Where’s The Running Game?

September 18th, 2012

Inability to run the football with a late lead cost the Bucs as much as anything Sunday

No matter how you shuffle the 2011 stats, the Giants didn’t have a good run defense last season. They were in the bottom third of the NFL in most rush-defense categories.

Then on opening day this season, DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys torched the Giants for a 131 yards on only 20 carries.

But the Bucs on Sunday? Well, they had mixed results running against the Giants. And even leading 27-16 lead with the ball and only 39 seconds left in the third quarter, the Bucs passed on trying to grind out a smashmouth, clock-eating drive and threw two dangerous passes, one of which was picked off.

Then the Bucs tried on their next possession to pound out yardage leading 27-19 with 12:22 left in the fourth quarter. But Doug Martin carried four times for just five yards and the Bucs punted. (If that were LeGarrette Blount, fans and media would have hung him by now.)

So Joe has to wonder what the heck has happened to the Bucs’ running game. Were Sunday starters on the right side of the line, Demar Dotson and Ted Larsen, simply incapable of opening holes? Is Martin missing reads? Is the big-money trio of Donald Penn, Carl Nicks and Jeremy Zuttah out of sync?

Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan saw first-hand how the Giants effectively used two and three running backs for years. Why does he only use one?

Joe hopes Sullivan finds some answers. The Bucs need that ground attack desperately. In many ways, its absence cost them a victory Sunday.

57 Responses to “Where’s The Running Game?”

  1. Macabee Says:


    Do you really think Sullivan is making these calls? Schiano strikes me as the kind of guy that has final say on everything.

  2. Buc Fan South Tampa Says:

    PFT is reporting that Jordan Shipley is back, just now signed with the Bucs.

  3. Jbrooks Says:

    It’s obvious to me that the offense is still in it’s early stages and is in complete disarray. They are to scared to let Free play Quarterback and they refuse to let Blount run due to his fumbling issues. The few carries Ware has had looked pretty good as well.

    So far the offense has been insanely predictable. They have to let these guys go out and play to win. This scared, vanilla style offense won’t beat good teams. Yes Martin looks solid but when you have two capable backs riding pine the whole game you’re hurting yourself. Let Blount do what he does best. Kind of like Tebow he can come in and make momentum changing plays. Let ware come in and change the pace every now and then.

    USE OUR WEAPONS! What’s the point in signing V Jax and dalls Clark if your not going to let them do their jobs and stretch the field. We have talent and decent depth at running back and wideout. USE IT!

  4. bucsnbeer Says:

    I definitely feel like the offense is being implemented in layers week by week. The first week was running and short passes, the second week integrated the long shots down the field. I am looking forward to seeing what the third week holds. They may need to drop back to week 1 because they definitely had major issues with our base concept (we can/will run) this week.

  5. NJBucsFan Says:

    Roto states Parker has a foot injury and that’s why Shipley was signed.

  6. Jbrooks Says:

    I would love to see what Shipley can do, Parkers use is fading fast since he’s not returning anymore and he’s invisible in the passing game.

  7. SilenceTheCritics Says:

    The offense just seems out of rhythm and for the most part Sully seems to be confused on how to call plays. The 2nd half in both games we have been oddly conservative and predictable. In the first half against the Giants we did not mix it up good enough. There was one drive in particular where we passed seemingly 5 times in a row, even when it was quite obvious they were blitzing and we took a sack, then ran when it was third and very long. It amazes me we have a guy with Smith’s speed but yet fail to even see what he can do in 2 games. Personally, I would love to see him get the ball in open space. Screen passes and sweep plays. I hope they are learning from this… otherwise its going to be a long season.

  8. ScottyinFatAntonio Says:

    Well…if there are concerns with Mike Sullivan, I am sure Jimmy Raye is helping out. Looks like they released Derek Hardman.

  9. holymoly Says:

    Something that i’d like to see is the Offensive line that everyone keeps telling me is good , open some big holes for Muscle Hamster and Jumpin’ Blount to run through . It seems like every time we handoff the other team is the only ones around . Switch it up with multiple backs and let’s pound the football .

  10. JBUC24 Says:

    We need a healthy mix of Martin and Blount early and see who has the hot hand and roll with it. Wasn’t that Schiano’s stance on the running back stable?? Instead we get 1 play with Blount and it’s in a pass pro scheme.

    Also, we need to run different styles than Martin up the gut, pitches would be a nice start. Hope both cordinators (O&D) really takes a hard look at the playcalling…that was our demise!!!

  11. bucfanjeff Says:

    It’s called growing pains. The offensive game plan was to pass more, that was obvious from the beginning.

  12. bucfanjeff Says:

    There is a reason it was only Martin and Ware and not Blount – it’s called phasing him out. He won’t be with the Bucs next year, sorry.

  13. Jbrooks Says:

    JBUC24 truer words have never been spoken. Everyone’s focusing on refs and the last play. How about the abysmal play calling specifically in the 2nd half. I have never seen anything so bad in my life. Just horrible.

  14. Jbrooks Says:

    The offense was Martin up the gut every play and the defense was all out blitz every down. Just pathetic play calling.

  15. robert Says:

    I dunno, I think we should play to the other teams weakness. we should have done exactly what eli did to use….tear up their secondary….and we need more deep/go routes to people not named vjax….go 3 wide and send 2 deep, 1 accross and martin in the flat

  16. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Blount is being kept healthy for trading….Bucs are probably waiting for someone’s number one RB to go down.
    Remember “pound the rock”…..we never did….we haven’t had a run game in a very long time. We don’t open up lanes….also predictable playcalling…..Always running on 2nd & 3rd & short…no play action.
    We need to get Martin outside…..run a 2 back set with Blount and it will cause defenses some trouble.
    I actually think we have a much better passing game and should unleash it. We need to use Clark more earlier in the game.

  17. Buc N' A Says:

    I agree guys. All these offensive weapons and it’s still the same old crappy Bucs offense we’ve always had. Never understood why we can’t get all our playmakers touches in a game. This going back three head coaches. Other teams do it all the time, but with the Bucs…nope. I had so much hope for our offense this season. I know it’s still early, but patterns are emerging and it’s not pretty for our offense.

  18. Fernando Says:

    I have one thing- Blount 1 carry. Martin is averaging 3.6 a carry
    Blount did that on his worst day. You need to use both RBs.

  19. Jbrooks Says:

    Tampabayfan you are spot on. We have seen flashes of our passing game but the play calling has us handcuffed. And I still don’t understand the Blount hate. I guess some people don’t like having two capable backs in Tampa. No way you can make the argument that Blount isn’t a decent playmaker at running back. I have eyes.

  20. Stranger Says:

    But that doesn’t make sense. Why would a team in need trade for a guy that’s just sitting on the bench? Especially after you let the media run wild with dragging his name through the mud and you put a career 300 yd rusher in front of him? If you want to trade him, you need to put him out on the field. Sitting him does no one any favors.

  21. Westcoastbucsfan Says:

    I also agree, I was pissed when we came out throwing in the second half. If Martin isnt getting it done at least TRY Blount. The situation with Blount really is ridiculous.

    The play calling was definitely worse in second half. Especially on defense. It seemed liked they were having Talib press Nicks on every play and Talib got juked out of his shoes play after play. Its called ADJUSTMENTS.

    I have faith that Schiano can fix this but there should have been better adjustments in game. Hopefully we can keep it together vs Dallass.

  22. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    If Blount is healthy…his attitude good….and the need is there….how else can you explain not using him. Something’s up if he doesn’t get some touches vs. Dallas.
    We absolutely need to get Martin outside more often. You see what he did on his toucdown.
    And….if we are such a running team…why don’t we hand it off to Lorig at least once during a game.
    I think the Sullivan is feeling his way with his playcalling. I actually liked seeing Josh throwing on 1st and 10 early in the game. Play action can work for us on first down because everyone expects us to run.

  23. Jbrooks Says:

    Yeah this next game will be telling for us. We will see if this poor, non adjusting play calling style is a trend or if our coaches are willing to learn and improve with the players.

  24. Paul Says:

    How come nobody questions Schiano about halftime adjustments? That’s what owned us. Sherridan was probably trying to adjust the gameplan at halftime but everyone was on potty/snack break.

  25. Kfc Says:

    They need to let Freeman in the hurry up offense. Last game, the Giants couldnt stop it. Instead, they choose to play “not to lose” which strikes me as a stupid thing to do. If they’re already down by 10, CRUSH THEM COMPLETELY!!

  26. Jbrooks Says:

    I don’t know which coach was to blame for the play calling but they need to learn from that pathetic collapse and improve.

  27. Drew Says:

    Take a lead into halftime and adjust to conservatism. This is the new halftime game plan adjustment.

  28. Paul Says:

    I like this guy’s take better. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1337224-nfl-worst-decisions-we-saw-in-week-three

    Why would we run against the best D-Line in the league and not try to exploit possibly the worst secondary in the league???

  29. Paul Says:

    Answer to above is coaching staff has no trust in Freeman. Same with Blount.

  30. bucobruce Says:

    Dont worry guys we will desroy the cowgirls.I hope Shiply turns out to be a great number 3 WR I just dont understand how any of our other WR dident get the ball like Benn when the giants third and fourth CB are as bad as they get in the hole damn NFL.I think we will see alot more great things in the future with our 3rd and 4th WR,thats how the BUCS will start to be one of the great teams in the NFL.

  31. Jbrooks Says:

    Exactly Paul. Instead of trusting Free, Blount, and the rest of the weapons the coaching staff has decided to handcuff them all out of fear of turn overs. The offense WILL NOT be successful until their game plan is changed and they allow the players to play.

  32. JBUC24 Says:

    The “trade” comment of Blount and keeping him healthy is ridiculous. IF that were an option that our GM was looking at, you don’t keep him on the sideline and question his ability/attitude etc.. You get him on the field to showcase his athletic ability and bruising running style. Trade value goes up w/ use, not getting stale on the sideline.

    There is NO way we get rid of one running back whos proven and will only comliment Martin!!! Like I said, mix the backs up early and see what is working against the oponents def. It’s a pretty simple concept. I am certain (mostly hoping) our coaching staff will fix this QUICKLY!

  33. Jbrooks Says:

    Ultra conservative offense leads to the defense being on the field too much. That leads to the opponent scoring which leads to our ultra conservative offense having to play from behind at the end of the game. A cycle that doesn’t favor Tampa right now.

  34. simeon Says:

    Blount comes in second half last weekend and im very confident we win. Doug martin is not getting it done.

  35. Jbrooks Says:

    Martin is doing a good job for a rookie. Problem is he’s not getting any rest. Defenses get into rhythm with him because we aren’t using our other backs at all. Again just insanely bad play calling and management.

  36. Rrsrq Says:

    Did someone say Shipley #3, we barely use a wide open Dallas Clark, Preston Parker, invisible, no Benn in the passing game, mike williams, 1st and 4th quarter only

  37. Jbrooks Says:

    Haha, good point Rrsrq. If the coaches don’t open it up then it doesnt matter who’s in the slot.

  38. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    Let’s be honest here, because there’s a couple years worth of evidence now. The Bucs offensive line is just not very good at run blocking outside of Carl Nicks. It’s obvious to anyone who watches closely. Our line excels in pass blocking MUCH more so than run blocking.

    If they want to be a smashmouth team they are going to have to draft and/or sign a couple different linemen after this season. Penn, Zuttah and Larsen just aren’t better than average in the running department. Trueblood is slightly above average and Nicks is All Pro at it. As much as I hate to say it we’re gonna need an o-line rebuild if Schiano wants such an old-school up-the-middle-all-the-time running game.

    It’s just that simple.

  39. Jbrooks Says:

    I would be very shocked if our first pick isn’t o line in the next dead FLboy.

  40. Jbrooks Says:

    * next draft

  41. buc the saints Says:

    So last game they were too conservative and this week they were not conservative enough. Youve got joe saying we didnt run enough, and jbrook saying the play calling was handcuffed. Which one is it? I am just happy this team is competing again and not rolling over like they did under Rah. Lets give them some more time before we get the torches out.

  42. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    This isnt’ like baseball where you want to showcase a minor leaguer for trade purposes. The NFL knows what Blount can do without him playing….but apparantly the Bucs don’t. So….Lets get Blount injured then trade him….I only pose the trade possibility because I can’t figure out why on earth we haven’t used him more.
    Maybe we are saving him in case Martin gets injured getting all of the carries….but the bottom line is we aren’t using a pretty good running back that especially presents options if we are in 2 back sequences.
    I would just as soon trade him and get a decent draft pick than not use him at all.

  43. Bucs4821 Says:

    The problem, going back years, always seems to be the OL. It doesn’t matter who the RB is. If a hole is created, then any one of us could run through it. If there’s something resembling a push or a crease then an NFL calibre back will gain yardage. More importantly, the running game eats up the clock. Even if you’re not averaging a lot of yards per carry, you’re keeping the opposing QB on the sidelines. That worked very well against Cam Newton (who had his way with the Saints this past week.) In this instance, I’ll quote Schiano, “Time is our enemy.” The Bucs always have what we perceive to be good linemen, individually, but they never seem to play well as a unit.

  44. OAR Says:

    buc the saints
    Ditto, and Amen to that!

  45. Jbrooks8604 Says:

    @ buc the saints. Opening up the offense has nothing to do with passing every down. Not sure where you got that from. The staff won’t let Free threaten with the deep ball which is making our offense predictable. They don’t trust Blount and don’t use ware which means Martin isn’t getting rest and we aren’t changing the pace running wise. The coaching staff has Blount and ware riding pine while the offense is on the field being predictable. I’m not asking for bombs away when I say handcuff but they need to use the weapons we have instead of just Martin

  46. JBUC24 Says:

    Buc The Saint: The Offensive playcalling was horrible outside a few shots down field (which I loved). We are not using Martin in different running plays and NOT mixing up the rest of our personnel (Blount, Clark, Benn).

    Parker had the nice end a round, but where are the quick slants, bubble screens? How about a 2 back set…split Martin out wide and run play action to Blount…or run Blount drawing a LB towards Martin.

    Manning killed us with quick throws, why not do the same?! A bubble screen to Williams would have been nice!

    We have talent and different playing styles…..mix it up!!

  47. The Dutcher Journal (Pete Dutcher) Says:

    Sheesh people. We played the Giants. My guess is the Bucs expected a high scoring game so they game planned for a passing game. Trueblood didn’t start because he is better at blocking for the run…which is ironic because we haven’t had a run in so long.

    I firmly believe Blount would have done better in the Giants game than Martin did. I think they need to switch up starting RBs depending on each team we play.

    Blount would have plowed the field in the second half against the tired Giants.

  48. BucFan20 Says:

    Now I see how it works in some peoples minds. We use Blount 1 time, Ware a couple and deactivate Smith. That must mean we are going to trade them all. So any names some of you may want to drop on us who we are trading for?

    FLBoy is on the point. The OL has been a problem for a long time. The right side can’t open holes. And the left only sometimes. But almost never against good teams. The play 1 they used Blount , Penn got pushed into Blount while they were trying to slip him out the left and by the time he got out Larsen had been beaten by the blitzer who was then on Freeman. They say good RBs are patient and wait for the hole to open.

  49. grasshopp427er Says:

    jbrooks pretty much nails it here in the comments. we went way too conservative in the 2nd half, 4th qtr especially. too conservative on 1st/2nd downs lead to bad plays on 3rd down. and why try to just run it out when it isn’t working for at least 4ypc in the first half.
    and the defense got beaten badly all game by 3 plays if you ask me..jump ball to Nicks, Middle 9yd and in to Cruz, run up the gut. and we couldn’t stop it and i would bet if we don’t figure that out by this weekend Dallas will whip us with the same 3 plays.

    all in all though i think as a positive we can say that if we play our A-game we can hang with most teams on a given sunday. i have said to my friends since we hired schiano that i like him and just hope he can adjust because his gritz blitz and run all game ideas are not going to work long in the NFL. we got exposed a little but hopefully our coaching staff can learn and teach the corrections, because after 2 games i would say most of our mistakes are correctable. it’s not like we turned it over earky and often and then quit and got beat by 40.

  50. grasshopp427er Says:

    and if mike williams just turns up field instead of juking around he probably gets the extra yard in the 4th and the ultra conservative game plan may have worked.

  51. MTM Says:

    It doesn’t matter who is in the back field if blocks are not made. To be a down hill running team the TE’s need to be involved as well.

  52. Oahubuc Says:

    The running game was on the bench all game long, including, inexplicably, when we were well ahead. The running game came out to celebrate with Mike Williams once and that was all we saw of it.

  53. Oahubuc Says:

    bucsnbeer Says:
    September 18th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I definitely feel like the offense is being implemented in layers week by week.

    This is my hope right now, and I’ve been flamed elsewhere for saying so. If we still see this junk after the bye, though, I’m going to be upset.

  54. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    It seems like every year we struggle to run the ball because we are very predictable. This seems to go back to the Dungy days. As fans, even we can pretty much tell before the snap whether we are going to run or pass. Don’t you think the defense just might know it as well? Not to mention that all of our runs are either off tackle or straight up the middle. We rarely pitch the ball and run outside the tackles. The times we do, it seems to be successful. I’m no coach and I may very well be wrong, but that’ always been my impression.

    I thought Martin did pretty well, considering there wasn’t much there. He was getting 3-4 yards on every first down run, which is about where you want to be. I don’t think Blount would have done any better, but it would be nice to at least give him some opportunities. I’m starting to believe that his days really might be numbered in Tampa, which shocks me.

  55. john Says:

    should have rushed blount sunday.

  56. Oahubuc Says:

    We’re installing Greg Olson’s offense. Brilliant. No one saw it coming.

    Minute to go in the 1st quarter. We have the ball. Two blitzers blow right by Lorig on their way to Freeman and Doug runs right between them on his way to the line, Freeman gets sacked. Doug doesn’t give them so much as a chip. Drive prior to that, he drops a pass in the backfield. A pass, by the way, that Blount caught last week… behind his head!! Are we sure Blount doesn’t prevent that sack if it happens while he’s spelling Martin? Give him the #### ball, man. Too weird. Something’s up, y’all.

  57. Oahubuc Says:

    Disclaimer: I’m not hating on Doug. I love him. Use him wisely.