Buccaneers not shy about throwing deep
The Bucs are intent on running the ball with a "downhill" rushing attack that gashes opponents.
But that doesn't mean they won't take their shots down the field.
That much is evident one practice into the 2009 season. The quarterbacks took advantage of several opportunities this morning to go deep, and players and coaches say the ability to do so will change the complexion of the offense.
The Bucs employed mostly a short passing game during Jon Gruden's seven seasons, but Jeff Jagodzinski has promised to open things up on occasion. To that end, we saw a fair share of deep balls this morning, with Antonio Bryant catching a beautiful ball from Byron Leftwich and Brian Clark catching a nicely-placed ball from Luke McCown against Aqib Talib. Leftwich had perhaps the throw of the day when he launched an absolute bomb to Kelly Campbell who failed to haul what would have been about a 50-yard gain. In his defense, Ronde Barber, who was beat on the play, appeared to hold Campbell.
Should we start getting used to this?
"When you’re a power team, you run the ball," coach Raheem Morris said. "People tend to load up the box. It’s common sense. . . If you get a nice little gash in there, you get Derrick Ward coming in there with a full head of steam on your safeties. Then you can exploit them with (Bryant). We saw some things happen today.
"You have the ability to have explosion plays when you have explosive players like Antonio Bryant, like Kellen Winslow, like Michael Clayton – he showed some explosiveness, too."
McCown, Leftwich and Josh Freeman all have legitmately strong arms and can make throws that last year's primary quarterbacks -- Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese -- simply can't.
"All the quarterabcks are taking advantage of throwing the ball down the field," Clayton said. "Josh Freeman is even slinging it down the field. As long as we have time to throw the ball, we'll be a threat. We're sending guys down the field. Unlike in the past, a guy can be 50 yards down the field and they can still get the ball there."
That's my thing. They (the defense) have to pay when they make mistakes. That's my philosophy. You have to throw your short passes, but when those guys make mistakes, you have to make them pay. In this league, you get six or seven opportunities a game for that. If you miss, that can be the difference between winning a football game and losing a football game. With the guys that we have, all they're asking for is an opportunity, and I'm going to give them that opportunity."