NFL Team Report - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - INSIDE SLANT
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the worst offense in the NFL. They are last in total offense, passing offense and third-down conversion percentage.
Injuries have decimated Tampa Bay's skill positions with season-ending injuries to running back Doug Martin, receiver Mike Williams, guard Carl Nicks and tight end Tom Crabtree.
But even with those injuries, there is little excuse for the stunning lack of productivity on the offensive side of the ball.
It won't get easier for the Bucs this Sunday when they play the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is under fire. A year ago, he produced the league's ninth-ranked offense, which was the best finish ever in the history of the franchise.
So the dropoff has been remarkable. Sullivan has had trouble putting his finger on what has gone wrong.
"I think it's a mixture of a bunch of factors," Sullivan said. "I think there are the players that you have and then the things that we ask them to execute, and I think anytime you try to force the square peg into the round hole, that can lead to some problems. So in trying to structure things in a manner in which we think is best suited for our guys and maybe there are some things that we're able to take advantage of with one set of personnel that we can't take advantage with the other, a combination of the teams that you're playing."
Tampa Bay struggled trying to protect Glennon against the 49ers last week as he was sacked four times and only was effective in two no-huddle drives. This week, they will have their hands full with the Rams' edge rushers, Robert Quinn, who has 15 sacks and seven forced fumbles, and Chris Long.
"I think that there have been a lot of frustrations and a lot of searching for the answers and we'll continue to do that," Sullivan said. "And where we're at right now, thank goodness it's not the end of the season. We've got another opportunity and another one after that. The problem is certainly out there and we can all see what it is and now it's just we're trying to find what the answers are and just continue to keep adjusting and not set one specific way or manner in which to say, 'Hey, this is what's wrong,' we have to look at all options and so it's an ongoing process."
Of course, the season is melting away fast for the Bucs and the coaching staff under Greg Schiano.
After going 0-8, releasing quarterback Josh Freeman and dealing with three MRSA cases, the Bucs appeared to have righted the ship by winning four of their next five games. It was no surprise the Bucs lost to the 49ers, who are just a better team. But if they don't win or at least play very well this week at St. Louis and next week at New Orleans, jobs will be in jeopardy.
"I don't think it would be fair to say it's one thing - if it's personnel, if it's scheme, if it's coaching, if it's performance - there are a lot of things that go in to it," Schiano said. "Personnel have certainly changed quite a bit but, as I've said many times, a lot of teams have that issue where you have guys down. Do we have more than most? Yeah, we do, this year, that happens sometimes but our job as coaches is to take what we have and make sure that we can make that work. We're struggling right now, there's no doubt and we're trying to bust through it."
SERIES HISTORY: 19th regular-season meeting. Rams lead series, 10-8. The Bucs have won six of the last eight meetings. They lost to the Rams in both the 1979 and 1999 NFC Championship games.
NFL Team Report - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - NOTES, QUOTES
--Embattled Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan may get his marching orders - he's a candidate for the head coaching job at Army.
"There is an appropriate time and place for all those type of answers to those questions and I think right now, especially given where we're at offensively, and some of the challenges that we have and what faces us this Sunday in St. Louis, if we could, I would like to just center our questions and focus on the Rams," Sullivan said. "Certainly, I'm sure there are plenty of questions you guys have for the offense and on some of the issues that we've had which are well documented, so hit me with your best shot."