Running Game May Make Or Break Season

July 5th, 2023

Run to win.

If you take a step back and look at the Tampa Bay offense, how are the Bucs supposed to score points?

That’s the attitude of many national NFL scribes who have zero faith in Kyler Traskfield. Before he damaged his shoulder in Cleveland, Baker Mayfield couldn’t be leaned on much by the Browns. He wasn’t a bad quarterback until he threw a lot. Then things got hairy.

OK, you say, the Bucs will just play ground and pound? But the Bucs elected not to add a quality running back to the NFL’s worst rushing attack.

So analyst (humorist?) Adam Rank of seems to wonder how the Bucs expect to score points?

The Buccaneers finished dead last in the NFL in rushing offense last season with 76.9 yards per game on the ground, a huge reason for their struggles. In fact, the Bucs scored just five rushing touchdowns. They were second in the NFL in passing, but you might have heard Tom Brady isn’t there anymore. Remind me who the quarterback is again? Oh right, Baker. One of the quarterback’s best friends is the rushing attack, and Tampa Bay needs to be better. Canales knows this. His former team, the Seahawks, ranked 18th in rushing (120.1 rush yards per game) last season and finished among the top 10 in yards per attempt (4.8), which really helped Geno Smith.

Rank also pointed out Rachaad White needs to learn to hang on to the ball. His three fumbles were the most fumbles by a Bucs running back in a season since Mollie Hamster gave the ball away five times in 2015.

Joe can just hear John McKay as Joe will bend his famous blocking and tackling quote to fit White playing Santa Claus. “We didn’t run the ball very well today, but we made up for it by fumbling.”

Bad running and fumbling do not mix.

As Joe stated, White does a good job catching the ball out of the backfield. But his advanced running stats are downright frightening.

Running back seems to be the smoothest position for a rookie to transition into the NFL, so the fact White struggled toting the rock has Joe’s attention.

If the Bucs cannot run, then they will have to pass. And leaning on Traskfield to put the ball up 35-plus times a game has disaster written all over it.

36 Responses to “ Running Game May Make Or Break Season”

  1. All_da_way Says:

    Bucs don’t need to average 40 yards more per game on the ground to be a .500 club. If they can improve towards 20 yards per game on the ground
    versus 2022 they will win a lot of games.

    Play calling and creative is going to be important to exploit teams trying to double up on Evans or Godwin on the perimeter.

  2. Dooley Says:

    “As Joe stated, White does a good job catching the ball out of the backfield. But his advanced running stats are downright frightening.”

    Advanced run stats for a part-time RB are “frightening”, but it doesn’t account for the style of runner White or how effective he can be in a new scheme so this isn’t hitting as hard as you might think it is Joe.

  3. Craig Says:

    They have to do better than last season, just because the new OC believes in match-ups.

    If his scheme works it will open a few running routes and White has shown decent vision to find those routes.

    Curing the fumbles should be a priority, as well as those angry runs that may have caused them.

  4. PSL Bob Says:

    All you can say at this point is that the Bucs will be very interesting to watch this year. They could be terrible or they could be acceptable. Mayfield could start the season, Trask could finish it. Evans could get another 1,000 this year. The o-line could open up running lanes, or they could suck. It’s just anyone’s guess right now. But regardless, it should be interesting. And if they lose a lot, whose going to get pissed? It’s what everyone is expecting and it sets them up for for drafting a young, new QB.

  5. Marine Buc Says:

    I’m still pounding the drum – the Bucs need to add one more free agent running back to this very weak and inexperienced RB room.

    Cook (probably too expensive), Hunt, Elliot or even bring Fournette back…

    If you like the current group we have – close your eyes and imagine if R. White goes down with an injury.

    Now what?

  6. Alanbucsfan Says:

    The Bucs must gain 125-130 yards rushing per game this year or it will be a turnover laden disaster.
    However, IF the Bucs can accomplish running attack success, 6 more points per game and 10 wins is doable.

  7. Buc4evr Says:

    We need a big fullback to get those 3 and 2 and 4th and 1 plays. As far as QB, not very hopeful for either one. Think we will struggle to even score 18 points per game. Take the under…

  8. Infomeplease Says:

    Everyone agrees that the Bucs need to run the ball more effectively! If the healthy-revamped o-line can become effective running DC’s new schemes things may go well. If not, things may go very bad. Come the end of September, we will have a better idea of which direction this team is headed! I can’t wait!

  9. HC Grover Says:

    Practice those up the gut handoffs Baker.

  10. LOL Says:

    I thought White passed the eye test personally. Even though his average was pitiful. I thought the combination of scheming and execution in the run game was some of the worst that I have seen in the NFL. So I wont hold the horrible average totally against him…..


  11. SlyPirate Says:

    Are you judging R White’s abilities based upon Leftwich’s offense?

    We don’t think a new OL and a competent run-first OC will make a difference?

    I hope other teams scout as well as reporters.

  12. HC Grover Says:

    5 weeks to the pre season. They are not ready for it. Bowles Curse.

  13. Tim Says:

    What a perfect time to have a glut of veteran RB’s available, although I don’t think they’ll need it.

  14. kgh4life Says:

    Isn’t Kareem Hunt or James Robinson available? Either one of those RB’s will upgrade the Bucs running game. Robinson might come cheaper due his injury history, but it seems like the Bucs are sold on Rachaad White.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    ‘As Joe stated, White does a good job catching the ball out of the backfield. But his advanced running stats are downright frightening.’

    OK you got me curious Joe, so went back & looked at what White did in each game last year. Toted the rock 129 times for 481 yards … 3.73 YPC average. Not great, but not gross either.
    But there should be a couple of caveats on that.

    He had ONE big game (against Seattle) when he carried it 22 times & got 105 yds rushing. His next best game was 64 yds (14 carries against the Browns) then 56 yds (13 carries against the 49ers). After that he had 2 games in the twenties but most we in the teens or single digits.

    Significantly, his 4 longest runs look to be 35 yds, 29 yds, 18 yds, then 11 yds. All of his other 125 runs were 9 yds or less (mostly much less). Subtract those 4 longest runs and he gained 388 yds on 125 rushes … 3.10 YPC. For a lead dog to gain only 3.1 YPC average on 97% of his carries in a season, THAT’S WORRISOME.

  16. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    I agree.

    However – the Bucs offensive line was absolutely horrible last season – especially when run blocking.

    Losing Marpet, Cappa and Jenson were just too much to overcome.

    Goedeke at left tackle was a bad move. Hainsey and Mason were also below mediocre.

    Then there is Nick Leverett. Yikes… OK at pass blocking but way below mediocre at run blocking.

    I won’t even waste time talking about the below mediocre offensive coordinator last season. How many times did White have to run into the teeth of the defense on first down? Over and over and over again? How many yards were gained on those idiotic wasted plays?

    All things should be considered when analyzing the mess of an offense we were forced to watch last season.

    White has a long way to go in order to develop into a top NFL RB but I can’t blame him when he is running a lame a$$ dive play and getting hit in the backfield as soon as he touches the ball.

  17. Marine Buc Says:

    *** Goedeke at left guard was a bad move… not LT.

  18. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Hopefully they know something we don’t about the current backfield roster. Otherwise, they’re waiting for another RB to be available after training camp is over. I’m not sure who that might be, though.

  19. Mostly Peaceful Trask Fan Says:

    Vaughn is going to be the guy this year before it’s done. White’s rushing metrics were indeed abysmal. I’m not seeing the jump into the bell cow role.

    Vaughn’s been under the radar. I think he’s the more explosive player. We’ll see though.

    Trask and Vaughn? These guys have a lot to prove.

  20. Dooley Says:

    “Vaughn is going to be the guy this year before it’s done. White’s rushing metrics were indeed abysmal. I’m not seeing the jump into the bell cow role.”

    Running back committee. White’s numbers didn’t look great, but can we take into account that he only had 129 carries in 17 games? Which shakes out to 7.5 carries a game. White only had 5 games he got >10 carries all of which came during and then after week 10. On the bright side, White had 5 games where he caught ever dump off Tom threw his way for better and worst. I will say this after reviewing his tape, the way White found ways to make something out of nothing is reason enough to be optimistic about him having a solid year.

    Seattle runs all their horses, they had Penny & Walker III returning for 2023 and still went out and drafted Charbonnett out of UCLA. Which makes me think of Pete Carroll having Reggie Bush and still had him splitting carries with LenDale White.

  21. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    So many experts on jbf nfl owners are missing out

  22. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Anyone have good intel on how Sean Tucker is coming along with his medical condition.
    I realize he is an UDFA but that’s because of his condition….I believe if he is cleared to play he can contribute a great deal.

  23. Onetrickpony Says:

    Aw,we can do it. 1st down ,up the gut almost every time will get er done,just like last year. 🙂

  24. shankasorous Says:

    Damn, look at the photo of Trask and Mayfield in the article linked in the “Website” box above. Mayfield is very undersized.

  25. realistic-optimistic Says:

    Joe, I can’t believe you are this down on Rachaad White. You post article after article about the incompetence of spongebob, AND you praise Fournette repeatedly for his meaningless YAC, yet you talk this much sh&t about White? It’s so confusing. Advanced metrics are fine, but with the same OL and the same OC, White did so much more with the eyeball test last year (with so few carries). How can you not see it? Licht obviously sees it or he would be “competing” like Trask is this year. Maybe he turns out to be ho hum, but he was clearly the better back last year. Teams lean on young unproven players every year. Why so much dumping on White?

  26. Defense Rules Says:

    Dooley and Mostly Peaceful Trask Fan … I too happen to think that Vaughn will end up surprising folks this season. For the life of me I can’t figure out why he’s only gotten only 79 carries in 3 full years on the team. And especially since he’s averaging 4.3 YPC. Granted he’s fumbled 3 times in those 3 years, but so did White in only 1 year.

    What seems strange is that both were 3rd round draft picks (Vaughn #76 in 2020 and White #93 in 2022), yet Vaughn has mostly been relegated to the bench & Special Teams. Running Back by Committee is the most likely option that we’ll see this year. Also expect us to add a big back veteran before Game 1. Personally wouldn’t be surprised if it was Fournette.

  27. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Agree with “LOL”. I thought to the eye he had good vision / patience / an elusive burst that reminded me of Leveon Bell; who had 3.5 YPC his rookie year. (White at 3.7 YPC).

  28. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Yep, the arm-chair experts, have it all figured out.

  29. Buc4evr Says:

    Leave White alone. It is not the running backs, it’s the pathetic O line and TE’s that totally miss their blocking assignments. It’s an O line that gets bull rushed and can’t adjust to blitz packages. How many times did the RB’s get caught behind the line last year. Granted a lot also had to do with Leftwurst’s play calling. Bad OC and bad Oline was a deadly combination.

  30. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    If it was easy, I’d be doing it, on my energetic days.

  31. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    I think I could run pretty fast, with these big dudes chasing me.

  32. stpetebucfan Says:

    I hear the same excuse time after time here for Tom Brady’s season. People say our OL sucked. I’ve seen it ranked as high as 9th last year but clearly without Jensen, with Donovan banged up and older, lots of raw meat inexperience, YES the OL left some things to be desired!

    Why is this an excuse for Brady but not for White. I agree somewhat with D.R.’s assessment but clearly at minimum White at least flashed last year. IE he has the potential. Which leads me back to the OL.

    AGAIN I believe the OL will be the most improved unit on the entire team.

    I think Canalas will use them far better than Leftwich with better blocking schemes and better play calling.

    IMHO the verdict is still out for much of the Bucs squad. But while they haven proven themselves completely they also haven’t looked like future stumble bums. This TEAM is better than last years in every position save one. Nobody iis going to compare Traskfield to the GOAT. But Traskfield will bring some different abilities…stand in and take a hit! Again IMHO the overall team has improved enough to only require DECENT, not pro bowl or all pro performances from Traskfield. Can they play as well as Dilfer with the Ravens? Brad Johnson with Bucs? Probably not but they can play well enough with the talent on this team to reach the playoffs where the question will be…another 1 and done?

  33. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    “Making predictions are tough, especially about the future” … Yogi Berra

  34. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    My tombstone would read: “The Beer Whisperer decided to play football”

  35. Brandon Says:

    18th in rushing. Funny number. That’s where Tom Brady’s QB rating was and his QBR, one spot behind Justin Fields. He was also 28th and 30th in yards per pass and completion. Tom Brady did more to handicap the offense than make it go.

  36. Mike Johnson Says:

    I sure hope all this hype on White is not short lived. I don’t see him as being a thousand yrd rusher this season. I really do not. But we shall see. I wish him nothing but the best. But he must prove himself.