TAMPA, Fla. -- The top task for Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians in 2019 will be getting the most out of fifth-year quarterback Jameis Winston, and that will include new wrinkles in an already potent Bucs offense that finished near the top of the NFL last season.
Here's a look at some of Arians' tendencies as a playcaller and how they can benefit the Bucs.
Throws from outside the pocket
Arians was the interim head coach in 2012 when Indianapolis Colts rookie Andrew Luck threw 71 passes from outside the pocket, fifth-most of any quarterback in the league. Winston is at his best outside the pocket, throwing 28 touchdowns since 2015 -- more than any other quarterback in the league -- and 21 of those came in the red zone. Whether it's with naked bootlegs, rollouts or Winston buying time to find an open receiver on the fly, Arians should be able to make use of the quarterback's skills.
Moving around his No. 1 receiver
Most of Arians' playcalling features a deep route and an underneath option, and he frequently does this through the use of play-action to get one-on-one matchups. When he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he had Hines Ward lined up in the slot and Santonio Holmes or Mike Wallace would go vertical. When he was with the Colts, he moved Reggie Wayne inside. When he was with the Arizona Cardinals, he moved Larry Fitzgerald inside, too (this concept has been replicated successfully by Sean Payton with Michael Thomas as well). Arians would use Fitzgerald on a short crossing route or a slant route while Michael Floyd or John Brown would go vertical.
He can use the tight end
Just because Arians lined Fitzgerald up in the slot doesn't mean Mike Evans, who is the most natural comparison to Fitzgerald on the Bucs' receiving corps, will have a permanent residence there. But as was the case with Dirk Koetter, Arians will move his top receiver around to ensure the ball gets in his hands. What Arians did with Fitzgerald could provide a framework for O.J. Howard, who like Fitzgerald, is a terrific run-blocker. Arians has had a reputation for not getting tight ends heavily involved in the passing game, but he can do that with Howard if he views him the way he viewed Fitzgerald. Arians saw Fitzgerald as a glorified tight end once the receiver entered the twilight of his career, and Howard is consistently a mismatch for linebackers.
Arians likes to flood the field by getting multiple receivers in the same area to stress opposing defenses. He's done this with the "sail concept," where an outside receiver runs a deep vertical route, an inside receiver runs an intermediate route -- such as an out-route -- and a running back goes to the flat, with both the inside receiver and running back going in the same direction. Visually, it looks like a sailboat. (Note: The inside receiver and running back don't have to originate on the same side of the field, and this can also be replicated with tight ends in motion). This is a concept that could be replicated with Evans, Adam Humphries and Peyton Barber, with DeSean Jackson on the opposite side of the field -- if the Bucs can get that relationship with Winston clicking.
'Snag' or 'Triangle' concept
Arians loves to use the "snag" or "triangle" concept. For an example, using 11 personnel (three wide receivers, one running back, one tight end) against a Cover 2 defense, the Bucs could have two receivers on the right side of the formation with an in-line tight end. The inside receiver runs a corner route and the outside receiver runs a slant or shallow crossing route, with the tight end running to the flat, creating a triangle visual featuring a deep, intermediate and short passing options, with the offense outnumbering the defenders. Again, this is something that can easily be replicated with Howard, Humphries and Evans.
An unconventional style
Arians' "no risk it, no biscuit" philosophy means he can be bold in his decision-making. He has shown no problem calling for the deep ball from his team's own end zone, even on first down. When the Steelers played the Browns in 2007, he called an end-around on third-and-2 with Holmes (it resulted in a 2-yard loss). When the Cardinals had a six-point lead against the 49ers in Week 12 in 2015, rather than running the ball out with 1:12 remaining, Arians opted to throw the ball on first down (they won 19-13).