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Bucs journal: Run-pass option could be what helps Bucs in red zone in 2018

The Bucs were ranked 24th in red zone touchdown percentage in 2017 and are looking to improve, even if it means using Jameis Winston as a runner.
The Bucs are are taking a hard look at running more run-pass option plays with Jameis Winston (3) this year.	(MONICA HERNDON | Times)
The Bucs are are taking a hard look at running more run-pass option plays with Jameis Winston (3) this year. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Published Jun. 7, 2018|Updated Jun. 7, 2018

TAMPA — QB Jameis Winston faked the handoff to the running back, then pulled the ball out and ran around right end untouched for an easy touchdown. It was a run-pass option, and though Winston isn't known for his feats afoot, he's more than athletic enough to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

One of the Bucs' big areas of improvement in 2018 has to be in the red zone, where offensive coordinator Todd Monken said the team "chose to (stink)'' last year. Tampa Bay ranked 24th in the NFL with a 49.06 touchdown percentage in the red zone.

In their final week of organized team activities, the Bucs got plenty of work in that area. And make no mistake, they are taking a hard look at more run-pass option plays.

"I think everybody in the league is probably going to do more of it this year,'' coach Dirk Koetter said. "The success that Philly had … it's a copycat league.''

The Eagles were second in the NFL with a 64.06 touchdown percentage in the red zone. Their use of run-pass options increased when QB Nick Foles took over from injured starter Carson Wentz.

Overall, Koetter was pleased with the red zone work this week but said the defense won Thursday.

"The defense got the better of it,'' Koetter said. "We got a lot of red zone (work) this whole week. This is our only week where we work for four days, and we did a ton of red zone work. The way it worked out is defense got the best of it (Thursday), but I think the offense also got some really good work this week."

Feeling the heat

Even if the players don't talk about it, TE Cameron Brate says they know what's at stake this season. That includes starting the year with Koetter and general manager Jason Licht on the hot seat.

"Definitely. Coming off of a disappointing year last year, you can definitely sense something different in the facility,'' Brate said. "Maybe there's a little more sense of urgency. Everybody knows how big this year is for everyone in the building. All of the players can feel it; the coaches feel it. So I think there is that sense of urgency."

Buck blow up

When DT Gerald McCoy jumped offside during a team period, defensive line coach Brentson Buckner gathered up the line and began yelling loudly at the six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle.

"I don't play no favorites,'' Buckner said to McCoy.

Koetter downplayed the confrontation.

"Guys get yelled at sometimes, and guys get praised other times,'' he said. "There's nothing unusual about that. When I started playing Little League it was like that, and it's still like that in the NFL.''

DE Noah Spence said he appreciated Buckner's intensity.

"He's more intense, but you need a coach like that,'' Spence said. "You need somebody to push you all along and tell y'all when you're doing wrong and not so much what you're doing right. Keep trying to be the best person you can be.

"He's like a big blessing for us. He's different, but he's a great coach. No favorites, no favorites. He's real, like, straight-on."

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