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Bucs-Packers: Here lie the Bucs' explosive plays

Bucs wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) is tackled on a reception by Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brian Poole (34) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
Bucs wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) is tackled on a reception by Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brian Poole (34) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
Published Dec. 1, 2017

TAMPA — Why does it seem as though every time a Bucs receiver catches the football he is looking for a soft patch of grass to fall on?

Why is there always two or three defenders surrounding every pass-catcher? Why are there holes in the screens?

It's all true because the Bucs get almost no yards after the catch. The YAC is enough to make any fan, well, yack.

The Bucs are ranked 31st overall with an average 4.02 yards after the catch. Entering Thursday's game, only the Cowboys were worse. The Rams are first at 6.93 yards after the catch.

Todd Monken said certain players have more knack for YAC.

"Some other guys aren't as comfortable doing that," the Bucs offensive coordinator said. "The more you utilize your backs and screens, you're going to get some of that. The better you are at screens, you are going to catch it and gain yards so that is part of it.

"More and more teams are going to spread [offense], so the more you spread it out and you are throwing shallows and intermediate routes as more of a spread offense.

"Are we conscientious of that, trying to get guys in space, especially guys like Desean [Jackson] and Adam [Humphries] and some of our backs? Of course," Monken said. "We certainly don't want to have to — if you throw for 300 yards, throw for 280 of it — no. We would like to be able to throw for a couple hundred and have 100 (yards) after catch."

Jackson's career average is more than 17 yards per catch. This season, he is averaging 13.8 yards.

A year ago, the Redskins had 22 pass plays of 30 yards or more and Jackson caught 10 of them. This season, the Bucs have nine passes of 30 yards. Jackson has caught two.

The biggest contributor to that yards after catch are screen passes, since nearly all the yardage comes after the reception.

"We run quite a few. We've left quite a few yards on the table," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter. "Those screens — the key on screens is getting them started. If you get that first block to get to the second level, that's when you can get some more yards.

"Even last week was a perfect example. We had three or four times where we were right there and it was a bang-bang play and we just haven't been as good as we have been in the past.

"Sometimes... it's the guy that's got the ball in his hands not setting the block up right, cutting to the wrong side. You are trying to kick out and he's trying to go on the wrong side of the block. Like most of our issues, it's not one single thing."

BOBO TIME: Florida State's Bobo Wilson is the most improved receiver for the Bucs this season, according to Koetter.

Wilson has spent the year on the Bucs' practice squad but will be on the 53-man roster today at Green Bay. Monken said he loves Wilson's competitiveness.

"You see him going against Brent Grimes," Monken said. "You see him going against other corners and you like what you see, but that's off a card. That is in practice. You've earned that part — that next step — because some guys don't do what he did, so he's done that part to compete and earn that. Now, we will see. Still we have (only) six receivers up (on Sunday)."

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STILL THE ONE: Gerald McCoy still is playing like a five-time Pro Bowl player. He leads all defensive tackles with 21 quarterback hits, matching his career record with five games to play. His five sacks also leads the team.

"What has hurt us is when Gerald is getting double teamed and using two blockers," Koetter said, "our other guys that have been single haven't been able to get home."

MILEPOST: WR Mike Evans needs 51 receiving yards on Sunday at Green Bay to pass Julio Jones for the 10th-most receiving yards in a players' first four seasons (since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger).

Contact Rick Stroud at stroudbucs@aol.com. Follow @NFLStroud

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