Running Game No Longer The Engine

November 21st, 2016
Numbers aren't lying

Numbers aren’t lying

Once upon a time back in August, September and October, Dirk Koetter told everyone listening that the Buccaneers’ running game was the critical engine of the offense.

It was one part design, two parts talent and three parts limited trust in America’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston.

That’s all changed now.

Yeah, Joe is simplifying things, but the Bucs just won two games in a row with little from their ground attack.

Yesterday, the Bucs churned out 116 yards on the ground from 34 rushes. That’s an average of 3.4 yards per carry against what was the 27th-ranked NFL run defense entering the game.

Versus the Bears last week, Tampa Bay had 28 carries for 85 yards. That’s 3.04 yards per carry.

If the Bucs duplicated those two rushing outputs all season, they’d have a rock bottom NFL rushing attack. In fact, right now, the Bucs are averaging 3.7 yards per carry, the sixth-worst run rate in the league this season.

It’s the passing attack that’s carrying the Bucs in a big way. And that’s unlikely to change. Just imagine what happens when Jason Licht addresses receiver in the draft and in free agency!

Joe hopes Doug Martin can recapture his glory days, but Joe wouldn’t bet a nickel on that happening.

38 Responses to “Running Game No Longer The Engine”

  1. No_Bucs_Given Says:


    I contend that the threat of the run is what has opened up our offense. These defenses have to respect Doug. Even his 3 yarders should be losses at times. He requires respect.

  2. lightningbuc Says:

    Just imagine what happens when Jason Licht addresses receiver in the draft and in free agency!


    You mean there’s no truth to the rumor our GM is going to trade up into the first round for a long snapper?

  3. Bird Says:

    Completely disagree. Doug Martin will be the best player on the field in some games moving forward. Just like last year

  4. Scurvy Dogs Says:

    Martin was averaging 5 yards a carry early on. This is what opened up the offense, the threat of the run.

  5. NewTampaChris Says:

    Not sure I agree here. I think the key number is 34 rushes, not 116 yards. The Bucs can’t have Winston throwing more than 33-35 times/game. Peyton Barber ran well, better than Martin, albeit in a limited role. There must have been 3 or 4 times when the Chiefs DL blew up the run and caused a -5 or worse, plus the one Martin fumble that caused a loss of 6 or 7. So the yardage undervalues the benefit, at least yesterday.

  6. tdtb2015 Says:

    Th 3 headed monster might be born in December with Martin, Rodgers and Simms contributing in the back field. Running game has taken a hit with o-line and rb shuffle do to injuries.

    This might be the most intriguing season in Bucs history, if we make the playoffs.

    Go Bucs!!!

  7. ndog Says:

    Correct this is a case where #’s lie as the running game has us in manageable situations most of the game.

  8. martinii Says:

    I think that once teams realize we are leaning toward a pass offense the run game will really improve. I haven’t given up on Doug. I also think he is still healing, although that nice little catch and run yeaterday showed me a lot. Finally remember that he was running into one of the best interior defensive lines we face all season.

  9. BigHogHaynes Says:

    If you can’t establish the run, you better be able to throw the ball down the field……our O-Line is depleted so maybe that is the problem with the ground and pound game! GO BUCS DOWN WITH BANNON AND SESSIONS STEP/UP AMERICA!! NOT MY PRESIDENT!!

  10. Hizzie Says:

    I think the running game is still the engine. Teams are trying to stop the run first which is contributing to the low numbers. Teams no what Martin can do and they look to stop him. The revolving door that’s been out o-line lately isn’t helping either. The main factor in the passing game now is guys are getting open. Winston is making throws and also taking what the defense gives him.

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    I agree to disagree. Without the threat of a run game teams are going to cheat their defense.
    Yes, the passing game is carrying the team but I don’t think we’re going to be successful without at least the threat of running. IMO

  12. D-Rome Says:

    Still, that’s 34 carries to Jameis’s 39 pass attempts. About 53% of the offensive plays (not counting FGs) yesterday were pass plays. Very balanced attack in my opinion.

  13. tmaxcon Says:

    Martin’s glory days really joe…. he had two good years and has sucked the other 3 coupled with the undisputed FACT that he is UNRELIABLE… Martin is easily replaceable

  14. ronteco Says:

    disagree. ok, running game may not be the engine but teams will still have to respect it. 22 ran hard yesterday and gained plus yards after initial contact at the LOS. yes, he didn’t get alot of yards but if they didn’t respect the run, he was going to break one off. i’d say the passing game and running game are complimenting each other right now. even mike james and barber made some tough runs. chiefs had to respect it. i’m not saying we are a running game team, i’m just saying both running and passing are working together and keeping these defenses honest. seahawks will be a good test here.

  15. Buc1987 Says:

    Joe…off topic, but how do we get a hold of this letter that Jameis wrote?

    I’ve been reading different players and coaches takes on this letter. It seems it really affected lots of players. I think it really set the tone for “I’d run through a brick wall for that guy”.

    Joe Hawley : “When you put yourself on the line like that, I think people really respond. If you’re a man, you’re going to put yourself on the line for him. You’re not going to just turn your back on it because that’s not what a teammate does. For him to do that, I think it brought us a little closer together.”

    Get us some more takes on this letter Joe. I think the letter is Jameis Winston’s Warren Sapp moment.

  16. Poor Glennon Says:

    I vote no to Winston gunslinging it. He managed the game yesterday. Yes he had big yardage in the first half. But just needed to be efficient in the second half. He played safe and was accurate. If he can’t do it. No biggy we have a 90% passer on the bench. Hahahaha and i won’t stop and i won’t quit. Great job yesterday #3

  17. SB with Jameis Says:

    Maybe it is just me but WR doesn’t seem to be all that pressing of a Need right now. JW3 makes them all look like stars

  18. David Says:

    James did not manage the game yesterday…he was slinging day pigskin all over the yard. Hit what…7-8 different receivers!? C mon. I thought Peyton Barber ran better than Dougie did yesterday. We should let the hungry young man get more carries. Jacquizz just as well if not better than Dougie as well. He could be replaced…but not by Sims.

  19. Negative Jeff Says:

    The running game will bounce back. As soon as teams realize our passing game is the real threat they will start pulling that extra defender out of the box and the running game will thrive again. We’ll finally have a pick your poison office.

  20. Scurvy Dogs Says:

    LOL what?

    331 yds passing is not managing a game.

  21. buc15 Says:

    Just wait until Rogers gets healthy & joins Martin in the backfield.

  22. Buc1987 Says:

    SB with Jameis…I’m still holding firm on the drafting of more O-linemen.

  23. 813bucboi Says:

    we need the run game to at least keep the defense honest….jameis has really come around and stepped up….you can tell the team is rallying around their qb….we need doug to continue to knock the rust off these last 6 games and turn to last years form vs the saints and panthers to close the season….GO BUCS….I LIKE THIS GUY DIRK :)!!!!

  24. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    You guys are really hilarious, Barber ran better than Dougie??? Please stop it! Barber ran all of 4 times ! He made some good runs but he benefited from Dougie not being in there because the Chiefs would expect a pass then. Dougie was constantly being met behind the line and making guys miss his problem is our linemen are weaklings outside of Mongo Marpet and too weak to hold up their blocks. Why do you think the Chiefs were constantly in the backfield on running plays??? Did you even see what he did with the screen pass??? Tmaxicon you are something else always gotta bash the guy who is easily the best at his position on this team. Dougie was injured those two years and did not benefit from good lines either.

  25. Sunny Says:

    lightningbuc Says:
    November 21st, 2016 at 8:17 am
    Just imagine what happens when Jason Licht addresses receiver in the draft and in free agency!


    You mean there’s no truth to the rumor our GM is going to trade up into the first round for a long snapper?

    Now u know that completely untrue and false , the rumors were us trading up for a special team ace

  26. Pickgrin Says:

    We haven’t heard the last of our running game this season. It will bounce back for at least 2 or 3 big running days out of the next 6 games.
    But on days that defenses are concentrating on shutting down the run game – Jameis can make them pay.

    I bet DM22 runs for at least 600 yards over the next 6 games if he stays healthy…

  27. R.O. Says:

    Not concerned… injuries have hurt the RB situation and now OL injuries. Need consistency… and stop with the pitches they don’t work. If you want to get them to stop clogging the middle. Go back to the WR screen, and just do some outlet passes to your RB. We commit contain the outside runs..

  28. gotbbucs Says:

    The real reason Martin is seeing more snaps than Barber is because Martin is better in pass pro, not because he’s a better runner right now. Martin to me looks heavy right now and unable to do what he did last year. Still, he needs to be in the game for protection reasons.

  29. San Francisco Joe Says:

    I couldn’t disagree with you more Joe. Martin played very well yesterday, picking up yards on first and second down to put the offense in a short down and distance. The running game is by far the engine of this offense despite how well Jameis is playing. Take Martin out of the past two games and it’s a much different outcome. I’m also surprised to hear you say that you wouldn’t bet on Martin returning to form. That’s very short sided of you to say considering the fact that this was his second game back from injury. Give me a friggin break. But he’s used to having doubters. People have questioned his abilities ever since he’s been in the league. He always proves them wrong.

  30. Martinii Says:

    joe, stupid question on my part, but why does my name always print out in red on my post? Just curious.

  31. SeanyMac in SC Says:

    IMHO, you play to the weakest parts of the D you are playing against. Just watch how NE can completely change things each week based upon the opponents and the strengths of your own team.

  32. pick6 Says:

    the rush attempts have not been as successful as the pass, but the fact that there have been 62 of them in 2 weeks means defenses have to play us differently. it would be disastrous if the coaching staff interpreted this as evidence they should run less and pass more

  33. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    Great thread here guys…i agree with those who see through the numbers. We got some patch work goin on in the interior of the line and the coaching staff seems to have these guys ready enough to still attempt running the ball. Our third down success yesterday came on the heels of quite a few three and four yard Martin runs. Martin was also great in the screen game which is basically an extension of the run. Our offense was beautifully balanced yesterday.

  34. Eric Says:

    It’s evident at this point that most people disagree with this article. Not quite sure where you got the perspective that Doug won’t return to form. LOL It seemed obvious that KC was crowding the box because most of the NFL anticipated that this was Doug’s breakout game. Throw in the propensity for Jameis to force turnovers in the first half of the season and all hands on Doug.

    I am also willing to bet Doug finishes with 500+ yards the remainder of the season. Jameis is proving more and more to opposing teams he can sling the rock. Defenses will game plan more for this thus unleashing Doug’s ability to ball out, which has already been proven in his career. Just wait until Quiz is back in and can spell Doug for half the game. Our offense is going to be firing on all cylinders. I cannot wait! We have never experienced a dominant offense in our history as what has been unfolding and will continue to do.

    Add in an improved defense and the sky is the limit this season. The future will be even better.

  35. unbelievable Says:

    Joe if you want to look at the running game woes, than look no further than the offensive line + play calling.

    First, we have some major injuries that are really hurting us. And out tackles have been below average in the run game.

    Second, Koetter’s play calling get’s extremely predictable. doug rips off a 5 yard run up the gut on first down, and then we run it up the gut again on 2nd down and it goes nowhere. We keep seeing this game after game.

    So even if the running totals aren’t impressive, it’s still making a huge difference and allowing us to set up play action much more effectively. The passing game might be more effective and move the ball more, but without the run game we have no passing game. Just look at the games where Doug or Jacquizz did not start for us.

  36. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “It’s the passing attack that’s carrying the Bucs in a big way.” Might be in the minority Joe, but I agree with you. We’ve won these last 2 games because of Jameis, despite averaging over 32 runs/game (for 98 yds/game and 1 TD total). That’s a whopping 3 yds/carry … not good at all. Jameis on the other hand has been on fire: he’s 47-of-72 for 643 yds in those 2 games (65%) with 2 TDs and only 1 INT. And a lot of those throws were in obvious passing situations (3rd downs?). Kudos to Bucs receivers who’ve also stepped up big time. Problem with the run game isn’t Martin & Barber … it’s our OLine not opening holes. When you focus on various elements (OLine, WRs, DLine, LBs etc) during the games, it becomes obvious real fast what the problems are (Kwon for instance been pushed around like a rag doll in these last 2 games it’s looked like to me).

  37. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Martin is rusty. You could see the frustration he was feeling. I suspect he’ll work hard to improve this week.

    The injuries at RB forced the passing game to be used more, and with certain WRs having returned from injury, and Shorts getting more comfortable in the system, its a natural progression.

    I think it will fluctuate back and forth.

  38. wesley Says:

    Why has Joe always disliked Doug?