Jacquizz Will Set The Bar

July 30th, 2017

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays.


He’s easy to overlook — and that would be a big mistake.

It’s fashionable to underestimate Jacquizz Rodgers and his potential role on the 2017 Buccaneers. But if you get past his 5-foot-6 frame, Rodgers will have an opportunity to play a huge role in shaping Dirk Koetter’s ground game this fall.

And as Koetter likes to remind his campers, it’s all about opportunity.

Doug Martin may have a chip on his shoulder, but it is Rodgers who will have the rock in his hands during the opening three weeks of the season while Martin serves out his NFL suspension.

And if the Bucs boast offensive balance and a winning record when the Giants arrive in town for an Oct. 1 matchup, why would Koetter mess with a good thing?

He won’t … not in a New York minute.

“Jacquizz is power-packed,” says Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who coached Rodgers during Smith’s final four seasons in Atlanta. “He’s a small package, but he plays big. When you’re trying to tackle a guy like that, it’s all knees and shoulder pads.”

And heart.

Down A “Dog”

Rodgers has waited a long time for an opportunity to be a feature back, despite a record-setting prep career in Richmond, Texas, and a glittering three-year stint at Oregon State.

Last year, he signed with the Bucs two days into the season and finished as the leading rusher for a franchise that struggled to open holes and keep defenses honest.

While the Bucs gained only 3.6 yards per carry, Rodgers averaged 4.3 yards and produced Tampa Bay’s longest run of the season, a 45-yard dash at San Francisco.

“We’ve got a great group of guys in the backfield and everybody brings something different to the table,” says Rodgers, who turned in a pair of 100-yard games. “We feed off the tempo of our lead dog, Doug.”

That dog may not hunt, however.

It doesn’t hurt Rodgers that he knows Koetter’s playbook inside and out. There’s a trust factor between Koetter and a former 2012 fifth-round draft pick who may have personally salvaged the Buc season when he powered a 1-3 club to a crucial Monday night win at Carolina.

Tampa Bay’s running game was in tatters when the Bucs ventured into Charlotte and turned ground transportation over to Rodgers. He responded with 101 yards on 30 carries, providing stability and possession time.

Jameis Winston, who averaged 44 pass attempts during the first month, threw only 30 times at Carolina and Rodgers followed up with those 154 yards against the 49ers as the Bucs evened their record at 3-3.

“Jacquizz did a great job for us last year,” Smith says. “He’s a play-maker. He may not have your traditional height and speed, but put the ball in his hands and he makes plays.”

Buc fans want to know Martin’s fate, but the stark truth is that nobody knows for sure. Koetter and Jason Licht don’t have to make a decision for another two months — and they are in no hurry to render a final verdict.

There’s no real debate at this point about who will be Tampa Bay’s featured back in the season opener at Miami.

Three Weeks For A TKO

Martin is unavailable, Charles Sims couldn’t find any running room last fall and rookie Jeremy McNichols has never taken an NFL snap. Peyton Barber had impressive rookie moments, especially against the woeful 49ers, but Rodgers will have first crack at fixing a running game that would have averaged a ridiculous 3.3 yards without No. 32.

“For us, it’s about finding a way to win games when it’s close,” Rodgers says. “There’s nothing wrong with the high expectations around here, but we know we have to put the work in because nothing is given to you.”

In Atlanta, Rodgers took handoffs from Matt Ryan, the league’s reigning MVP. Now, he is looking forward to another year with Jameis Winston.

“Jameis is one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around,” he says, “a person who puts his teammates before himself. It’s rare that you see that in this league, and he means it.”

The first three weeks of the season will tell Doug Martin all he needs to know about his future in this organization.

Here’s a sure bet. There’s at least one guy at One Buc Place not overlooking Jacquizz Rodgers.


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11 Responses to “Jacquizz Will Set The Bar”

  1. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    Love the guy!! One of my favourite Bucs..plays like a steam roller..what a powerful man that can break through a wall of opposing players..

    And a big shout out to his lovely wife Samantha!!

  2. thespiritof76 Says:

    Rodgers reminds me a lot of Earnest Graham in how Graham would always push the pile to get an extra yard or two.

  3. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    I’m watching Ira on WTVT right now..what a great Bucs report right now..love it!!!

  4. Pickgrin Says:

    A well written piece Ira.

    I tend to think though that the Bucs will employ more of a committee approach than to give Rodgers 20+ carries a game. But as you said – Quizz likely has 1st crack out the gate the 1st 3 games – so if he gets a hot hand early – you keep feeding him.

    We have a reasonable idea of what Quizz, Sims and Barber look like and can do. Hopefully all will stay healthy and improve with another year in this offense – but JMac is the unknown. I’m excited to see what McNichols can do with those fresh out of College young legs and how determined he is to make a name for himself in the NFL. If you go by the kid’s productivity in College – FIFTY THREE TDs running and receiving in the last 25 games – this dude is 6 points just waiting to happen. Hopefully, JMac’s play forces his way into the rotation heading into Miami.

  5. LocalJoker Says:

    Quiz will sit the bench when Martin returns.

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    Love Jacquizz’s durability, heart & desire, but I hope you’re wrong Ira. If Rodgers ‘sets the bar’ then our Bucs running game is in trouble IMO. Jacquizz has been very consistent over his 6 yrs in the NFL … he’ll average between 3.5 – 4.0 yds per run and catch 75% – 80% of the balls thrown to him with about a 7 yds per catch average. Very solid numbers, especially if you’re looking to eat up the clock. But … not a huge number of explosive plays each yr, nor a whole bunch of TDs (he’s averaged 1 TD rushing & 1 TD passing yearly thru 6 yrs). And at his size & weight (Bucs list him at 5’7″ & 190 lbs) don’t personally like him being the ‘last line of defense’ for protecting Jameis on passing plays. Extremely valuable RB to have on the roster, but not as the lead dog.

    Unfortunately Bucs don’t presently have a RB lead dog IMO. The RB committee approach can work I think, but only if the OLine dominates and if Koetter can find the ‘hot hand’ RB quickly enough in each game (with a few exceptions, such wasn’t the case last year). That whole aspect of the Bucs’ offense is going to be really interesting to watch this year.

  7. Bucsfanman Says:

    He will certainly get the touches and I do like his heart. I’m not convinced that he’s the long-term answer to the run-game, however. It’s more likely that he will split carries until Martin returns (if). Then again, maybe he proves us all wrong and becomes a 1,000 yard runner.
    This offense will be fun to watch. The same pressure from last year for the run-game has diminished with the addition of all the weapons, IMO.

  8. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Ira is spot on! DK has a spot in his heart for another “pocket rocket”.

    From Wiki

    In 2007, Koetter accepted the position of offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL). In his first year in the NFL, he had immediate success setting franchise records for total points scored and yards gained while helping the Jaguars to an 11–5 record. In his five seasons with the Jaguars, the team cumulatively ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards over that time span in addition to having the NFL’s leading rusher in Maurice Jones-Drew in 2010.

    Oh ye of little faith. Doug had ONE year where he came close to leading the league. MJD…another tiny guy…not only lead the league in 2010 he had a very impressive run where he averaged 20 carries per game and a 4.5 yard per carry. That was THREE consecutive years….the “Muscle Turtle” has never even played 3 consecutive years…why all the love?

    MJD was a terrific RB and it’s premature to compare Quizz to him….yet. Just sayin’ they are very similar backs in size and style and DK will not hold his size against him because of his major success with MJD in Jax.

    I get all this speculation and concern about the RB. IMHO it’s way overblown…IF the OL performs as hoped and Pamphile…Marpet…and Sweezy are mean monsters in the middle…road graders…there are several backs on this roster who will succeed. It all starts up front!

  9. Bucsfanman Says:

    @stpete- MJD was a special back. He also outweighed Rodgers by about 10-15 lbs. Could Rodgers be that guy? Let me tell you, that would be awesome for the Bucs. With this offense, I think our run-game will be better than expected as you’ve pointed out.

  10. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Certainly take your point that MJD was a special back and it’s too soon to expect that from Quizz.

    Right now I think the Buc’s running game is all about potential and possibilities.

    First potential/possibility Our OL. If Sweezy comes back full speed and we find an RT I think that dramatically improves our running game. But again I concede it’s still just “potential”.

    RB Just mentioned Quizz but I think McNichols also has a possibility to be the next excellent BSU RB after Doug and Ajayi. McNichols was a better player than Doug in college…I realize college is not the NFL…but two prior BSU backs did it…is it not at least a possibility?

    And of course as well all agree…this many targets for #3 in the passing game is going to keep DC’s from jamming the box and should help our running game as well.

    Don’t we love training camp when optimism rules!

  11. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I’m rooting for Jacquizz. Sims too. Sims had a good year two years ago. I’m hoping last year was the fluke.

    If nothing else, I think this new oline will be stellar at run blocking.