Wednesday morning Brian Griese stood up in front of his teammates and apologized for his poor play last week. "I told them I know I need to play better and not turn the ball over and I will. It starts with me."
It may start with Griese, but on the offensive side of the ball it comes down to Carnell Williams and Michael Clayton. I have already explained Williams' importance to the offense, so I'm going to break down why Clayton needs to be more involved.
As demonstrated by the lack of touchdowns against Jets last week, the offense is going to be anemic when Williams is not in the lineup. But even last season the Bucs did not struggle as much as they did last week to put points on the board. In the eleven games Griese started at quarterback last season the Bucs always scored at least 14 points, while averaging 22.3 points.
Last season, Michael Clayton was the 21st most targeted receiver with 122 targets. For those not familiar with targets they are a measurement of how many times a quarterback threw the ball at his receiver. Obviously the receiver will not catch all the balls, for example Clayton had eighty catches last season.
This season, Clayton has far fewer targets compared to the rest of the receivers in the NFL. He is tied for 45th overall among receivers with 27 targets. Instead, Galloway has been the primary receiving target on this team with 40 targets. Part of the reason has been because Clayton has been playing injured, but Gruden has admitted he needs to get Clayton more involved in the offense.
Clayton's relative inactivity has affected the offensive production of the passing game. Last season the Bucs had the 12th ranked passing offense by yards. Clayton gained more than twice as many receiving yards (1,193) as the next closest receivers, Galloway (416) and Pittman (391).
This season, the Bucs have the 18th ranked passing offense by yards. Their leading receiver, Galloway, has twice as many yards (403) as Clayton (196) and Pittman (157).
Statistical Year . . . . . . . . . 2004 . . . . . 2005
Passing Offense Rank . . . . .12th . . . . . . . 18th
Clayton's Target Rank . . . . 21st . . . . . . . 45th
Galloway's Target Rank . . . 74th . . . . . . . 15th
Now I never been a fan of columns that do nothing but show you numbers, but, when it comes down to it, numbers are the only thing you can rely on. I can stand on top of my roof and yell about the importance of Clayton to this offense, but unless I had stats you have every reason to ignore my argument.
The more involved Williams and Clayton are in the offense the more points the team will put on the board. These two guys are the young studs on the offense, the first round picks which the Bucs need to perform for the team to win. If they get more touches, the offense will score more points.