Playing To His Strength?April 11th, 2014
No NFL team pounded the football more without big results than the Cincinnati Bengals did last season. Their former offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden, was committed to the run game like no other.
The Bengals had the eighth-most carries in the NFL but only averaged 3.6 yards per carry, which ranked 27th in the league. That’s almost old school football, and a tip of the cap to a suffocating defense that drove the Bengals to a division title but crumbled in the playoffs.
Now the only reason Joe cares about the Bengals’ running game is because new Bucs big-money left tackle Anthony Collins was a part of it. Collins had a busy year (for him) with Cincinnati last season, making seven starts. And Joe’s exhaustive research into Collins reveals a guy who was a near flawless pass blocker but not so great as a run blocker.
Even Gruden told BSPN that Collins’ “forte” definitely is pass blocking.
Including chatting with Bengals beat writers and Jay Gruden very briefly at the NFL owners meetings, Joe still can’t find anyone who labels Collins a good run blocker. The Internet stat geeks surely don’t paint him as a hole-opener.
Now Lovie Smith says he wants to run the football and be a “running team,” but where is he going to run? The left tackle isn’t much of a run blocker. The left guard is a mystery. The center is known more for pass blocking. The right-guard battle features a couple of NFL journeyman. The right tackle got little push in the running game last season. The top tight ends are not run blockers, and Lovie doesn’t believe much in the fullback and two-back sets.
This is yet another reason why Joe thinks the Bucs should draft a premier quarterback talent. It’s clear Tampa Bay is focusing on pass more than run in constructing the roster, so why would you not want to capitalize on that with more talent at QB? Surely Lovie Smith and staff, unlike the New Schiano Order, want to play to the strength of their personnel.
Are we really expecting to pound the rock behind this offensive line, a line with no continuity in a new system? That would feel like a prescription for a sad offense.