Big Play For Bijan?

April 8th, 2023

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In sports, as in life, you try to play to your strengths.

For the past three seasons, the strength of Tampa Bay’s offense was the legend under center. When you’ve got Tom Brady to make split-second decisions and read defenses, your path to victory is clear: throw the football.

That worked very well in 2020 and 2021, when the Bucs went a combined 29-10 and won an NFL championship behind a scoring offense that ranked No. 3 and No. 2, respectively, averaging better than 30 points per game each season.

That pass-oriented approach proved ineffective last year as Brady’s play regressed. You can blame Byron Leftwich’s play-calling or struggles along the offensive line, but for whatever reason, Brady didn’t look like the same quarterback.

Brady kept throwing short when he wasn’t throwing the ball away and the results were demoralizing for players, owners, coaches and Buc Nation. A drab ground game didn’t offer much of an alternative as Todd Bowles finished 8-10 in his first year as Tampa Bay’s head coach.

Does Baker Mayfield need a high-production running back like Nick Chubb to be successful?

It’s time for a change at One Buc Place. It’s time to run the ball.

In case you haven’t noticed, Brady is off working on his tan rather than his timing. In his place are Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. Mayfield’s best season neatly coincided with a punishing ground attack in Cleveland as the 2020 Browns advanced to the second round of the playoffs by hanging 48 points at Pittsburgh.

Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb combined for 388 carries, 1,908 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns that year to significantly ease Mayfield’s burden. Only three teams ran the ball more than the 11-5 Browns in 2020. Only four teams threw the ball less.

Overall, it was 501 passes and 495 rushing attempts, with Mayfield averaging only 30 throws per game.

Nice work if you can get it.

What if Trask wins the job in training camp? Glad you asked.

Wouldn’t an inexperienced quarterback like Trask welcome a robust run game?

“If you’ve got a quarterback, you’re excited,” says Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell. “If you don’t, you’re excited to find one because it is the most important position. It’s not a cliché to say that position defines a lot of buildings in the NFL.”

It’s time for a change and Dave Canales is just the man for the job.

The 2022 Bucs attempted the fewest runs in the league. In 2021, only the Jets attempted fewer. In 2020, Tampa Bay ranked 29th in rushing attempts.

Those were the Brady years.

New Bucs playcaller Dave Canales.

To give themselves the best chance to win this fall, Canales neees to ramp up the carries. As an assistant with Seattle since 2010, Canales saw Pete Carroll enjoy a lot of success with a strong defense and a powerful ground game.

This Buc backfield doesn’t feature a bruiser like Marshawn Lynch to wear down defenses. At the moment, the Bucs have Rachaad White, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Chase Edmonds.

That’s not enough, which leads directly to the upcoming draft.

By consensus, the top backs available are Bijan Robinson of Texas and Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs. Robinson was more productive as a runner while Gibbs averaged 10 yards per catch and boasts more straight-line speed.

Although the trenches desperately need help, the idea of adding a potentially elite back has to be intriguing for Jason Licht and Bowles, who wasn’t happy with Brady averaging 43 passes last year at the age of 45.

“Balance on offense takes the pressure off the quarterback and the offensive line,” O’Connell says.

In today’s NFL, GMs have grown hesitant to draft running backs in the first round.

Too many injuries, too many disappointments and too many backs to choose from.

“It’s a huge test this year because I’ve got Bijan as one of the top five players in the entire draft class,” says ESPN’s Todd McShay. “I’ve got him at four behind Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson. I would make an argument that he’s slightly better than when Saquon Barkley came out — and he was the No. 2 overall pick. I think if there’s an elite talent, you draft him in the first round, you get him at a cheap price and you bring him in for at least the first five years.”

It’s not crazy to think Robinson, a three-down back who has been compared to Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and even Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, will still be on the board for the Bucs at No. 19.

That scenario could prompt an animated discussion in the Buc war room.

But former NFL executive Joe Banner isn’t convinced the position is worth the price.

“Running backs are important and sometimes vital,” Banner says, “and I want to have a good one. I also have confidence that this can be accomplished without using a first-round pick or spending top of the market money.”

38 Responses to “Big Play For Bijan?”

  1. Larrd Says:

    Good rationale, Joe Banner. Let’s trade all our packs for sixth rounders and draft ten Tom Bradys.

  2. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Wouldn’t object

  3. Who Says Says Can't Say Says:

    Can we stop for a second and everyone realize that if you can’t run the ball well, you will always have WAY fewer rushing attempts…

    Not only is it not productive, but you will be facing 2nd and long and 3rd and long, turning those downs into pass-only downs. Hence way fewer rushing attempts.

    So don’t look at rushing attempts, look at rushing effectiveness.

    It’s important to run the ball WELL, but it’s not a function of how many times you do it or don’t do it, when you stink while doing it.

  4. Who Says Says Can't Say Says:

    Few backs can run well when the offensive line are lousy, even great ones… and most average backs CAN run well when the offensive line is good at run blocking.

    So… drafting a running back first round? I’d much rather draft quality O-line.

  5. BucsFanSince1996 Says:

    You can get a good RB without a 1st round pick. But Robinson isn’t a good one; he’s a great one and can have a huge impact on the team for the next 5 years. It can be the difference between being a playoff team or not.

    As a GM I would only pick him at 19 though if I’m really confident I can build a decent O-line this season without using that pick because having a crappy o-line can sink their chances unless Joe Burrow is your QB who doesn’t need an o-line 😉

  6. Pewter Power Says:

    “potentially elite back” the draft is full of running backs. This would be a horrible idea with the first pick. They need a safety, can hope the guy you just signed balls out. They need a pass rusher, with Mike evans and Chris Godwin you can cover up so to speak if the run scheme is better.

    Rashaad white was not a first round pick and he did just fine for a rookie. Did well enough to release LF.

  7. sasquatch Says:

    I’m not convinced we’d pick him even if he dropped to us at 19. I do believe we will draft a RB at some point.

  8. JeffreyLane77 Says:

    Every other year there is a running back who is a top 5 talent. Teams picking in the top five usually have bigger needs than running back. Like QB for example. For most teams picking in the top 10 a running back would be a luxury pick. At some point a team realizes they can get a top 5 talent somewhere in the teens. Sometimes it’s too good to pass up. Tampa isn’t in position to draft a running back at 19. LT please.

  9. gotbbucs Says:

    Robinson is a generational talent. He would be hard to pass on, but I don’t expect him to make it to pick 19.

  10. FlBoy84 Says:

    Abs love Robinson, but’s it’s really hard rationalizing taking him at 19 in mocks when you consider the Bucs needs and see a quality OT & Edge sitting there on the board too.

  11. Brazilian fan Says:


  12. Bigz Says:

    Robinson is a true stud RB. All this talk about you can get a RB later, stuff well where has ours been?
    Always draft talent not position. If it fits both then even better. He’s probably top 5 talent in this draft. If he’s there, then yeah. Take him.

  13. Goatfarmer Says:

    Fortunately the best GM the Bucs have ever had, Jason Licht, is at the helm.

    The players won’t be the problem, if there is one, in 2023. They weren’t in 2022, either.

  14. Beej Says:

    In fairness to Brady, he and coaching staff had a general agreement that the Bucs would run a lot more last year, a lot LESS a no riskit no bislkit. Of course, all of that went down the shi**er when Jensen got hurt

  15. Pewter Power Says:

    If you’ll throw away a pick might as well go after a quarterback instead

  16. Goatfarmer Says:

    When you have the best QB of all time on a team where the alleged head coach has absolutely zero relationship with the player, and that player has never in his life had a losing season, and the head coach leads a losing season for his fourth in a row…….and said GOAT calls out the team for poor effort on Sundays…..

    That must be the fault of the woman washing the trays from the cafeteria steam table.

  17. ScottyMack Says:

    Sure seems funny to me that Kaufman cites Cleveland as a great running team. While true, they are also the perfect example of a losing football team. Look at the truly great running teams of the modern era and find me one that is piling up Superbowl appearances!

  18. Buccos Says:

    Take the BPA

  19. Goatfarmer Says:

    Scotty – fair point! Bit the Browns are also a team that could take the 1999 Rams and finish 4-12. At least our current coich could finish 5-11 with that team thanks to his masturminding.

  20. westernbuc Says:

    Maybe if we traded down but I’d rather go o or d line

  21. Rod Munch Says:

    Bijan Robinson looks like he’s going to be a good RB, but I don’t see why he’s so hyped, he doesn’t look special to me. Now, I could certainly be wrong since I don’t watch college football and I’m going by highlights and his physical traits, but go back and watch White’s highlights in college, and tell me where the huge difference is. Also White and Bijan was nearly identical when it comes to size/speed, and White is slightly more explosive. They’re very very similar backs in any case.

    If you’re dead set on wasting a pick on a RB, then go get Gibbs since at least he’s clearly a different type of back, and won’t cost as much. Gibbs would bring a pure speed guy to the roster, although he ran through such giant holes at Alabama I personally find it difficult to know what you’re getting since those holes won’t be there at the NFL level. I’m not at all say he won’t be good, just that it’s no guarantee.

    But do the boring thing, draft offensive and defensive lineman, heck, maybe a 2nd round speed LB, the Bucs have had really good success doing that. But RB’s are just a dime a dozen, I don’t know why anyone would waste a pick on one when you can just sign a guy who got cut and ride them to the SB (ie, Fournette).

  22. garro Says:

    Ira I love your takes most of the time and thank you for them. I love the possibilities Robinson would bring, but not at the expense of our more pressing needs.
    We do need to somehow find a running game. I agree.
    I’m probably in the minority about how best to achieve that. A good running game starts with the big guys up front. Today’s NFL focuses on O linemen who can pass block and just lean on guys in the run game…Smith.

    We may already have 2 good running backs. I say may because our run blocking last year was ridiculously bad! We just don’t know about the guys we have because of it.

    No running back is going to be successful behind the run blocking we had last year. Check the pad levels on our guys last year on the run plays. Technique was horrible and just not physical enough. And some of our guys got off the ball like they forgot the snap count.

    Exception of maybe Wirfs, I say maybe because Braindead didn’t seem to want to run behind him.

  23. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    Go big or go home.
    Get that star running back.
    By hook or by crook.

  24. Oxycondoms Says:

    Havent watched him but if hes a generational talent thise type of guys get picked higher. AP, elliot, cadillac williams

  25. BoricuaBucfan Says:

    I don’t want to hear about any bulljive about a generational running back. So was Gurley, Fournette, Zelenskyy an on on an on. WHO CARES, ONLY IDIOTS DRAFT RUNNING BACKS IN THE 1sr rd. Hunt, Kamara, Chubb All these running backs you just compared him to what rd were they drafted n? I can tell you what round they weren’t and that’s the 1st. Stop with the stupidity already please!!!!

  26. BoricuaBucfan Says:


  27. Duane Says:

    He is talented, and would add needed spark to the offense regardless of quarterback. Unfortunately, that success leads to more carries, and likely injury during a 17 game season, and therefore a tough call to make in the first round. Way more value in a lineman.

  28. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Pretty sure that is not the right photo and caption.

  29. Trask To The Future Says:

    I’ve been saying for weeks that the Bucs *will* draft Bijan Robinson at #19.

    It just makes too much sense. At #19 a RB is still solid value if it’s a great back. Heck, look at all the draft capital the 49ers gave up for McCaffrey. They trade a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th round pick for him.

    People undervalue how important Fournette was to our Super Bowl team when he was ripping off big runs and tough yardage. A solid RB opens up the play-action pass.

    Bijan is also a BIG back, he’s no tiny runner. He can help out in pass protection.

    Building a rushing attack around Bijan with White coming in as a change of pace, is EXACTLY what this Offense needs.

    No doubt we need OL help. But that can be had in the 2nd and 3rd rounds as well as free agency when cuts happens.

    As others have pointed out the ole “Running backs can be found in the later rounds or elsewhere” is a bit of a MYTH. Sure, they can be found, but the odds are extremely LOW that you will end up with a difference-maker.

    The Bucs need to make a bold move and go get Bijan at #19 and have our new Franchise RB. It’s very unlikely we make a deep playoff run this year anyway.

  30. Mike C Says:

    Guy named Barry Sanders in Detroit had some of the worst O lines in front of him.

  31. BUCman Says:

    I get tired of the narrative that Running backs are not worthy of a first round pick and you can stick almost anybody in to play that role. Bijan Robinson would be a game changer that would be a nightmare for defenses. If they game plan for him that leaves Mike Evans and Chris Godwin running free in the secondary. If they game plan for our receivers then Bijan runs all over them for 140 yards. Lets give the opposing team something to fear and lose sleep over.

  32. Joe Says:

    I get tired of the narrative that Running backs are not worthy of a first round pick and you can stick almost anybody in to play that role.

    Correct. While it’s true you *can* find value with running backs later in the draft, that doesn’t mean you *will* find value. Just look at the Bucs.

    Remember the last time the Bucs selected a running back in the draft when the draft was loaded with backs? Bucs waited and waited and waited and waited and then decided to pick SnoopDawg McPlaybook.

    FYI on Rachaad White: He was 43rd for all running backs in yards-per-carry.

  33. PA Buc Fan Says:

    I have been saying on here for months I want him. If he falls and we pass on him they will regret it. This guy is a true game changer. Can be a good bridge for our rookie qb that we hopefully draft next year. Let’s be real this season isn’t going to be good. Hopefully Bowles is gone and we have a top draft pick to land our qb of the future. How nice for a rookie to come in with a stud rb and 3 solid wrs. Build for the future!

  34. Trask To The Future Says:

    Apparently the word is the Lions want him and if they don’t reach for him at #6 they have a 2nd first rounder that is conveniently 1 pick before ours at #18. We’d probably have to trade up to #17 if we really wanted him.

  35. Goatfarmer Says:

    Aaarrrggghh. Jason knows and will do the right thing.

  36. Jon Grudin Says:


    Put on your TRENCH coat and work the trenches for the first 3+4 picks of the draft. When you have enough BEEF on the lines, then even our existing RBs can SNEAK for some 1st downs.

    As the old lady in the Wendys commercials used to say, “Where’s the beef?”

    Barry Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Marshawn Lynch, Riggins, Alstott, Jim Brown, Sayers (maybe I forgot a few but you can count them on your fingers and toes) were the only RBs who could thrive without a strong O line. It’s all about opportunity cost. Drafting an early round RB means neglecting both the offensive and defensive lines.

    Trench warfare ….that’s how SB teams make their bones!

  37. BoricuaBucfan Says:

    @Bucman name one 1st rd back drafted in the last 10 years that has made their team a winner or perennial winner. I can name 1, Saquon Barkley and it took the Giants 3 yrs to finally be any good. Yea let’s set our franchise back 3 years because we are only a RB away from being Super Bowl contenders🤣🤣🤣🤣

  38. JN Says:

    Robinson doesn’t get out of the top 10…. would love to have him but Bucs have far too many and much greater needs. And even if he did fall to us at 19 would you draft that guy to run behind that line? No way. JL needs to play thus smart. Draft trenches on both sides of ball.