Finding A Running Game Will Help Josh Freeman

July 5th, 2010
If Derrick Ward can have a breakout season this fall, it will go a long way to helping Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman.

If Derrick Ward can have a breakout season this fall, it will go a long way to helping Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman.

Yesterday Joe brought you tidbits from and Sirius NFL Radio’s Pat Kirwan who documented how quarterbacks in their first full season behind center are expected to struggle.

With Freeman, it seems ominous due to the fact that he really has only oneestablished target, Kellen Winslow, to throw to. A running game would certainly help. Even eye-RAH! Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune acknowledges as such on a Bucs Q&A feature.

Q:  How do you think Josh Freeman will do this season against some of the hardest defenses?

Corydon Metcalf, Indiana, Penn.

A: Freeman has a long way to go in terms of recognizing coverages and learning to throw the ball away instead of trying to force things. That 6.2 percent interception rate is way too high, but he was only a rookie and now he’s had a full offseason to work with offensive coordinator Greg Olson and new QBs coach Alex Van Pelt. Teams like the Steelers and Ravens will test the accuracy of any QB and Freeman is working with a young group of wide receivers. His development would be helped immensely if the Bucs can manage a productive ground game.

— eye-RAH! Kaufman

This concerns Joe, as well, because Joe believes the Bucs have a deep stable of running back –deep with average-at-best running backs.

As Joe has pointed out before, Earnest Graham, 30, was knocked out for the season with injures sustained the past two seasons. He is expected to start at fullback again this year. Cadillac Williams, God love the guy, is playing on two man-made knees. Derrick Ward seems to chase Kardashians better than run, but to be fair, the jury is still out on Ward.

It would help if the Bucs could somehow average better than four yards a carry, which was 25th in the NFL last season.

18 Responses to “Finding A Running Game Will Help Josh Freeman”

  1. BamBamBuc Says:

    It would also help if they could average more than 25.2 carries per game. The only successful teams in the bottom 12 in carries per game were the Eagles, Colts, and Cardinals. They all had highly experienced QBs to pass virtually every down. Other than that, the bottom 12 included the Bills, Rams, Redskins, Seahawks, Bears, Raiders, Lions, and 49ers. See a trend? Teams that are losing don’t tend to run the ball much (unless you have Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb or Kurt Warner and don’t have to run).

    Yeah, 4.0 yards per carry is 25th in the league, but just 18 inches away per carry was 5th in the league. Maybe Ward could have helped that out if he wouldn’t have gotten knocked backward each attempt. 18 inches (per attempt) separates 25th from 5th. Get out the tape measure, it’s not that much really.

    The other thing that will help Freeman and the running game is the O-line being at the playing weight they should be to start the season. Last year, switching to zone blocking, they all lost weight before the season to be more “agile”. When they switched schemes before Game 1, they were underweight for a power block scheme and couldn’t drive the DL back. This year, with the consistency of Olsen remaining OC, the OL should be at playing weight to begin the season and ready to go.

  2. JimBuc Says:

    Joe you are right to be concerned. Nothing would help Freeman more than a strong running game.

    The fact that the Bucs were not able to upgrade the stable of RBs speaks, in part, to the lack of talent on the team. Holes to fill everywhere.

    Maybe Caddy and the O-line will surprise us.

  3. Lakeland Bob Says:

    Caddy stays healthy this year,the running game should be fine.I think Olsen will get Graham involved with the short passes where Ernest is hard to bring down.Besides if Williams is the real deal,we will have a deep threat to keep the defense from stacking the box.

  4. Outside01 Says:

    All the more reason to grab Harvey Unga in next weeks supplementle draft.

    If Shawn King can take us to the championship game, Freeman can do his job this year. Freeman has shown already that he has what it takes to get the job done. What is important is we have a running game, O-line plays well, Defense keeps teams in check so we don’t abandon the run. If we can get those three things, Freeman will be just fine.

  5. JimBuc Says:

    What did Shawn King have that Freeman does not? World class defense. Maybe the improvment of the D offsets the lack of a potent running game or vice versa? Who knows?

  6. Capt.Tim Says:

    A good running game would help Freeman? Lol, yeah, wouldn’t that be nice? Then we better signsome vets for depth at the OL, cause that’s gonna determine how well we run the ball. Right now, we’re paper thin.

  7. eric Says:

    West Coast Offense, passing game opens up the run.

    We don’t have one, so I expect the stats to be worse than 09. Spiller would have been a great choice if we had traded down. And of course with BM on the team the running lanes would have beem much more easily traveled. (and/or Holmes/Boldin/AB).

    It is the exploits of an unproven GM that have cooked up this mess, among others.

  8. Not a Rocket Surgeon Says:

    Our running ‘game’ is the key to the entire offenses success this year. The whole thing.

    Our Oline and RB’s are significant question marks for me at the moment.

  9. Capt.Tim Says:

    Yeah, OL and Depth at RB are a question mark for all of us. But remember one thing, with a horrible DL, the exact same OL and Rb’s, and almost no practice time, Josh Freeman won 3 games last year, and had us down to the wire in 4 other games. He is the key! We looked like we couldn’t win a game at all last year until he started, then we were very competitive! Things should be better this year. I believe that Raheem Morris is a great defensive coordinator, and his mutation of the Tampa 2 looks really good this year. I also like the new offense Olsen has worked up. Plays to the strengths of Graham, Caddy, and Winslow! The DT play will be better, and beter still next year! I think these things alone will make us at least competitive, and we’ll win a few more. I just hope enough fans are there to be ” the twelveth man”, but, as many holes as this team has, I still think it’s gonna surprise a lot of people. Just gotta stay healthy, cause depth ain’t our strong suit

  10. Not a Rocket Surgeon Says:

    Damn, I thought I was positive Capt. Tim… lol.

    And you hit on it with my major concern in your last sentence.

    “…cause depth ain’t our strong suit…”

    Perfectly applicable to our RB’s and Oline. Both units have had more than their fair share of injuries in seasons past… I think Trueblood and Penn are the only two that haven’t missed significant snaps due to injury.

    Won’t even go there with the RB corps.

  11. Outside01 Says:

    Rumor has it we will sign LeGarrette Blount if he doesn’t make the 53 man cut in Tennessee. I’d love to see him replace Ward!

  12. Outside01 Says:

    You know how for years, the Eagles run game was 50% passes to Westbrook in the flat? I think we might do this with Huggins this year. It’s not actually running the ball, but it serves the same purpose and you gotta do what works.

  13. RustyRhino Says:

    Outside01 thanks yeah Harvey Unga would look very nice catching a few passes and running people over, hadn’t heard he was available in the Supplemental Draft looks good to me watching this.

  14. Outside01 Says:

    YEah he planned on returning for his senior year, but BYU is super strict and conservative. They have rules about refraining from sex, alcohol, ect. He got caught having sex with his girlfriend and was suspended….so now he is entering the supplementle draft. He isn’t amazing, but I think he is as good as any RB we have, better at short yardage than anyone we have, very good cathing out of the backfield, and about 8 years younger than our current over the hill gang. I don’t know if the Bucs are even interested, but supposedly 20+ teams showed up for his work out. I’d like to see us offer a 4th or 5th and see what happens. I’d rather watch him than Ward, and besides….Samoans are just cool.

  15. Outside01 Says:

  16. Capt.Tim Says:

    “Depth ain’t our strong suit”. Despite all the other concerns voiced here, I ‘m afraid that one is gonna be what really impacts the team this year. I think a lot of other issues are gonna turn out to be a pleasant surprise, but a bunch of undrafted rookie FA in the starting lineup will be an insurmountable problem. Sad, but true. And it wouldn’t take many injuries to put us there.

  17. Capt.Tim Says:

    What the heck is so cool about Somoans??, LOL. You been watching “Deadliest Warrior”,or what?

  18. Capt.Tim Says:

    Midgets are pretty cool, should we draft a couple of those? Must think he’s playing Dungeons and Dragons! Lol, how’s about a Gnome?