The Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ problems on the offensive side of the ball aren’t difficult to identify and dissect.

Their running game is poor, they’re too inconsistent along the offensive line, and their pass catchers haven’t had the benefit of a clean bill of health too often this season.

These are all problems you can at least somewhat control, as they all fall in line as issues you can at least begin to physically fix yourself.

But there are other issues — some that tie into the leadership of the unit itself — that you can’t really fix unless there’s an effort made to address the issues at the root, or the problem itself fixes itself so it won’t continue to be a detriment to the team.

Tampa Bay’s offense has at least one of those problems and it comes in the form of offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

One of the main problems with Leftwich, is his unwillingness to run play action without seeing some form of success in the run game.

The idea of needing a good run game to have a good play action is an old school mentality that’s existed for quite some time now. And if it weren’t for the new age of analytics, newfound schematic concepts, and modern scheming, then it could’ve remained an important way of thinking in this day and age.

But it isn’t, and the Buccaneers’ offense is suffering because this old school idea still runs rampant in their offense.

“We have to do a better job at running it [the football],” Leftwich said. “There’s no such thing as play action [passing] without running it good enough.”

What Leftwich fails to understand, is that you can still present a good play action passing game to opposing defenses without a solid or consistent run game. In fact, the Buccaneers have been able to do exactly that this year, but the “stone age” mentality surrounding the concept has prevented the offense from running play action more than it should.

Ben Baldwin of The Athletic gave a lot of information regarding the basis of the beliefs of Leftwich personally, while giving out some supporting data to go along with the argument.

It’s an interesting read if you want to go through it, but one of the more important facts within the thread is that play action — at least historically — hasn’t required a successful and consistent run game to thrive.

That rings true with the Buccaneers this year, at least if you use supporting analytical data to back up the claim. According to PFF, the Buccaneers have the 4th best EPA per play — or expected points added — when using play action this season.

But the problem is, the Buccaneers simply don’t run enough play action to take advantage of the data driven success they’ve had using the concept this season.

As their play action rate is the third lowest in the entire league, or in other words, they run play action at the third lowest rate across the entire league.

That’s inexcusable.

If you’re abandoning a concept because it doesn’t run along with your beliefs, when in fact the concept doesn’t correlate to success based on your own personal thoughts, then you’re basically keeping an offense from playing to its highest potential.

Which isn’t something an offensive coordinator shouldn’t be doing, unless they want to be given a pink slip, a hug, and a barrage of good luck statements from former co-workers as they walk out the door.

Leftwich needs to seriously get in line with the modern ways of offensive football. It’s not bad to hold onto your own personal schematic beliefs, as some old school tactics have remained as the NFL has seen itself become familiar with a more progressive way of thinking.

But there’s a line there, a line where you have to teeter along between being more modern and stubbornly holding onto unproductive ways of scheming.

Leftwich isn’t tapping into as much progression as he needs to and it’s hurting this offense immensely.

If he doesn’t change his ways soon, this offense is going to continue to trip over itself as it attempts to fight back to win an unexpectedly heated division race. And not only that, the consequences could potentially snowball to effectively end Leftwich’s tenure as an offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay.

Which would be a rather sad development, especially after the promise Leftwich showcased in previous years.

Featured image via Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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