Buccaneers Disappointed In First Half Look Forward To The Final 7 Games

The Buccaneers are at the bye with a 5-5 record.

To say the first half has been disappointing would be an understatement. Although the Buccaneers are holding on to first place in the NFC South, the season’s first half has been disappointing.

Let’s examine why the Bucs’ first half of the season has been a disappointment.

As Tom Brady goes, so goes the Bucs offense.

The Tom Brady Factor

It started in training camp when Brady announced that he would take a ten-day vacation with his family. With Julio Jones, Russell Gage, and tight end Kyle Rudolph as new receivers, Brady needed to be there and develop that chemistry with his new receivers.

With Brady missing ten days of practice and not playing in the preseason games except for a series or two in the final preseason game, the passing game struggled the first half of the season. It made it very difficult for Brady to develop chemistry with his receivers.

In early September, the team announced that Brady would take some Wednesdays off and would not practice that day. Brady has practiced on the occasional Wednesday since that announcement, but the passing game has suffered.

The offense has been out of synch up until these past two weeks. There have been balls overthrown, passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, and receivers cutting the wrong way. At times, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the Buccaneer’s passing game.

If you look at Brady’s overall numbers, they are not bad. Brady has passed for 2,805 yards, with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. He has completed 66 percent of his passes and has a QBR of 91.9.

The overall sharpness and crispness of the passing game have been missing in the first half.

Buccaneers Decimated by Injuries

Every year, the Buccaneers are more snake bitten regarding injuries at the wide receiver position than many other teams. Julio Jones, Russell Gage, and Chris Godwin have all missed extensive time this season with injuries.

Scotty Miller was a non-factor the first six weeks of the season, as he was just an afterthought in the offense. Miller had his coming-out party against the Rams with seven catches for 53 yards. Miller was also a key factor in that last drive that put the Bucs in a position to score the winning touchdown and win the game.

The emergence of tight-end Cade Otten has been a great addition to the Buc’s receiving core. Otten is fourth on the team with 26 catches for 281 yards with a touchdown and quickly becomes Brady’s go-to receiver in certain situations.

Buccaneers Run Game Bottom Five In The League

Leonard Fournette started the season as the Buccaneers number-one running back. However, outside the opening night win in Dallas when Fournette ran for 127 yards, he has been a non-factor in the Bucs’ run game.

Sure he had 57 yards on 14 carries against Seattle, but a lot of that was set up with Rachaad White, who is a very different type of runner than Fournette.

Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich is as stubborn as they come, and until the game against the Seahawks, had refused to change up much of anything offensively.

It took a passport issue before the game in Germany with Leonard Fournette to insert Rachaad White into the starting lineup. White ran with the opportunity gaining 105 yards and averaging 4.8 yards a carry.

There is no question that White should remain the starting running back for the foreseeable future. However, White and Fournette have different running styles. So the Bucs need to be smart about deploying each back to have the most significant impact on the offense.

The run game has struggled through the first ten games but seems to have found some fresh legs since Nick Leverett was inserted into the starting lineup. As a result, the run game has shown signs of life, and the overall play of the offense has started to look like the Bucs offense we expected to see this season.

The Defense

The Buccaneers defense has not played bad considering their 5-5 record.

Devin White despite his lackluster play for against the Steelers, and Panthers has been the best player on defense. White leads the team with 76 tackles, and forced fumbles with two. White is also second on the team with five sacks behind the 6.5 of Vita Vea.

The Buccaneers are fifth in total defense giving up 310 yards per game. The Buccaneers pass defense is giving 193 yards a game which is good for sixth best in the league.

The run defense has improved moving from 31st in the league to now 26th giving up 116 yards per game.

Best free agent acquisition

Akeim Hicks. Hicks has been hurt much of the season. But when Hicks is in the lineup, it has made an enormous difference in the overall ability of the defensive line to generate pressure.

With Hicks and Vita Vea paired together, the defense cannot double-team both of them. Hicks has been double-teamed the most, freeing Vea up to wreak havoc in the offensive backfield.

Best Buccaneer Rookies

Tight end Cade Otten has been the best Buccaneers rookie, and it’s not even close. Otten has improved with every game and is currently fourth on the Bucs with 26 catches.

Punter Jake Camarda takes honorable mention. Camarda is averaging 49 yards a kick and has been excellent the last few weeks averaging 55.3 yards a punt.

Rachaad White finally got his opportunity to show what he can do as the feature back and was very impressive, racking up 105 yards and averaging 4.8 yards per carry against Seattle.

If the Bucs can get close to that from White for the rest of the season, the Bucs may not lose a game the rest of the season.

Team MVP Tom Brady

If you look at Brady’s overall numbers, they are not bad. Brady has passed for 2,805 yards, with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. He has completed 66 percent of his passes and has a QBR of 91.9.

With Brady’s divorce and personal issues behind him, Let’s hope he can regain some focus for the stretch run and take this Buccaneers on another deep playoff run.

So far, the most impressive victory of the season was the opening Sunday Night win in Dallas 27-19.

The worst loss was the 21-3 loss to Carolina in week seven.

Most disappointing loss, 20-18, in Pittsburgh in week six.

I expect big things for the Buccaneers in the second half of the season. The schedule is favorable for the Bucs to finish 11-6 and march into the playoffs with a ton of momentum.

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