Key Play-Calling Change Could Finally Unlock Buccaneers' Offense

Max Staley
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to make this key offensive shift.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to make this key offensive shift. / Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tom Brady is playing at a really high level right now. Pro Football Focus has given Brady the second-best grade among all quarterbacks, and the 43-year-old passer is on pace to have his best statistical campaign since winning the MVP in 2017. All that production has helped make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the NFL's sixth-best scoring offense in 2020.

And yet, it doesn't feel like this unit hasn't reached its ceiling.

In fact, the numbers suggest there's one change Bruce Arians can make to finally realize all that potential: calling more play action.

Brady has been downright deadly on play-action throws this season. He's actually PFF's highest-graded signal-caller on play action passes, posting a stellar 94.5 grade on such throws. For context, no QB has a season-long grade above 93.5.

But for whatever reason, Tampa Bay has only called the 19th-most play-action passes in the league, according to PFF. The fact that Brady has recorded the NFL's 10th-most passing yards after a run fake just highlights how insanely efficient he's been.

That's not exactly surprising. Brady has always been excellent at running play action. And defenses have to account for Ronald Jones, who currently has the third-most rushing yards in the league (730).

Running play action inherently creates confusion among defenders. And even the slightest hesitation can be a death sentence against a QB as precise as Brady – especially when he's throwing to weapons as dangerous as Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski.

If the Buccaneers incorporate more play action into their game plan, this offense could finally look like the Super Bowl-caliber unit everyone expected it to.

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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.