For whatever reason, the Bucs were just not a good red zone team in 2017 and frankly it’s been a issue since Dirk Koetter’s arrival. The Bucs finished in the top ten in red zone attempts with 3.3 per game which is slightly lower from 2016 which was 3.4 per game. The problem is touchdown conversion which the Bucs only converted 49% this year which is 24th in the league. To be considered a good red zone team, your offense should be converting at 55% or higher, anything in the 60’s is considered to be high level. For example, the Eagles and Patriots are both at or above the 60% mark which makes them a top 5 offense in the league. This league is about points and to have decent chance of winning, you better score inside the red zone.
Koetter says “biggest thing” moving forward with offense is getting touchdowns in red zone instead of field goals. Understands need to improve there.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) January 1, 2018
The Bucs averaged 1.6 red zone touchdowns per game which is 13th but is still not a good sign. The Bucs offense is built off explosives as its a vertical passing offense that needs an consistent running game to be fully effective. The Bucs again were a top ten offense when it comes to yards as they are pretty consistent from their 20 to the opponent 20 yd line, but good offenses score touchdowns. It’s an area that must be fixed in 2018 if the Bucs want to be more successful and finally return to the post season. I believe in simplicity when it comes to the red zone but at the same time present creativity, here is an example of that.
This is so simple yet creative as the Bucs run three flood routes to the right and throw it back to the left where the open space is. Unfortunately, the Bucs were not diverse yet simplistic enough in the red zone this season. Committing to running the ball inside the 20 is something that must occur and they showed they could do it against the Saints as they ran it three straight times to get the touchdown. Other ways to be effective in the red zone is use of quick pass plays like slants, fades, drags, or even pick combo routes. Really it’s about creating space as it gets tighter the closer you get to the endzone. Good red zone teams find ways to create space, making it easier for them to score at a higher rate.
Fixing the red zone struggles should be the main key for HC Dirk Koetter this off-season as he needs to find ways to be more diverse but yet simple with his playcalling. With playmakers like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Desean Jackson, OJ Howard, and Cam Brate, scoring in the red zone should come more easily. Running more RPO’s which are run pass option plays allowing Jameis Winston to create with his legs or his arm needs to take place. Improving the ground game will help this weak area improve, but play calling, design, and not overthink must take place for this offense to reach it’s true potential.
Hopefully, coach Koetter watches how the playoff teams operate in the red zone and picks up on a few things. Scratch the east and west runs, always north and south along with pocket movement for run/pass options should be the gameplan going forward. If that fails, just find Mike Evans and let him make something happen as he should be the focus down in the red zone.