New Bucs running backs coach Tim Spencer, who replaces the popular Earnest Byner, has some pretty big shoes to fill.
Byner was an exceptional running back for the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins, but also did a terrific job coaching the Bucs’ revolving door of running backs that were thrown into action due to a rash of injuries in 2013. But Spencer, like Byner, also played football professionally, and while he may not have the outstanding numbers that Byner put up in the NFL, he should immediately earn the respect of his players as one who has been in their place.
Spencer recently sat down with the local media, including PewterReport.com, and talked about joining the Buccaneers.
“Obviously, I worked with Lovie up in Chicago and felt like I halfway decent job. He offered me the job to come down here with him, and of course, I accepted,” Spencer said. “I was out of work last year. I have been itching to get back in and feel very fortunate to be in a place that wants you and a place that is up and coming.”
Spencer, who played in the USFL before joining the NFL and retiring in 1990, talked about starter Doug Martin, and said that despite not having the fastest straight-line speed, the former Boise State star put together some impressive tape.
“Some guys, and he [Martin] is one of them, no matter what their top speed is, they get to that top speed quick,” Spencer said. “And that is what I like about Doug. I tell my players, when you break, don’t look back. Because chances are you are going to be faster than the cornerbacks. And they may catch you, but we aren’t going to worry about that.”
Spencer said while there are plenty of running backs who can carry a football effectively, he and the offensive coaching staff require more much than someone to just be a ballcarrier.
“I do think all of these guys, Doug, [Mike] James, [Bobby] Rainey all have excellent vision,” Spencer said. “I think that is all part of it – the body control and the vision – those are all components I look for. But along with that, you look for other things.
“I think as a running back, if they are a tough, run hard, get up field, then they’re whole game should be like that. When I see him pass protect and run pass routes, because we are going to throw the ball, if that effort that he puts into running the ball is not the same as pass protecting then that is a big issue to me. Because your whole game should be strong. You have to be complete. You would like for your guys to be able to do it all. Obviously, there will guys who do some things better, but as a whole, you don’t want to get categorized, as, ‘Hey this guy can only run this, or that guy can’t do this.’”
Spencer will inherit a group of backs who finished 22nd in the NFL last season, averaging 100.8 yards rushing per game. A year out of football has made Spencer appreciate the game even more and the things that Tampa Bay has to offer in terms of quality of life and talent on the field hasn’t been lost on the former Ohio State Buckeye, Chicago Blitz and San Diego Chargers running back.
“I think when I left Chicago it was minus-5 degrees or something, so I am very fortunate to be in Tampa,” Spencer said. “And we have a good solid group of runners that have been together. I like what I see. The cupboard is definitely not bare. I definitely have some things to work with.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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