Beat Writer & Videographer
The Buccaneers running game has been anemic thus far in 2010. Through five games the team is ranked 27th in rushing offense. Find out what head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Greg Olson had to say about their ground game.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have come out of the first five games of the season with a 3-2 record despite having little to no production from the running game. So far this season the Bucs have the 27th ranked rushing offense in the NFL and are showing no signs of improvement. Starting tailback Cadillac Williams has only 190 yards on 76 carries (2.5 avg.) with zero touchdowns. Kareem Huggins is now out for the season after suffering a torn ACL against the Saints. Rookie LeGarrette Blount has shown glimpses of ability, but has not had much opportunity to produce on the field. In the two games he has seen action, Blount has rushed for 30 yards on 10 carries with one touchdown. Fullback Earnest Graham has been the ground game’s best weapon due to his versatility, but he is currently banged up with a hamstring injury. Graham is averaging 6.4 yards per carry with 89 yards and one touchdown. He also has 10 catches for 98 yards and one touchdown as a receiver out of the backfield.
After rushing for only 42 yards – 11 of which came from backup quarterback Josh Johnson on a scramble late in the fourth quarter – in a 31-6 loss to New Orleans, head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Greg Olson addressed the problems with the running game on Monday.(Morris on whether he is disappointed or not that his running backs and offensive line can’t get on the same page)
“I wouldn’t say that they are not on the same page. It’s a lot better than it was last year because we have some positive runs and we are doing some positive things. It’s just one small breakdown on a particular play can kill a play and that is what’s happening a little bit right now. The chances you do have to make plays, you aren’t making them for whatever reason. You get tripped up, you stumble, you get a holding call, and we have to get all of those things coordinated.”
(Morris on why rookie LeGarrette Blount was inactive vs. the Saints)
“The third back is usually a luxury. After Kareem got hurt you can certainly second guess yourself and say, ‘ I wish I had that luxury right now.’ We went into it thinking that Mike Williams was gimpy all week from practice so we put up the extra wide out and went with the two backs, then bang, Earnest Graham gets a mild hammy [injury]. Kareem Huggins goes out for the season, and now you are back to giving Cadillac too many carries, which is what you didn’t want to get into in the first place.”(Morris on if he is confident Kregg Lumpkin or Blount can spell Cadillac in the run game)
“I am confident in those two young men and I’m real excited we got them. You never know what is going to happen in this league and I am glad we have them on our football team. They have been here the last couple of weeks learning our system and getting better and better every week. Now it may be time for a little bit of Lumpkin. It may be time for a little bit of Blount. It may be time for a little bit of both of them. Who knows? It all has to play out in a gameplan and we have to figure out how we are going to do it. Let’s get those guys out there and let them play.”(Morris on if his loyalty to Williams is clouding his judgment to play him so much)
“No doubt, no doubt. Cadillac is an emotional leader on our football team. He goes out there and does a lot of great things as far as what we ask him to do. Can we get some better play out of some of the younger players in different situations? I agree. I don’t want to say the loyalty clouds my judgment because it’s not that. It’s just that you know what he is going to give you, you know what he is going to bring, you know he is going to protect your quarterback so it’s more about protecting number 5.”(Morris on if he is confident the offensive line can open up holes in the run game)
“We have to be. They are our guys. To see [Jeremy] Zuttah go out there yesterday and play as well as he did for [Jeff] Faine yesterday was an encouraging sign. How well Donald Penn has been playing is an encouraging sign. Now we have to get everybody going… We have to find a way, whether it is at running back or our O-line or our scheme, all together as a resilient team to figure out how we are going to do it.”(Morris on if he can fairly determine the problems without making a change at the halfback position)
“You have to go out there and certainly look into it. You have to get some guys some carries. Yesterday Huggins was the feature back for about five plays before disaster struck again so we still don’t have that answer. So we have to go out there and get it from somebody this week. It won’t be Huggy unfortunately.”(Morris on if things are too complicated in the running game)
“When we get up there we want to have great tempo, run the ball, and go get ‘em, Right now we might be trying to be a little too perfect with some of things that we are trying to do. We don’t want to over think the run game. We want to go out there and execute. That’s the number one thing. We don’t have a million runs. We have a couple of runs, but we just have to go out there and run them well.”(Olson on why Williams can’t be just the third down back due to his excellent pass protection)
“We want someone to prove they are better than Cadillac,” said Olson. “We haven’t seen it. We didn’t see it in training camp. Obviously some of those guys we picked up late and as you guys know, we don’t go full go in practice. We’re still comfortable with Cadillac. You go back and look at the carries throughout the season we are not happy right now where we are at in the run game. To pin it all on Cadillac Williams is a major mistake.”(Olson on whether anything is different with Cadillac Williams)
“No, Cadillac is still Cadillac Williams. We are going to look at some things. I don’t want to make any excuses for anybody. We have to do a better job of coaching, of blocking an 8-man front. We have seen a lot of 8-man fronts. We saw a ton of blitz yesterday, all out blitzes two weeks in a row, which obviously makes it difficult to run, and until you start beating them with deep throws down the field you are going to continue to get 8-man boxes. We have to do a better job of blocking the 8-man front and scheming the 8-man front, and that will make life easier for whoever the running back is.”(Olson on which halfback, Lumpkin or Blount, is prepared more to large role)
“We will have to get a real hard look at both Lumpkin and Blount. Those are the only two other guys that we have at this point. So, we will look at both of them this week. Again, they got to us late. They are still learning the position and everything that goes along with it: the protections, as well as the running game. There is a chance we may dual role Lumpkin. He may be a fullback/tailback depending on Earnest’s status throughout the week.”(Olson on whether they would consider giving Graham a dual role)
“It’s a possibility. We will wait and see Earnest’s health this week, but we feel good about Earnest as a tailback.”
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