Miserable Run Game Should Give Old Bucs Fans Nightmare Flashbacks

November 20th, 2022

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich.

Joe did some digging last night. And it ain’t pretty.

Yes, Joe mentioned yesterday how the Bucs still have a league-worst 3.1 yards per carry average. And as Joe pointed out, this is worse than when the Bucs leaned on Peyton Barber and Mr. Entertainment, America’s Quarterback Jameis Winston, as its top-two rushers.

Yeah, the starting quarterback. A dropback quarterback.

Well, Joe started digging and the Bucs’ current 3.1 yards per carry is tied for the worst in franchise history. — the 2-12 Bucs in 1977. And that’s awful considering the sordid history of the franchise.

Even the winless 1976 Bucs ran the ball better than this year’s Bucs.

That is simply outrageous!

And the run game has bottomed out despite, as Joe’s good friend Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders, typing for the New York Times, a resurgence league-wide in the run game.

Through Week 10, N.F.L. teams average 121.8 rushing yards per game, the highest figure since 1987. Teams also average 4.5 yards per rush, the highest rate in history.

Except in Tampa Bay.


So Joe checked the worst Bucs teams for running per carry. The Bucs have had winning teams with poor running. Dirk Koetter’s 2016 team lost a wild card tiebreaker with the Stinking Panthers yet that team only averaged 3.6 yards a carry.

Hall of Fame coach Father Dungy had three Bucs teams with an awful yards-per-carry, including the 1999 squad that advanced to the NFC Championship. They averaged 3.5 yards per attempt. (It helps to have one of the greatest defenses in NFL history to cover the stench.)

Below is a list of all Bucs teams that ran for 3.7 yards per carry or less.

3.7 2017 (5-11)
3.7 1989 (5-11)
3.7 1984 (6-10)
3.6 2016 (9-7)
3.6 1982 (5-4)
3.5 1999 (11-5)
3.5 1987 (4-11)
3.5 1976 (0-14)
3.4 2001 (9-7)
3.4 1996 (6-10)
3.4 1994 (6-10)
3.2 1993 (5-11)
3.2 1983 (2-14)
3.1 1977 (2-12)

Did the Bucs’ run game finally turn the corner last Sunday in Munich? Joe sure hopes so.

There is absolutely no reason the Bucs should running the ball this poorly with the talent they have. Simply unacceptable.

28 Responses to “Miserable Run Game Should Give Old Bucs Fans Nightmare Flashbacks”

  1. Goatfarmer Says:

    The reason for the Bucs running woes, and offensive woes in general, is staring catatonically out at you from the top of the page.


  2. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Surprised to see 1984 in there considering James Wilder was such a stud. Not much passing though to take the 8th man out of the box.

  3. ModHairKen Says:

    No. No corner was turned. Poor turf and grip favors the team that knows the count.

    The problem with the running game is simple: the play calling is predictable. Every person knows that the first play of the game will be a run up the middle. The first play of the second half, same. 3rd and 1 = run.

    Then on 2nd down, if there is any pressure or a drop or a 1 hop — and there have been a lot of those — then it’s 3rd and 8 or 9. Those are drive killers.

    The lack of passes down field is in part due to inured WRs. In part due to poor blocking.

    As the WRs get healthy and the OL gets better, things will improve. But the problems stem from a stubborn OC who is overrated.

  4. OrlandoBucFan Says:

    I notice the 1983 team is on the list. That 1983 team had a motley group at running backs, such as Mel Carver, the speedster James Owens, and a young James Wilder. Wilder had his breakout year in 1984. He was such a great back. Too bad his best years were wasted in Tampa. I think we have the talent on our 2022 roster to improve our sorry rush per attempt average.

  5. Craig Says:

    What amazes me is our OC sitting back and watching Lenny keep running nowhere. That is the definition of crazy.

    We can see that changing the RBs around makes sense, why couldn’t the OC. The other Bucs teams on the list had far less talent, so this team should be able to dig out of this hole.


    Of course listening to BA or Leftwitch, its not Lefty’s fault.

  7. sasquatch Says:

    There has been barely a handful of years where this franchise could be said to have had a strong running game. Even during the run-heavy Dungy years, they weren’t necessarily leading the league in YPC. Was usually pretty average. Our best running is always when we have a better passing game.

  8. BigMacAttack Says:

    I don’t care about the past or the first half of the season. The last game was marked improvement and what happens through the remainder of the season matters. Wins matter. How you get them doesn’t. Getting into the playoffs matters. Staying home doesn’t. Getting into the playoffs with a healthy team matters. Players who are sitting at home don’t. I’m not ready to pull the plug yet and when things aren’t looking up, just remember Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl, arguably the worst QB ever. So yeah whatever.

  9. Goatfarmer Says:

    A sample size of one is no basis for optimism.

  10. BigMacAttack Says:

    Continuous Performance Improvement is what you’re looking for. That hasn’t been the case all season but the O line, D line and much of the team is on an upward trajectory. That’s a basis for some optimism. Still, at this point, the Falcons have a better offense than the Bucs. The Bucs may have the best record in the NFC South but they aren’t the best team yet. They have to keep getting better to beat the Falcons again.

  11. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Goatfarmer: We get it, you don’t like Leftwich. Duly noted. Now get a life.

  12. Beej Says:

    I’ve watched a few videos of all 22 films showing our successful runs from last week. Now I would like to see similar films showing UNsuccessful runs from weeks prior. There’s a specific reason why any play fails, a guy missing his block, not all the defenders being accounted for etc. Would love to see those sort of explanations for the weeks prior

  13. BigMacAttack Says:

    I retract what I said about the Falcons. They’re a train wreck right now and look worse than we do.

  14. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Joe ” the righteous enforcer in Michigan ” ladies and gentlemen.

  15. Buczilla Says:

    Lol, saying that we have a sordid history is being too kind. Since we’ve won 2 in a row, I’m not going to complain overly much, but our rushing average is beyond ptiful.

  16. DungyDance Says:

    C’mon Buczilla – we’ve tied our longest winning streak of the year. 2.

  17. SOEbuc Says:

    The Koetter and Doug Martin brick wall duo.

  18. Rod Munch Says:

    Does anyone have the average per run based on the down?

    I’m going to bet they’re over 5-yards per carry on 2nd down.

  19. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe, I think you’re comparing apples & oranges. Have to look at the TOTAL OFFENSE, not just the running games. For instance, back in 1996, Bucs only averaged 3.4 YPC rushing as you stated, and finished with a 6-10 record. That rushing attack was ranked #22 that year. Our passing game was EVEN WORSE however, and it ranked #29. Overall we ranked #30 in the NFL, scoring only 221 points that year (13.8 PPG).

    Fast forward to 2001 & our Bucs also averaged 3.4 YPC that year, and finished with a better 9-7 record & made the playoffs as a wildcard. That rushing attack was ranked an even worse #30 that year, but our passing game improved substantially to a #15. Overall we ranked #15 in the NFL, scoring 324 points, over 100 more than in 1996 with essentially the same coaching staff 20.3 PPG … roughly 1 TD better, DESPITE having about the same rushing attack).

  20. Faspro Says:

    Falcons won, Saints won; Bucs could easily lose the division if they get complacent.

  21. PewterStiffArm Says:

    Let’s see, cold weather in Cleveland. Watch out for fumbles and a frozen field. Keep give aways to a minimum and get the W, simple.

  22. Goatfarmer Says:

    Joe in Michigan apparently is a Leftwurst supporter. Special guy that Michigan Joe, who once said that signing Brady was really stupid. It’s easy to find that genius post and it was right here on this website.

    He sure has his leg to stand on when criticizing others.

  23. steele Says:

    I agree with Craig and GoatF.

    Stuck with Leftwich, at the very least they should give Ke and White far more opportunities and demote Lenny. If there is any hope that Jensen returns, that would immediately open up things. For everyone. But there is still not feature back to carry this offense.

    You guys aren’t RoJo fans, but he was FAR more explosive than anyone on the roster now. It is just too bad he fumbled, wasn’t a great blocker, etc. etc. I miss him anyway.

  24. garro Says:

    The 77 team had Jimmy DuBose and Ricky Bell. IMO both good running backs.
    BUT lousy Offensive line and I do mean LOUSY! This years line Looks like Hall of Famers compared to those guys. Steve Wilson turned out to be pretty good but he was a second year guy in 77.

  25. garro Says:

    Oh and talk about predictable… In 77 the runs were almost always student body right followed by student body left. McKay’s favorite at the time 🙂

  26. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Fire Leftwich

  27. Tap-Out Says:

    GoatFarmer: That’s a lie!… Pound the rock, the OLine has found it’s cure ….The Brawling NICK NASTY LEVERRETT! …POUND THE ROCK because BL says so …Still WHINING WHILE WE WINNING!

  28. Tap-Out Says:

    Our QB is a HALL OF FAMER for sure but he can’t run any plays that are run option ….I mean BL could put some in but when Brady takes that hit and goes down who’s head will you be calling for! It’s football, it’s working for us and more importantly it’s working for BL! POUND THE ROCK!!