Offensive Report Card
This offensive report card will feature each offensive position group featuring starters and depth of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster and giving them a grade. These grades should give insight for what the team needs to upgrade over the off-season.
For the third consecutive year, Tampa Bay made the playoffs and won the NFC South the last two years. Despite the recent success, this past season didn’t have the same mojo from the 2020-21 seasons. They finished the year with an 8-9 record and won a very weak division. In the playoffs, they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 31-14. The offense was a major reason for the drop off.
Tom Brady is the GOAT. There’s no question about that. But he did show some regression in 2022. His touchdown passes decreased from last year (43) to this year (25). He looked his age and couldn’t manipulate the pocket like he’s used to. There appeared to be a lack of chemistry with his receivers, most notably Mike Evans. Too many balls in the dirt, overthrows, and check downs. His sack rate (2.9%) is the lowest in the league, but that is as much due to how quickly (and too quickly sometimes) he is getting the ball out. He’s still among the league leaders in passing yards, completions, and attempts, and his interception rate was low.
An interesting note is that his numbers do look eerily similar to his stats during his final year with the Patriots. Could his decrease in production be linked to this being his last year in Tampa Bay? Was he not motivated to win as much because he knew he was leaving? Like his last year in New England. Despite his age (45), he still appears to have the arm talent and it is likely that Brady will play in the NFL in 2023. However, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be in Tampa Bay. If that is the case, the Buccaneers will carry a $35M dead cap charge for Brady next year. Making it more likely this team will not heavily spend on the position in the offseason. The team could look to give Kyle Trask or Blaine Gabbert an opportunity next year, but that doesn’t invoke a ton of confidence in Tampa’s potential next season.
Tampa Bay was the worst team in the league when it came to running the ball. A big part of that was philosophy, as they ranked last in the league in rushing attempts. But when they did run it, they averaged 3.4 yards per carry. The unit as a whole had only 1,308 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns all season. There were 4 running backs in the NFL that exceeded those yards alone and 25 players that had at least 5 rushing touchdowns. Rashaad White and Leonard Fournette were the two lead backs for the team. Neither one exceeded 3.7 yards/carry or 700 yards rushing on the season. Each player had one 100 yard game (Fournette vs Dallas, White vs Seattle).
Another element toward evaluating this group is pass catching. Playing for Tom Brady means a lot of check downs, and both White and Fournette were effective for him. Giovanni Bernard was a non-factor this year and it is not expected that he’ll be back next year. White is expected back and should have a bigger role entering his 2nd season in the league. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with Fournette. With one year left on his deal, he could be released (or extended) to reduce his cap hit for 2023.
On paper the Buccaneers had one of the best receiving corps in the league with Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Chris Godwin, and Russell Gage. When Jones played, he was great, but was often injured. Godwin dealt with a torn ACL late last season and started to come on later in the year, leading the team in receptions and yards. While Evans appeared inconsistent this year, he still had 77 catches on the year (2nd on the team). The depth beyond the top four is pretty slim.
Assuming they lose Jones next year, the team needs to look into adding more talented depth at the position. Next year the receiver room should consist of Evans, Godwin, and Gage. Hopefully Gage’s injury vs the Cowboys isn’t too serious and can come back full strength next year. With that said, the team needs to start looking toward the future at the position.
Rob Gronkowski was arguably the biggest loss from this offense last season. Veterans like Kyle Rudolph and Cameron Brate have become phased out of the offense and appear headed toward free agency. Rookies Cade Otton and Ko Kieft assumed the top two spots on the depth chart, with mixed reviews. Otton is definitely the better receiving option, but both struggled with drops and establishing a connection with Brady. The draft is heavy on top tight end talent and Tampa could use an immediate upgrade.
It’ll be an interesting offseason for the Buccaneers offensive line. The unit struggled with injuries and did not appear the same as the last 2 years. With that said, they gave up the fewest sacks in the league, despite being the NFL’s most pass-heavy offense. Part of that can be attributed to Brady’s unwillingness to hold onto the ball. Tristan Wirfs is great, but Donovan Smith showed signs of regression and could be a cap casualty this off-season. Guard play was probably the weakest part of the offensive line. Shaq Mason was a nice acquisition last year but the other guard position really struggled. With Ryan Jensen coming back next year, there should be a little reshuffling along the interior of the line. Look for Hainsley to get an opportunity to start at either Guard position.
The Buccaneers struggled on offense this past year. No running game, injuries to the offensive line, and transition at the tight end position made it difficult to consistently move the ball. Brady and the receivers still presented a threat to teams, but mostly in the fourth quarter. Going forward, the offense needs more dynamic play out of their running backs and tight ends, as well as finding a potential replacement for Tom Brady.
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