Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ 2022 season is officially over.
And boy, did it end with a giant thud.
The Buccaneers were routinely dominated on both sides of the ball, as the Dallas Cowboys built a 24-0 lead before Tom Brady hit Julio Jones for a deep touchdown pass as the third quarter expired.
The thought of a comeback quickly ended, however, after Brady couldn’t connect with Chris Godwin for the subsequent two-point conversion. A three-possession, fourth quarter deficit is/was simply too big of a hill for this offense to climb due its wild inefficiency and appalling play calling.
And sure enough, the Buccaneers eventually fell to the Cowboys by a final score of 31-14.
Sure, the Buccaneers dealt with a slew of injuries at key positions on offense. And it was a year-round occurrence that also involved major injuries. We aren’t talking about a nick and a bruise or a guy or two going down for an extended period of time – the Buccaneers dealt with a lot in 2022.
But the primary reason why the Buccaneers offense is so bad is simple: offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
It’s the right move and one that has to happen. Leftwich’s play calling and sequencing, as well as his lack of creativity, is what held the Buccaneers offense back. The unit looked discombobulated, unprepared, and sluggish all year long and it’s because Leftwich was clearly in over his head without players like Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown in the lineup.
He also refused to regularly incorporate successful concepts such as play-action passes and up-tempo offense. The Buccaneers were one of the NFL’s best offenses in both categories, yet Leftwich viewed both concepts as more supplements than focal points of the offense.
“We weren’t in-sync,” said rookie Rachaad White after he was asked about why the offense struggled in 2022. “[We had] a lot of guys in and out of the lineup, [we] could never get all of our guys healthy, or on the same page. It was just a tough year, battling injuries on both sides of the ball and just being able to know the in and out of who was going to play, who was going to be there. A lot of guys moving around in different positions and different spots, that’s not easy to just transition to.”
The Buccaneers averaged just a little more than 18 points per game after averaging over 29 points per game each of the last two seasons. The injuries and personnel changes were certainly enough to affect the offense, but it was clear Leftwich had zero answers.
It’s unclear where the Buccaneers go from here, but they’re bound to have a new coach calling the shots on offense once the 2023 season kicks off.
Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports