Are You Listening, Mr. Leftwich?

May 18th, 2020

Bill Currie Ford general manager Sean Sullivan personally will guide you and give you a special Ira/JoeBucsFan discount. Historic 0%/84-month financing offers won’t last long.


Some things never change.

Charles Barkley will always be quoted. Tom Cruise’s movies will always make money. There will always be some new Beatles product on the market at Christmas.

And Dirk Koetter will say his guys simply have to do a better job in the running game.

Koetter said it again last week, lamenting an Atlanta ground attack that averaged only 3.7 yards per carry. As any Buc fan can tell you, Tampa Bay didn’t run the ball worth a darn during Koetter’s three years as head coach, even in the initial 9-7 season that offered up so much promise in 2016.

“Your run game sets up your play-action game and it never fails every year,” Koetter said. “When you go back and look at the cut-ups, the play-action game is where your explosive plays come. Play actions are going to be better if you’re running it better.”

The Bucs’ QB won’t be rushing for 250+ yards this season.

Some have suggested Tom Brady’s mere presence at One Buc Place automatically ensures a more robust ground game. But the last time I looked, Brady wasn’t trying to seal off the opposition’s 3-technique.

The last time I looked, Brady wasn’t scaring anyone with his scrambling skills.

Jameis Winston will never be confused with Lamar Jackson in terms of mobility, but he gained 250 yards with his legs last season. Brady’s career-high of 110 rushing yards in a season came 18 years ago.

Given Brady’s penchant and efficiency with play-action, it’s even more incumbent on Byron Leftwich and Bruce Arians to get this running game up to an acceptable level. Offensive linemen and running backs come and go in Tampa, yet the one constant is a plodding ground attack.

How plodding? Glad you asked.

Big Key; Big Priority

During the past four seasons, the Bucs have averaged only 3.7 yards per carry and 95 rushing yards per game. Those are ugly numbers for Pop Warner. In that same span, Tampa Bay is 11-25 when held to less than 100 rushing yards.

In New England, Brady grew accustomed to playing with a decent run game. Not great, but decent. LeGarrette Blount, Stevan Ridley, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Corey Dillon and Antowain Smith all turned in 1,000-yard seasons during Brady’s glorious reign in Foxborough.

“When the running game is effective, that helps the play-action passes a lot, so probably nothing has helped our passing game more than the running game and vice versa,” Bill Belichick said. “I’d say that’s really a big key for us. If you’re running the ball effectively, that brings a lot more people to that run action than if you’re not running it effectively.”

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich

Are you listening, Mr. Leftwich?

Brady’s sixth Super Bowl ring should be encased in grass and mud. With the 2018 Patriots sitting at 9-5, Belichick turned to the run game to trigger a championship march. In closing with a 5-game winning streak, the Pats averaged 38 rushing attempts and 178 yards on the ground.

They looked like the 1973 Dolphins, who relied on Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris to carve up opposing defenses.

Balance Vow

Perhaps the additions of Tristan Wirfs and Rob Gronkowski will open up bigger holes. Perhaps Ronald Jones will continue to progress. Perhaps rookie back Ke’Shawn Vaughn is a third-round steal.

Buc fans have heard vows of an improved run game before. At the age of 43, Brady doesn’t need to throw 600 passes this fall. He’s adept at play-action, but it’s the players around him who have to provide enough balance to keep defenses honest.

If the 2020 Bucs are serious about walking the walk, first they have to run.

Ira with his good friend Sean Sullivan, general manager of Bill Currie Ford, Tampa’s first family of ford. Sean will help you personally in any way he can.

19 Responses to “Are You Listening, Mr. Leftwich?”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    This is certainly not news……but, I appreciate Ira’s writing…..always.

  2. DoooshLaRue Says:

    I really think Brady makes Leftwich nearly obsolete.
    Watch how successful overrated Josh McDaniels is this year without TB.

    When you have a true field general behind center you don’t need a third wheel coordinator messing things up.
    BL should focus his attention on the OL, making sure they are performing up to their high priced ability.

  3. Bucnjim Says:

    Or perhaps defenses will no longer be able to stack 7-8 men in the box daring Winston to beat them deep. This is how opposing D’s have played the Bucs especially last year. Guess they knew what they were doing!

  4. Hodad Says:

    The Bucs didn’t run the ball well under Koetter, or Arains for that matter because they’re both pass first HC’s. They don’t commit to the run like S.F., the Titans. Another reason our running game hasn’t been great is because we had a QB who just turned the ball over to much. When that happens you’re playing catch up a lot hence our 5000 passing yards, with little ground game. I think with our backs now, having a new RT who is already a better run blocker then Dot, and a QB who’s a master at checking to the right run plays, you’ll see there’s no reason to think we won’t be a better running team this year.

  5. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Gone are K Pamphile, J Hawley, JR Sneezy, C Benenoch, D Dotson
    In their place: R Jensen, D Smith, A Marpet, A Cappa, T Wirfs, and a beast blocking TE Gronk

    Look for 500 more rushing yards this year.

  6. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    The analytics do not support Belicheat’s assertion that the running game helps play-action. I know what Joe is thinking, “analytics aren’t worth spit”, except that in this instance they are. When analytics looks at all the play action success and compares it to each teams’ relative rushing success, and it shows that without a doubt the play-action is effective regardless, that’s pretty important. Winston played far better using play-action, yet we had no running game. The problem was we didn’t run nearly enough play-action. With Brady in town, I have a feeling Leftwich’s faults at playcalling will be corrected/eliminated. GO BUCS

  7. Joe Says:

    analytics aren’t worth spit

    Not true.

  8. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    Sorry for putting words in your mouth, Joe, but you have previously replied to my analytics-based comments with very similar reactions. Loooovvee yoooouuuuu

  9. Joe Says:

    Sorry for putting words in your mouth, Joe, but you have previously replied to my analytics-based comments with very similar reactions.

    Nah man, no need to apologize!

    Joe is not anti-analytics at all (with football). What Joe gets at with these guys is it shouldn’t dictate what you do. Analytics is nothing more than information. Some of it is excellent information. But, for example, if your right tackle is blowing holes open you can drive a Bill Currie Ford truck through, take advantage of it. Don’t be like “Well, the analytics say not to run on third and two… ”

    When it comes to baseball, Joe is very anti-analytics. Nothing has ruined baseball more than analytics. That’s just a personal thing.

  10. Evolvingbucsfan Says:

    Joe, funny story……My mom dated Larry Czonka during that super bowl run, he perused her and she was very hesitant about dating him, people are like “don’t you know who that is?” she went on a couple dates but couldn’t care less about football at that time. She brought my dad to one of the games he gave her tickets too, he was like “how did you get these tickets?” needless to say she liked guys with motorcycles much more, lol.

  11. 813bucboi Says:

    Bucnjim Says:
    May 18th, 2020 at 9:45 am
    Or perhaps defenses will no longer be able to stack 7-8 men in the box daring Winston to beat them deep. This is how opposing D’s have played the Bucs especially last year. Guess they knew what they were doing!


    defense knew, stuff the run and make JW pass…he’ll throw picks….and he did…BL aint perfect, he’s better than what we’ve had in recent years imo but its amazing he got the production he did in this offense in terms of first down and redzone efficiency with as many TO as we had…..

    GO BUCS!!!!!!

  12. El Buco Realisto Says:


    That’s funny, because the Bucs avg of first down decreased in 2019!!!!!!!! From 24.2 a games to a mere 22.1 in 2019!!!!!!!!! Lol!!!!!!!! Passing TD’s also decreased and team passing yards!!!!!!!!!!!! Despite having a suspended qb and having to play a backup half of the time!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You have to give 813buffoon credit though, he has never let facts or the truth get in the way of his posts!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is the no excuses of no-excuses years”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    go bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. 813bucboi Says:


    wrong again chump!!!!!!!!!

    the fact is, in 2018 we finished with 5wins and and dirk got hired!!!!!!!!

    but dont let smittys jockstrap get in the way of the truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  14. 813bucboi Says:


    we finished 3rd in pts (28.6) in 2019….

    so realist….according to you it took dirk 24.2 first downs per game to avg 24pts per game while it took BL 22.1 first downs per game to avg 28pts per game….lol….

    looks pretty efficient to me……

    GO BUCS!!!!!!

  15. BucEmUp Says:

    Leftwich sucks

  16. PUGS&BUCS Says:

    Going all the way back to passing on Stephen Jackson to draft Michael Clayton, as usual, reading this analysis shows us the Bucs’ strategy to run the ball is “pray everyone currently on the roster gets better at their jobs.”

    CONFESSION: I honestly thought w. Brady on the roster and a WIN NOW mentality, the Bucs would cut a deal for a top-flight FA or use a high pick on a RB…. turns out they’re content to let Brady suffer the same way Winston did.

    “No! Saul Leibowitz is an EXCELLENT RB. Sure he’s 5’4″, 135 in wet cleats, but we’re just not executing for him!”

  17. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Evolving Bucs Fan

    You sure your old lady didn’t at least get a mustache ride from old Czonka?
    I mean damn, that had to be legendary!
    That is an all time fat stache!

  18. Buczilla Says:

    Great article Ira. In order to have a good running game, it would be nice to have at least one running back that has proven that he can be good. Sign Devonta Freeman Licht and stop risking pi$$ing away our chances at the playoffs!

  19. Anonymous Says:

    I think having a QB knowing how to read defenses better and know when to check into a run will help our run game, as long as these rooks dont stink up the field with mistakes