Ripe For A Year 3 Breakout

May 29th, 2024


When Liam Coen watches film of Rachaad White, he sees the good, the bad and the possibilities.

Rachaad White

Tampa Bay’s third-year pro improved steadily last season and even though his overall yards per carry (3.6) was pedestrian, a peek behind the numbers reveals a talented young player about to break out.

Through the first 10 games, White couldn’t find any running room. His yards per carry stood at 3.3 and offensive coordinator Dave Canales wasn’t getting rewarded for pounding White between the tackles. Baker Mayfield’s play-action didn’t freeze anyone because opposing defenses simply didn’t respect the Buc ground game.

But in the final nine games, including two postseason matchups, White averaged 73 rushing yards and a perfectly respectable 4.2 yards per carry.

Add in his 28 catches during that stretch and White was generating an average of 99 yards per game from scrimmage in that span.

White realized his Le’Veon Bell act wasn’t getting it done. Bell had huge years with the Steelers a decade ago with an unusual running style. Instead of hitting the designed hole with urgency, Bell would hesitate, then see what creases developed that he could exploit.

Usually, a back who hesitates behind the line of scrimmage goes nowhere. It’s a tackle for loss waiting to happen because NFL defenses close in quickly. Bell pulled it off, but he’s very much an outlier.

White eventually got the message and realized the Bell doesn’t toll for thee.

One aspect of the game in which White already excels is catching passes out of the backfield. He’s a fantastic target and Coen is salivating about getting White the ball in space.

When drafting White, Jason Licht knew Tampa Bay was getting a polished pass catcher.

“That was a big reason why we liked him and took him where we did,” Licht said in 2022. “He’s been very involved in that offense (Arizona State) in the passing game. He’s got great hands. It’s very important for him to be involved in the passing game and he has a lot of pride in that.”

The Bucs fared very poorly in broken tackles on receptions last season. Their total of 18 was third from the bottom — and White was responsible for 8 of ’em.

And when it came to yards after catch, another category the Bucs struggled with, White was superb. His 611 YAC ranked seventh in the league — and second among running backs behind Breece Hall of the Jets.

White dropped only two passes while grabbing 64 of the 70 throws sent his way, a startling 91.4 percent success rate.

When he floats out of the backfield, White is a first down waiting to happen. And while he’s no Christian McCaffrey on running plays, White may be on the verge of becoming the most effective pass-catching back in the league. He has an uncanny knack for making the first defender miss and it will be no surprise if White is targeted at least 100 times this fall.

“We probably haven’t used him as much,” says Todd Bowles. “If you can get him in open space, he’s a very good route runner. He’s very elusive out in the open field and he has outstanding hands.”

A New No. 2

Rookie Bucs running back Bucky Irving.

The Bucs kicked off Day 3 of the draft by selecting running back Bucky Irving, who averaged 6.2 yards per carry in college.

Irving was also a productive backfield target for Oregon and he should take some of the rushing burden off White, whose 336 touches ranked just behind McCaffrey for most in the league.

Coen served as head coach and OC last season at Kentucky, where Ray Davis proved to be a back with soft hands and solid route-running skills. Wait until Coen gets a load of Rachaad White’s production on quick screens and throws in the flat.

Wait until Coen sees what White can do while turning the corner instead of trying to run up his center’s ass.

Keep your eye on Mr. White this fall. He looks like No. 1 with a bullet.

Ira Kaufman Talks Two Uncharacteristic Todd Bowles Messages, Hype Debate, Tristan Wirfs, And More

22 Responses to “Ripe For A Year 3 Breakout”

  1. Drunkinybor Says:

    I really like R. White. I envision him getting 11-1200 rushing yards and close to 1000 receiving. He’s going to be used alot. Unless Bucky is just a elite talent that just blows away his competition and a Kama5a clone. Whites going to have a massive year. Hes primed for it. Go Bucs

  2. Bucsfan Says:

    The stronger the competition for spots , the better the play at those positions and the better the depth on the roster. That is why Bucs should sign ROJO to a league minimum deal , it will only ratchet up the competition.

  3. OHBucFan Says:

    Hope you’re right Ira. The Bell comment is interesting. He was definitely slickery. Maybe that’s the issue with White. Hope so but it looked far more to be a processing thing behind the line of scrimmage to me. Processing or afraid to attack. Either one is a killer for a running back. Again, hope I’m wrong. Regardless, White would be and is a huge asset as a receiver but that makes him a third and long back not the primary rusher… in an offense that we’re led to believe the Bucs want. Time will tell.

  4. Hodad Says:

    Keep an eye on the rookie Irving, he can do all those things too.

  5. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    You need 2 decent backs in today’s game. I’m excited to see what Bucky’s got.

  6. BillyBucco Says:

    If White takes a step rushing we have a top 5 back.
    If he doesn’t we have Bucky Irving.
    If they are both good we have a great RB room and much improved O Line.
    With the attention to detail with Coens teaching style, alluded to by Godwin, this team can’t help but be much improved running the ball.
    Nobody ranking the Bucs is taking this in to consideration.

  7. Scotty Mack Says:

    I’m also interested to see what Tucker can do with a full preseason, a better O-line and better coaching. He could also be a wildcard that most have discounted.

  8. Lt. Dan Says:

    “No. 1 with a bullet” Super old school saying Ira. Love it!

  9. Fred McNeil Says:

    Yeah, I had high hopes for Tucker too. Last chance.

  10. SlyPirate Says:

    Three things I like about White …
    1. Critical White watches his tape and is knowledgeable and open about his foibles.
    2. Hungry. White has passion and drive to be a top back.
    3. Dedicated. White puts in the work and pushes himself to be better.

    White has all the skills to be great. It’ll happen.

  11. garro Says:

    Good stuff Ira!

    Seemed to me he was reverting a bit late last year to the “Bell” moves.

    I hope he just hits the line with authority and looks for the creases beyond the line of scrimmage. He is not a small RB and should at times just lower his shoulder and go.

    Go Bucs!

  12. WinBuc Says:

    Haven’t given up on Sean Tucker either he will factor in the mix!

  13. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Love the Leveon Bell comparison that was my comp after watching his college tape.

    That running style only works with great O-lines for the most part tho, and looking back at the Steelers run game they were pumping out high YPC with other backs during and after Leveon Bell. But Bell had great hands and put up great fantasy stats because of it.

    an older De’Angelo Williams – 4.5 YPC
    then James Conner – 4.0-4.5 YPC every year

    Bell had a 3 year run at 4.7-4.9 YPC, but then a lot of meh years outside of that.

  14. Dude Says:

    That’s a good one, Matt Forte is who I still kind of have in mind for White.

  15. infomeplease Says:

    If the Bucs managed to fix the o-line this preseason, and Coen lives up to his potential, this offense may very well carry the defense. A lot of ifs! I’m hopeful! Doubters beware!!

  16. Baking with Evans Says:

    @ infomeplease

  17. heyjude Says:

    Really like Rashaad White and hoping to see a lot from Bucky too. Feeling good about all of it. We are so fortunate to have Antoine Winfield back. Yes, he is always smiling. We are all smiling now too.

    The Bucs are always under the radar and everyone had them wrong last season. Just like PFF 2024 ratings for wide receivers getting it completely wrong. Mike Evans is a top ten WR, at least 15th…, not 20th! How did Cooper Kupp, Adams, Moore, and others get ahead of Mike? Cooper was injured last season, barely played. Mike will show them all this season. I am so over the Bucs getting disrespected.

    Bowles guidance for Vea to lose weight could also be about staying healthier in life off the field too. Bell is into boxing now and has AB by his side. Together again…

  18. Larrd Says:

    Is “third year breakout” a thing for NFL running backs? I kind of doubt it, outside of no-names who don’t get opportunities until the third year. White has been the guy for a while now.

    Is 8 broken tackles on 64 catches good for a running back? I honestly do not know but it seems like I have seen other running backs bust four or five tackles on a single play.

    I hope Ira is right but I am ready to see what Irving can do!

  19. stpetebucfan Says:

    I like White’s chances. I think he has personally improved but I’m even more sure that the departure of Canales and his moronic play calling and lack of innovative game plans will also benefit White.

    Because of all the Cousins yammering I went back to last year’s opening game on the road in Minny. Baker has ZERO help except from the dynamic duo of ME and CG and neither of them hit 100 yards.

    But it was White who was handcapped by a new OL, and a NEW OC. White ran 17 times averaging 2.25 yards!!! White has far more talent than 2.25 YPC. Canales was no loss and it’s not that hard to imagine Coen being a significant upgrade which will also help White!!!

  20. Dave Pear Says:

    If we can get him some proper interior line blocking instead of The Three Matadors, maybe he can run better.

    Bowels saying “we should have used him more” kills me.

    You shoulda used your timeouts, you shoulda never moved Godwin out of the slot, you shoulda played your press man corners in press man instead of zone bust, you shoulda hired a full time DC and you shoulda never blown the Rams playoff game after the heroic comeback.

  21. heyjude Says:

    Full respect for Coach Bowles and at least he is straightforward to what he should have done. I have said would of, could of, and should of a few times in my life. Some coaches never take responsibility for their errors. Bowles has in a humble manner. With that being said, I do agree about those darn time-outs left in his pocket.

  22. Mike Says:

    I do believe having a better offensive line and a new OC are going to really allow White and Irving to shine this season. I’m ready for some football already!