By Max Luckan
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon likely sat in the locker room pondering why his team was unable to score a single touchdown against the Carolina Panthers after the brutal and disappointing 27-6 loss on Sunday.
Actually, almost everyone was wondering what happened to the Bucs offense all of a sudden after a solid month in November.
Throughout the three-game winning streak, and even in the game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Bucs and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan were much more creative in calling plays. The touchdown pass to Donald Penn would be a prime example of that. But against the Panthers, the Bucs seemed too conservative down the stretch, especially in the red zone, and head coach Greg Schiano admitted that he could have done more to spark the offense.
“We had stuff in the plan and that’s why I’m disappointed,” Schiano said. “There weren’t a lot of times, and like I said, you guys asked before, ‘when do you call that stuff?’ I think that’s feeling. You call it when you feel like it’s time to call it. There wasn’t a lot of that going on. We didn’t really get it rolling other than that first drive. But still, there were opportunities I needed to inject and say, ‘let’s do it now.’ But we had some stuff like we do every week. We had stuff in the plan and sometimes that can light a fire on your football team. In retrospect I wish I would’ve stepped in and said, ‘let’s do it now.’ But I didn’t.”
Then again, all of the blame certainly does not fall on Schiano. Of course, he could have intervened at any point and instructed Sullivan to go a different route, but ultimately, the players were outmatched on the field by a very strong Panthers defense. Furthermore, the Bucs did turn the ball over, something they did not do in their 24-21 victory over the Detroit Lions.
The Bucs defense also did not play particularly well against Carolina, meaning the Bucs were playing catchup almost from the start. Still, the offense did hand in a disappointing performance, but that happens to every team once in a while, especially if they are led by a rookie quarterback. The key for this offense will be how they bounce back next week. We will find out a lot about Glennon’s ability to shake off a rough outing as the team takes on the Buffalo Bills.
Lack of production out of TEs also a factor
Many of the league’s top performing offenses in recent years have gotten major production out of the tight end position. For example, the New England Patriots have Rob Gronkowski, the Atlanta Falcons have Tony Gonzalez and the New Orleans Saints have Jimmy Graham. The tight end has become a huge key to having a prolific offense in today’s NFL and the Bucs have been missing that production all season long.
Tight ends Luke Stocker and Tom Crabtree both ended up on injured reserve, tight end Nate Byham was a non-factor, and tight end Tim Wright has only recently emerged as a viable option.
Other teams have known this all season, which has allowed them to allocate more resources to covering the receiver position and to stopping the Bucs running game.
Certainly, this isn’t the only reason why the offense has struggled for most of the season, but the lack of production from the tight end position is definitely a major one.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.