Is Running Back Unit Set?

March 29th, 2015
charles sims 1212

Change on the way?


Joe believes the Bucs have perhaps one of the deepest stables of running backs in the NFL. And the way running backs get beaten to death, that’s a good thing.

But is Bucs’ running backs corps that solid? Doug Martin has been saddled with injuries the past two years, which drastically reduced his production. Charles Sims, while injured himself, was all sort of “meh” in his rookie season. Bobby Rainey may have been the best running back on the Bucs but, for reasons not quite clear, resided in the penthouse of Lovie Smith’s doghouse, all but shut down after 19 carries for 87 yards against Cleveland in Week 8. Mike James? Approaching milk carton status.

Pat Yasinskas of ESPN sees to believe change is coming before the 2015 season.

Running back: There has been speculation that the Bucs could pursue Adrian Peterson, but that’s all it is at this point. On the surface, there already is depth at this position with Doug Martin, Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey. But the coaching staff doesn’t seem sold on Martin and he could be used as trade bait. The Bucs also need to add a fullback.

For the longest time, Joe was against bringing in an aging Adrian Peterson but is now open to such a move. Relentless readers helped alter Joe’s opinion. Especially if Jameis Winston is the No. 1 pick (mind your own business, Dungy!)

(Column intermission: One thing that irks Joe about Father Dungy is how he professed his offense with the Bucs was so gruesome because that’s how the Steelers won in the 1970s, which, at best, is misleading. Joe peeked at the box score of Super Bowl XIII, a Steelers win over the Cowboys — a game in which Dungy himself played in. After the “Mel Bount Rule” was applied by the NFL, the Steelers went to the air, as recounted on an “America’s Game” episode by one of Dungy’s best friends on that team, none other than Blount himself. In Super Bowl XIII, the Steelers ran the ball 24 times for 66 yards and Terry Bradshaw put the ball in the air 30 times for 291 yards, throwing for four touchdowns. Does that sound like a ground-and-pound team?)

While Joe would welcome Peterson, he shouldn’t command more than a third-day draft pick at his age (30). Drafting a running back on the third day wouldn’t be such a sin, either.

Currently, no Bucs running back scares NFL defenses, unless Rainey is on the field.

25 Responses to “Is Running Back Unit Set?”

  1. JoeJoes Fungi Nails Says:

    It is not the quaility of RB’s on the roster……it is the quailty of offensive linemen on the roster……or lack of quaility of offensive linement. Keep trying to stand up the walls of the house on a weak and crumbling foundation

  2. The Buc Realist Says:

    All the bucs have is a bunch of below average runners! I would not mind if the bucs would try to get another in the draft. I thought some thought that the draft was deep with RB this year.

    I would try to keep Simms and who ever could protect Jamies the best and newly drafted rookie!

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I think adding Koetter and improving the oline will proove our RBs are better than we think….even Mike James was able to torch teams.
    Don’t draft a RB or trade for one….stay the course…
    And…..look for Sims to excel in Koetter’s offense.

  4. MadMax Says:

    Or we couldve shelved some players in hopes of fixing the O line after drafting Jameis. If thats not the case, then no, we’re not as good at the position as I thought we were.

  5. OB Says:

    Without a good OL, no RB is anywhere as good as he can be plus it causes injuries because they people they miss blocking are clocking our RBs, not to mention our QB.

    So I would rather have better OL than another RB.

  6. Shipwrecked87 Says:

    RB/FB Zach Zenner in the 6th or 7th would be just fine with me.

  7. Dreambig Says:

    Having a NFL quality OC should help all areas of the Offense. Better play calling and better QB play should help keep the defense a little more off balance. This could help both the Oline and the running game. If spending a first or second day draft pick, I think you have to stick to upgrading the Oline and Dline. A good Oline will make all of our average running backs better.

  8. 87LikesFreeJerseys Says:

    As long as they fix the line…

    I’m 44 yrs old. Sign me up to play running back and I’ll have a 1000 yard season.

  9. MadMax Says:

    Lol 87, yeah Im having some beers too….then off to bed for work tonight.

  10. Jim Says:

    Barry Sanders in his prime could not have been successful as a Buc last year. Let’s just put the blame where it belongs.

  11. PocketPirates Says:

    It’s hard for ANYONE to run with like 4 defenders in the backfield on every play. Darren McFadden may look like a pro bowler playing for Dallas with THAT line. Even Peterson would have a heckuva time dealing with the sieve we have now. A strong O line would make Martin and/or Sims look fantastic. Martin still has that excellent burst if he ever gets a head of steam going forward.

  12. mac Says:

    The Bucs running backs suck!!!

    We have the below average running backs and an average fullback…


  13. mac Says:

    Three not the…

  14. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    What TBBF said!

    Don’t draft a RB or trade for one….stay the course…
    And…..look for Sims to excel in Koetter’s offense.

    Agree with only on proviso. If the Vikings are forced to give away AP and we could get him for a single draft pick I gotta pull the trigger. He’s a generational RB!!! He’ll come back this year with some SERIOUS motivation!

    This team would become instantly better with AP and every year the draft is loaded with RB’s so we can replace him in a year or two when his body finally breaks down. And how many hits did he absorb, on the field not off, last year?
    He’ll have fresh legs.

  15. SOEbuc Says:

    I like Mike James. Think he is a good third and short or goal line back but in Lovies interview discussing the RBs, he didn’t even say James name when he brought up all the RBs on the roster and it was a pretty long part of the discussion. I have a feeling he’s the next Lagarette Blount type of good player were gonna get rid of and he’ll go off and win a super bowl with someone else

  16. DallasBuc Says:

    It is tough for any RB to make a difference when your QB is Josh McCown and you are at the mercy of the oline incompetent Lovie Smith divined in 2014. Let’s face it, the Bucs have not been a threat in the passing game since Freeman was breaking franchise passing records which freed up Martin to go off his rookie season. Teams will continue to play the run and shut down whoever is handed the ball as long as we have no QB and no oline. “Kinda simple as that”

  17. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    I agree completely. I frequently asked Joe why James didn’t get more opportunities. I am not a practice like Joe so I thought perhaps something was happening there.

    I thought James should have been part of the rotation and not just a 3rd down back. James is the ONLY back we have who has the size to into “Beastmode”.
    Lynch doesn’t just play 3rd and short for the Seahawks.

    I’ve always thought James has adequate hands to catch out of the backfield, and I don’t recall him putting the ball on the ground that much which is why Rainey rode the pine.

  18. JoeJoes Fungi Nails Says:

    Mike James does not look like it…..but he always surprises with good runs….

  19. SOEbuc Says:


    Ur right about that. I guess I was just saying third down and goal line because he has the power and we have so many other backs but i also think he could be powerful every down back. His power and speed reminds me of AP. Hope he gets more chances this year (if he’s still on the roster)

  20. drdneast Says:

    I don’t think Pat Yasinkas, or you Joe, know if Lovie prefers Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey, Mike James, Charles Sims or Beyoncé for the RB slot.
    Lovue plays it way to close to the vest to let any media type know.
    I do know you two mental giants keep trying to trade Maetin away for a worthless third or lower draft pick.
    And why do we want to pick up another RB when he is at the age where most teams start to jettison them.
    Reminds me of the RB we got from the Chargers who used to play for the Bandits. Everybody was hot on him because he was so good for the Semi Pro Bandits. I think he lasted all of five games here cause he had no gas left in the tank.
    I do agree with you JoeJoeFungi about the O line but I don’t think it is as bad as you fear.
    Remember the old Chinese proverb from Wo Fat.
    “The sum of all things is only as good as it’s weakest part.”
    In the Bucs case the weakest part was our high school OC who had absolutely no experience running a pro offense or even a college Division I offense.
    It was so bad that after only watching 3/4 of a game Ronde Barber remarked on national TV, “I have no idea what their offensive coordinator Mark Arroyo is trying to achieve here.”

  21. Kaptain Morgan Says:

    Not sure which former NFL Coach/GM said they always draft a RB in every draft. The Bucs should take a flyer on one, but based on the depth on the roster and the devaluing of the position in regards to dependency on one player to carry the load, I wouldn’t go earlier than a 3rd day 5-6th round or later pick on one if I were playing Lovie/Licht.

  22. cmurda Says:

    I’m all for trading for AP but the problem I see is the Vikes demanding more than a 3rd day pick. I see them wanting at least a 4th rounder and maybe as much as a 2nd rounder. With the Bucs pick so high in the 2nd, there’s one way I would part with a 2nd but I could be convinced to deal a 3rd. In fact, I don’t think it would be tough to convince me considering how hard it is to hit on a 3rd round pick if said franchise is the Buccaneers. The fact of the matter is AP is a generational talent and repeatedly defies the odds. Wouldn’t shock me to see him still have 5 good years left.

  23. Pickgrin Says:

    The Bucs have plenty of talent at RB. It is a strength of the team. Top 5 in the league when the group as a whole is considered.

    Martin when healthy is a damn good running back. He also catches the ball fairly well and and is good at blitz pick up and helping to protect the QB. he doesn’t have top end speed – but other than that Doug Martin is a complete and 3 down running back. Injuries the last 2 years and one of the worst OLines in the league the last 2 years have greatly contributed to the mistaken perception that Dougie is not the back he was in 2012 and that his capabilities may be dwindling. Look for big things this year from Doug Martin assuming the Bucs are smart enough to keep him.

    After suffering a somewhat major injury early in pre-season last year – Charles Sims towards the end of the year showed good promise in somewhat limited opportunities to be an excellent change of pace back and perhaps more if he shows good ability to run between the tackles. He has the speed and the hands and the “wiggle” to make big plays if he can get a little open space. A running back with excellent hands and speed is always a valuable weapon in any offense. The Forte comparisons may have been pre-mature, but if Sims can stay healthy, he perhaps has the talent to revive them.

    Bobby Rainey is also an excellent change of pace back. He’s got that “wiggle” and seems to make tacklers miss and does have some speed as well. He proved himself as a solid and somewhat complete back over the last 2 years and is capable of being your starting running back if need be. He’s had some fumbles – but not so many that I think he would be rightfully labeled as a fumbler. If the pecking order stays the same as it was at the end of last year – Rainey might well be one of the best “3rd” RBs in the league.

    Mike James – has just simply not had enough opportunities. He’s looked very solid to my eye just about every opportunity he’s ever been given going back to year before last. He looked like the real deal as a rookie in 2013 when he was promoted to starter after Martin went down – and gashed the SB champions for 158 yards and was off to a great start vs the Dolphins the next week when he received a very serious ankle injury in the 1st half and was out for the rest of the season. It was crickets for James in 2014 under Lovie who just didn’t seem interested in giving him any looks in games. Like others have said – we don’t see what happens in practice – and perhaps the serious ankle injury from Nov 2013 had lingering effects last year – but Mike James seems like he would be a good back whenever he might be called on based on what he showed in 2 1/3 games as a starter in 2013.

    The lack of OLine ability the last 2 years is by far the biggest, most frequent and most glaring problem the Buccaneers have had. It is the weakest unit (QBs aside) on this team the last 2 years. Mark Dominik did not draft ANY players for the OLine in his entire 5 year tenure (sorry a 5th rounder who never saw the field in 2009 doesn’t count). Talk about a recipe for position disaster… We are now reaping the rewards of Dom’s “foresight”. Forget the 25th ranking -where that came from I have no idea because the lack of an OC and lack of talent at multiple positions up front created the worst OLine play I have ever seen and it was surely worst in the league in 2014 and absolutely terrible in 2013 as well.

    The running backs we currently have on the roster can easily combine for about 2500 yards running and receiving in 2015 if L&L and Koetter can get some more talent up front and figure out how to get the OLine playing at a decent level.

    Having a talented QB and especially some creative play calling will do wonders for the running game as well because defenses will not be able to just put 8 or 9 players in the box on 1st down anymore.

  24. danati74 Says:

    Im down for Zack Zenner too. He would be a steal in the 6th or 7th round. Get em!

  25. San Francisco Joe Says:

    @Pickgrin I agree 100%. In fact, you pretty much broke down everything that I would have said. Great analysis.

    People (not even just fans) are OBSESSED with either (1) Big name players or (2) the players fresh out of college. Why are people so quick to give up on home grown talent and under the radar guys? One explanation might be the insane amount of hype that the media gives to a select few players. Another explanation might be that people have a tendency to covet the “greener grass” and want in on these premium commodities. That level of thinking is too basic. I think we as fans can learn not to always buy into the hype and learn to appreciate what’s in front of us now.