Is The Poor Running Game Just Subpar Blocking?

October 6th, 2022

Offensive line/assistant head coach Harold Goodwin.

So yesterday Bucs coach Todd Bowles was not at One Buc Palace. He had a personal issue and fiery offensive line coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin pinch-hit and spoke for the team.

So who better to ask about the struggling run game than the guy in charge of it?

Goodwin is a straight shooter/no BSing kind of a guy. Very much like former Bucco Bruce Arians — says what he thinks and if you don’t like it, too damn bad.

So Goodwin didn’t blink when he began to explain how the run game is struggling.

“Well, I just think we have to do a better job of blocking,” Goodwin said. “Whenever runs are called, we’ve got to execute and whenever we get those opportunities, we [have] to take advantage of it – try to get positive runs, not negative runs or zero runs.

“But, whatever’s called we [have] to execute – whether it’s run or pass – so we’ll try to do our best.”

Later, Goodwin seemed to say it’s more than just blocking and the more the Bucs run, the better they will be.

“[We] just have to get the opportunities,” Goodwin said. “[If] we get the opportunities and we’ll be alright. The first two games, we ran [the ball] a lot.

“Sometimes the game dictates something different, we just have to go with it – whatever’s called is what we do. But yeah, [with] me as a run game coordinator, I’d like to see something better.”

Goodwin also admitted starting two young players on the front line, left guard Luke Goedeke and center Robert Hainsey, who have a combined eight starts under their belts, isn’t ideal.

Tough. Deal with it, Goodwin said. “I don’t have time for you to tell me you’re young. We’ve got a game to play and when the ball’s put out there, we’ve got to play. We’ve got to execute and we all know that we’ve got to keep ‘12’ (Tom Brady) upright.”

Joe also thinks the Bucs have to find someone to help Playoff Lenny. The way he’s been toting the rock, he won’t make it to Munich.

29 Responses to “Is The Poor Running Game Just Subpar Blocking?”

  1. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Having 3 and 4 different people on the line, and a gimpy Wirfs is not a recipe for success.
    For the Bucs it is a recipe of surviving until they begin to grow and gell.
    For some teams it is a recipe for disaster, but they Bucs have enough talent to weather the storm, and build for a playoff run.

    They should win the next 3, BUT……. We will see

    GO BUCS!!!!

  2. ChiBuc Says:

    Some creative play calling so opposing teams don’t know exactly what to expect on every down/yardage situation would help too.

  3. Jack Sparrow Says:

    It’s too predictable that BUCS will do a run. Every 1st down is a run. As soon as they see Fournette in the backfield its a run. If the Bucs are 20 yards or more to get a 1st down, it’s a run. Bowles and LEftwich are afraid to use Brady’s gun as if he was a 3rd string backup QB about to throw an INT.

  4. Beeej Says:

    You could have a drinking game based on our first down decisions. “Lenny up The A gap, take a shot!”

  5. Iistnfrmafar Says:

    Goedke is NOT good, start by fixing that. Is run up the middle 1st and 20 a great opportunity? These plays are.from when BL played for the Jaguars in the early 2000’s. Think of it this way, Bucs HC is a Jets/Miami throw away and Bucs OC was a Jaguar QB, two of the worst franchises in the NFL.

    Not the biggest fan of Belichick but his motto is “NO DAYS OFF!” I can’t remember Belichick taking a personnel day off in season. No sense of urgency in this group. For the Bucs fans sake, I hope it was a job interview.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Play action on 1st downs……every time…..defenses will be fooled….every time!!!

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    ‘Joe also thinks the Bucs have to find someone to help Playoff Lenny. The way he’s been toting the rock, he won’t make it to Munich.’

    Tending to think that there are 2 factors at play in our run game: (1) Lenny’s probably still feeling the effects of pulling up gimpy in the Saints’ game; and (2) our OLine couldn’t block for beans in the Saints & Packers games with Donovan out, then we fell behind early in the Chiefs game & that called for passing.

    Lenny gained 127 yds rushing on 21 carries in the Dallas game (6.1 YPC). Carried another 24 times in the Saints game, but only got 65 yds (2.7 YPC). Since then he’s carried only 15 times TOTAL in 2 games for 32 yds rushing (2.1 YPC). He’s not being overworked in the running game; he’s being ineffective.

    And yet as his rushing attempts went down these last 2 games, his pass catching opportunities went way up … 6 targets with 5 catches (35 yds) in the Packers game and 7 targets with 7 catches (57 yds) in the Chiefs game. And his snaps have stayed reasonably high: 47, 58, 59 & 39 for a total of 203 snaps (78.7% on the field time). So although his run game has suffered since Dallas game, his pass catching (84.2%) and pass protection has obviously been quite good.

  8. Jeff Says:

    Subpar blocking from subpar linemen. See the correlation?

  9. Smashsquatch Says:

    Use the pass to setup the run. Use Lenny less. Use White & Vaughn more. Use the bullpen to find the hot hand.

  10. Bucfan Says:

    Many teams with good running games pass on 1st down a few times. How often do the Bucs run it up the gut on 1st down?

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    Jack Sparrow … ‘It’s too predictable that BUCS will do a run. Every 1st down is a run. As soon as they see Fournette in the backfield its a run.’

    Three interesting observations, but only the first one can be substantiated. Bucs’ formations seem to give away the type of play (run vs pass), but not necessarily where it’s going (BL’s not very creative sometimes me thinks).

    But the Bucs don’t run on every 1st down. Seems like it all too often, but I think that’s because BL has them run it in ‘clumps’.

    o Bucs had 28 first down opportunities in the Dallas game (17 runs vs 10 passes plus 1 kneeldown). Of note, Dallas had a mediocre run defense so maybe running more on 1st down made sense.

    o Bucs had 25 first down opportunities in the Saints game (17 runs vs 6 passes with 2 kneeldowns). Not BL’s shiningest moments in play-calling IMO.

    o Bucs had 31 first down opportunities in the Packers game (9 runs vs 21 passes plus 1 kneeldown). We fell behind and game called for more passing to catch up.

    o Bucs had 32 first down opportunities in the Packers game (4 runs vs 28 passes plus 1 kneeldown). Again, we fell behind and game called for more passing to catch up.

    So on the season we’ve had 116 first down opportunities. We’ve rushed on 47 of them, passed on 65 and had 5 kneeldowns. That means we’ve run on 40.5% of our first down opportunities, above our average run-pass ratio over our 4 games (33.9%). What’s interesting to me though is that most of those first down runs (34) came in the first 2 games … WHICH WE WON.

    Oh and Lenny has rushed 60 times on the season, but has been on the field for 203 offensive snaps. That means he’s toted the rock on just a tad less than 30% of the times he’s been on the field. IF the other team was guessing RUN when Lenny is on the field, they’d be wrong 70% of the time.

  12. Craig Says:

    It is more of a mental block by the whole team.

    The line will not get better at run blocking when there are only 6 runs in a game.

    The other guys (White and Vaughn) can’t help Lenny out when they sit the pine.

    Play action could make the offense much better, if they establish a run first.

  13. My Momma Says:

    My Momma says that while Rojo didn’t pass protect well, he was the league leader in yards after contact. When they used him just to run, that opened the pass game up, which helped them march down the field. She knows the Bucs didn’t want to pay him since he almost got Brady killed in pass pro, and that he couldn’t catch a cold, but he was a more effective than Lenny at times as a pure runner. She thinks Vaughn is being kept fresh for later in the season while White is getting his reps hoping that he’ll improve a long the way.

  14. Panhandle Buc Says:

    Short answer – yes

    Longer answer – Poor blocking, but a very very vanilla play calling mixed with a few missed opportunities from our RBs (mostly Lenny).

    The play calling is terrible…run the ball against a wall, hike the ball, drop back and pass, drop back and pass and hope for a 3rd and long completion for 1st down. Repeat…

  15. My Momma Says:

    My Momma says the Bucs are playing Russian Roulette with Brady’s health by trotting Goedeke out there, and that Licht should be held responsible for this malfeasance.

  16. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Yes. They aren’t getting a push. But let’s not confuse our running backs with Nick Chubb either. Love Lenny but he’s not near as quick or as fast as his LSU and early Jax days, AND Derrick Brooks may be right – there have been plays where a better running back could have taken advantage of. In any case, we just need the threat of being competent at running. All these damn receivers we have, when healthy, we should be throwing 35-40 times a game anyway. You win in 2022 with passing, chunk plays, scoring. But Jesus, hard to make a play action work if we’re gnna be impotent at running

  17. BUCkleup Says:

    Very predictable through the first few games. We can’t have second or third and longs and be behind the chains every down. It makes us one dimensional and puts too much pressure on the GOAT. We need to mix it up a lot more. Blocking is fundamental, but putting us in the right play comes first.

  18. Chris l Says:

    The only positive out of Sunday was that we ran the ball three times so lenny essentially had the night off from a rushing perspective.

  19. gotbbucs Says:

    #1-You can’t fall behind on the score board on the first possession of the game every week. Period. As good as the defense was in the first 3 weeks, it takes them two or three possessions to hit their stride. Can’t do that against good teams and expect to not be down two scores early.

    #2-Donovan Smith going down week 1 basically doomed the run game for weeks 2 and 3. As to last week, refer to #1. We are week at Center and Left Guard, so that means more than ever they need someone carrying the ball that won’t hesitate and hit the holes when they’re open.

    #3-Fournette needs obvious holes or he will not put himself in harms way. Self-preservation is his #1 NFL goal, always has been. Every run without a gaping hole represents a business decision for him. There is not a single NFL defense out there that is worried about Fournette finding a crease and hitting a home run. When he’s in the game they can play tight and clog the middle and not have to worry about him breaking outside for a big gain. Even when he catches the ball he’s easy to corral.

    #4-Using White and Vaughn and getting them up to game speed is going to require some patience. Patience that Tom Brady historically has never had for young players until he is forced to. The coaching staff will have to force this issue for the betterment of the team.

  20. SOEbuc be Says:

    Lenny can’t play every snap, RW is trash in the run game. I don’t care if he’s overhyped rookie. Hes a dancer. Give Ke’ one friggin snap. Only Bucs RB that is smaller (Gio injured) and has the ability to blast off if he can break through.

  21. Pewter Warrior Says:

    It’s not about opportunities it’s about running in the right situations. Byron is so clueless he tips off his calls and is putting the team in bad spots by running in predictable situations.

    Run when it’s an even down and not when the d expects it.

  22. garro Says:

    Harrold its not all on the O-line. Lenny waits for the truck sized hole to develop and misses the creases that are there for the smaller gains.

    Last week there was a crease cutback to the inside on the designed outside run that he lost yards on. If he had gone for the crease…yes the safety was there but Lenny is big enough to truck that dude and maybe make a gain of much more than the 3 or 4 yards that was availble to him there.

    I’ve noticed this a few times now this season.

  23. AbucAway Says:

    It’s blocking. The running back with the most yards in NFL history is E Smith. I won’t take away anything from emmitt, but if you take away Larry Allen and Mark Stepnosk (especially Allen)i, how many total yards does he have?
    Our guys are rookies and noobs. They will get better but they’ll never match that level of play unfortunately

  24. Darin Says:

    Poor running game is partly because of the 14-0 deficits. And hopefully one of these days lefty will learn to run out of 4 wr sets. Draw plays too. Hard to run if the other team knows it’s coming

  25. Redeemer Says:

    I’m throwing out the KC game, because they only ran six times. In the first three games, the bucs have had 81 first down plays. 46 runs, to 35 pass. Of those 81 plays, 44 have gone for 3 yards or less.

    In the first quarter, on first down, the numbers are even more damning. they’ve run 62.5% of the time. 60% of the time, they are facing 7 yards or more on second down. Five runs, and 10/38 passing, when faced with that scenario. Long and short of it is, they are in a lot of third and long. These numbers back up many of the comments here. If dopes like us can see it, why can’t BL? It’s just too predictable.

  26. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    It is subpar blocking by a bunch of backups, and the lack of a real passing game. Hopefully things get better quickly.

  27. captivajim Says:

    Licht could have picked up vet help for the O line back in august when the problem was obvious –But I recall Bowles saying its ok to play rookies.. So either Bowles and/or Licht bear responsibility for O line performance.

  28. unbelievable Says:

    Good stuff as always DR- but as you noted, we ran much less these last 2 games simply because we fell behind early.

    Leftwich is too predictable. It’s been this way since he got here. Yes he has also coordinated a top offense the past 3 years, but wouldn’t it be really hard NOT to do so when you have had Evans + Godwin + Brady and Gronk the last 2 years?

    His scheme just isn’t that creative. It relies on our guys being better than the team we’re playing. Teams def seem to know when we are running vs passing. And there’s just not a lot of misdirection or trickery to scheme guys open in space (not talking about the triple reverse flea flicker failure trickery either, lol)

  29. steele Says:

    It’s not just one thing.

    Subpar play calling. Subpar blocking (the new guys). Average running backs, no game breaker on the roster. No, Lenny isn’t one.