The Bucs need a competent running game to lean on.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not look good against the Minnesota Vikings in a blowout loss. The offense managed only 17 with what was seemingly an excess of receiving talents accrued in the off-season.


First half

Only 3 points scored in the first half. The offense seems to have continued its problems with scoring touchdowns on long drives. On the first drive, it was stalled at the Min 21 yard line. Winston’s first interception, drive 4, was a result of an underthrown deep ball to DeSean Jackson and defender Waynes was able to run back into the fold for an easy interception. For the rest of the offensive possessions, they were punts.

With the possibility of scoring 14 points in the first half, the Bucs’ offense eeked out only 3 points. Halftime score: Min 21, TB 3.

Second half

Duds, highs, and lows all occurred. The Bucs’ offense came out flat and punted. Thankfully, WR Reedy returned the ball for 50 yards to the Vikings’ 46-yard line. With the starting position in Vikings territory, the Bucs were able to capitalize with a touchdown. It followed up with its first own long drive touchdown of the season. But all was for naught as Winston threw two interceptions to conclude two consecutive offensive possessions.

Trench warfare lost

Last week, the offense was balanced with 34 runs to 31 pass plays. This week it was not so balanced on 9 run plays to 40 pass plays, or 81.6% passing plays. It is apparent that Winston is not ready to helm the ship on his own as his performance was more negative than positive with three interceptions.

We all witnessed how the Chicago Bears’ offense was shut down when it could only muster 20 yards on the ground against the Bucs’ defense. The same pattern occurred with the Bucs’ offense against Minnesota this past week when the Bucs only managed 26 total yards rushing. Being one-dimensional is a dangerous spot to work from with a young quarterback like Winston who has yet to respect that turnovers are a detriment to the team.

Conclusion

Seven out of 10 offensive possessions ended in a punt or an interception. It sounds much worse knowing there were five long offensive drives. Two of the interceptions occurred in or by the end zone. That type of offense will not suffice considering the influx of offensive weapons at the disposal of young QB Winston. It appears that the savior of the offense has to be a player that is suspended – running back Doug Martin. It is painfully obvious that the offense needs to be more balanced and not many defenses respect RB Jacquizz Rodgers to be fooled on play-action schemes. Martin is one way to reign in Winston and his lack of dedication to protecting the ball, protecting the team.

Last year, Winston was still able to be productive despite not having a run support game. He was turnover prone last season. A factor why Winston could not be more effective was due to lack of talent playing opposite Mike Evans, that was what head coach Dirk Koetter stated in the off-season. With a lack of talent opposite Evans and just in case the running game would be non-existent, GM Jason Licht invested deep into improving the receiving corps with WR DeSean Jackson, TE OJ Howard, and WR Chris Godwin. This strategy was to mitigate Winston’s propensity for turnovers.

The failure of the offense in this game was a heat check to both QB Winston and HC Koetter that Winston cannot carry this team on his arm. Koetter was hoping he can become Matt Ryan or Aaron Rodgers with the ability to dissect the defense and take care of the ball better. Although Winston has improved his passing accuracy, he has yet to improve his propensity for turnovers going into his third season in the NFL (this includes games played in pre-season). The team added highly talented receiving to Winston’s arsenal, but is getting the same result as last year. Koetter needs to re-adjust his plans for Winston because I do not think Winston will change this season.


Article first appeared on www.bucsnation.com