New Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano took the reins in Tampa and wanted to turn this team into a running power. After Sunday’s 38-10 drubbing of the Kansas City Chiefs, it looks like Schiano had it all wrong.
After a bye week to determine what the Buccaneers do best on offense, it turns out the answer is throw the ball.
Josh Freeman is smiling.
Heading into Tampa Bay’s Week 4 game against the Washington Redskins, Freeman had a paltry 80 pass attempts in Schiano’s run-first scheme. But Freeman was unleashed in the second half, to the tune of 211 yards and a touchdown.
Apparently the coaching staff felt during the bye week that Freeman needed to pass the ball more, and on Sunday he did just that.
Against the Chiefs, Freeman went 15-for-26 for 328 yards and threw three touchdown passes. If you look at Freeman’s last six quarters of football, he owns a 58 percent completion rate (26-for-45) and had thrown four touchdowns and 539 yards through the air. Three of his four touchdown passes have been for 17 yards or more.
Opening up the vertical attack for Freeman is working in Tampa Bay. It only took six quarters of football to make that determination.
While Freeman should get lots of the credit for Sunday’s win—Quarterbacks are terrible for hogging all the glamour—there are three other distinct areas where Tampa Bay showed promise against the Chiefs.
1. The Run Game
Doug Martin carried the ball 13 times on Sunday for 76 yards. LeGarrette Blount gained 58 yards on seven carries. Tampa Bay can still run the football.
The 6.7 yards per carry Martin and Blount averaged against the Chiefs goes to show that Schiano, while likely forced to open up the offense for Freeman moving forward, should still have enough touches to keep both Martin and Blount happy.
Martin had two catches for 55 yards, as well. Yes, Schiano is going to make sure his second first-round draft pick stays active.
2. The Rush Defense
Coming into Tampa Bay’s Week 6 game, the Buccaneers ranked fourth in the NFL in rush defense, allowing just 73.8 yards per game. The trouble was that the unit was facing the league’s top runner in Jamaal Charles.
The Buccaneers held Charles to 40 yards rushing, and even though the Chiefs as a team gained 80 yards on the ground, beating up on Charles was a huge win for the Tampa Bay front-seven.
3. Tampa Bay’s Secondary
It’s going to be impossible to praise this unit without mentioning the elephant in the room, so here it goes. The Buccaneers’ secondary got a win Sunday but it came at the detriment of a second-string quarterback in Brady Quinn who hadn’t started a game since 2009.
That said, the Buccaneers looked good in the defensive backfield. Not only did safeties Mark Barron and Ronde Barber lead the team in tackles, but each picked off Quinn passes. Barber even took his back to the house.
Quinn was able to muster just 180 yards passing on this Tampa Bay defense that ranked dead last in the NFL coming into the game by giving up 345.3 yards per game, on average.
It doesn’t matter which NFL quarterback was under center, holding a passer to zero touchdowns, 180 yards through the air and under a 60 percent completion ratio is a solid win for any secondary.