Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith was blunt in criticizing his unit’s play during the 2017 season and offensive coordinator Todd Monken took a similar path on Thursday.
Monken took particular notice of the team’s performance in the red zone. They scored touchdowns on less than half of their red zone trips last season, which ranked 24th in the league and played a role in the team’s 4-12 finish to the season. Monken came up with a damning diagnosis for the shortcomings in that area of the field.
“We chose to suck. We made that decision as an offense to play poorly. We did a lot of things you can’t do if you want to win,” Monken said, via Florida Football Insiders. “Bad football loses before good football wins. Bad center exchanges, costly penalties, missed opportunities. … We finished 24th in the league. What’s interesting about that is: it would have just taken five more touchdowns and you jump from 24th to 8th. … We got down there 53 times, that’s seventh most in the league … we didn’t take advantage of those opportunities.”
Quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian also tackled the topic of red zone execution and said, via JoeBucsFan.com, that he found “seven plays off the top of my head” that would have gone for touchdowns “if we just played pitch-and-catch.” Bajakian said that execution was the key to doing a better job and that’s certainly a big part of the process for a team that didn’t run the ball well anywhere on the field. Play calling is another area where the Bucs can help themselves close to the end zone and cutting down on turnovers in general would be a boost to the offense.
Given the harsh assessment for players on both sides of the ball, the season is shaping up to be a crucial one for Monken, Smith, head coach Dirk Koetter, quarterback Jameis Winston and anyone else who hopes to be in Tampa for the long haul.