Running Game Needs Work

September 23rd, 2018

National writer weighs in.

To use a favorite line from Al McGuire, it’s not all balloons and puffy white clouds.

Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report decided to look at one area where each NFL team needs work. For the Bucs, it appears Moton is unimpressed with the rushing attack.

At some point, Ryan Fitzpatrick will play a formidable defense, and the Buccaneers will have to find another way to win.

Running back Peyton Barber claimed the starting job with a strong preseason, but he’s averaging 2.6 yards per carry through two games. As a team, Tampa Bay averages 2.7 yards per rush attempt, which ranks last in the league.

The Buccaneers can’t turn to rookie second-rounder Ronald Jones because of his disappointing outings in exhibition play. He appeared in all four games but finished with 28 carries for 22 yards and a touchdown. Clearly, he isn’t quite ready for a bigger role.

That’s fair, but the thing is, Joe isn’t sure we know much about the running game. As Moton points out, the Bucs haven’t needed a running game yet. Sure, late in games when Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has gone to the run to close out games, the running attack hasn’t worked.

Part of that is the Eagles, for example, normally smother the run.

Joe is of the mind the pass defense needs work. Now Joe has given defensive coordinator Mike Smith a pass because he was working with rookies at corner. In the future, with Brent Grimes being healthy (assuming he remains healthy), those rookies need to be coached up. With experience and snaps, they should improve.

It is the pass defense, not so much the run game, that could bring down the Bucs.

36 Responses to “Running Game Needs Work”

  1. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    what a waste…

    – ROJO cant get on the field

    – Vita Who? cant get on the field

    Since Barber is gaining as many yards as Druggie Martin…..hell lets trade Will Gholston for him so atleast Gruden can save face for one of the biggest screw-ups in NFL history by getting rid of a generational player in Mack

    FitzMagic will fizzle out for sure and no team has ever been successful for a full NFL season without some kind of a rushing attack……which the bucs has none

    I hope Koetter figures this out soon….

  2. kelley rose Says:

    the yards per carry will always drop when your running to kill clock and the other team is loading up to stop the run. we have not played a game yet where we needed to run a lot. when a team shows they can stop our pass then we break out the run because to stop our pass they will most likely have to play back which will open up the run. give rojo time. we gave barber a couple years to develop and im glad we did

  3. Lucious Selmon Says:

    Our teams in the ’90s and early 2000s (with WD-40) needed to be outstanding run blockers, since we really had no air game. Today’s team has a wicked passing game. As long as we can still keep our QBs relatively clean and successful in the air, I’m willing to be patient with the running game, but if we are still averaging 3 ypc at mid-season, I’m gonna want to know who the weak links are.

    There will be a time when we will say we need to be able to run the ball.

  4. Trench War Says:

    On one of the Ira’s podcast Joe mentioned that it seemed when we were trying to eat up the clock that all of our running plays were being ran from a bunch formation telegraphing the fact that it was going to be a run play allowing the defense to stack the box. Joe mentioned that we should spread out the offense in 3 or 4 wr sets. This would spread out the defense and keep them from stacking the box which then would at least allow Barber to run in more space and find openings to exploit. I went back and watched Joe, and you were exactly right. The 9 yards Shaun Wilson had in the beginning of the game was from the shotgun in a 3 wr set. I totally agree with you on this, if they would do this more often I think Barber’s average would increase exponentially.

  5. BUC IT Says:

    if we would’ve jumped up a few spots in this years draft and added an one of those SEC RB’s we would be fine right now. We needed Michel, kerryon or chubb. Was it not obvious they were the best runners in the draft?…. we should consider signing demarco murray for depth or possibly make a trade for a RB….. no matter who is at QB… I think we could be a dangerous playoff team. In my mind we are 2nd to NOBODY in receiving corps. We just need a running game and we might be able to just outscore anyone in a shootout…..

  6. Rod Munch Says:

    Running game hasn’t been used yet so we don’t know if it’s working or not working. The Bucs have been a pass first team, which then in turn opens up the run game – if the Bucs suddenly get really dumb and decide to go back to Dirk’s God awful play calling of running it up the middle on every first down of the first half, you’re going to end up with the same predictable results. Don’t do it. Don’t say it’s 1979 and we have to play like it’s 1979, pass the ball, it will open up the run when you catch the defense off guard.

    As for the running game so far it’s only really been used at the end of the New Orleans game when Dirk came in and shutdown the offense and did everything he could, with 8 mins left in the game, to let NO back into the game. Then last week against Philly, they get the early TD, then on those middling drives afterwards you have the ginger taking a dumb PF penentaly, you have OJ bouncing a ball for an INT, you have Mike Evans dropping a first down pass – they certainly redeemed themselves, but the point is those plays killed drives which probably would have gotten some more run yards in. Then once the Bucs are up, they are trying to run clock (which is probably the right thing to do when you’re NOT facing Brees on the road) and Philly knew it came and just sat on the run – which by the way, is why the passing game was working since the Bucs, even when being conservative, mixed it up.

    Anyways we don’t know if the running game is an issue or not, but in any case who cares. Keep passing the ball and don’t worry about the run for now. When Fitz cools off then we find out if the run works or not, or better we put in Jameis and do the same thing we’ve been doing, which is chucking the ball downfield. YES, it will backfire at some point. But who cares when they’re winning.

  7. Lucious Selmon Says:

    BUC IT Says:
    “if we would’ve jumped up a few spots in this years draft and added an one of those SEC RB’s we would be fine right now.”

    If we had done that, we probably wouldn’t have two of our 3 rookie DBs who look like they are ready to ball.

  8. Bucsfaninchina Says:

    Player Att Yds Yds/Att Long TD
    Peyton Barber 35 91 2.6 23 0
    Ryan Fitzpatrick 13 35 2.7 12 1
    Jacquizz Rodgers 7 14 2.0 7 0
    Shaun Wilson 2 15 7.5. 9 0

    Sure, Bucs have nothing to worry about in the rush game

  9. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “It is the pass defense, not so much the run game, that could bring down the Bucs.” Awesome deflection Joe (or is it diversion?). If the offense in one perspective (running game) isn’t clicking, the solution is obvious: blame the pass defense. Gee, never saw THAT coming. I saw Mike Smith’s name in there (very PREDICTABLE since this piece was about the RUNNING GAME), but I didn’t see Jameis’ name in there (I’m aghast … surely he’s the answer to whatever problem was just conjured up).

    @Joe … “Now Joe has given defensive coordinator Mike Smith a pass because he was working with rookies at corner.” A pass? Just like you did here Joe? Oh now I see it: “those rookies need to be coached up”. Got it. I’m sure Scapegoat Smitty is sleeping MUCH better at night now knowing that the media begrudgingly acknowledges that in a pass-happy league that the offenses have all the advantages, his beaten-up DLine and very inexperienced Secondary have at least held their own.

    How about another diversion Joe … anyone noticed that the Raiders, under another Bucs’ savior named Chucky, are now 0-2? Hmmm, notice that Dougie Martin is averaging 4.0 YPC running behind a somewhat better OLine? Notice that Derek Carr is completing OVER 80% of his passes, and yet the Raiders keep losing? Or notice that through 2 games they’ve only scored 32 points, but have given up 53 points? Hmmm, sorta kinda makes me wonder if maybe there really is something to this idea of offensive & defensive BALANCE when building football TEAMS. (Also makes me wonder what the Raiders were thinking when they bought into all the media hype about Chucky’s coaching prowess).

  10. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Shaun Wilson is a wrinkle that should be explored . He is a fast shifty runner.
    He is not a big back so blocking may be an issue. Incorporating more screen passes might help RB’s get more involved in game. At some point we may have to mix it up more, but who knows it may be in one of the upcoming gameplans.
    Doesn’t make a lot of sense to run a lot against a team like the Eagles who are built to stop the run.

  11. Bob in Valrico Says:

    One thing that was impressive from the Eagles game was the way the Eagles set up a running play with three lineman blocking downfield. We should be able to duplicate that on the left side of the line for both screens and sweeps.

  12. Warrenfb12 Says:

    What is this guy talking about “at some point”? Wasn’t philly supposed to be one of the best defenses in the league?

  13. Anonymous Says:

    We need to get Bell now

  14. Jonzey Says:

    We need Bell bad

  15. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Buc it is proof people spew out crap they heard without researching it themselves. Please tell the class who the Bucs could of moved up and gotten? Barkley? Michel? Guice?

  16. Ryan McGregor Says:

    This whole thing about “the running game needs work” is a bunch of BS, JOE. Only reason Barber hasn’t been an absolute stud this season is bc the passing offense is so good; the Bucs get out to a huge lead early. It becomes obvious that the Bucs are going to run the ball to waste clock in the late 3rd and 4th quarters so opposing team stacks 9 in the box. At the beginning of games Barber gets his yards.

  17. Buc4L Says:

    More screen passes!!!!! Get the RB & Hump more involved!!


  18. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Am I the only one who thinks we shouldn’t try to kill the clock by running (at least not too early)?……..Our passing game is outstanding and we should keep passing and step on the throats of the opponent….
    The passing game is what got us the lead…..
    It is what will produce our wins.
    With Fitz, the chances of turnovers are minimal….
    Multiple receivers are open on every play and would probably be the entire game.

  19. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I was alive back when Don Coryell ran the offense we are using, and it is a motherfunker to stop. As long as we can give Fitz time, our receivers will get open because they are nearly impossible to cover. Yes, it would be mighty nice to have a running game, and it would make us even more better, but we are winning w/o it, and will continue to do so.
    It sure looks like RoJo is a total bust, so far.

  20. i like gunslingers Says:

    attack attack attack just keep pressing put the foot on their throat and don’t let up, stop trying to protect he lead, and keep trying to pile on the points, spread em out and hen hit him in the gut with a run from time to time, if your up by 21 try to put up 21 more, no mercy, quit trying not to embarass the other coach, if it’s 4th quarter with a buck thirty on the clock and your at the three yd line with first and goal, attack attack attack

  21. JabooBuc Says:

    Some of you are really dumb. Do you guys watch the games? Barber actually ran the ball well in the 1st half of the Saints game. But once they built a 24 point lead, they tried milking the clock with the run game and the Saints loaded the box to stop them. It’s what should happen and running the clock out is what you should do.

    The Bucs run game was a victim of circumstance again with the Eagles. First, as Joe said, the Eagles are built to stop the run. But second, we scored quickly and often and gain tried to milk clock. Remember, when you score quickly like they did your defense has to go back on the field. It was extremely hot on Sunday and that defense was gassed with a lot of injuries. You had to run the ball against a team that knew you had to run and is built to stop the run.

    I have faith this run game will get a lot better in terms of the stats you guys are looking at. Teams will now come into games with the Bucs very concerned about the passing game. Most teams won’t have a lot of answers other than playing a lot of nickel which should open up things for the run game.

  22. Ryan McGregor Says:

    ^^^^ what Jaboo said

  23. BucEmUp Says:

    Simple….as Joe said the secondary is part of the problem. Obviously teams.likr philly have strong lines , but when your team.knows it has to continue throwing the ball to win a shootout you can’t get your rb humming.

    Thing with Barber is he gets good with a lot of carries. Give him 22 carries a game and he will get hot. Only problem is when the defense can’t keep points from going on the ball you can’t feed your running back in risk of runnijg too much time off the clock and not getting 3rd.down conversions because the defense knows.your.throwing it after you have ran it on first and second down.

    If.someone grows a pair and calls press coverage all game except in specific situations this will be a super bowl team with Monken calling plays and these weapons

  24. BucTrooper Says:

    Trade for Leveon Bell.

  25. Slugglife Says:

    Yes Jaboo. These run stats are deceiving. But that’s all the eggheads know, is stats, this their stupid takes on our run game. Is there more to be desired? Hell yeah! But both games Barber was gashing the hell out of the D for6-8-9 yards per carry. Which in turn opened up the field for our blazing receivers.

    It’s all relative and the low per carry yardage stat lacks credibility without consideration of when the low yardage carries took place- mostly at games end, as has been stated before.

  26. Bob in Valrico Says:

    @ Jaboo
    IF you take out Barber’s one 23 yard run he is averaging about two yards per carry for about 34 attempts. So there is room for improvement and mixing our
    running game with Screens ,a skill that Barber has done well previously. Screenn to Hump usually net a good gain also.

  27. Pa Privateer Says:

    until the passing game is stopped…….who cares.


    If an opposing offense is forced to pass, that will lead to interceptions and sacks

  28. Jeagan1999 Says:

    Jason Licht needs to raid the Bears practice squad and sign Ryan Nall. The Bears are loaded at RB and Nall (6″2′, 230lbs) is a beast of a back who can rip off big runs, block and catch the ball out of the backfield!He would be a perfect compliment to Barber and give our backfield some extra juice!

    Make it happen Jason. Since he’s on Chicago’s practice squad, it won’t even costs us a draft pick!

  29. D1 Says:


    Press coverage???? I have assume you mean man coverage. No such thing as press coverage. That aside, it’s not growing a pair that would be needed to do what youre suggesting. Because it’s not ballsy as much as just plain ole stupid.

    You may believe Mike Smith lacks sac to do it, ok let’s say that is true. Now that is established, please explain why man coverage is the least called coverage (per snaps) in the entire league. Surely you’re not suggesting that the league is now comprised of low-t yunnicks. So it’s not entirely a lack of enormous nuts that is preventing the other teams from listening to your hawking like insights into building a secondary.So if you can , please enlighten us as to this gross and highly questionable anomaly.

  30. patrickbucs Says:

    So Barer is averaging about the same ypc as Cook, who is out injured again this week. It’s a long season, let’s see where they are at the halfway mark. Otherwise we are going to probably sign or draft a rb at the end of the year.

    Go Bucs!

  31. Bucamania Says:

    Barber has played well on non-predictable running plays. I’d like to see WIlson get a couple more of those draw plays to keep the defense honest.

  32. Jean Lafitte Says:


    Jesus H Christ! Just state the obvious Captain Obvious. The discussion is about improving the running game without telegraphing the run. We could run time off the clock better if we could get better than 2 yards a clip. …chastising fans and calling them dumb because they want to offer their own version of a solution does not make them dumb. Some of you just love to chastise others and are first to think everything you say is right. Well guess what? you’re not.

  33. Lucious Selmon Says:

    “Press coverage???? I have assume you mean man coverage. No such thing as press coverage.”

    Man coverage. Press technique. =D

    I know what he meant.

  34. Lucious Selmon Says:

    Well, what i think he meant, anyway.

    C’mon Monday!!

  35. JabooBuc Says:

    Jean Lafitte – thanks for being the very illustration of the type of dumb fan i am talking about. My point is that people are freaking out about the running game when it is likely we don’t really have a problem.

    I understand that some fans are worried about what appears to be a lack of balance thus far and i also understand that it is likely we will need more balance as the season goes on. However, achieving balance is more of function of taking advantage of what the defense is giving you rather than just trying to run the ball for the sake of running it.

    People on this site keep using the yards/carry as evidence we have a problem. I say this is faulty logic and is more evidence of when we are choosing to run the ball. End of the day, it’s too small a sample size for people to freak out about.

  36. Dave Says:

    Well CBS Sports currently has the Bucs as one of the leading teams trying to trade for Bell.

    All depends on what they have to give up. Bell does have some injury history so far in his short career.
    I would give up a late first round pick. Or something like a second and fifth

    Would not give up a high first round pick, which is looking like they won’t have, and would not give up a first and second or first and third or even two seconds