Bucs’ third and medium offense
Key third down concepts
The Buccaneers rely heavily on their quick game for 3rd and medium (3-6). Stick, Under, Combo, Shallow’s, etc. One concept they call often is Combo (Dragon or Arrow in other terminologies). They also call it quite often on second and longs against single high coverages, so it’s probably their favourite quick game concept vs single high.
The goal of the play is to create a natural rub for the flat route vs off man coverage and also to have a slant, usually for Chris Godwin, when they need a conversion against press man coverage.
The following are two rub/pick plays from Arians install. Notice how against off coverage they convert to combo.
Something Arians has done a few times this season is to call rub concepts from bunches. He hasn’t done it often, but they’ve had lots of success when he has. All three times they’ve done it, it’s being to Miller at #3 in the bunch and it’s a good way of getting him the ball with space to work with.
The following play appears to be an adjustment to his ‘flounder’ concept.
The read was open, but Dennis Allen dials up a stunt with Demario Davis and Marcus Davenport, and simulated B gap pressure with Alex Anzalone. Ali Marpet gets bull rushed into Brady leading to a sack.
These are the types of calls Arians will need to have ready as they should be very effective against the Chiefs’ aggressive man coverage.
Another thing Arians has done from bunches is to run out and ups as the bunch forces the CB to play off, and out and ups are best vs off coverage.
Another concept Arians likes to call on 3rd and medium is Bowout. It’s more of a 3 & 5-6 call, while combo/dragon is more of a 3 & 3-4 call.
The go route from the Z receiver is meant to clearout the space towards the boundary for the out route from the Y. It makes sense why Arians would like to call this with a TE with the boxout ability of Gronk, and the accuracy of Tom Brady outside of the numbers. Brady is outstanding outside of the numbers 10+ yards downfield, boasting a 145.1 passer rating when targeting that area in 2020 (68.2 above league average).
The concept also has the built in ability to stretch the defense vertically, and many alternatives to work off of the original concept. For example, against the Saints in the divisional round, they gave a Bowout look from Gronk attached to the LOS, with Scotty Miller on an out-and-up. Arians likes to tag his outside receivers on out-and-ups on 3rd downs, and expect him to call some if the Chiefs give them off man coverage looks as they’re a very aggressive defense.
This concept will likely be in Arians’ third down gameplan as his preferred way of beating 2 man is with out routes, and the Chiefs play a lot of 2 man.
Key receivers on third down
On third and mediums, defenses will usually be playing press man coverage, particularly the Chiefs as they have used press coverage at the highest rate over the last two years. The Bucs’ go to guy against press is Mike Evans. The Packers found this out the hard way in the NFC championship guy as they left Evans isolated.
Scotty Miller struggles a lot against press coverage and only 11% of Godwin’s targets have come against press. So, on third and mediums I would look to double Evans as he is their go to guy and it would essentially force them to throw underneath routes as Miller and Evans are their deep route guys.
However, this doesn’t apply in the red zone, particularly when the Bucs get closer to the goal line, as Gronk then becomes Brady’s go to guy against man coverage. They have also thrown some fades to Evans in the low red zone (6-15), usually as a pre-snap RPO, so the Chiefs can’t just focus on Gronk, but they have to be very aware that Brady will likely throw to him if he’s isolated, particularly in a high leverage situation.