Peyton Barber had his best performance of the season against the Falcons and it may carry him for the rest of the 2018 season.
In four of five games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushing attack was non-existent. The Bucs have only averaged 80.2 yards per game, the second-worst mark in the NFL.
Despite the slow start on the ground, there may still be some hope for Tampa Bay. And it revolves around third-year back Peyton Barber.
For the first time since Week 1, Barber managed to gain traction on the ground. He ran for 82 yards on 13 attempts. Barber also added a receiving touchdown to his impressive showing against the Atlanta Falcons.
Even head coach Dirk Koetter praised Barber’s performance.
“Peyton did a nice job yesterday. I mean, he broke tackles, he was explosive, he looked quick, Koetter said in a transcript provided by the team. “When he got opportunities in the passing game, he did a good job.”
As a team, Tampa Bay eclipsed 100 rushing yards for only the second time this season, totaling 123 yards. It was the team’s most efficient performance as well. The Bucs averaged an impressive 6.2 yards per attempt.
The catalyst behind the strong showing on the ground was Barber, who displayed terrific vision and power.
Early in the first quarter, Barber shook off a Falcons defender for a 28-yard gain, his longest run of the season. In the final period, Barber would show off his elusiveness by dodging multiple defenders and getting the Buccaneers into scoring position.
The pair of long runs have been few and far between for Tampa Bay this season, but Barber showed that he is capable of making big plays.
Barber’s ability to catch four passes out of the backfield made the offense less predictable.
When Barber has been on the field, defenses have geared up for the run. If Barber can become a threat as a receiver, it keeps the defense on their heels, and that is precisely what happened against the Falcons.
Statistically, some signs show Barber will have more success the rest of the season if the offensive line can replicate Sunday’s performance.
Barber doesn’t go down quickly. According to Pro Football Focus, Barber averages 3.02 yards after contact on each attempt. Although he has been met with contact behind the line of scrimmage often in 2018, he fights hard for every yard.
Barber has avoided 14 tackles after the rush this season, that ranks in the top ten among running backs. If he can get a little more consistency up front, he will be able to put up more consistent numbers.
Barber gained momentum against Atlanta. He proved he could be an every-down back and it should be enough to propel him towards a more successful second half.
Look for Barber to have another strong performance next week as the Cleveland Browns have allowed 138.2 yards per contest.
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