-point games, short yardage. Secured from Q1, early Q3. Not very good attacking football.”
Tampa Bay elected not to make any changes to the coaching staff and also refrained from making any changes at the close of trade. Time will tell if that decision turned out to be wise.
When Todd Bowles was promoted to head coach, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Buccaneers signed him to a new five-year contract. This suggests Bowles has a long runway even if Tampa Bay can’t turn its season around. Leftwich noted that quick tries isn’t a metric he uses to evaluate offensive game plan.
“Personally, if you want to know how I really feel about this — I never count runs,” Leftiwch said candidly during a Nov. 3 news conference. “I never count the runs. I think you have to make points and however you come up with runs… I see certain passes as runs. I see everything as a way to get rushing yardage. I don’t really count runs and passes – I don’t think you need to run that specific number to win or pass that specific number to win. We always try to do what we have to do or feel we have to do to win that football game that day.”
To Credit Leftwich, some of the Bucs’ short passes to running backs work essentially the same as carries on other teams’ offenses. The rushed attempts notwithstanding, Tampa Bay is running out of time to find a solution to their offensive problems.