Carnell's best rushing games came about after the bye week with Gradkowski starting.
New Orleans game Carnell had 20 attempts for 111 yards.¬† Reason?¬† They were playing the pass against Gradkowski and Carnell burned them with several draw plays for huge chunks of yardage.¬† In this game the Bucs used the pass to set up the run. Not to mention an excellent use of roll outs using Gradkowski (which was never to be seen for the rest of the season sadly despite being the most impressive display of offense the entire season until the Bears game).
The next game was the Bengals game Carnell had 19 carries for 94 yards.¬† Buenning briefly went out and Mahan came in.¬† Suprise, suprise Mahan is beat like a drum and AD is left with a 2 on 1 situation.¬† Justin Smith beats AD since he is at a disadvantage (Thanks Mahan!) and pummels Grads into the ground (which lead to a bogus roughing the passer penalty).¬† Mahan is in for a brief period and disaster follows this master matador.¬† But thanks to a bogus call Mahan's blunder turns into a masterstroke (lucky for him).
Next game was the Eagles game. Carnell had 23 carries for 82 yards. Gradkowski was starting to lose steam after his first game.
After that was the Giants game.¬† Wind + poor pass defense + loads of pass attempts.¬† Clearly Carnell was not given enough carries in this game.
Carnell only had 12 rushing attempts for 39 yards in the next game against the Saints.¬† Brees was lighting up the Bucs pass defense in this game (A rookie LT from a small school was owning Rice too).¬† Enough said.
MNF game against Carolina.¬† Carnell had only 15 attempts (must be a running theme in this past season no?).¬† Bucs defense with street players held on but it unraveled in the second half.¬† Gradkowski had two INT's.
Next game against the Skins Carnell had 27 carries for 122 yards.¬† Wow week 11 into the regular season and Carnell finally receives 25+ carries (Should I laugh or cry?).¬† Care to guess how many games of 25+ carries Carnell had in his rookie year (2005) up to week 11?¬† If my fuzzy math is correct it is definately more than 1 game. The rest I will leave to your imagination.
Game against Dallas.¬† This was the turning point in my opinion and I will explain why later on.¬† Carnell finished the game with 17 carries for 78 yards.¬† The game unraveled when the pass defense simply could not hold up and the Cowboys were torching the Bucs through the air.¬† If you did not watch the game and spent time with your family I do not blame you.
The first drive of the game.¬† Carnell had 5 of his 17 carries in the first drive with runs (2,4,3,3,4).¬† Nothing spectacular but this drive produced a TD.
Here comes the second quarter.
Carnell had 5 attempts in the fourth drive of (5,2,5,3,22) yards. Carnell's biggest run of 22 yards came about by breaking three tackles.¬† ¬†This drive ended in a field goal.
Carnell had 3 attempts in the fifth drive of (6,5,5) yards.¬† This drive ended in a punt.
Carnell had 14 attempts out of 17 in the first half of the game.¬† Like I said the game was out of control in the second half.¬† Not to mention in the second half Buenning was out with a knee injury in this game.
Carnell against Pitt had only 11 attempts for 27 yards. That fumble by Carnell hurt the team in that game.
Carnell had 20 attempts (reasonable) for 48 yards (Yuck! I think the last two games indicate that Buenning IS missed). Carnell's yards per carry average has dropped like a rock all of sudden.¬† Only explanation I have is that Buenning is out and Mahan is in his place.¬†
Carnell had 11 attempts in the Chicago game for 26 yards.¬† Not many rushing attempts considering the Bucs were down in the game and rallied only to lose the game.
Pittman had 16 carries for 68 yards against Cleveland.¬† Much better but against a Cleveland team not all too convincing.
Pittman followed up in the season finale with 17 carries for 73 yards.¬†
*Carnell only had one
game where he received 25 or more carries in 2006.¬† In his amazing, rookie year, Carnell had multiple games where he received 25 or more carries and even 30 carries.¬† Larry Johnson in 2006 easily had many games of 25 or more rushing attempts.
Carnell starts to produce as he approaches --> 20 carries.¬† His production increases even further as he approaches --> 25 carries.¬† And when he approaches --> 30 carries Carnell is simply dominating.¬† Hard to dominate when he had only one game where he had what 25 carries in the entire regular season?
¬† And it is not like he had many games of 20 carries at least either.
*Buenning was sorely missed.¬† The numbers show this.¬† People can point to Pittman's production in the last two games and claim Buenning was not missed. But I am not convinced since it was against Cleveland and Seattle.¬† And even then Pittman could have done more on the ground IF he too was given at least 20 carries or more.¬†
*Carnell is not a home run threat (patient runner).¬† Pittman is in contrast (impatient runner).¬† They compliment each other well and that is why their numbers are different given the circumstances.¬† Basically if you want a back that can produce yards with carries less than 20 then Pittman is ideal for a pass happy offense with little rushing attempts.¬† If you want a run heavy offense where you feed a back 25+ carries the advantage shifts to Carnell.