TAMPA – Moving the chains hasn’t been a problem for the Buccaneers so far this preseason. Through two games they have racked up 46 first downs and converted 47-percent of their third downs (14-for-30).
Converting on fourth down hasn’t even been a problem. The Bucs are 2-for-3 there. As for punching the ball across the goal line and actually putting points on the board, well, that’s another matter.
The Bucs have scored just 12 points in each of their two games and it’s not solely just because kickers Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk have combined to leave a total of eight points on the field.
Just as it was a year ago, when the Bucs ranked 21st in the league in red-zone efficiency after scoring touchdowns on just 51.9-percent of their chances, scoring from inside the 20s has been a challenge.
The Bucs have so far produced just two touchdowns in five red-zone appearances and don’t think that’s largely a result of poor play from the second- or third-team offense.
The Bucs first-team attack has moved into the red zone four times already this preseason but has so far come away with just one touchdown, that a 2-yard run by Doug Martin against the Jaguars on Thursday night.
“Yeah, same old story,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter lamented of the red zone play after the Bucs held on to beat the Jaguars 12-8 at EverBank Field. “We had a couple opportunities, we just didn’t quit get ‘em.’’
Getting better inside the red zone was a point of emphasis for the Bucs heading into their week of joint workouts with the Jaguars and it will almost certainly remain a point of emphasis going forward.
As we noted, the Bucs have had no trouble moving the ball. They’re averaging a solid 346 yards per game right now, but winning football requires a team to do much more than just move the ball between the 20s.