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John Romano: If Bucs coaches have no faith in their offense, why should you?

John Romano, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Football

TAMPA, Fla. — When it comes to plotting offensive strategy and formulating a game plan, there is a fine line between recognizing your weaknesses and running scared.

And the Bucs, you might have noticed, were last seen cowering in Cleveland.

This, my friends, is what a crisis of faith looks like.

Tom Brady doesn’t trust his offensive line, Todd Bowles doesn’t trust his quarterback and nobody trusts the offensive coordinator. The result? The Bucs are trying to avoid losses rather than grabbing victories.

How else are we to interpret what we saw — and the explanations we later heard — after Sunday’s overtime disaster against the Browns?

The Bucs had a chance to take a two-score lead in the fourth quarter but opted to punt while relatively deep in Cleveland territory. They had a chance to score at the end of regulation but opted to let precious seconds tick off the clock. They had a chance to open a two-game lead in the NFC South but opted to play it safe and hope for a lucky break in overtime.

 

Now, to be fair, there are legitimate reasons for reticence when it comes to trusting this offensive unit. Tampa Bay, after all, has taken a 40-percent cut in scoring from 2021 to 2022.

The offensive line was remade in the offseason, dinged in the preseason and is now pretty much decimated with Tristan Wirfs’ ankle injury. The offense also lost its greatest mismatch (Rob Gronkowski) along with its mastermind (Bruce Arians), and the unit’s average age can be measured in gray follicles.

But acknowledging shortcomings doesn’t mean you need to wave a white flag.

You just need to find a workaround. You need more imagination. Mostly, you need to give defenses something to worry about. And the Bucs have failed miserably in that sense.

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