The Return Of The Running Game

February 8th, 2023

Running back Rachaad White.

Joe heard a rumor that Todd Bowles was spotted with a big grin this week.

Perhaps he was looking at how the NFL has changed.

The 2021 season featured seven 1,000-yards-or-more rushers. This season? That number shot up to 16, and the guy who would have been No. 17, Texans stud rookie Dameon Pierce, had 939 yards in just 13 games.

That’s a tremendous difference, and it’s been a topic this week around Radio Row at the Super Bowl. Joe enjoyed listening to Thursday Night Football analyst Andrew Whitworth, the former Bengals and Rams left tackle, dive into the subject on The Pat McAfee Show.

Whitworth senses a changing of the guard in the NFL, especially as the Eagles dominate with excellence in the trenches and a superior rushing attack.

It’s a safe bet Bowles, like most defensive-minded head coaches, wants to pound the rock. Defense-first guys know how rough it is on a defensive player when an opponent can run the ball efficiently.

That’s part of what made the 2020 Bucs great. They had a solid rushing attack to complement a lethal passing attack. They even would have had a 1,000-yard rusher if Bucco Bruce Arians and Tom Brady hadn’t decided to screw Ronald Jones.

Last year, as Bucs fans know painfully well, Tampa Bay had the worst running game in the league by every major metric.

Running backs Leonard Fournette, Rachaad White and Ke’Shawn Vaughn are all under contract for the 2023 season. Are they a good enough crew for a league moving back to running the football?

Most Bucs fans, Joe believes, would say Ryan Jensen back for a full season and a new left tackle would fix the running game in a heartbeat.

Perhaps that’s true. Or perhaps the Bucs look at the very deep class of running backs in the 2023 draft and try to find the next Pierce or Tyler Allgeier or Rhamondre Stevenson, late-pick youngsters who racked up 1,000-plus yards this season.

48 Responses to “The Return Of The Running Game”

  1. Jack Clark Says:

    Make our running game great again!

  2. SB~LV Says:

    At the end of the season the great teams always have a powerful running game.

  3. Redeemer Says:

    It’s not the back, it’s the line. Jensen’s return will help, but not enough to make this a good running team. Backs like white are a dime a dozen and Lenny is shot. In the modern league, you only need a top 15 rushing attack and an OC who understands play action passing. The eagles have a top 5 line. Of course they can run the ball. Stick Joe blow in there and you’d get largely the same results.

  4. sasquatch Says:

    Cut Fournette. Draft some speed at RB. Give Vaughn some work. With a decent scheme and enough touches, Ra White ought to go for 1000 yards.

    I’m anxious to hear who will be calling plays. Can’t wait for the negativity to explode here if they hire anyone but Todd Monken. It’s going to be a b!tchfest of epic proportion if the lead-up is any indication.

  5. YucsBall Says:

    and Pierce was there for us in the 4th and we took otton …. huge miss

  6. HC Grover Says:


  7. Marine Buc Says:

    Greg Roman.

    Find 2 inexpensive FA mobile QBs.

    Draft Hooker in round 2 or 3.

    Dump Fournette.

    Dump K. Vaughn.

    Find 3 solid RBs.


  8. Guzzie Says:

    Licht can’t draft RBs, he should’ve drafted Dalvin, my opinion is draft Bijan, preferably trading down a few spots, and with Rachaad, Evans Godwin, 2nd year Otton, move Wirfs to LT he’s such a great player he shouldn’t have much trouble with a full offseason, Hainsey LG,Jensen n Shaq, move Goedeke to his natural RT position where he belongs plus a full offseason to get stronger, that’s a pretty strong supporting cast for who ever our QB is

  9. SB Says:

    What YucsBall said!!!
    I said it all the way up to the draft. Not that I don’t like Otton because I DO.
    However I believe Peirce will be a top 5 back Real soon.

  10. chark Says:

    Uhmm we play 17 games now..that is enuff to put some guys over the 1000 yrd mark. Not buying it. let me know “whenbowlesgetsfired”. He is not creative enuff to get run game going.

  11. Craig Says:

    Dump Lenny and draft one of those little, fast guys.

    R.White and the Sneak would be fine if there were any real running plays called, and the )-line responds to those calls.

    Most of it is attitude, and the only attitude the Bucs had last season was bad.

  12. Pryda sec 147 Says:

    1st round pick get me a OL mauling hog build that line

  13. Joe Swanson Says:

    Really surprised the Bucs did not interview Greg Roman.

  14. #99 the Big fella Says:

    Sasquatch, I agree with you about the bi**h fest.. some of the guys just wake up miserable. Imagine what the wife and kids have to go through..

  15. Redeemer Says:

    Not the back, the line folks!!!! The position has been so devalued, because executives have figured it out. Emmitt Smith is nothing without the line he had. It’s the reverse of the QB position. Lineman make their backs better, not the other way around. Do you think jerry Jones would draft Elliott at 5 knowing what he knows now? The vast majority are washed by 28. Ofi course Barry Sanders comes around once in a generation. Id never draft a modern back with anything more than a third rounder. Stop with this nonsense

  16. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Sasquatch: I think there’s other good candidates besides Monken, and doubt Monken leaves Georgia anyway.

  17. sasquatch Says:

    Joe in Mich,
    Yeah, I don’t think Monken’s the only one who can do the job of those we’ve internet. I’m not sure most posters see it that way. I’m just waiting for the complaintfest. Should be the usual bucfan sh!tshow.

  18. sasquatch Says:


  19. Miller5252 Says:

    Keep White and Vaughn and trade Lenny for a good draft pick. Need the pics when we rebuild after next year.

  20. Bucsfanman Says:

    Did someone say “running game”?!?!

  21. Redeemer Says:

    Miller, Lenny ain’t getting anything more than a 5th/6th rounder. You never know if he’ll show up 20 pounds overweight. He’s cooked. I would keep Vaughn over white given the ultimatum. White was drafted way too high. You can always find a solid back in later rounds

  22. mark2001 Says:

    I get the importance of the running game. I just don’t see that we will likely do anything substantial to improve ours.

  23. Hodad Says:

    So if Phily is having such offensive success, why aren’t we interviewing their QB coach for our OC job? If you want to improve your running game interview from the team that has one of the best running games? Obviously their QB coach has also done a great job developing Hurts.

  24. sasquatch Says:

    Kevin Patullo is the Eagles passing game coordinator, and he was rumored to be on the Bucs interview list, though that was never confirmed. He was QB coach for Bowles in NY in 2015-16 and also went to USF. I think it’s entirely possible that he could be interviewed early next week if the Bucs have not hired an OC by then.

  25. BucsfanFred Says:

    We’re gonna need a pass rusher, if there are any good ones ar 19. The best ones will likely be gone. Maybe just BPA?
    We have many needs. If we lost Dean or SMB we’ll need a corner.
    That’s why we need to fix our cap disaster. We can’t afford to sign a janitor this year

  26. MadMax Says:

    1st LT Duncan
    2nd (if not QB Hooker) RB Zach Evans
    3rd CB Mekhi Garner (unless Hooker is still there)
    4th since we dont have a 4th, trade the rest somehow for a CB

    the rest of the picks wont matter unless youre good at finding needles in haystacks.

  27. DoooshLaRue Says:

    58.8 yards per game is a 1k yard back.

    Wow…….. very impressive.

  28. gp Says:

    Some of you have said that the strength of the O-line will determine the strength of our run game.
    It starts in the trenches.
    That said, can anyone tell me if there’s a quality fullback showing up in the draft?

  29. D-Rok Says:

    I dunno, good question gp, but man I love me some fullbacks – I used to be one.

    I, for one, believe that IF we had a fullback last year, it would have helped SOME.

    Plus, with the league trend of going back to running, methinks FB will be more of a commodity, but the problem is, with all the college systems running RPO’s, there aren’t many FB’s in college. I suspect this low trend will start to change soon if the NFL truly pivots back to the run game in the next few years.

  30. D-Rok Says:

    Last year, if we had an Alstott or Rathman-type, don’t most here think our run game would’ve been at least slightly better?

  31. HC Grover Says:

    This season is going to be beyond awful. It will be pathetic. No preseason hype can save it. DOOM!

  32. Goatfarmer Says:

    We could have 1980s vintage Hogs from Washington Redskins, with Marshall Faulk and Walter Payton sharing carries.. Blowes could find a way to run for even fewer yards on even more carries than the 2022 Bucs.

    It’s fun to cheer for an abject failure. .

  33. mark2001 Says:

    I sense a QB coach or a clipboard holder with no OC experience to lead us to the promised land as our new OC. Or at least, to help lead this team to a traditional Bucs year performance.

  34. Mike C Says:

    Goatfarmer I think you missed your appointment on the skyway

  35. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    @ MadMax

    Zach Evans???

    Get out of my freaking head bru!!

  36. gp Says:

    My question was somewhat rhetorical as, IMO, we have a killer fullback on the team already. Problem is, he’s currently playing on defense.

  37. MadMax Says:

    @Luv, oh yeah….lol

  38. MadMax Says:

    Wouldnt it be nice, we get him in the 2nd, and Hooker in the 3rd?

    Whats your thoughts on LT Duncan? I think he will rise after the combine unless something drastic happens….

  39. Buccos Says:

    Re-sign Ronald Jones and let him get that 1,000 yard season that he should have had. He would be a great complement to White. Let Lenny train harder this off-season if he wants to come back. Get rid of Bernard and Vaughn. They don’t bring enough juice

  40. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    @ MadMax

    Duncan’s dog no doubt.

    Your thoughts?

    Wide receiver
    Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa St.
    Zay Flowers, Boston College
    Michael Wilson, Stanford
    Jayden Reed, Michigan St.

    Running Backs
    Tyjae Spears, Tulane
    Chase Brown, Illinois

    Offensive Guards
    O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida

    Right Tackle
    Dawand Jones, Ohio State RT

    Defensive Tackle
    Mazi Smith, Michigan
    Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin

    Defensive Ends
    Lukas Van Ness
    Karl Brooks, Bowling Green
    Zacch Pickens, South Carolina

    Outside Linebackers
    Nick Herbig, Wisconsin
    Keion White, Georgia Tech
    Will McDonald, Iowa St.

    Inside Linebackers
    Diayan Henley, Washington State
    Owen Pappoe, Auburn
    Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State
    Marte Mapu, Sacramento State

    Darius Rush, South Carolina
    Julius Brents, Kansas State

    Sydney Brown, Illinois
    Kaevon Merriweather, Iowa

  41. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    @ MadMax

    I posted something that’s under review.
    Check back later and respond if can.

  42. Bojim Says:

    I still can’t figure out why we cut this man.

  43. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    @ MadMax

    Ricky Stromber?? Our new RG

  44. Tvan101 Says:

    As if Pierce would have done any better with our Oline, fix the line and watch Rachaad flourish.

  45. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    @ MadMax

    Isaiah McGuire?? C’mon now

  46. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Inclined to agree with @Marine Buc! IMHO Greg Roman would be an excellent choice for a running game. Of course, it would be nice to have a QB who can run the spread offense he likes ?

  47. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Zach Charbonnet?

  48. Goatfarmer Says:

    Mike C —

    The Skyway is too jumper proof now. I’m more into medically induced therapies.

    Toad. Blowes. Hit. Me. In. The. Temple. Really. Hard.