On Sunday, hours after Jerramy Stevens was arrested for possession of marijuana, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enjoyed a Blount. LeGarrette Blount rushed the ball 11 times yesterday afternoon for a total of 72 yards and helped cue the offense in Tampa’s 18-17 comeback win over the St. Louis Rams.
But the stats only tell a part of the story, when Blount entered the game it was as if the personality of the entire rushing attack changed. Despite having a couple of 10-15 yard runs and a 46 yard run wiped out by penalties, Blount was still devestating in his attempts and helped the Buccaneers begin to find rhythm.
The only thing holding LeGarrette Blount back from winning the running back job outright is his his lack of familiarity with the Bucs system. Because he still struggles with blocking assignments and blitz pick-ups, Bucs fans will still get a heavy does of Cadillac Williams. Despite Williams limited elusiveness this season, he still has the most experience and is the most well-rounded back on the Bucs roster.
But when it comes to pounding the rock, LeGarrette Blount needs to be the guy from here on out. On Sunday the Bucs found several ways to spring Blount. Early on they were bringing in Tackle James Lee at Tight End and running behind him with a degree of success. Later on though the Bucs bread and butter was running it right up behind Jeremy Trueblood and Davin Joseph. Erik Lorig also contributed a solid game lead-blocking in Earnest Graham‘s absence. But it was refreshing to finally see the Bucs rushing attack driving back defenders and creating holes like it’s designed to do.
Of course the lynch-pin in all of this is Blount himself. I don’t know if the offense just looks meaner when he’s in the game or if it’s because he hits the hole so violently, but Blount brings a power running element to this team that it desperately needs. His running style seems perfectly suited to this Bucs offensive line. They just need to give him a little daylight and he uses his size and physicality to punish defenders for extra yards at the next level.
“The guy is definitely a pounder,” said Cadillac Williams. “You just see him and his looks. He is a physical guy and a punishing ball carrier. He had some strong runs where he broke some tackles so it was really, really good to see that. I told him that I really feel like he energized the offense with his runs and things like that. You definitely have to tip your hat off to the young guy.”
I feel bad for anybody that tries to tackle LeGarrette and weighs under 200 pounds. On several occasions he leveled OJ Atogwe, who is by all accounts very good NFL free safety. And even though it was wiped away by a block in the back, the burst of speed he showed on his 46 yard run was another element few even knew he had. LeGarrette Blount is going to develop into a solid NFL back, he may already be better as a rusher than Cadillac. The Bucs have already announced they will now go with a two-back rotation. It may not be long before LeGarrette Blount finds himself the feature back.