One of the questions that will have to be asked of Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter during season-wrap-up press conference at One Buc Place on Monday is the same one that’s been rolling around inside the head of Bucs fans for weeks now.
What happened to the offense?
The Bucs set a franchise record for yards gained last year, racking up 6,014, but slipped by nearly half a grand this year to 5,542 and struggled to score all through the second half of the season, averaging just 17.1 points per game during that span.
The running game was clearly part of the problem. The Bucs struggled to move the ball on the ground and that put more pressure on quarterback Jameis Winston, who saw an uptick in his turnovers down the stretch, including throwing a pick and losing a fumble Sunday.
But there was probably more to the problem than that. The play of the offensive line slipped, the Bucs efficiency inside the red zone slipped and rookie kicker Roberto Aguyao continued to struggle missing two more field goal tries on Sunday.
Despite those issues, though, the Bucs have some solid pieces on the offensive side of the ball that they can build around. That at least was the take Koetter had in the wake of the Bucs 17-16 victory Sunday over the Panthers.
“When you look at our offensive team, Jameis, (wide receiver) Mike (Evans), (right guard) Ali (Marpet), (left tackle) Donovan Smith, that’s four guys you can really build around,’’ Koetter said. “And I think you can throw (left guard) Kevin Pamphile into that mix.
“And you can throw (tight end) Cameron Brate into that mix as well. I mean, we’ve got a good nucleus of guys here already to build around. Now we do have to add some playmakers and we do have to add some speed. That’s just a fact.
“But every team in the league has things they have to add. Every team has weaknesses or perceived weaknesses and every team is looking to improve themselves in the offseason. But that’s easier said than done.”
The Bucs have clearly made progress, but to be in the post season next year, their offensive output down the stretch has to, as well.