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FAB 1. The Bucs Need A Better Running Game To Help Brady

Bucs general manager Jason Licht believes in running back Ronald Jones II, who was the team’s second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is capable of being the team’s feature back. Licht and head coach Bruce Arians saw enough improvement in Jones in his second NFL season when he rushed for 724 yards and six touchdowns, while averaging 4.2 yards per carry following a disastrous rookie season.

“We do think that Ronald still hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can be,” Licht said on a videoconference call from his home with Bucs beat writers on Thursday. “He made a huge jump from year one to year two. He didn’t have to do much to do that because year one wasn’t very good for him, but year two, we felt very good about where he came from and we still think he has a tremendous amount of upside.”

That’s great – now what happens if Jones misses any significant time due to an injury?

The Bucs wisely let Peyton Barber leave in free agency, and only have Dare Ogunbowale, the team’s third-down back, T.J. Logan, Tampa Bay’s return specialist, and Aca’Cedric Ware on the roster. Licht is expected to draft at least one running back to compete for carries with Jones and to provide depth at the position.

That’s great – because Tom Brady is going to need a strong running game to be successful at age 42.

The stronger the better.

If there is one area that needs to be fortified in Tampa Bay this offseason, it’s the team’s woeful rushing attack, which ranked 24th in the league last year, averaging just 95.1 yards per game. Of course the Bucs had the league’s top passing attack with Jameis Winston’s 5,109 yards and a pair of 1,000-yard Pro Bowl wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Yet all those passing yards got Tampa Bay was a 7-9 record, thanks in part to Winston’s league-leading 30 interceptions, including an NFL-record seven pick-sixes.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Getty Images

What the Bucs would like to see is a more balanced attack in 2020 with a 4,000-yard passer and a 2,000-yard ground game instead of a 5,000-yard passer and a 1,500-yard running game. Tampa Bay will have to really reverse course for that to happen, as the team has only a Top 10 rushing attack twice in the past decade with seven years ranking in the bottom one-third of the league when it comes to running the ball.

Bucs Rushing Rankings Over The Last Decade
2019: 24th – 95.1 ypg.
2018: 29th – 95.2 ypg.
2017: 27th – 90.6 ypg.
2016: 24th – 101 ypg.
2015: 5th – 135.1 ypg.
2014: 29th – 85.9 ypg.
2013: 22th – 100.8 ypg.
2012: 15th – 114.8 ypg.
2011: 30th – 91.1 ypg.
2010: 8th – 125.1 ypg.

Brady is used to having a solid ground game to rely on, and the Patriots’ play-action passing game has thrived when New England can run the ball effectively. Brady and the Patriots made the Super Bowl five times over the past decade, winning three. In all five appearances the Patriots had a Top 20 rushing attack, including a Top 10 run game in the last three appearances – two of which resulted in victories for New England.

Patriots Rushing Rankings Over The Last Decade
2019: 18th – 106.4 ypg.
2018: 5th – 127.3 ypg. (Super Bowl victory)
2017: 10th – 118.1 ypg. (Super Bowl loss)
2016: 7th – 117 ypg. (Super Bowl victory)
2015: 30th – 87.8 ypg.
2014: 18th – 107.9 ypg. (Super Bowl victory)
2013: 9th – 129.1 ypg.
2012: 7th – 136.5 ypg.
2011: 20th – 110.2 ypg. (Super Bowl loss)
2010: 9th – 123.3 ypg.

It’s interesting to note that the Patriots have only had five 1,000-yard rushers in the 20 years with Brady under center. Antowain Smith rushed for 1,157 yards in 2001 during the Patriots’ first Super Bowl victory. In 2004, Corey Dillon rushed for 1,635 yards as the Patriots claimed the franchise’s third Super Bowl championship.

The next two 1,000-yard backs – BenJarvus Green-Ellis with 1,008 in 2010 and Stevan Ridley with 1,263 in 2012 – weren’t on Super Bowl teams. New England’s last 1,000-yard rusher was former Buccaneer LeGarrette Blount, who rushed for 1,161 yards in 2016, which culminated in the organization’s fifth Super Bowl title.

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Sony Michel, the Patriots’ first-round pick in 2018, came close, rushing for 931 yards while helping Brady and New England claim their NFL-record sixth Super Bowl. It’s no wonder why the Patriots offense struggled last year and were knocked out of the playoffs at home in an upset loss to the Titans, as New England’s inconsistent ground game ranked 18th, averaging just 106.4 yards per game.

That was the Patriots’ worst run game ranking since ranking 30th in the league in 2015, averaging 87.8 yards per game. That year, New England lost in the AFC Championship Game and didn’t make it to the Super Bowl.

So the Bucs can’t rely on just Jones. While there have been some years where the Patriots have had a 1,000-yard feature back, most years the team has had an effective running back-by-committee approach.

Last year, Jones’ 724 yards led the Bucs, followed by Barber’s 470 yards. Winston’s scrambling gained 250 yards, which is about 200 yards more than Brady figures to get on the ground in 2020. Ogunbowale’s 17 yards rushing were fourth on the team.

The Bucs totaled 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground last year. Adding another 500 rushing yards would get Tampa Bay into the Top 10 in NFL. That will only come with an upgraded ground game in 2020.

“That doesn’t stop us from wanting to add to that group, which may be something we do depending on who’s there, where they’re at, what other positions we’re looking at, but we have a lot of faith in Ronald,” Licht said. “In fact, we have more faith in him not than we ever have, but that’s another position as you look across the league, some of the better teams have one, two or three guys, sometimes four, that they can rely on for different roles in their offense.”

Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor

Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor – Photo by: Getty Images

It’s good that Licht is thinking that way. The Bucs would be best served with a backfield that featured Jones, a rookie or two – perhaps Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift or LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire early in the draft, and Miami’s DeeJay Dallas and Memphis’ Patrick Taylor, Jr. late – in addition to a post-draft veteran addition. Carlos Hyde, Devonta Freeman and Chris Thompson – all good pass-catchers – should be available to sign after the draft at a very cheap price considering the depth at running back in this year’s class.

Which Bucs’ backfield would you rather see Brady handing off to?

GROUP A
Ronald Jones II
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Devonta Freeman
Patrick Taylor, Jr.

GROUP B
Ronald Jones II
Peyton Barber
Dare Ogunbowale
T.J. Logan

Group A is the easy, correct answer.

I spoke to former Tampa Bay quarterback and Pro FootballTalk.com contributor Chris Simms this week about Brady coming to the Buccaneers, and he agreed that the Bucs need to become a more balanced offense in 2020 to maximize Brady’s effectiveness. Simms spent the 2012 season on New England’s coaching staff as an offensive assistant, working side-by-side with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Brady.

“When you can run the ball, it just sets up looks in the passing game that are just optimal,” Simms said. “You look at some of those looks and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got Mike Evans one-on-one on this play out here? Holy crap, there’s no way they can stop this.’ The league is going the other way. People keep saying, ‘the spread offense is here, the spread offense is here.’ No. It’s already had its time. It’s over. New England, the Rams the year before, the Saints, the 49ers, the Titans – they are all run-first football teams. They are all playing with two running backs, one tight end and two receivers for a lot of the football game. There are a lot of creative ways to do things with two backs and two tight ends on the field because there are so many hybrid tight end-fullbacks to go around.

Bucs QB Tom Brady, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels & HC Bill Belichick - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs QB Tom Brady, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels & HC Bill Belichick – Photo by: Getty Images

“As for the spread offense, yeah, college football is still doing it. Most college linebackers don’t even know how to defend a pulling guard or a fullback coming at them. They’ve always been defending the quick pass this way or the quick pass that way, screens and draws. That’s how kids are coming out of college and I think that’s why [Bill] Belichick and [Kyle] Shanahan noticed that a lot of the front seven talent coming out of college doesn’t know how to defend the run when they get to the NFL. The number one stat aside from turnovers that determine the outcome of football games is the number of explosive, 20-yard plays. When you run the football it gets everyone to run up to the line of scrimmage and you get coverage benefits and that leads to a lot of explosive plays that change field position and leads you to points.”

Simms is all in favor of the Bucs beefing up their ground game, saying it needs to happen for them to end a 12-year playoff drought.

“The teams in the playoffs last year had balance – they had a run game to lean on,” Simms said. “The Vikings, the Ravens, the 49ers, the Titans. The Chiefs’ short passing game is their running game, so you really can’t count them, but I think when you get into everybody else they had a running game they could rely on. Even the Packers – it wasn’t the greatest, but they had Aaron Jones. That’s the thing that has to come along in Tampa. Not that it has to be the most dominant run game in football, but one that defensive coordinators have to really prepare for when they are playing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You want them thinking, ‘I want to play this coverage to stop Mike Evans, but if they are in this formation they are going to smash it down our throat and run for six yards every carry and put us in a bind.’”

Arians is the “Quarterback Whisperer,” and loves the passing game. Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is a former quarterback and loves the passing game. Brady is the No. 2 all-time passer in NFL history and loves to throw the ball.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

But as the Bucs found out last year that a 24th-ranked rushing attack isn’t good enough to make the playoffs. Teams like Baltimore, San Francisco, Tennessee, Seattle, Minnesota, Buffalo and Houston all made the playoffs with a Top 10 rushing attack.

That’s what Tampa Bay needs to build this offseason – a Top 10 running game to pair with the greatest quarterback of all-time. Brady’s recent Super Bowl success in New England proved that’s the formula.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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SufferingSince76
1 year ago

It doesn’t matter who the RB is if there’s rarely a hole to run through!!! Oline, Oline, Oline!!!!

BigSombrero
Reply to  SufferingSince76
1 year ago

The O line is fine. There were plenty of holes. Barber would miss any hole and run into his own guys constantly. Jones was lucky to bounce back from his timid year 1. Dare tries hard but just isn’t very elusive. powerful, fast or shifty.

This team NEEDS running backs more than any other position. They’ve needed it since Martin/Sims fell apart after leading the league as a rushing tandem.

chefboho
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

No, the oline isn’t fine and I’m not sure how you can even validate that. The stats don’t lie and this line has been terrible at run blocking for years. The RB’s were hit behind the line on 39% of their snaps. So please tell me how the line is “ok”? That’s not to say that this team doesn’t need an upgrade in the back field because they certainly do. This draft needs to be 2 Oline man and 1 or two DB’s depending if they pick up a veteran in free agency

chefboho
Reply to  chefboho
1 year ago

Rb’s not DB’s

BigSombrero
Reply to  chefboho
1 year ago

Bad running backs who have limited vision make ANY line look awful.

Barber wasn’t a starting caliber NFL RB last year, yet BA was supposedly excited? How’d that turn out? Adding Devonta Freeman is not a wise choice. He’s been injury prone for years. No rookie O lineman will start ahead of Cappa, Haeg, or Smith. Dotson was the run blocking weak link and he’s been replaced by Haeg.

I wish I could attach gifs of Barber to illustrate this point.

chefboho
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

How does getting hit in the backfield have ANYTHING to do with the running back?

BigSombrero
Reply to  chefboho
1 year ago

When the RB runs into the back of his lineman, it usually occurs behind the line of scrimmage.

DT25
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

The OL was fine pass blocking. It was not fine run blocking. PFO had them among the worst 3 teams in the league in every meaningful run blocking metric. They just weren’t great at opening holes consistently enough. Even on some of RoJo’s big runs, he had to sneak through tiny creases and shake 2 guys on the next level to break free. The top RBs in the league are doing that occasionally, but no RB becomes a star without having easier opportunities for big runs due to the OL dominating the LOS. Ours didn’t do that nearly enough. Think… Read more »

FLBoy84
Reply to  DT25
1 year ago

Being that run-blocking is typically preferred by most OL’men, not sure what it says about our guys that they were so poor at it. Hoping year 2 in the system yields better results. However, as SR points out the lack of depth if Jones goes down, the OL is in the exact same position. Quality depth is non-existent at the moment at every spot on the line.

TCB2W!
Reply to  FLBoy84
1 year ago

It’s not preferred by OL players, only the ones who like physical in your face blocking and have strong hands. It’s about grabbing the guy in front of you in a pair of vice grip hands and moving them out of the way. Less aggressive, finesse, speed not strength OL players prefer pass defense.

matador
Reply to  FLBoy84
1 year ago

Exactly. Imagine any one OL starter going down. We would/will be screwed. This mess of Licht’s has been many years in the making

toucan
Reply to  DT25
1 year ago

RoJo would have had 900 yards if his line could block without holding.Several nice gains were called back.

bucballer
Reply to  toucan
1 year ago

Yes! toucan that’s right! I’ve never felt so bad for a guy who breaks off a 25 yard run… and then gets negated by a holding call! It was unbelievable. U could see it on his face after the plays… he just didn’t seem to “catch” a break!

Spitfire
Reply to  DT25
1 year ago

The absolute worst thing we can do is roll into this year with exactly what we have on the Oline and not bring in anything more than Day 3-4 picks and undrafted guys. That’s how you end up with no depth and a shorty Oline. Sometimes all it takes is 1 bad link in the Oline too. If Dotson struggled then so did Cappa. If Cappa is struggling with less help then Jensen struggles and So on. Dotson was tough and was a gamer but he was Undrafted, he played the best he could play and was a great teammate.… Read more »

DT25
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

FWIW I’m not saying we don’t need at least one more RB…think Arians and Licht have made it clear we will add one in the draft, one who likely specializes in receiving so we can line him up all over the formation like Arians likes to do. But ignoring the OL’s role in the run game’s struggles would be severely short sighted.

toucan
Reply to  DT25
1 year ago

Do not worry.An OL will be drafted early. RB next. Then a safety. No idea if Evans will play again.

MudManVA
1 year ago

I agree, draft 2 RB’s and sign 1 cheap veteran as an insurance policy.
Hopefully the right OT is available for them to draft in the 1st round!!!

BigSombrero
1 year ago

Tom Brady wouldn’t have picked the Bucs if he didn’t have confidence in the offensive line. He needs running backs. This is soooooo obvious. Winston needed them also. There are a bunch of players who could help this year. The Bucs are in prime position to take the best RB in the draft. They could add a 2nd one later in the draft.

BigSombrero
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

I have enjoyed reiterating the need for adding immediate starters at RB over and over and over again for months.

10 year Pro Bowl offensive linemen are always welcomed but are most often found later in the draft. So many of the teams that have drafted linemen in the 1st get an “ok” player, not an immediate starter and stud.

matador
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Because Bust Licht has failed to draft both lines with consistency we’re forced to use a high pick on an OL so talented that he hopefully can plug right in and be an upgrade. Otherwise I’d be all for using our first on BPA

BigSombrero
Reply to  matador
1 year ago

Which GM drafted lines with consistency? Cowboys? Lions? Bengals?

Im a huge Bucs fan, but I pay attention to what other teams do also. No team has drafted more offensive linemen in the first round in the last 5 years than the Lions or Bengals.

Seattle, Green Bay, New England, Baltimore, have used very few premium picks on offensive linemen yet they run the ball effectively and are consistently in the playoffs.

geno711
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Not agreeing. I think teams can take offensive lineman in the first round when there is value there. In my opinion there was no value last year in taking an offensive lineman in the 1st round. I am glad the Buc’s did not reach. This is a much better year for offensive tackles. There is probably 5 tackles better than any from last year. NE in 2011 and 2018 took tackles in the 1st round. New Orleans 1st pick last year (2nd round) was a center. They took tackles in the 1st round in both 2015 and 2017 as well.… Read more »

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

@BigSombrero. And yet dozens of thumbs down every comment tells you what everyone thinks of your draft insight. Your comment is so ridiculous it’s not even funny. Brady wouldn’t have picked the Bucs if he knew the line wasn’t good? Guaranteed that wasn’t even in the top 10 on his list of reasons. And most pro bowl OLineman are drafted after round 1 is deceiving. OLineman drafted from rounds 3-7 is the most drafted position. 1st and 2nd round OLineman are the 2 least drafted rounds for OLine. As far as success rate by round, a first or 2nd round… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

The numbers from this 2015 article don’t consider modern era changes. It goes back through multiple eras to compare numbers. It makes it irrelevant in today’s game. OT’s can’t get up to speed fast anymore. The last CBA eliminated contact until camp. They also got rid of two-a-days.

Offensive linemen come to the NFL with raw talent. They have to be good learners with a strong work ethic to succeed. They can’t truly practice or rely on 7-on-7’s and athleticism like a WR, CB, RB, S, LB, or QB.

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

That “2015” article goes back multiple eras? It used numbers from the previous 10 years lol those numbers are accurate regardless of which era you choose. Safest 1st round pick is an offensive lineman. Least safe pick is a RB. That’s indisputable. Drafting a RB comes with a 40% bust rate. Yet an OLineman comes with a 75% chance of success. And that’s on years where there are multiple top mid 1st round RB talents. There isn’t any this year. All 4 OT’s are top 17ish overall players. Very few people have any RB in the top 25, or even… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

I guarantee you Bruce Arians knows more about football than both of us combined. He’s said when you draft an offensive lineman in the first round, you’re doing it for the NEXT coach. That really says it all.

geno711
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

So the Bruce Arians comments about drafting an offensive lineman, you are taking out of context. At an NFL combine, Arians was asked about offensive lineman in college and said that most of them in college worked out of a spread offense now. Here is part of that quote: “When you draft a guy and he’s never been in a three-point stance and he’s going to block J.J. Watt, there is probably going to be a problem I think Arians would stay away from Offensive lineman unless they played in a pro-style offense or were just a superior physical specimen.… Read more »

Dave
Reply to  geno711
1 year ago

Exactly. There’s been so many above average to well above average tackles or guards to come out in the last decade. The 1st rounders that don’t succeed in the nfl are either A)OT’s who had 1 really good year, and are drafted because of upside and raw physical tools, B) OT’s from non pro style offenses that get drafted into intricate offenses. C) OT’s that get drafted and immediately the team changes to a zone scheme or a more complicated scheme that doesn’t fit what the OT was drafted to do. Or D) OT’s that get drafted into miserable teams… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

Actually Dave, the thumbs down just reflect that people think I’m an asshole, which I am. It doesn’t make me stupid or wrong.

If the Bucs waste a first round pick on an offensive lineman, it won’t bother me though. I thought Davin Joseph was solid. I also thought Kenyatta Walker was ok. Sure, they only played for 5 or 6 years before their NFL careers ended, but they were ok.

EricNV
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Just because Brady is okay with the pass blocking doesn’t mean the Bucs don’t need OL help, especially on the right side and depth.

BigSombrero
Reply to  EricNV
1 year ago

So are you insinuating that the Bucs will platoon in the run blocking offensive linemen on running downs? Usually offensive lines stay on the field for 100% of the offensive snaps and do not platoon.

It’s highly unlikely any rookie will come in and be better than what the Bucs already have on the O line. If Brady gets injured, Gabbert might be able to carry the Bucs to the playoffs but I wouldn’t count on it.

Dman
1 year ago

Hey Scott, loved the story on your start with Buccaneer Magazine and the Hubert Mizel episode. I moved to Tampa in 1996 and was an early subscriber. When the publication moved online, I actually used to print out the pre-draft edition and then follow the draft pick by pick, position by position. Love what you guys have done with the online publication and the way you and your team provide daily, thought provoking coverage. Thanks for PewterReport and your story.

JayBuc52
1 year ago

Been a subscriber for many years and still have copies of many of the issues. I always liked that PR was more about X’s and O”s than any other publication out there. I soon became an avid fan and was more than a little dismayed when the print issues were discontinued. One of my favorite articles was the centerfold where there would be a point counterpoint discussion. I’ve always loved you as a writer even if I disagreed with you on the Freeman pick. Glad you are still going strong. Fridays at 10am are the highlight of my week.

cgmaster27
1 year ago

So just now we need a runningback? Because of Tom? Most of us with common sense have said we needed a running game the last 4 years. Guess its only important now.

Naplesfan
Reply to  cgmaster27
1 year ago

An effective running game has always been useful. But the degree of usefulness does vary. In the vertical passing attacks of both Dirk Koetter and Bruce Arians, there was relatively little play action passing or screen passing attempted, so the relative impact on the passing game wasn’t of supreme importance. What was of relatively more importance was pass blocking by the running backs. But now with Tom Brady under center, and given his mastery above all others in the play action passing game, being able to effectively run the ball is far more important to that style of offense. Now,… Read more »

Spitfire
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

Yes, overall the theme seems to be that Brady is capable of playing in Arians downfield attack AND they will work with Brady to adjust the Offense to best for him and the weapons we have. And yes the running game has always been important AND now more than ever.

I hope we do get upgrades at RB but improving the running game also includes Olinemen for Starters and depth.

Bucsfan1983
1 year ago

Fab 1) Why is there no mention of J.K. Dobbins and Cam Akers? Both are just as good as fits as Swift and CEH.

FinkleisEinhorn
Reply to  Bucsfan1983
1 year ago

Agreed. Dobbins is getting no talk among this fanbase. He and Swift are neck-and-neck for me as #1. Akers is being underrated. He won’t be available with our 3rd pick.

BigSombrero
Reply to  Bucsfan1983
1 year ago

Cam Akers is not just as good. That’s like saying RoJo is just as good as Saquan. Why did the Giants waste a pick on Barkley when they could have landed RoJo in the 2nd?

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Akers isn’t as good as who? Swift to me has limited upside and is so far from a cant miss stud, it’s not even funny. Dobbins to me is just as good as Taylor and Swift, at a round cheaper cost. Akers to me is very underrated, and not far behind the top 3. I would much rather Akers in the 3rd, than Taylor or Swift in the 1st. Taylor is completely overrated. Before he put up a bunch of cute combine stats , and got a 98 score on a completely meaningless and irrelevant next gen stat, nobody viewed… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

Akers ran fast a 40 at the combine. Who cares. Akers is Swift lite. Swift is RoJo 2.0. Dobbins is solid everywhere, but spectacular nowhere.

Its ridiculous to hear Bucs fans say how awful the line is here and at Florida State, but think Akers will come here and be good. It’s just silly.

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

You bring up Akers 40, but yet kept citing Taylor’s next gen stat 98 score lol. And Dobbins is good everywhere but spectacular nowhere? Beats Taylor who’s good in one area, below average in a few others, and putrid in another. Taylor won’t have the luxury of massive holes to run through In the nfl, like he did at Wisconsin. I’ll take Dobbins at a round cheaper, or Akers at potentially 2 rounds cheaper, 100 times out of 100 over Taylor, that will never see the field his rookie year because he can’t pass block, can’t catch, and is a… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

Taylor was the best, most natural pass catching back at the combine. He didn’t drop a single pass. It’s not his fault Wisconsin isn’t a passing offense. He will be the first RB drafted and will vie for ROTY with CeeDee, Burrow, and Jeudy.

Wirfs, Wills, Thomas, and Becton will be good in a few years…maybe.

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

How cute. Taylor looked great in shorts with nobody on the field lol. Doing it with defenders on the field is a big difference. He will NOT be the 1st RB drafted, that will be Swift. And because he offers next to nothing in the passing game, can’t pass block, and can’t hold onto the football, he won’t get on the field enough to make an impact. ZERO chance he even leads his team in touches. He won’t even finish top 3 in OROY voting. Wills and Thomas will be day 1 starters, and make an immediate impact for the… Read more »

Dave
Reply to  Bucsfan1983
1 year ago

Totally agree Bucsfan1983. I think I have a totally different opinion than PR does on which RB’s are good and which ones aren’t. I hate all the RB’s they’ve been promoting. I like J.Taylor(in round 2, not in the first) Dobbins,( in round 2 or 3), Akers(round 3)or CEH(round 3 or 4). Zero interest in Swift or Taylor in the 1st. No RB in this draft has anywhere close to a top 14 overall grade. If we can get Dobbins or Akers in the 3rd, or CEH in the 4th id be all over that.

BUC-ASS-BOB
1 year ago

They’re going to have to move up in the draft both first and second round or make some kind of big move with trade to get a running back and a top offense of lineman they need at least two more good lineman and definitely need a top running back and I think Ariens knows that and will do something

Naplesfan
1 year ago

Here’s the deal with Tom Brady – he is year in and year out the best play action passing quarterback in the league. In order to have an effective play action passing game, a team must have a viable running game. At 3.7 YPA – second lowest average in the NFL last year, that’s not going to play to Brady’s best strength, and thus would greatly underutilize the GOAT. Sure, Arians won’t ask Brady to forget the medium and long range pocket passes, but Arians is also not going to tell Brady to put on a shelf what he does… Read more »

TBAtlas
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

Actually Naples, the analytics say you don’t need a run game to effectively use play action. It’s counter-intuitive, but yeah.

Better running obviously doesn’t hurt.

Naplesfan
Reply to  TBAtlas
1 year ago

Analytics don’t win football games or championships – they are machines.

Every football player and coach from high school level up to NFL knows that play action passing only works effectively when the running game is a threat. Take away that threat, and defenses key on the quarterback and pass rushing.

bucballer
1 year ago

It is incumbent on the Bucs to provide Brady what he needs to win now! Brady will do what Brady does. He will make good decisions with the ball. We have quality catchers for him. Mike, Godwin, Brate, OJ. We need to solidify the OL and add depth. I know some don’t want to hear this, but our OLine was ranked around seventh in NFL last year. U just don’t throw for over 5000 yards if ur OLine sucks as some would have u believe. OLine didn’t cause the close losses last year. Poor QB decisions to hold on to… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  bucballer
1 year ago

The offensive line was not terrible, but it wasn’t a great run blocking unit. The best running teams have both quality run blocking offensive linemen and quality running backs. It takes both. It’s not a matter of running is more important than blocking, or that blocking is more important than running. It takes both.

No team that is second worst in the league in run YPA can have a great run blocking offensive line. It just can’t. Our running backs were not great, but they were not ridiculously bad either.

DT25
1 year ago

I honestly see zero chance we draft 2 RBs and sign one of the better FA RBs still available. I just don’t think that’s in the cards based on comments from both Arians and Licht over the past several weeks. That said, I definitely think it’s all but guaranteed we draft a RB who Arians can line up all over the field to present mismatches in the passing game to pair with RoJo. Brady has proven he likes throwing to RBs, so it will surely be a point of emphasis. Just don’t think we will go overboard signing and drafting… Read more »

drdneast
Reply to  DT25
1 year ago

Anyone who thinks this O line is great or even good has been sitting in the back of a car with Chris Simms smoking on the peace pipe. Good grief. The Bucs need a RT in the first or second round, preferably in the second with a DL or edge rushing picked in the first. I don’t know why I am hearing negative vibes about Barber. The guy got all his yards inside and the tough way and never shied away from contact. He signed cheap with the Redskins too. You could draft a great RB in the first round… Read more »

bucballer
Reply to  drdneast
1 year ago

Last years line was so bad… how bad were they?… they were so bad that the starting QB threw for over 5000! Yards and 2 WR’s, each, had over 1000 yards in receiving! U may not like or care for our OLine, but a QB cannot/will not be able to throw for over 5000 passing yards in a season if they were terrible. Fact! Does the OLine possess weaknesses or could it stand an upgrade at one or two positions… well of course it can! But to say they were a terrible OLine… well I guess they were ok on… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  bucballer
1 year ago

Yeah, but Winston threw 30 interceptions! See! The line REALLY IS horrible!

Sorry. Just had to use the same dumb logic as everyone else who thinks a bunch of rookie linemen will make the line better this season.

chefboho
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

It’s not about draftin rookie oline but it’s about just needing lineman. You act like this team has 15 good lineman they can just match out there and play. Do you remember Benenoch? I sure do. Do you remember the guys that started for the injured Cappa and Dotson? Yeah, your boy Mccoy got three sacks that game. But yeah, you’re right, the line is perfectly fine. 🙄 You do realize you can’t just pick up good lineman in free agency without lying out the ass. So draft them and develop. That’s how this works.

BigSombrero
Reply to  chefboho
1 year ago

I’m not saying the team should depend on a 5th round pick like Benenoch to come in and start. I’ve never liked Benenoch. Wirfs tape and missed blocks actually reminds me of Benenoch.

Im agreeing with you. Im saying the Bucs SHOULD add developmental depth on the OL.

Adding two or three OL makes sense to me. Adding them on day 2 and 3 makes even more sense.

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Kind of the same as you thinking a completely overrated Taylor(who can’t pass block for shiit, and fumbles every other time he touches the ball) should be drafted at 14, and will come in day 1 with Brady at QB and be fully trusted. Lol and that would be a long shot on a normal year with rookie mini camp, OTA’s, etc.. Drafting someone who’s been mock drafted in round 2 in 90% of drafts, at 14 is insane. 97% of mock drafts, or rankings of the top 20 players has all 4 of the top 4 tackles in it.… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

15 fumbles lost on 968 touches over 3 season is fumbling every other carry? Let me do the math for you Dave. Thats a fumble rate of 1.54%

Cam Akers has 10 lost fumbles on 655 touches over 3 years which is a fumble rate of 1.53%

Taylor had over 4000 more scrimmage yards than Akers who ROUTINELY TRIPS over his OWN FEET.

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

I didn’t say fumbles lost genius, I said fumbles. If you don’t think he has a fumbling problem, than you’ve never seen him play. Every scout that’s scouted him knows he has a fumbling problem. 17 fumbles in 41 games. That’s a joke. And Taylor fumbled 17 times behind one of the best lines in fbs. Akers had to make all the yards on his own, behind a bad line. Hence, a much more valid reason to fumble the ball. How Taylor can fumble 17 times when he gets 4 or 5 yards before he’s even touched is pathetic

BigSombrero
Reply to  drdneast
1 year ago

“Barber didn’t shy away from contact” says it all.

He often ran into the back of his own lineman, which, of course is BEHIND the LINE OF SCRIMMAGE. Its FREE to watch the games on Gamepass right now. Watch the “Coaches Tape” It shows the end zone angle and sideline angle. It’s apparent that Barber tried hard, but just wasn’t very good.

Naplesfan
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Uhhh … DUDE! If the runner is running into his own linemen BEHIND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE then by definition, the run blockers are failing. Really, learn some football basics before revealing here you know nothing of the game.

bucballer
Reply to  DT25
1 year ago

We may not draft 2 RBs but u can bank it that we sign a free agent or recently released RB after the draft!

TBAtlas
Reply to  DT25
1 year ago

Agreed, anybody drafting 2 RBs in the same year is setting up for failure. RB just isn’t valuable enough to invest THAT much into.

revfish
1 year ago

From what Lenyard said Swift may not help the running game, saying his strengths are pass catching and blocking. That review surprised me.

Need offensive line hep first but an rb in the second would be good pick

drdneast
Reply to  revfish
1 year ago

Scott, I always enjoyed the Buccaneers Magazine and knew it was homer publication. So what. Every team had a publication like that back in the day. I covered the Bucs for a season when I worked for the a chain of weeklies and can attest to the cliquishness of the local media back then. I never had much to do with them or Hubert Mizell or they with me because rarely would they say a word to me since after all, they worked for dailies and wouldn’t associate with the lower class from weeklies. I remember Coach McKay’s final press… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  drdneast
1 year ago

Had no idea you were a writer. Guess we can’t call you Dr. D anymore.

twspin
1 year ago

Now all of a sudden we need these things to protect our Statue Of Liberty Golden Boy? How come we did not give our Last QB a better RB? Better O linemen? I’ll wait for…THE SPIN.

Naplesfan
Reply to  twspin
1 year ago

Go .. just go away.

bucballer
Reply to  twspin
1 year ago

Hey twspin… that’s Mr. GOAT to u sir!

BUC-ASS-BOB
Reply to  twspin
1 year ago

This comes from the genius that wanted to give Jameis Winston 32 mil with a franchise tag now three weeks later Jameis has not even been offered league min not one team out of 32 has reached out to the bust.

BigSombrero
Reply to  BUC-ASS-BOB
1 year ago

Says the genius who thought Ryan Fitzpatrick would win more games in Miami than Winston.

Dave
Reply to  twspin
1 year ago

You’re an idiot. Go root for another team dude

Spitfire
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

He copy and pastes that same idiotic post for anyone who hoped Winston succeeded. He’s so far from a Bucs Fan it’s ridiculous.

captain ahab
1 year ago

I agree with those who suggest that the O’line is the issue here, Jim Brown in his prime would not have good results behind this line. Not only was the line poor at run blocking they gave up a horrendous 47 sacks in pass protection. Some of those sacks can be attributed to the longer developing pass routes which requires the QB to hold on the the ball longer and the O’line having to hold their blocks.

bucballer
Reply to  captain ahab
1 year ago

And some of those sacks come from the QB holding the ball too long!

BigSombrero
Reply to  bucballer
1 year ago

And some more of those sacks are because teams were never afraid of Barber or RoJo doing shit, much less block the blitzes.

mjmoody
1 year ago

Been with PR a few years now. Always appreciate the effort SR. Your passion is mine as well. You have certainly won your fair share of points over the years. I hope I have also made one or two. Looking forward to many more of these good years. Thank you as always sir.

Bucko40
1 year ago

Haeg is better than everyone thinks. If one of the top 4 OL aren’t there at 14 then RB/WR would be a smart choice. Then maybe a trade up from the 2nd if the right player is there. This draft is going to be nerve-racking and a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

Dave
Reply to  Bucko40
1 year ago

Totally agree on Haeg. But completely disagree with drafting a RB at 14. None of these RB’s are anywhere close to top 14 overall picks. Even a trade back wouldn’t justify drafting a 1st round RB. They’re just not game changing stud talents worthy of that high of a pick

BigSombrero
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

7000 yards from scrimmage and 2000 yards after contact in 3 years, yet you’re unimpressed with Jonathan Taylor. Durability, toughness, elusiveness, reliability, best speed of any RB in this draft, and hands that were great when they threw the ball to him, yet you’re unimpressed.

Ok. I guess everyone has an opinion.

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Elusiveness? You’re kidding me right? He got what his ridiculous OLine blocked and not much else. And I don’t care what his combine stats gave his “hands” on scores, the dude is a below average pass catcher, and it will show in the nfl. He’s a 2 down back who’s below average in pass pro, with a massive fumbling problem. But oh, he happens to have great straight line speed. Well guess what, the nfl isn’t played in a straight line at the combine. He won’t have the luxury of truck size holes to run through anymore

magoobee
1 year ago

Licht will screw up the RB selection again because he just looks at 40 times.

FLBoy84
Reply to  magoobee
1 year ago

Luckily he has BA helping with the decisions, so it’s likely they go with a David Johnson-type RB like Antonio Gibson or Lynn Bowden that they can line up at multiple positions. Would lessen the need to use a pick on a WR early, as both can play the position as well.

fredster
1 year ago

Yes, even Tom Brady needs a good run game. My question is why in 5 years of Winston did we not get this done? Bucs O line was average last year pass protection imo. 4 years prior to last they stunk. They were below average run blocking Last year and every year since Lovie took over and gutted a good O line. It would not have mattered much last 5 years who the RB was. Anyone who thinks there was holes and RB’s couldn’t find them is high. I guess it’s RBs fault too when they were hit in backfield… Read more »

fredster
1 year ago

Oh and I’m not saying they don’t need another good RB they absolutely do. What I’m saying is a better RB wouldn’t have had more yards than Jones or Barber did.

Pass catching RB does make it tougher for defense. If you have a guy that can’t catch well (Jones) also tells defense it’s likely a run. So he needs to improve also don’t want to telegraph it’s a run when he’s in….

Captain Sly
Reply to  fredster
1 year ago

This is where the OC and coaches have to do a better job! 3rd & 1 you bring in Dare Ogubawale for a pass play is idiotic. What good is a RB who can’t pick up a yard!!

chefboho
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 year ago

Agreed! That’s why this teams needs a running back who can stay on the field. Every time Simms, Dare, or jaquizz Rodgers came on the field you knew exactly what was going to happen. This team has been too predictable at times and having Brady can only help that since he can change the plays with more freedom

DrT1066
1 year ago

Winston is going to have to accept back-up money – or not play.. The Bucs should sign him for the right price. He knows the system and could learn from Brady. Maybe succeed him if he learns enough from Brady on avoiding turnovers. Perhaps he should cut the Bucs a deal just to have that opportunity.

toucan
1 year ago

Nice talk about what the Bucs need. We have to hope we have a season with fannies in the stands!

Hockey Duckie
1 year ago

Bucs Rushing Rankings Over The Last Decade 2019: 24th – 95.1 ypg. 2018: 29th – 95.2 ypg. 2017: 27th – 90.6 ypg. 2016: 24th – 101 ypg. 2015: 5th – 135.1 ypg. 2014: 29th – 85.9 ypg. 2013: 22th – 100.8 ypg. 2012: 15th – 114.8 ypg. 2011: 30th – 91.1 ypg. 2010: 8th – 125.1 ypg. Running backs during those years 2019: Barber, Rojo 2018: Barber, Rodgers, … Rojo 2017: Barber, Martin, Rodgers, Sims 2016: Martin & Sims 2015: Martin & Sims 2014: Martin & Sims 2013: Martin, Rainey, James 2012: Martin & Blount 2011: Blount & Graham 2010:… Read more »

matador
Reply to  Hockey Duckie
1 year ago

Wow that was well done Duckie.

Makes it crystal clear Licht hasn’t done much right with the OL since 2015 and even that year making D Smith the “feature” LT for the rest of his tenure as GM was an overreach.

Would be interesting to see a similar rundown of what he has done in the draft on the DL/pass rushing side since being put in charge. Pewter Parrots not going to go there. Again well done!

scubog
1 year ago

I know a lot of folks think half of the O-line should be replaced. I certainly think, at the very least, the depth last few seasons has been atrocious. We have tended to blame the O-line for Jameis getting sacked when in reality he got sacked many times simply because he was dropping back to pass so often. There were times when he tried to extend a play too long. And of course there were rarely quick hitting, dump off passes like we see so much from Drew Brees to Alvin Kamara. Still, the O-line protected well enough for the… Read more »

chefboho
1 year ago

Thanks for telling us. We can all go about our business since you can predict the future. Do you have any plans snide knowledge of the season being canceled? Otherwise you’re as clueless as the rest of us Sherlock. Stop playing detective and assuming you know the future

Alldaway 2.0
1 year ago

I am going to say the Bucs need to upgrade OL and RB. I don’t see it as either or at this point because RoJo is the only RB signed longed term on the roster and the Bucs salary costs along the OL have ballooned way too much.

Drafting a RB and OL will help bring down the net cap costs on the offensive side of the ball long term. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs draft two OL, a RB and WR.

gcolerick
1 year ago

Thank you for sharing your story on how it all began. That was a great read Scott!

abucsfan
Reply to  gcolerick
1 year ago

I agree. I had my subscription since the beginning and never thought SR was a rah rah type. Good stuff while recovering from Covid 19 up in Motown!

fanofdabucs
1 year ago

The biggest reason for the Bucs pedestrian rushing numbers wasn’t even written here (unless I missed it). You can talk about oline, RBs, scheme etc. But the real issue the last few years has been terrible defense and turnovers. Go back and watch a handful of games from the last few years. The Bucs seemed to run the ball well in the first couple drives. Then, either due to TOs or horrible defense, the game was turned into must throw and playing from behind. Good running teams usually are in close games or playing with the lead. The Bucs awful… Read more »

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