Bucs Must Land A Backfield Beast

January 12th, 2009
Joe wants Brandon Jacobs to keep walking, about 1200 miles south to Tampa Bay

Joe wants Brandon Jacobs to keep walking, about 1200 miles south to Tampa Bay

Joe stays up late agonizing about the Bucs future. Call it tradition.

Bucs fans know the pain of so many offseasons, especially watching the playoffs and seeing in living color how far the once-mighty Bucs have fallen. 

That said, there are reasons to be optimistic. Joe doesn’t buy the doomsday-is-near theories floated by some talk radio hosts and callers.

Bucs fans looking for excitement can start at the offensive line. They’re all young – senior starter Jeff Faine turns 28 in April – reasonably experienced, and have shown great promise. Even super reserve Jeremy Zuttah had a terrific rookie season in 2008, showing he can play multiple positions at a high level.

Every expert, including Bucs GM Bruce Allen, says the O-Line is a major strength and a true success of the Gruden-Allen era.

So here’s where Joe is going to make a not-so-flying leap. If we accept the Bucs’ strength is on the offensive line, then the team needs to make investing in a running back its top priority this offseason.

Sure, there are many other holes to fill. But without a stud running back to team with Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn next season, the Bucs will be wasting their talent at offensive line.

Joe likes Earnest Graham. He’s a near-perfect back for Chucky’s offense, a nice combination of speed and power, and he can catch the ball. After breaking long runs in 2008, Joe believes Graham has enough speed to complement a bruising runner like the Giants RB Brandon Jacobs, who could hit the free agent market in February.

The Glazers should consider breaking the bank for Jacobs, if the Giants don’t make him their franchise player. Aside from the obvious, Jacobs’ arrival in Tampa would immediately improve the performance of the 2009 quarterback – whoever that may be – and legitimate play-action would return to the Bucs offense. It all but disappeared during the Bucs’ December collapse.

Just 26, maybe Jacobs would like the young faces of the Bucs’ young O-line. Of course, that would be Chucky’s sales pitch, “Hey, Brandon, man, you’re walking into what’s going to be the best offensive line in the NFC over the next four years.”

Jacobs has had knee problems and might welcome the chance to play on grass.

The versatile Graham also is a strong enough short-yardage runner who could be a great fit with potential free agent speedsters Darren Sproles or Derrick Ward, the Giants’ other 1,000-yard rusher. There are RB options in the NFL draft, of course, but Joe would rather see the Bucs address the backfield in free agency and use their first-round pick (No. 19) to attack another need.

Again, if the offensive line is ready to reach its great potential, then inject a league-tested super stud into the backfield alongside Graham and let them go to work.

 At the very least, the move is sure to generate the excitement the organization and fans desperately need.

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