The Buccaneers don’t have a set starting running back for 2021.
On paper, the lack of a starting running back feels like a bad thing. The talking heads on T.V. may point at the Buccaneers and their lack of a declared starting back as a weakness in their armor during a Super Bowl run, but in the end, this move will work out for everyone.
There is a reason why paying running backs with massive contracts is dangerous; the situation’s unpredictability. Players like David Johnson, Christian McCaffrey, and Ezekiel Elliott get major contracts one year and then spend the next year injured or fumbling at an insane rate.
Running back is the one position where you don’t know what you have until training camp begins, and the Bucs’ approach to this is spot on.
The Buccaneers are on the right track
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According to Jenna Laine on Twitter, Arians is firm in believing that the Buccaneers will define their starting role in camp, not during the offseason.
This is the best news that Bucs fans could get before a run at a second Super Bowl. Complacency is a team-killer in the NFL, and Bruce Arians is showing that he won’t let this slow his team down.
It would be easy for the coaching staff to declare a starter now. They could see Jones as the far better running back during the regular season and hand him the reigns, or they could give Leonard Fournette the top job based on his playoff performances. Either option makes sense, but choosing neither is the smarter way to handle this.
The previously-mentioned unpredictability is why a committee approach usually works better than a true depth chart. Riding the hot hand worked well in the playoffs, and the differing styles between the leading men could keep opposing defenses on their toes.
Either back has the potential and the talent to emerge as the front runner now, but Arians is wise not to get hooked on narratives yet. Jones, Fournette, or both could show up to camp extremely hot or cold, and not preparing for that contingency at all is a recipe for disaster on the ground.
The Bucs went through enough seasons of mediocre running backs that their wealth at the position currently is a welcomed sight; the coaching staff just has to make sure that they give the players an equal chance to impact the game.
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