Offensive Explosion? – Buc Not.

By on October 15, 2011

Mike Williams loses the pigskin in San Francisco; the Buccaneers' offensive woes continue on the west coast in week five. (photo by Cary Edmondson/US PRESSWIRE)

It’s week six of the 2011 NFL season and it’s become  increasingly clear that the league is transforming before our eyes. The days of “three yards and a cloud of dust” being a viable offensive philosophy are giving way to spread attacks chewing up massive amounts of yardage through the air. New rules, designed over the past few years to protect offensive players from injury, are having a huge impact.

Wide receivers, many of whom feared going over the middle not too long ago, are now protected from blindside hits, while quarterbacks are protected from virtually everything but being audited by the IRS.

The result of these changes, as well as an offseason shortened by lockout, is a league full of teams piling up yards and scoring points in bunches.

Eleven different teams are averaging at least 25 points per game, through week five, with five teams averaging over 30. This offensive explosion has delighted many fans throughout the country, yet Bucs fans are left scratching their heads over the offensive performance of their hometown team thus far this year.

Coming off a 10-6 season, with a seemingly improving offense led by young, rising stars in Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount, and Mike Williams, fans in the Tampa Bay area came into the season expecting big things out of the Bucs. Although Tampa Bay is currently in second place in the NFC South, with a 3-2 record, there is some concern as to the way that the offense has looked so far.

The Bucs have scored 83 points in five games, which is the third lowest total in the NFC. The only two teams in the NFC that have scored less are the winless St. Louis Rams (46) and the Washington Redskins (83). Both of which had a bye last week and have only played in four games, as opposed to the Bucs, who have played in five. Tampa Bay is averaging 17.4 points per game, which ties them with Indianapolis for 27th in the league.

What has caused this young offense to underperform at a time when league scoring is rising? Is it because Josh Freeman has already thrown as many interceptions this year as he did in all of last year (six)? Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Bucs are tied for second in the league in drops (with 11) or that wide receivers Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn have three drops apiece (good for 4th most in the league)?

Asked by a reporter for his reaction to how poorly his team played in last Sunday’s 48-3 blowout loss to the Oakland Raiders, center Jeff Faine could only say, “It’s surprising. How could it not surprise you?”

That much could also be said of the underperformance of the Tampa Bay offense through the first five weeks of the season. The Bucs host the Saints this week and a win for Tampa Bay would tie them with New Orleans for the NFC South lead.

The Saints are fifth in the league in scoring, averaging 31.4 points per game, and their prolific attack is probably causing sleepless nights for Raheem Morris and his defensive staff. The Bucs will need to fire off the cannons as many times as possible in order to keep up with New Orleans and produce a favorable outcome on Sunday.

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