RUNNING BACKS: D
The Bucs’ leading rusher this season was Jacquizz Rodgers who turned in 560 yards on the ground on 129 carries.
Doug Martin led the team in carries with 144 of them, but amassed just 421 yards averaging a measly 2.9 yards per carry. That doesn’t really justify the second-round pick I used on him in my fantasy draft now does it?
Charles Sims entered the season as Martin’s back-up but finished behind his quarterback in rushing yards and carries, although we all know his strength is in the passing game.
Undrafted rookie Peyton Barber not only made the team but carried the rock 55 times for 223 yards. His yards per carry average reached 4.1 giving him the second best amongst ball carriers who touched the ball more than 10 times.
If the start of this seems like a patchwork list of names and numbers, well, it’s because it is. This is how the Bucs running game went in 2016, and with the recent news of drug abuse by Martin, this team will start 2017 with a new running back in the starting lineup as well.
Of course, most fans are hoping this will be either Rodgers or Dalvin Cook from Florida State, but we’ll leave this to future draft and free-agent speculation.
The bottom line is the running backs were spotty at best. Just when one seemed to get it going there’d be a fumble or injury which would just set the entire group back where they started from.
Only seven rushing touchdowns were collected by this group, giving them the second fewest total in the NFL.
Remember the comment earlier about Koetter saying this was a running team? Well, they ran the ball 453 times combined making them the seventh highest rushing team in the league.
However, those rushes produced the ninth lowest yards gained, and therein lies the struggle.
Some blame the backs themselves, others blame the offensive line (more to come on them) and some simply say they were right last year when the fan base was divided amongst those who wanted to keep Martin and those who did not.
No matter what, the Bucs running backs as a group simply didn’t get it done consistently for their team, and they’ll have to live with the marks to go with their performance.