If there is one thing that the Bucs need to do much better today it’s third down efficiency on both sides of the ball. The Bucs were god awful last week as they couldn’t convert on third down and couldn’t get opposing offense off the field on third down, not a winning formula. The funny thing the Bucs were one of the best teams in the league on third down last year. Today against the Giants, the Bucs need to be much better in this area if they want to have any success today. To be an effective offense, you have to hit explosive plays or convert on third down because if you don’t it could be a long day for the unit. Same goes for the defense as they have to get the opposing defense off the field. Here is Bucs D coordinator Mike Smith on the Bucs third down defense per Buccaneers.com
“It’s at all distances. Third down and long is probably the one that is probably the most irritating. You should win about 90 percent of the third down and 10 pluses [situations] and we’ve had conversions on third and 10 plus I believe three times thus far in the season. It is a concern. It has to do with what we are doing schematically. We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got our guys in the best position – the guys that are out there. We’ve got to get pressure and we’ve got to get bodies on receivers. In the NFL you can’t let receivers run free. If they’re not bodied up in the paint, like in basketball, they’re going to have an opportunity to make it. We’ve got to be more physical with our play across the board.”
The Bucs defense has to do better job of being aware with where the first down marker is and knowing when to be aggressive and when to not. As for the offense, Todd Monken says it’s about finding ways to extend drives because it’s critical if the offense wants to put up good numbers.
“I was thinking about that. We had just talked about that and then we went one for six. We hadn’t had a week where that had happened. I was talking about Peyton Barber and all of the sudden we weren’t running and I was thinking about if I had just shut up about what I shouldn’t anticipate. Obviously, we didn’t do as well on third downs, so we didn’t have as many opportunities because we had some big plays or we went three-and-out. I think we got one or two on penalties. But we’ve got to do a better job separating at times. Whether it’s protection, route, throw, it doesn’t matter – we’ve got to find a way to keep the ball on the field. There’s two ways you score: hitting explosive plays and not getting yourself in third downs, or you’ve got to convert on third downs to keep the drive going. That’s just the way it is.”
Today the Bucs have to be good on third down or else it could be a long day for both sides of the ball. Keep an eye on this early in the game because if the Bucs are winning third down early it should be a good day.