Fixing The Running Game

May 2nd, 2017

What does the future hold?

Most NFL executives and coaches say the same thing after every draft: You can only fill so many holes. And it’s true.

But damn, did Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht do a helluva job filling in holes.

Now, objectively, the Bucs really have only two areas of concern: no edge rush (where have you heard that before?) and a very questionable running game.

The Bucs are quick to defend the offensive line, both on and off the record, and Joe agrees with the Bucs that the offensive line turned into an easy b!tch session from fans, fueled by the wannabes who beat their chests with the PFF tribe. The tribe knows about as much about offensive line intricacies as Joe does about luring a Bucs cheerleader into his lair.

So if the offensive line was not an issue last year, then it must have been the running backs, no? If that is true, Licht sure waited a long while in the draft to resolve this issue, choosing Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round.

Jenna Laine of ESPN believes the biggest concern on the Bucs as we await rookie minicamp Friday is getting the rushing attack into gear,

But everybody prefers balance on offense, and with Doug Martin set to serve a four-game drug suspension, Tampa Bay still waited until the fifth round to draft a running back. Can the Bucs count on a Martin bounce-back? If not, can they get by with Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers and fifth-round pick Jeremy McNichols? Will they have to sign LeGarrette Blount or Jamaal Charles? Winston will want to hand off the ball at some point. To whom can he do that?

Well, first, Joe would be shocked if the Bucs brought back LeGarrette Blount. Too many people remain in the building at One Buc Palace from when Blount played for the Bucs,and let’s just say that ship has very likely sailed.

(Joe remembers talking to a Steelers beat guy about Blount at the NFL combine, telling the Pittsburgh scribe what Joe had seen with his own eyes about Blount. The Steelers beat guy chuckled and said Blount pulled the same stunts in Pittsburgh, which is why he is no longer in Pittsburgh. Joe is always amused how Bucs fans holler about the Bucs getting rid of Blount but conveniently forget one of the top organizations in sports shoved Blount out the front door, too.)

And if Licht had no interest in bringing in Adrian Peterson, then Joe cannot fathom Licht bringing in Jamaal Charles, who really looks to be toast.

Joe remembers winning Bucs coach Dirk Koetter saying at the NFL combine the inconsistency of who was actually running ball was a primary issue with the running game last year. (Doug Martin had the 28th most carries in the NFL. Jacquizz Rodgers was right behind him at 32nd.)

Joe ran this past a couple of NFL contacts since and was told Koetter’s findings do indeed hold water.

So if this season the running game struggles, and it’s not the offensive line, then it has to be the running backs, yes? As the one and only Chris “Mad Dog” Russo would say, that’s all there is to it.

55 Responses to “Fixing The Running Game”

  1. Gencoimports Says:

    Charles may sign with the Broncos today.

  2. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Bucs definitely need an RB, I do not read what PFF says, but I do watch every bucs game and the OL is one of the weakest links on the team, Dallas game and the no name hall of famer now proved that, now you have marpet at center maybe sweezy can play but steve kerr cant coach with a bad back, so playing guard with one? Bengals have extra RBs now licht should go out and trade a 3 or a 4 for jeremy hill who is a between the tackles runner the bucs desperately need

  3. mike n Says:

    Dougie will come in to camp hungry and in great shape. He is motivated and will have a great 13 games. We can replace him next draft.


    With all the weapons jameis has (OJ, ME, Djax, Brate, Godwin, Hump) we won’t need a stud RB to carry the load. Our offense will be just fine. Defenses will have to respect (and fear) our recieving threats which will leave less defenders around the line of scrimmage which will make life easier for whichever RB is carry the rock. Good times ahead

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    No question Koetter loves the running game but … Bucs did win 9 games against a tough schedule last year with a running game that was less than ideal (trying to be kind). Even if Bucs roll with Martin, Rodgers, Sims & Barber, Koetter will find a way to use their combined skills effectively I’m convinced. Plus the Bucs have added a speedy WR (DJax) & a beastly TE (Howard) both of whom should help keep spread the field & keep the defense from stacking the box. Tend to think that our biggest question marks right now are the OLine & the DLine. If both of them ball out, sky’s the limit. If either one falters, guess is that we’ll see a lot of close games which obviously could go either way.

  6. Tom Edrington Says:

    Will someone please tell Joe that both the passing and RUNNING GAME are pretty much dependent on the offensive line……

  7. BuccoDav Says:

    Joe says: “The tribe knows about as much about offensive line intricacies as Joe does about luring a Bucs cheerleader into his lair.”

    C’mon. they can’t be that bad… 🙂

  8. tnew Says:

    If you aren’t going to spend a 3 in the draft for a guy like Samje Perrine this year, with all of the contractual advantages of having a player on a rookie deal for 4 seasons, why would you trade a 3 for a 900 yards per year runner with one year left on his deal? Not being a smart … just not sure I follow the logic.

    I disagree with the need for a RB but Sweezy makes me nervous with a back. I don’t understand the severity of the initial injury and what happened but I’m more concerned with what happens if he goes down and Marpet is forced to move back to guard. I am very happy with our first 5, maybe even 6 o-lineman. The tumble gets steep after that spot. Here’s hoping for a cap casualty or two across the league to find their way here.

  9. DallasBuc Says:

    Martin was injured majority of the season with a serious hamstring tear. The joes know this and ignore it to defend an indefensible performance by an oline that they are agenda driven to deflect blame for. I personally hope Martin is healthy to start the year and is retained on his current contract because he is our primary RB this season like it or not and will have a much better performance because he will not be rolling on a bum wheel despite the mediocre oline.

  10. Guzzie Says:

    Facing 9 man fronts, 2 on Evans, 9 for all the UDFA running around on the field, at 1 point it was UDFA Brate, Hump, Martino etc, Hump and Brate did ok, but no one was worried about this offense, now with OJ, DJax, Godwin threatening with speed, RBs are gonna run wild

  11. Gencoimports Says:

    I still have offensive line concerns (mainly Sweezy, Dotson), but not the current state of our RBs.

    The presence of all of this added speed (Jackson, Howard, Godwin) plus a good blocking TE in Howard who is also a deep threat will make the OL job a bit easier. Fewer 8 men in a box scenarios, plus I expect Koettler not calling 6 running plays in a row, which invites defenses to stack the line and blow it up.

  12. gilhealy Says:

    Exactly Guzzie. No worries.

  13. Lamarcus Says:

    Replace martin next year. Not this year makes more sense with the current roster. Joe your desperately trying rid of Martin -altough it seems that way- and replace him w a 5th round rookie is far and away irresponsible. I hoping Martin stays by default

  14. stu Says:

    Doug has only 3 games left on his suspension…

  15. Gencoimports Says:

    Joe’s agenda is controversy. No controversy = no eyeballs, and Doug Martin is the most controversial subject this offseason.

  16. Doctor Stroud Says:

    I loved Blount’s bruising running style (although he had a tough time in goal line situations), but I think that the coaching staff wants RBs that can contribute in a variety of ways, including pass catching, pass blocking, and special teams. Yes, the ship has sailed, the page has turned, the train has left the station, and any other metaphor that you can think of that shows that the Bucs have moved on. And, if they didn’t sign AP, then why would they sign Charles or Blount, unless injuries pile up or they have a total lack of confidence in the RBs already in the building? We haven’t even seen mini-camp with all of the players together yet. And, let’s face it: these veteran players probably don’t want to sign with any team until the very end of training camp.

  17. Joeypoppems Says:

    Well, controversy creates cash.

  18. Gencoimports Says:

    Blount was terrible short yardage back when he was here. A recap from this site:

  19. Rod Munch Says:

    Simply put Dirk needs to do a better job. When it comes to play calling Dirk was awful in 2016, he was incredibly predictable, just ran the same plays over and over, threw hissy fits if his young gunslinging QB turned the ball over (gasp) early in the season and then when the defense played well down the stretch Dirk would try to sit on a 3 point lead like it was 2002 again. Dirk wasn’t the same offensive coach he was in 2015 and if you paid even a tiny bit of attention to the games you’d have seen this. Yes not all of the weapons were there, and that is a very legitimate excuse, but the run it up the middle on every first down and not using the fact you run it up the middle on every series to setup play action passes…. the play callling wasn’t good and there was no flow to it. Dirk needs to improve and get back to his 2015 playcalling and I hope he figures that out. The good news is with him talking about how he might need an OC, at least acknowledging that, that’s a good sign. I don’t think they need an OC, at least not yet, but hopefully he has someone in the booth that he trusts that will keep him out of these ruts.

  20. Buc1987 Says:

    FIRETHECANNONS..tis what I’ve been saying for a few days now. All the weapons and the blocking of OJ should moderately improve the running game. Weak o-line draft class? No problem. Load up on weapons. That should make things easier for the woeful o-line.

    Like I keep saying. My grandma could tote the rock for the Bucs this season.

    Not concerned anymore.

  21. Rod Munch Says:

    Blount when he was here was a great finesse runner but he stunk in the short yardage game – but he was incredible at making plays. People thought because he’s big he’d be a run it up the middle kind of guy, but he was agility and leaping ability – those were his big traits. His run in Green Bay is one of, if not the, best run in the history of the team. Blount single handedly defeated the Cardinals on the road that year as well.

    But alas he wasn’t a Schiano Man, so Joe wanted him ran out of town. Joe I don’t recall but did you also want Talib ran out of town? Serious question – I have no memory of you did or did not.

    Anywho me personally, short of punching women in the face and saying it was self defense because they might have called you a naughty word, short of that I don’t really care if the team is fully of Warren Sapp’s or not do long as the team is winning. For all the Sapp hate that came later no player got a bigger fan reaction in the stadium than Sapp. Why is that? Because people buy tickets to see winners – not Boy Scouts. In NE they don’t care if Blount is a Boy Scout or not, they only care about winning – and it seems to have worked out well for them.

  22. Buc1987 Says:

    Gencoimports Says:

    “Joe’s agenda is controversy”

    Uh oh. Joe swears up and down it’s not.

    Git em Joe. lolo

  23. Spacebuc Says:

    Amen and hallelujah Rod!
    Spot on!
    The freaking dive play has got to go bye bye.
    As does the oh-so-predictable dump pass to whoever short of the sticks.
    Here’s to DK getting creative and crafty with his calls this year.
    And, I think DM22 is gonna kick butt, and Chuck Sims is on notice with the Jmic pick.
    Team still needs multiple big uglies on both sides.
    Go Bucs!

  24. Ocala Says:

    I liked our draft a lot, but we have awful running backs
    Hopefully our 5th round choice will be able to start for us.

  25. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    I’m with the guys who keep yammering about building a great OL. Perhaps where we part is that I believe we are pretty close if we get just two breaks.

    It’s hard to overstate how bad a team of 11 guys looks if one of them simply cannot play his position. And an OL is perhaps the quintessential part of NFL teamwork…when a spot breaks down it makes the ENTIRE GROUP look bad….VERY BAD!

    So when you consider that for quite a bit of last year our RT was not simply beaten…he was totally overwhelmed…people just literally ran around him or pushed him out of the way….WE HAD NO RT last year.

    Our center had lots of heart and played his guts out but he simply doesn’t possess superior NFL physical skills and he got pushed around a lot right in the center of our line.

    Can somebody explain to me how we can grade the OL when there was no RT playing and the Center was frequently overmatched?

    The center will not be frequently overmatched this year. I predict in a couple of years Marpet will become All Pro at Center and be part of a very famous Buc’s offense. If Sweezy is healthy then there is no giant drop off replacing Marpet at Guard…especially in the run game. Pamphile and Smith are more than adequate at their positions…so we NEED an RT.

    Perhaps the Bucs believe Benenoch is the answer. Perhaps another player on their radar…maybe they have an FA in mind. But if Sweezy is healthy and we find and even servicable RT we are going to have an excellent run blocking OL and our backs will be fine.

  26. Buc1987 Says:

    Blount’s a helluva hurdler.

  27. BucTrooper Says:

    So Licht is saying that the problem was we didn’t give the ball ENOUGH to a drug addict….. more carries would have gotten us to the playoffs.

    This logic makes no sense and Joe is on point. If it’s no the OL, it’s running game, and if it’s the running game you need to make changes which Licht DIDN’T make despite having ample opportunities.

    Like Lovie standing by Kyle Brindza, if this goes south, he’s going to have to own this one…. people are already crooking an eye for trading up to draft a kicker and he’s already fired one coach that he hired….. he’s running out of chances.

  28. Rod Munch Says:

    Spacebuc – thanks. But I will say Sims was an incredibly import part of that 2015 offense, and his role was perfect, a 3rd down receiving back and a guy who would come in time to time and give Martin a breather. The kid isn’t a lead back however, he’s not built for it and just doesn’t have the ability to rush it up the middle on first down. But just don’t use him for that and he’s excellent. Sims issue is durability – if he could stay healthy he has a ton more value. Also isn’t hilarious to me that the Panthers used their top 10 pick on a Sims clone. They’re the same height, Sims is much heavier and stronger, but they both ran the exact same 40 times, had close to the same vert I believe, McCaffery had a bit better agility, but they’re the same player. Last year down the stretch when the Bucs were out of WR’s they had Sims playing WR. HVing a guy like that is a huge plus to a team – if he can stay healthy. For Carolina they got a much skinner Sims clone, and I don’t think he makes it very long into the year without getting hurt – not if they try to use him as a runner anyways. We shall see.

  29. Patrick in VA Says:

    Doug is against the wall and he’s playing for something. He’s the best in the league when he’s desperate. I can’t see us pitching him when he’s here on the cheap. Let Quizz get the first 3 games worth of carries and let Doug play like a man possessed to get a contract, hopefully from another team.

  30. Cobraboy Says:

    I’m sorry, but it’s not either/or: either the OL sucked or the RB’s sucked.

    Not so. Not that easy.

    One has to give props to opposing DC’s, too.

    With one real viable WR threat, it’s easy to stack the box and dare the pass. Their goal is what Bucs DC’s have dined on for years past: shut down the running game and make a team one-dimensional. 8 on defense vs. 5 or 6 on offense, the D will invariably win.

    Now make that 6 on D vs the same 5/6 on O, completely different story. It reminds me that what Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest said about his theory on how to win a battle: “To get there firstest with the mostest men” holds true in football. Simple as that.

    With a completely re-tooled WR stable and a new TE from The Gods, stacking the box to stop the run is a sure-fire way to get blown out. An effective 2 TE formations actually helps the running game, even if TE’s don’t block because it forced LB’s onto TE’s and out of the box.

  31. Joe Says:

    So Licht is saying that the problem was we didn’t give the ball ENOUGH to a drug addict….

    No, it was Koetter (as referenced above).

    Joe might have to dig the quote out again, but Koetter (Joe is generalizing here) noted on a specific cut-up in a specific game, there were x-amount of running backs used. In other words, inconsistency. Offensive lines get to know the style, timing, etc. of certain running backs and adjust accordingly. If the line was constantly adjusting to different running backs, it created more inconsistency.

    Joe ran this by a few NFL types not associated with the Bucs and was told Koetter is right.

  32. DavidBigBucFan99 Says:

    Drip drip drip! Blah blah blah! The same nonsensical schpiel from Cataract Joe. When you’re blind in both eyes and have an agenda of course you won’t see what’s happening. The run game sucked because also the line got no push on run plays and pushed back on pass plays. The backs constantly being rerouted or hit in the backfield constantly. Why do you think we even sucked against teams whose run defense sucked. Once again I gotta say Fameis was sacked 12 more times than 2015 so how is there no line problem? Chokester Cheribus or whatever his name was then Joe Hawley ,Davis and the left tackle forgot his name were seives all last year.

    Sounds like skme trying to keep open some inside sources to me with Joe defending the Glazer schpiel so ardently. Of course the coaches won’t rip the line publicly. A tired record coming out of Joe.

  33. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    Teams will have to respect our passing attack which will open up the ground game. No more stacking the box against us. Between Quizz, Sims, Peyton, and McNichols we will be just fine. If Dougie comes in and kills it during the off-season great if not his ass is gone. The only good thing about that is he is basically in a contract year so he should do well since this is the only time he does anything

  34. DallasBuc Says:

    Martin is our franchise back (paid that way by everyone’s hero GM) and we should ride him all the way to a championship. Like any other RB, if you are playing on a torn hamstring you are not going to be able to perform, especially when the mediocre oline in front of you can’t get any push forward up front and in most cases is getting smashed backwards.

  35. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    Sweezy will help our run game a ton. That’s his specialty

  36. Bucsfanman Says:

    We were 9-7 with all the injuries, turnovers, and poor play on both the line and RB. With the recent additions, we’ll be fine. I suppose it bears mentioning that despite his “off year”, mentally and physically, Doug Martin was the 2nd leading rusher in 2015. That wasn’t long ago folks.
    Oh, please stop blaming ONLY the RBs for the poor rushing attack. Anyone with eyes would have seen the O-line struggling as well. No RB will do well when they have defenders wrapped around their ankles when they are 3 yards deep in the backfield!

  37. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:


    Dougie avg 2.9 ypc Quizz who has been a below average RB his entire career avg almost 5 ypc. Its not our lines fault it’s a lazy POS collecting checks and not.caring about anything but partying and having a good time. Cut that trash out bro. You clearly are a huge fan of Dougie and I understand you supporting him. But he doesn’t care about football. Plain and simple

  38. Jonzey Says:

    Bucs need to get Charles I think he has something to prove. Sign him to a 2m prove it deal.

  39. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    For the last time Quizz AVERAGED 4.3 YPC with this line. DOUGIE ONLY PUT UP 2.9. It’s called DESIRE. Even Peyton averaged 4.1 behind our line

  40. DallasBuc Says:

    Funky- you are making an argument based on something other than observable reality. It’s convenient, I know but isn’t very intelligent. Anyone with passable eyesight could 1) See that Martin had a serious injury, 2) see that the oline was smashed backwards on run downs with or without Martin in there and 3) see that our rushing attack was our Achilles heal with the absence or ineffectiveness of an injured Martin.
    Stop making stuff up. I realize that is common around these parts to further certain agendas but it obviously does not comport with empirical, lived reality.

  41. 813bucboi Says:

    @ROD….great post….your spot on with dirk and his play calling…I mentioned it last year quite a few times but people would be quick to call me a lovie lover… you, I called it how I saw things…..dirk has to do a better job with his play calling BUT I will say I believe his horrible play calling was due to working with a half of clip, sort to speak…..he wasn’t able to do the things he wanted because he didn’t have the players he needed…but that has all changed now….he has the players, he has the coaches….playoffs or bust…..BUT YOUR POST WAS ON POINT….GO BUCS!!!!

  42. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    Excellent point. Again football is a team sport and if you can’t throw it effectively it certainly does limit your running ability and as you correctly point out if the DC’s can easily game plan against your offense they can jam the box and pretty well cut off the run.

    Another example of this being tied together stuff…our D couldn’t hold 4th Q leads last year and seemed to wear down in the 4th. Some people might look at what’s wrong with the D…and like everyone else they can improve..,but the Bucs O hosed our D in the 2nd half…couldn’t maintain possession and run clock much less add a couple more FG’s to the scoreboard.

    I think that problem goes away this year and as our offense becomes more productive it gives our D less time stuck out on the field, They’ll be fresher in the 4th.

  43. NFLNut Says:

    Two words, “camp cuts” … a guy like Adrian Peterson himself could be cut … my guess is he is NOT HAPPY he signed with the Saints and they are both surprised and thrilled to have been able to draft Alvin Kamara … had either party knew Kamara was going to be drafted, I doubt AP would ever have signed with the Saints in the first place.

  44. buc15 Says:


    It’s good to see somebody with some actual real football knowledge up in here rather than the usual circus full of clowns

  45. gotbbucs Says:

    Hawley out at center and Mongo moving over there is an upgrade. If Sweezy plays to the level they’re paying him then another upgrade.
    Kevin Pamphile is not a finished product yet, so he is still somewhat of a weak point, but putting a better player next to him at center should elevate his game.

    If you’re strong in the middle of the o-line you have a chance.

    As for running backs, don’t sleep on Peyton Barber. If they can improve his pass pro then he has a chance to be a good early down back.

  46. LakeLandBuc Says:

    Dirk Koetter isn’t interested in these ‘one trick pony’ RBs. He’s looking for all-purpose RBs. Someone who can block, catch the ball and run the ball.

  47. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Offensive line last year didn’t have Sweezy, were banged up at tackle position, didn’t have a decent blocking TE and Martin was hurt 2nd game and never fully recovered. Understand the Martin frustration, but really Joe, think your slant is just anti-Martin. Let it play out, if Martin is unproductive, he’ll get cut, but I think he’ll bounce back and have a great year

  48. Extra Credit Says:

    Everyone here is going back and forth on whether the issue is the Oline or Doug. The majority of the problem is neither, IMO, it was losing VJax and the lack of a 2nd WR. Teams could routinely stack the box with 8 and 9 players because the lack of receiving threat outside of Evans. When Jameis and Brate started to gel, Brate #s went up due to the lack of coverage. Prior to the Draft with the addition of DJax and Brate’s emergence, our running game had gotten a whole lot better. Then we added Howard in the Draft, best blocking TE to come out in a long time and he runs a 4.51 40. This next year should be one of our best rushing years in while and better than 2015. We will/should line up in 12 personnel oftern (2 TE, 2 WR & 1 RB) with a combo of Howard, Brate and/or Stocker (very run heavy) and teams can’t bring extra players down on the box due to the speed and receiving threats of Evans, DJax and Howard. Jameis should have the ability to check in and out of run/pass plays this year much like Peyton had in previous, 7 in box run/ 8 or more pass. Barring injuries this should be our best offense ever in TB, run and pass.

  49. Defense Rules Says:

    On looking back at Martin’s & Rodgers rushing performances in each game last year, one thing stood out to me: they were BOTH quite consistent throughout the season, regardless of who the opponent was. Doug played in 8 games, and in each one his rushing average was between 2.6 to 3.8 for a 2.9 average (except for the Chicago game where he fell to a 2.1 average). Jaquizz played in 10 games, and in each one his rushing average was between 3.0 to 5.9 for a 4.34 average (except for the Arizona game where he averaged 14.5 on 2 rushes and the Saints game where he averaged 0 on 2 rushes). Both played in 3 games together (Arizona, San Diego & New Orleans) … Martin averaged 2.85 on 47 rushes while Rodgers averaged 5.3 on 11 rushes.

    For the most part though they faced different opponents/defenses, so it’s hard to compare one vs the other quantitatively. Plus playing through injuries obviously plays a role. In general though, looked to me like Jaquizz was putting up numbers (4.34 yds/rush on the season) that were similar to what Doug put up in 2015 (4.87 yds/rush average in 2015). Doug’s average clearly fell dramatically in 2016 … some of which is on him, some of which may be on the Bucs OLine, some of which may be on how he was used, and some of which opposing defenses deserve credit for. Thank heaven 2017 is a new year with new opportunities for BOTH to excel.

  50. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:


    Yes our O Line could be better but when you have a rookie averaging over 4 ypc and a journeyman RB averaging 4.3 you and your “star” RB can’t top 3. The issue is with that RB. He has had 2 good years ever. His rookie and his contract. That means his desire isn’t there. He enjoys the lifestyle more than the game. It happens all the time.

    The biggest issue was no 2nd WR. When one guy gets close to 180 targets something is seriously wrong. Jameis brought a lot of the sacks on himself trying to hold the ball too long to make a play. Thanks to a superb draft we now have talent across the board at WR and TE. That by itself will help our running game. The addition of Sweezy will be another upgrade in our rushing attack

  51. Cobraboy Says:

    has an article that quotes both Licht & Koetter saying that they are happy with Martin and he is a big part of the backfield.
    You might want to re-read it and what was written here.–Joe

  52. Reach87 Says:

    Cobraboy, nice analysis on the run game issues. Hoping we can get those several factors in line this year. Go Bucs!

  53. Issic Haggins Says:

    Charles just signed , 1 one year 3.75

  54. Jim Says:

    Maybe some field goals this year. That would help…

  55. Eric Says:

    Man it took me a while to find someone who knew what they were talking about. Everyone blaming the o line, no wait it was doug….

    Extra Credit nailed it. If you want to know what was wrong last year, read his comment.