Dave Canales Explains Why Bucs Running Backs May Look Indecisive

October 21st, 2023

Teaching the offense.

Joe is offering readers the full Monty. Well, not exactly what you may be thinking (get your heads out of the gutter!).

Joe fully understands the folks who habitually holler about the Bucs’ offensive line like wolves bark at the moon each night get borderline outraged when Joe doesn’t join them in their non-stop foot-stomping about the line. (Joe is fully convinced his standard and expectations for successful blocking are night and day different than many fans, which is where the wide gap lies).

Joe has attended each Bucs game this season in the press box with either corner or end zone seats (with the exception of Lincoln’s Tomb in New Orleans where JO3 is at the 40 and there is no one between him and the rafters).

From these non-TV camera angles, Joe has seen holes each game — not a lot — where Bucs running backs, for reasons Joe fully does not understand, choose not to run to daylight.

Against the Lions, Rachaad White had a massive chunk of green real estate just to his right. All he had to do was a short jump-step and he could have tripped over himself for a first down. Likely could have run for 25-30 yards if he went there.

Instead, he stood behind an offensive lineman and got tackled for a loss.

Joe nearly fell over in his seat.

So earlier this week, Joe asked Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales why this happens. Do his backs just have poor vision? Does he have his backs so disciplined that they do not deviate at all from a play and thus pass up daylight? Why is this happening and why hasn’t it been corrected?

Basically, Canales believes the backs are confused.

He said he has tried to get them to learn a complex, multiple-option offense and the backs aren’t completely confident in what they are supposed to do at times.

In short, as Canales said many times in different ways, players are still learning his offense and it will take time before they have it down.

Below is Joe’s full question and Canales’ full answer on this subject:

JoeBucsFan: In the recent past, you have referred to your run blocking as “OK” or “adequate.” There have been some runs, not many, but some runs where there has been daylight. But for some reason the running backs have not chosen to take that [option]. Is that a vision thing or a discipline thing? What can you put your finger on there?

Dave Canales: It really goes back to what we’ve talked about: it’s the variety. That does put a strain on the backs, in terms of, ‘What’s my course? Where am I pressing it? Where’s this block happening? Where’s this combo happening?’ As they become more accustomed to those things, you’ll see faster and more aggressive play out of those guys. Really, it’s just, again, giving them those opportunities in practice [and] being able to get those called in the game. We were bad on third down. If we convert a few more third downs, we get a few more opportunities to get those game reps of runs – whatever the style of run it might be. Now, we’ve just got to be able to execute on third down so we can continue to be out there and learn the system.

Maybe Canales is force-feeding a complex offense down his players’ throats too soon and not allowing them to chew smaller pieces, digest that fork of grub and go on to the next bite. Joe thinks that is a fair critique. You know, build gradually. Piece by piece, block by block.

Canales seems to believe the quicker his players swallow the entire offense, the quicker they can flip the switch.

Joe wonders if Canales is simply asking his running backs to bite off more than they can chew? As a result, it’s giving Bucs fans indigestion.

64 Responses to “Dave Canales Explains Why Bucs Running Backs May Look Indecisive”

  1. Popcorn Mike Says:

    Joe my question is Canales wasn’t there last year and White was with the same running results ( bad ). What Canales is saying made a little bit of sense and I be never coach before but, what does that have to do with seeing a open hole in the OL

  2. Baking with Canales Says:

    It takes time. Patience grasshopper!

  3. Joe Says:

    Joe my question is Canales wasn’t there last year and White was with the same running results ( bad ).


    New offensive coordinator, new RBs coach, new offense, new offensive line, new quarterback, same RB1.

    Doesn’t take a stat geek to figure this out.

  4. Marine Buc Says:

    One of the major issues with this run game is our tight ends. Cade Otton is a bad blocker. Ko Keift is a one trick pony and is really only a mediocre blocker as well. The Bucs need to add a REAL NFL tight end next season.

    This team needs to invest in several positions – TE, RB and IOL are my top priorities for free agency and the draft next off-season.

  5. Joe Says:

    Ko Keift is a one trick pony and is really only a mediocre blocker as well.

    He’s a good blocker on the second and third levels. Overmatched by linemen.

  6. TonySoprano Says:

    A) This pill would be easier to swallow if the running plays looked the least bit diverse/complicated. Certainly there are nuances in the blocking schemes on any given play, but the runs we’re executing seem to be 90% runs up the gut. No draws, stretches, tosses, dual backs, trickery, etc so I don’t know why the backs would have so much trouble dissecting what hole to hit.

    B) I really wish this coaching staff would stop treating this like it’s a hockey season. They keep saying “Oh it’s only TC. Oh it’s only preseason. Oh it’s only week 7, we’ll get better as the season progresses. We don’t have 82 games to improve. Blink and we’re already at the halfway point. There just seems to be no sense of urgency or consideration to change anything.

  7. Lt. Dan Says:

    Thanks Joe – for NOT going full Monty.

  8. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Joe

    “He’s a good blocker on the second and third levels. Overmatched by linemen.”

    Fair enough. I agree.

  9. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Joe

    Just to clarify – mediocre just means average… So I’m not saying he is “bad” just NFL average.

    And for a TE who can’t catch – that makes Keift a one trick pony…

    Remember the game against the Vikings? Our new OC learned a valuable lesson that first series.

  10. Joe in Michigan Says:

    White should be the backup, the only thing Sneak should be carrying is groceries after he bags them. The Bucs need a good RB, the season depends on it.

  11. #99 the big fella Says:

    Joe in Michigan,
    I agree 100 percent. We need to trade for a road grader. What we have right now will not work if we are going to be a playoff team

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Sorry….but this sounds like a giant pile of BS….

    Running backs are trained to find and hit holes….practically from birth.

  13. unbelievable Says:

    “ He’s a good blocker on the second and third levels. Overmatched by linemen.”

    Seems you could say this about all our tight ends and half of our o-lineman TBH.

    And perhaps our running backs just aren’t that smart either if they still don’t figure it out.

    Sub-par running backs + sub-par blocking = a bad run game.

  14. unbelievable Says:

    BTW – Dalvin Cook is on the trade block right now.

  15. Jmarkbuc Says:


    Yup. Just more pretty words from the dude.

  16. Popcorn Mike Says:

    I hear you Joe, I am just saying. Hope we figure this out soon. Don’t want to become the Chicago of the south

  17. D-Rok Says:

    I dunno, man. RB’s are taught to look for where the hole SHOULD be, and if it isn’t there, to find a crease and get some yards.

    What Canales is describing sure sounds like a mental issue, not a physical one.

    We’ll see, but at least Canales is verbal, unlike Mr. Bob, about his vision for the future and what us fans can expect to see in the near future.

  18. RGA Says:

    I don’t see the offense be line getting any push, they are not winning the line of scrimmage, I don’t see any holes. White, Tucker, Vaughn and last season Fournette all could not find daylight. Many raved about Tuckers talent and somehow he forgot how to tote the rock? I’ve heard it said running backs are a dime a dozen. I don’t recall seeing that play where there was green grass and the back didn’t see it, I’ll take Joes word for it and that’s one play. For everyone of those plays, there are probably 10 where the RB is hit in the backfield.

  19. Dew Says:

    Isn’t Chase Edwards able to return tomorrow?

  20. Pickgrin Says:

    Sorry – but I’m not buying this “complicated offense” excuse.

    Run to daylight.

    This is ingrained into RBs psyche starting at the peewee level.

    If you can’t find existing holes – then you ain’t no NFL RB….

    My eyes tell me there’s not many “holes” being opened or missed thus far – so I think this whole narrative is somewhat off base.

    Oline needs to do a better job of run blocking – period!

  21. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    White is slow and doesn’t break tackles. We’re stuck with what we’ve got though. Any trade talk is a waste because it’s not going to happen. Football isn’t like other professional sports big mid season trades aren’t really a thing. A few minor transactions may occur but that’s about it.

  22. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Zinter, Beebe or Van Pran in the first round please.

  23. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Id prefer to be like the old Denver Broncos..

    Invest in olinemen. RBs are a dime a dozen.

  24. HC Grover Says:

    Confused RB? Good Grief. This is goofy.

  25. Lombardi Lenny Says:

    Man, does Canales fit into the Bucs organization or what with a bs statement like that!! You know Bowles is blushing with glee hearing his OC spit some crap like that hoping fans and the media swallow it- just like Todd does all the time.
    I absolutely hate and despise how they interact with fans and the media. They have always been so incompetent. Remember how they handled the Ryan Jensen crap all last year?!? Bro, just trust me. We’re working on things and once the dumb football players pick it up, we’re gonna crush teams. Yeah, whatever. It’s never their (coaches) scheme or them maybe trying to implement something that’s dumb as ish and doesn’t work …it’s you just wait and see bro

    He, Bowles, and other’s organization when things aren’t going their way speak in this manner like they’re working in something big that you’ll see soon once the players grasp it.

  26. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    If we had Jensen at center, I would bet the result would be different. Seems like we have two solid Tackles, one an all-pro but our interior line is overmatched when it comes to run blocking. Hopefully Licht can draft a good center another guard next Spring.

  27. BUCS4LIFE Says:

    I’m sorry but I’m calling bull$hit! You don’t have to know an offense to pick a hole and run through it. They need to quit tryin to church up the fact that white sucks. The line is NOT the problem, the blocking is more than sufficient enough to be running the ball better than we are.

  28. ModHairKen Says:

    It’s been long enough. If they can’t get it, they won’t. These guys have been playing football for 10-15 years. They’ve been exposed to different blocking schemes. You either know how to run or you do not.

    White does not. Neither does Sneak, which is the stupidest nickname ever.

  29. HC Grover Says:

    “Wrong Way White”

  30. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Should Bucs go with a vet in the offseason? Like Gus Edwards , Tony Pollard, or Antonio Gibson?

    Or take a chance on another college back like Braleon Allen in the 2nd?

  31. Miami Vice Says:

    Bucs will get 375 yds. from Baker and 150 combined from their backs. Stop worrying. Bucs win vs Atlanta 41-17. Canales the man!

  32. Day 1-76 Says:

    RB is by far the easiest position to learn. It’s very instinctual and it seems like our backs are missing those instincts. Time will tell but it doesn’t look promising. Have you ever noticed that all of the Buc’s former RBs are no longer in the league? Maybe the talent evaluation is lacking, which isn’t Canales’ fault.

  33. Tom in Mad City Says:

    If you take Canales at his word and accept that the backs have a lot to learn to fully understand their role, wouldn’t it make sense to have a running back on the roster who has played in this offense? They could have gone after Ca m Akers, but didn’t. They can still make a trade for Rashad Penny, who did well in this offense in Seattle. Why not bring in a RB who can coach the room from a player’s perspective?

  34. Hail2dabucs Says:

    No good sir . Everyone with some football knowledge & a set of eyes knows exactly what the problem is ! Our like is just OK at run blocking & sneak is a slow backup running back . White is putrid , he has no vision or skill to hit any hole or open field with authority & his feet and balance or lack there of is atrocious! Tucker is just a rook & on top of that , our gm as much as I like him , has not drafted well for a running back . When you also are strapped for cash you can not go out and get one in FA . ITS BACK TO CHUCKING THE BALL AND TRY NOT TO SHAT THE BED

  35. Texasbucsfan Says:

    Sorry, but I can’t buy the new system is confusing the running backs. I believe that-the OC is making excuses for the running backs. When will they learn the system, when they are in the Bahamas in February 2024.

  36. Saul Says:

    Can you explain to me why every team we play their offensive coordinator looks a whole lot better and plays a lot better than our offensive coordinator? We have all pro wide receivers that are catching short passes when they should be going long!! Sad to say buyer leftwich was doing a better job than our offensive coordinator right now

  37. Fishhawkbuc Says:

    His Mr Rodgers energy does not lend itself to a successful leader. You got to have some edge to your personality in order to lead a group of Alpha males. The players will be walking all over him by week 10

  38. David Says:

    It’s a simple concept. The defenses load the boxes due to Bake’s inability to throw deep.

  39. Jack Clark Says:

    “Joe fully understands the folks who habitually holler about the Bucs offensive line like wolves bark at the moon”

    😂😂😂 Thanks Joe

    “Basically, Canales believes the backs are confused. He said he has tried to get them to learn a complex, multiple-option offense that the backs at times aren’t yet sure what they are supposed to do. In short, as Canales said many times in different ways, the players are still learning his offense and it will take some time before they have it down.”

    Albert Einstein said If you cannot explain something simply then you don’t understand it well enough. So if our running backs still don’t understand where to run then either Canales is not doing a good enough job teaching them what they need to do or our running backs are just too dumb to do what they’ve been taught. And isn’t the running back position known as the easiest position to learn in the NFL? All they have to do is run through openings, follow their blocking, and do what comes natural. The only difficult thing running backs need to learn is pass blocking. I’m not buying Dave Canales excuses and still think our sorry as run blocking is to blame.

  40. TonySoprano Says:

    Essentially telling fans that the real reason the running game isn’t good enough is because they need more practice is not a valid excuse for paying fans. You are the elite of the elite – the NFL, and your 7-8 figure paychecks reflect that.

    You had all TC and pre-season to practice. You chose not to utilize the starters during those pre-season games to practice. Halfway through the season, fans don’t want to hear that our professional football team isn’t performing because they need more practice/don’t know the system well enough. If that’s truly the case, spend longer hours M-F teaching/learning the playbook.

  41. Defense Rules Says:

    At the most fundamental level, when you’ve got the worst running game in the NFL, it’s not a stretch to say ‘Something’s bad wrong’. My guess is that there are only a limited number of possibilities: (1) the play design sucks; (2) the play selection sucks; (2) the blocking sucks; (4) the guys toting the rock suck; or (5) our opponents when we’re gonna run the ball, where it’s coming from & where it’s going to.

    In any event, ‘something’s bad wrong’. Put your brilliant football minds together and fix it.

  42. CAbucsfan Says:

    Dalvin Cook for a 2024 fourth rounder

  43. orlbucfan Says:

    Nothing wrong with “The Full Monty” as a flick, and I own a CD of the excellent soundtrack, joes. As far as all the FB noise goes, does Canales get the fact that he has a spread of receivers in different positions? I’m talking wideouts, TEs, and RBs. How come BM is not doing more spreads and screens on first down? He’s got the teammates. Honest to god, if I gotta listen to one more game where GodzillaCG14 is getting a suntan cos no one is throwing to him, I’m gonna start tearing out my hair, and I have plenty of it even in my advanced years. GRRRRRRRRRR! I sure HOPE everyone on O is on the SAME page tomorrow!! Enuff said!

  44. adam from ny Says:

    check it:

    this is how canales should coach up white…our so called phenom rb1…

    canales talking to white:

    “yo chaad, just do what you did to us (seattle) last year in munich, just be that guy!”


  45. BucaneroJim Says:

    Last year, the full Monty was straight up the middle almost every time – way too often and predictable…. got boring and has been looking the same way this year. My femme fatale could see it was not working then, and now – suggested attacking the hole from the either side… yep, it chould be successful and a pleasant surprise. Now, just working on the tight end and lack of blocking. Oh!… Joe was talking about football?

  46. Buccos Says:

    White is a 3rd down back. That is what you get in the 3rd round. If you want a bell cow back you have to invest some draft capital, either in the draft or by trade. I never bought the theory the RB’s are a dime a dozen

  47. gotbbucs Says:

    Since when is a zone blocking scheme complicated for running backs? It can’t get any easier. You pick a hole, put your foot down, and hit the afterburner.
    Mike Shanahan and son have been plugging “insert name here” in at running back since forever ago and getting results. I don’t buy this complicated scheme nonsense for one second. Either the player(s) suck, the scheme sucks, or the coaching sucks. Pick one.

  48. Buccos Says:

    We could’ve had Kareem Hunt for nothing. Is Licht asleep at the wheel?

  49. Crazyhorse54 Says:

    Not buying what he’s selling. If a RB makes it to the NFL he can see creases, seams, and holes. The Oline is not getting it done. Period

  50. Show Me the TDs Says:

    BS! Every play doesn’t unfold as planned. If it did, every play would be a TD. Run to daylight!!!

  51. Oddball Says:

    Dave Canales Explains Why Bucs Running Backs May Look Indecisive

    Because they suck.

    You’re welcome

  52. Richard Says:

    The 4 or 5 running backs the last two years all suck when running backs are supposed to be a dime a dozen? At some point you have to look at the run blocking, the O’line is getting their ass kicked at the line of scrimmage, they cannot open any running lanes. Watch the games people, look at the offensive line play, there is no push, no manhandling, they are losing the line of scrimmage. Why would any running back, free agent or trade possibility want to come here to Tampa and run behind this dreadful run blocking line? It’s a death sentence.

  53. Beej Says:

    To repeat, we did 13 designed run plays last Sunday. 9 failed (to make 4 yards) TE (Otton) failed to make his block on 3, RB’s picked wrong hole on 1 or 2, Wirfs missed his block on 2, combination of Hainsey/Mauch not getting off the double-teams of the nose guard were 2, Goedeke was another

  54. Glass Half Full Guy Says:

    Canales doesn’t seem ready for the OC job. Put him in the P.R. department. “New genius-level system” is just a new excuse from a windbag who won’t take responsibility.

    Look at the offensive stats from the first 5 games when BA and Lefty arrived with a new system.

    Look at the first 5 games with Brady learning a new system in 2020

    This year’s stats are worse. Much worse. Even worse than last year.

    Every year every team gets new players that need to learn a new system or get a new OC and everyone has to learn it, but blaming the running backs Mr. Canales? That’s rich. Your offense is LAST in the league in rushing so even teams with schlubs at RB are doing better. Not saying White doesn’t suck but is he the worst back in the league? Think about it.

  55. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    The problem is that they know where the hole is supposed to be and run to that spot but when they get there the hole isn’t where they were taught where it’s supposed to be and they get confused and forget how to run and just allow themselves to get tackled. Only on the Bucs does this happen

  56. TDavis Says:

    Joe you keep bringing up this play, so respectfully I have to keep disagreeing with you until it can be addressed. Number 34 and at least one other player are right there waiting for White to make that cut so they can tackle him. This caused White to stay and not make the cut. Please re-watch the play and let me know where I’m off-base on this.

  57. Woodenman Says:

    I’m hoping we can pick up a pretty good bike so then we know for sure if it’s the line or not seems like it’s split down the middle between line and back run a poll on the joe?

  58. BillyBucco Says:

    Too many excuses.
    Go get a RB that can see hole, hit hole.
    Even a newbie knows how to have sex.

  59. Lombardi Lenny Says:

    So many good comments on this post. Amazing stuff

  60. garro Says:

    Joe, I don’t think you should be practicing run plays in game situations first of all. If practice is not close enough to game situations then I question the practice parameters. I understand not tackling in practices during the season…but these guys need work.

    I don’t believe Canales has installed the entire offense for a game yet.

    The zone run scheme by it’s very nature is designed to give the backs 3 options on most plays, dependent on the O line blocks and what the defenders do. The dancing around in the backfield waiting to be tackled is not a part of Canales zone run scheme…or anyone else’s.

    What I have seen is our RB not seeing the blocks on choice #1, slow decision on choice #2, or #3. Or simply no real choices when our guys get no blocks which is not happening as often as some here think. In Sunday’s game, I saw some plays where they chose wrong (no choice is what you and I both saw on the play in question), or took a bad angle on the right choice and left yards out there.

    To exacerbate all of this is we have a real problem at TE. Not just Otten either. Kieft comes in…It’s a run. We refuse to target him. Otten is a decent receiver but a lousy blocker (blowing up said zone run plays) Wells must have really hacked Canales off. Durham? Who the heck knows?!?

    To be sure, our O line needs to be alot better at this zone scheme as well. They have shown improvement. They are still not getting off the double teams to the second level. (Anzalone killed us!) Again, games are not the time to get this down pat. Just like in golf, you practice at the range, not during your round.

    Go Bucs!

  61. realistic-optimistic Says:

    I definitely had higher expectations for White and the running game this year. Not pleased with White at all, but at least 50% of the problem is bad blocking. I watch the all-22 every game, and I don’t see these gaping holes Joe describes. The TEs are terrible run blockers. The OL almost never manages to disengage from their double-teams and move up to their second assignment. Hainsey still cannot get any push. The line is good and bad at the same things they’ve been good and bad at for the last 4 seasons. Pass blocking is fine, run blocking is god-awful.

  62. realistic-optimistic Says:

    At least we’re not regularly getting TDs wiped off the board because of Donny Turnstile.

  63. HeavyE Says:

    BS…if you see empty space just run to it! Stop with the excuses!!!!

  64. Dan Naughton Says:

    Ok t
    Let’s start by saying if you have no run game then stop running up the middle! Keep a running back in the back to help the blitz. Put Baker in the shotgun and either run ,roll out or fire down dead to keep the backs on their heels. Until the o line can push forward then halt the running game on every 3 down. Today’s game baker threw into the end zone and it was incomplete. Palmer was standing wide open at the four. My take on the OC he is not seasoned as a play caller. This game was for the taking just like last week. Go out and get a brute for running back. Until then what we saw today is just the beginning….. And give Mike Evans his do! Extend his contract! Been a buc fan from day one.. and I have seen enough of Todd Bowles. Maybe a nice guy but his not a head coach..