Stubborn Run Game May Doom Bucs

January 14th, 2024

Good strategy, but not timely.

Now isn’t the time to stick to your guns. Rather, it’s the time to use your big guns.

In a recent edition of “The Current,” a Bucs in-house produced series that is a knockoff of “Hard Knocks,” Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales explained why he is so “stubborn” — to use one of his favorite words — about running.

A good offense, a consistent offense, a reliable offense, a winning offense is a tough offense, Canales said, and to develop that type of offense you can’t do it relying on the pass. So you must run to develop toughness.

Joe will get to that comment soon. But right now, it’s the playoffs. Technically, the Bucs have been in the playoffs for at least a week.

Win or go home.

The Bucs have proven they have the weapons to be successful. When the Bucs want to air it out, they can light up a scoreboard.

The running game? At times it appears a total waste of time and valuable snaps.

Over at Sharp Football Analysis, Rich Hribar detailed how bad the Bucs run game is.

52.3% of Tampa Bay’s set of downs have reached third down, 30th in the NFL this season. The only teams with a worse rate were the Panthers (55.9%) and Giants (57.3%).

Tampa Bay is 20th in early down dropback rate (53.0%) despite ranking dead last in early-down rushing yards per play (3.2 yards).

The best offenses convert on first and second downs. They don’t wait until third downs and they surely don’t seem to have a goal of setting up third-and-long situations time and again.

This is the time to open up the offense. Philadelphia has the talent to stop the run. They have been getting burned in their recent 1-5 streak defending the pass.

The Bucs have three lethal weapons in the passing game. Four times in last seven games the Eagles have given up at least 250 yards through the air.

As for Canales wanting to develop a tough offense, he’s right on. You do that running the ball. Joe has heard former NFL suit Michael Lombardi discuss this, that a good offense is a tough offense and good coaches develop them by running the ball.

Do the Bucs have a tough offense? Well, what good is it if you are tough but struggle to move the ball? The Bucs rank 25th in total first downs. But the Bucs can score if Canales unleashes the hounds.

The playoffs is about scoring and winning. teams that are worst in the league in rushing yards per game (88.8) generally don’t win in the playoffs by running.

42 Responses to “Stubborn Run Game May Doom Bucs”

  1. jehzsa Says:

    It will probably fall on deaf ears.

  2. Hodad Says:

    Can’t run, can’t throw, can’t hide. We’ve been throwing it plenty, but Baker hasn’t been throwing it good. Our offense is bad doing both. Take Philly, and the under.

  3. Not Says:

    Right, Canales thinks by forcing a mediocre running group to rub all season they will suddenly transform into a good running team.
    Right Canales, it didn’t happen. Does he think one last game and the magic is all of a sudden there .?
    We’ll see Monday.

  4. #99 the big fella Says:

    Let’s see if the stubborn Dave Canales keeps trying to pound it up the middle or the Dave Canales that showed up in Green Bay and Jacksonville..He better have a really good plan or he will be unemployed with Todd Bowles.. no possible way they both come back if we get blown out.. The glazier boys will have no choice,They have to sell those tickets.

  5. BucU Says:

    I expect run, run, 3rd n long pass.
    Rinse repeat.

  6. Bobby M. Says:

    Eagles will dare Mayfield to beat them, he’s beat up and couldn’t connect on a completion beyond 10 yds last game. Maybe running play action throws the defense off initially but I don’t think we can keep pace with the Eagles offense.

  7. Kgh4life Says:

    don’t run on 1st downs, problem solved.

  8. NE Fan Says:

    Blah, blah, blah. If it doesn’t work stop going to it. M I ke McDaniels proved that last night. I thought he was a good play caller but he showed his inexperience and choked last night.

    Flacco showed you why a back up QB doesn’t normally go far in the PO’s. Umm, umm Baker. Wolford has as many playoff wins as Baker, go with him he also faster.

  9. Baking with Canales Says:


    Now it’s the do or die moment. Do what ever it takes to win the game.

    Team work. No egos. Gather as one and attack with conviction in a smart way. No more solidifying the process. Now let’s apply what we know and hit the ground running and passing.


  10. bob in valrico Says:

    Sounds like we have a conundrum . If we pass too much , there is more chance of Baker being hit and affecting his ability to pass. We already know
    which avenue they chose last week.

  11. BucsFan81 Says:

    This guy is as stubborn as Bowles. No wonder Bowles likes him so much.

  12. SlyPirate Says:

    Not Says:
    Right, Canales thinks by forcing a mediocre running group to run all season they will suddenly transform into a good running team.


    When were they mediocre? 31st isn’t mediocre. Mediocre would be a major upgrade.

  13. Buc4evr Says:

    Need to use White out of the backfield as a receiver. YAC not running yards will work a lot better than trying pound the A and B gaps. White is dangerous if he has a little space. Hope Canales really changes up the game plan.

    Expect the D to go into overdrive on Blitzing. More than normal to test Hurts ability to throw. Just hope the D can contain the run game this time around!

  14. Aceofaerospace Says:

    If we constantly run on first down tomorrow with minimal to no gain and lose the game, I expect the entire coaching staff to be fired and I would applaud that move.

  15. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    Both teams have been as quiet as a mouse fart in church. This should be the game of the week intensity wise when it’s all said and done. Hopefully we get a ‘ronde barber reincarnated moment’ or two and end up on top. Go bucs!
    As for the offense, when you have 2 really good receivers, one would think the game plan is in that direction, but who knows…. Just make a play!

  16. Alanbucsfan Says:

    If the Bucs abandon the run vs Eagles, we will likely see a repeat performance of Joe Flacco’s yesterday

  17. Tb bolts Says:

    Why would they go away from the run when bakers out there passing to ghosts and throwing ducks nowhere near receivers. How many games have we gone into the half with anemic passing numbers.. or the stat you can’t see.. dropped picks that went right off a defenders hands. They don’t trust bakers throwing as much as you baker worshippers wish they did. I can count on one hand how many successful deep shots baker took this season too. The run game is bad and so is the passing game.. accept it.

  18. Jerseybuc Says:

    Such sad ass numbers. I really can’t help but think this is a bowels thing since it’s been the same for 2 years with him as the lead man. It’s time go for him.

  19. Marky Mark Says:

    That run game needs to wait till next year when you can draft that John Riggins type all american kid from Missouri. For now just exploit phillys weakness which is the secondary. Canales has also said he will take what the defense is giving. Eagles are giving the pass.

  20. Marine Buc Says:

    @ #99

    “Let’s see if the stubborn Dave Canales keeps trying to pound it up the middle or the Dave Canales that showed up in Green Bay and Jacksonville.”

    I agree.

    Let’s hope our OC pulls his head out from his rear-end and stops with the run up the gut madness…

  21. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Objectively, Dave Canales is 100% right. The problem is that the Bucs lack the talent at RB to develop a quality run game.

    Dave Canales’ vision is smash-mouth football. Given time and properly drafted talent, I kind of think he can put it together.

    Unless Mayfield is feeling better than we all believe, the Bucs will have no choice but to run the ball a lot Monday…just to protect him.

    However, it could be smoke and mirrors. If Mayfield is feeling better than advertised, all this talk will have the Eagles prepared to face the run a lot. So is the Bucs switch it up to more pass…boom. The Eagles will have wasted all that prep.

    If Mayfield is actually feeling better than we are aware of.
    I don’t think he can possibly be fully healthy, but if Mayfield can throw deeper and be accurate…

    Bowles has relied on Smoke and Mirrors a lot this season, especially on defense. He likes to bluff the blitz until they lower their guard, then hit them with it.

  22. AMI_Chris Says:

    I’m hoping Bowles is over-hyping Mayfield’s injuries…

  23. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Outside of the run game and Mayfield, I have another big concern.

    Chris Godwin.

    We all know he’s got the talent and ability to be great…but his effort has been questionable since his wife spoke up publicly.

    I know there are some who either have not seen it, or refuse to see it, but it’s true.

    If you go back and watch the tape of the past several games, watch Godwin’s stance on the line each play. If the called play is to get the ball, his body language shows he is ready for action.

    But…if the called play is not to get the ball to him, he maintains a relaxed, low-effort stance.

    So defenses are probably able to see that too. It’s very consistently that way.

    He should at least give the appearance that he MIGHT be getting the ball on every play, if for no other reason than to divide the defense. It would help the rest of the offense.

    I suspect a coach worth his salt would get rid of Godwin in the offseason because of this. I would personally consider fixing him instead, but he is developing into a diva…or starting to. How it’s handled will decide that going forward.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Godwin is set free in the offseason.

  24. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The time for “developing” anything has long passed….you do that early in the season.
    We will lose if the gameplan is to run.

    We can win with a stout defense and adequate passing game.

  25. realistic-optimistic Says:

    “A good offense, a consistent offense, a reliable offense, a winning offense is a tough offense, Canales said, and to develop that type of offense you can’t do it relying on the pass. So you must run to develop toughness.”

    This is a fantastic take. Our run game would improve quite a bit with a good center and a 1A (or 1B, either way) RB to go with RWhite. Plus Mauch with second-year strength. I don’t doubt Canales can get that going. But will it materialize against PHI? Probably not. If it does though, it could be a win.

  26. BPBucsfan Says:

    I think it was Lee that said on the Ira podcast the other day that basically defensive coaches worry more about turnovers than points, because Bowles alluded to that in a press conference that they left Baker in against Carolina because he wasn’t turning the ball over (even though he threw at least 3 that should’ve been picked). Last time I checked you don’t move on in the playoff by your plus/minus turnover differential, it’s who has more points on the board. So we will run tomorrow’s game right into the ground, literally and figuratively.

  27. BUCS4LIFE Says:

    We don’t throw we die Monday, it really is as simple as that. Go Bucs!

  28. Bojim Says:

    If they lose because they are still trying to run the ball unsuccessfully then both coaches need to go. Re-sign Mayfield.

  29. Adam’s Angry Says:

    There’s no excuse. The Bucs running game was a problem ALL DAMN SEASON. Trade deadline came and went. Free agents came and went. If the Bucs falter in the playoffs because they can’t run the ball it’s their own fault for wasting the opportunity. And that’s damn sad. A smart GM would have made a move.

  30. infomeplease Says:

    Stupid does as stupid is! TB does as TB is!!
    TB, surprise everyone, your opponent, your fans, the talking heads…throw off play action on first down!!!!!!!

  31. infomeplease Says:

    Throw on first down off play action in the rain!!!!!

  32. Defense Rules Says:

    Rich Hribar … ‘52.3% of Tampa Bay’s set of downs have reached third down, 30th in the NFL this season. Tampa Bay is 20th in early down dropback rate (53.0%) despite ranking dead last in early-down rushing yards per play (3.2 yards).’

    There-in lies our offense’s greatest deficiency right there: we rank #32 in early-down rushing yards per plays and #30 in reaching 3rd downs. Put more succinctly, we suck on 1st & 2nd downs.

    Whose fault is that? Bowles? Blame him if you need a scapegoat, but he’s not the one designing & calling pays, nor is he the one executing them. And I seriously doubt that he gave Canales any orders to ‘run up the middle on 1st down before you do anything else’.

    No, drop that puppy right at the feet of Canales & Mayfield. The former comes from Pete Carroll’s school of ‘running the ball effectively gives you the best chance of winning’, while the latter NEEDS an effective running game for him to be … effective. And that’ll be especially true today if Mayfield starts, with his bruised ribs & sore ankle. We need our defense to hold Eagles to about 17 or less points; we need a somewhat balanced attack that includes enough rushes to keep their defense off-balance; and oh ya, we need the Eagles to give us a little help by turning the ball over at some very opportune times.

  33. Defense Rules Says:

    Bonzai … ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Godwin is set free in the offseason.’

    Have you taken a look recently at Godwin’s Dead CAP numbers Bonzai? Chris has the highest CAP hit on the roster for 2024 at $27.5 mil, with a Dead CAP of $26.4 mil. Chris Godwin ‘ain’t going nowhere’ as they say. However, anticipate that JL will restructure his contract to get the CAP hit down considerably so we can re-sign others (like Mike Evans?). Godwin’s here for the long haul.

  34. Defense Rules Says:

    TBBF … ‘We can win with a stout defense and adequate passing game.’

    BINGO! Add to that though that Bucs will need to run the ball ‘enough’ to keep Philly’s defense honest. If we don’t do that, we lose; it’d be a repeat of our 1st meeting this year.

  35. HC Grover Says:

    If Bakefield is hurt and cant pass it is either Run or Trask.

  36. Jonzee Says:

    Go Bucs…. Have your best game.of the year….

  37. OlBoy Says:

    You’ve had plenty of games to run and A’get tough.’ you can put them training wheels back on after the playoffs. Right now, senor, we need to get our receiving corps in the bright lights. With or without Baker. Hope he’s healthy enough to make a go of it

  38. NE Fan Says:

    Ironic isn’t it? The run first coaches Belichick, Caroll, Vrabel all looking for jobs.

  39. Rod Munch Says:

    Are those season numbers? Because the run game was working dramatically better in the 2nd half of the year, and it would be useful to see the stats broken down that way.

    In any case the run game doesn’t matter if the Baker of the last two weeks shows up. The game just comes down to that, will good Baker show up and give the Bucs a chance, or will bad Baker once again appear to tank any efforts at victory and himself, the team and the city embarassed?

  40. orlbucfan Says:

    DR, I’m proud of you. I have been screaming over and frustrated with Canales all year. He’s throttled this O. This team is fired up. It is my honest hope that the O captains and BM have been telling Canales how to design the O game plan. C has receivers in his WR, TE, and RB positions. Design throwing plays to them. BM also needs to suck it in. If he’s a team player and too hurt, don’t play. Let your backup do it. He was real injured last week in Charlotte. Does he want a Bucs win or not? Go Bucs!!

  41. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    If we feed Godwin on early downs, we win!!! That’s the difference between 3&4 weeks ago and the last 2 weeks. Feed Godwin!!! Feed Godwin!!!!

  42. TampabayDJ Says:

    Here’s to all you fake, Fairweather, bandwagon, crybaby, think you know it all wannabe Bucs fans !! Even Joe ! You had zero faith in this team since the off-season through tonight ! I’m still at the game, and I see , and confirmed, that season ticket holders sold their tickets to the Eagles fans ! Well shame on you. Shame on all of you that hated on this team all year. Go root for the AINTS, you fake azz no nothing fans