Bucs OC Leftwich tired of “The Dirt”
During Thursday’s media availability, Bucs Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich took a swipe at the “haters” for the constant criticism the team has faced this season. Leftwich commented at one point during his press conference that “everybody’s always trying to get the Bucs dirty”.
And it’s understandable why Leftwich came across as defensive with his innuendo. He’s been the target of quite a bit of criticism this year as the architect of an offense that currently ranks 24th in the NFL in points per game (18.5). Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds has even called for Leftwich to be fired after the Bucs’ loss to the Panthers in Week 7.
But it’s natural for fans and analysts alike to wonder why Bucs’ offense has backed off this year. That 24th place in points? It doesn’t compare well to last year’s second place of 29.9 or 2020’s second place of 30.8.
These are not people who throw “dirt” on the Bucs.
These are people with eyes and the ability to compare things. This is basic logic.
People can differ in what they believe is the cause of the depressive score. Some might say the personnel changes were more than Bucs offense could bear. After all, the 2022 version of the attack features new starters in five key positions and 60% of the offensive line. Others may point to a decline in play for the team’s 45-year-old quarterback.
Some would say it’s the offensive philosophy that has been there all along exposed by a lower level of execution. But the truth remains that the offense is worse than in previous years. That’s not getting dirty. That is being honest about a fact and asking questions to find out the cause.
Bucs near the top of the league in yards – no points
Leftwich himself noted in his press conference that the strike is the 12th best strike in the league. I assume he was referring to yards per game with that statement, in which case they are actually 11th.
It was a curious title as he has said the goal is to score more points than the opposing team. That’s something his attack failed to do on half of their attempts this year. And they currently have a negative 32 point difference. So for the season they have failed in that particular goal. But even if we accepted the medium for judging the offense, last year the team came in second by that measure, and they were seventh in 2020.
The criticism is justified because there has been a negative development that has not improved consistently for 20 weeks now (including the pre-season). The criticism is justified because, unlike in recent years, there has been no noticeable, long-term change in the process. The criticism is warranted because despite getting evidence of how his strategy as a play-caller tends to lean him towards the things the team struggles with and away from the things the team is good at.
And perhaps the criticism would abate if Leftwich answered those questions with even a modicum of respect and clarity. But the contempt with which Leftwich responds to those questions with generalizations, stooge arguments and outright contempt draws even more criticism.
No Byron, people don’t throw dirt on the Bucs.
People ask questions about the areas in which the Bucs struggle.
Unfortunately for Leftwich and the attack they have been the struggling unit for most of the season. When you add the context of the success they’ve had on that side of the ball since 2019, you have the recipe for questions. And since Leftwich won’t provide anything close to a reasonably detailed explanation, others will instead fall back on things like “I see things no one else sees” or “that’s a fantasy football question”, and others will try to tell the story of the Bucs attack battle.
Assuming I did this right…
1st Success Rate outside the last two minutes of each half where neither team has a 75% chance of winning or better:
Bucs are 23rd in neutral 1st pass rate (42.42%)
— Joshua Queipo (@josh_queipo) January 7, 2023
If Leftwich is concerned about “the dirt” people are trying to throw on the Bucs, he can certainly grab a metaphorical shovel and try to dig them out. And that shovel can come in many different forms.
It can start with providing educated answers to legitimate questions about specific areas the offense is struggling with. But it must end with making the necessary adjustments and changes to make the offense perform better.
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