Now that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2016 regular season has come to an end, the off-season is in full swing. Will the question at running back be solved with a former teammate of the franchise quarterback?
Heading into the season, the Buccaneers looked to continue their success with a run-first offense. After a career season from Doug Martin, and arguably one of the best one-two punches in the league with Charles Sims, business was booming.
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Well… sometimes things just do not go your way. Martin once again began another injury plagued season(which also ended in a suspension), and so did his counterpart… who also was able to prove that he is nothing more than a third down back.
Luckily after the streak of bad luck, Head Coach Dirk Koetter was able to call up an old friend in Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers, like a knight in shining armor, saved the Bucs running game this season, and instantly made a memorable impact in the bay.
So what about 2017? First and foremost Rodgers is a pending free agent and you can bet one of the top priorities Coach Koetter has mentioned to General Manager Jason Licht is that he wants the soon to be 27-year-old to return.
As for the original bell cow for the Bucs, 28-year-old Martin, he will begin his 2017 campaign serving a three game suspension. Now with his guaranteed money out of the way, the ties keeping him in the bay have been burnt away.
Coach Koetter is a man who likes consistency, and unless you have not been watching, Doug Martin is one of the most inconsistent backs in the league. Yes, injuries do play a major part in that, but a fact is a fact.
Therefore Martin may have played his last snap in pewter and red.
Now sitting at the 19th pick in the draft, Jason Licht has a great chance and decision to make. A former teammate of his franchise quarterback, Jameis Winston, is entering the draft. Dalvin Cook, the leading rusher in Florida State history is one of the best backs to enter the draft in the past five years.
The 5’11” 213 pound sure-fire first round talent has been a phenomenal player in his time in Tallahassee, and has put up remarkable numbers.
Rushing & Receiving
Besides the fact that over his career he has averaged 6.5 yards per touch along with having three consecutive thousand yard seasons, Cook has been one of the better receiving backs in the country.
Now it is no secret that Koetter favors a back that can both have the patience to find the holes but also one who can catch the ball out of the backfield. As for Cook, he is a perfect fit in Koetter’s system.
Here is a game where Cook went up against a great Miami Hurricanes team, and helped lead his team to a victory. There is no denying that once this kid finds his groove, it is hard to stop him.
This tape shows both his positives and negatives quite clearly. Now although Cook keeps the constant fear in defenses of when he will one cut for a long run, he does have issues in short yardage plays.
Cook does not break tackles often, and there is times where he does not seem to fight the contact to push for more yards. This I do not believe is a knock on his strength, but more of a mindset that he will need to overcome as an every down back in the NFL.
If Cook is able to add that part to his game along with his vision and knowledge, this running back could truly be something special.
At the 19th pick in the draft… will Cook still be on the board? The odds as of right now are against the Bucs, but that should not count them out. Cook could give the Bucs a consistent runner they have been praying for, and another tool for Winston to work which could help propel them in the right direction.
There is no for certain answer as for the future of the running back position right now for your Bucs, but you can bet Winston may have a few things to say.
What do you think Buc fans? Like what I have to say? If so follow me on Twitter and we can talk about anything Bucs. Siege the day. Now onto… free agency?