With the Buccaneers playing a lot of their two-minute hurry up offense in the game against the Lions last Sunday, running back LeGarrette Blount was, for the most part, out of the game. The second-year running back out of the University of Oregon only carried the ball five times for a total of 15 yards in Sunday’s loss to Detroit. Blount knows he is not part of the coaches’ plans to be a part of the two-minute offense, and he respects their decision.
“Have to respect the coach’s call,” Blount said. “You got to do what they tell you. They feel the need to run two-minute, hurry-up offense for the entire second half. [We] didn’t run the ball much the first half, so it is up to them.”
Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris took responsibility for going to the two-minute offense too soon in the game and, as a result, not giving much playing time to Blount.
“That’s not how we want to win games,” Morris said. “We want to win games with Blount bludgeoning you for 130 yards and us having a couple of play-action bombs and being efficient with Freeman. When we go to that two-minute offense like that, we kind of take Blount out of the game. That’s something we don’t want to do. We have a weapon in Blount. We want to run the ball with him.
“Maybe, as a coach, I went too fast. I went too early with the two-minute offense but I wanted to get something going, something generated, get [Freeman] some confidence and get all those guys going. And it worked to the standpoint we were able to get back in the game, but we don’t want to do it like that. That’s something for me to second that’s something for me to improve and that’s something for me to get better at. And we will.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you we’re going to be a spread, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, [type of offense]. That’s not who we are. We got LeGarrette Blount, big bludgeoning back you’ve seen run for 1,000 yards in this league. We want him to get to that again, if not improve on it.”
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson also commented that Blount needs to be part of the game for Tampa Bay to be effective, but he still has a few things to learn.
“We have to react quicker to those changes,” Olson said. “We try to give those players a lot of different looks leading up to that game so they’re ready to react to whatever look they may see, so we’ll continue to look at how we’re doing it in practice and how we’re formulating that plan for openers. Is it a rock-and-hard place situation? We didn’t start the game in two-minute. Maybe in the future we will do that.
“We’ll continue to work with LeGarrette in the nickel package and protections. That’s something, obviously, we haven’t neglected. [It’s] something that as soon as we got back from training camp, we knew we missed all those OTAs and June minicamps and we said we got to get LeGarrette up to speed quickly so we can use him. He’s getting there and he’s working at it and we see him in the future being able to get in there and do that.”
Even though the coaches doubt his readiness for the hurry up offense, Blount feels like he is prepared for that particular style of play.
“I feel like I am, but then again they are not comfortable enough with me running so I don’t know.”
According to the 6-foot, 247-pound running back, the Buccaneers did not explain to him specifically what areas he needs to improve on in order to be part of the two-minute offense.
“I don’t know,” Blount said. “Really they just kind of told me to keep working at it. They don’t completely trust me in the passing game 100 percent yet so they go with a guy like Earnest [Graham] who knows the entire offense."
Blount believes that he has the skills that are required to go out and be a play maker for this Buccaneers offense. Not just as a rusher, but also as a receiver.
“Honestly, I feel like I could go out there and catch a few passes and help us out in the pass game, but then again it is not my decision,” Blount said. “It’s kind of in the air right now.”
The 24-year-old running back believes that his team lost its season opener because they steered away from the original strategy.
“We got away from our game plan,” Blount said. “We got away from giving me the football. We got away from giving Mike [Williams] opportunities with the ball. It’s just things like that, so we’ve got to go back in the film room today [and] go collect some things and hopefully we can stick to the game plan that we come in with.”
“The original game plan was to go out there and execute perfectly so we can actually win the game,” Blount said. “It wasn’t really a game plan of just giving me the football, it was kind of a mixture of me, Mike [Williams], Earnest [Graham], Arrelious [Benn] – a whole bunch of different guys touching the ball. I don’t know if we panicked, but we kind of got away from that really early.”
Even though Blount was not a part of that two-minute, hurry-up offense, he did like the change of pace that the team tried in order to make the Lions tired on defense.
“I am not a coach so I couldn’t call that, but me personally, I feel like what he did was a pretty smart thing to come out and turn the tempo up a little bit and make them tired,” Blount said. “There were just a lot of things that we messed up on that we could have capitalized on.”
Even though the running back is not happy with the loss, he is aware that it will not make or break the team’s season. There are still many games of football to be played.
“Yes, I am disappointed in the loss, but we have 15 more games,” Blount said. “So there are a lot of things that we have to improve on and that we can correct [until] we play Minnesota.”
Blount’s take on not being a part of the two-minute offense is for him to just work hard and show the coaches that he can be a vital player in the hurry-up offense.
“Go out there and go to work on Wednesday and do everything I can to prove to [Coach Morris] that I can be a part of the two-minute offense and the pass game,” Blount said. “I feel like I’m a play maker on this team also, so I feel like I should be on the football field more.”