Buccaneers: WAY too early to panic about running game

Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushing attack has been the subject of scrutiny after week one. However, it’s far from time to hit the panic button on the Buccaneers backfield.

The Buccaneers have arguably the best roster in the NFL, especially considering it’s almost the identical roster as their 2020 Super Bowl championship season. However, that doesn’t mean they’re without their weaknesses. In week one against the Dallas Cowboys, an injury to cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting along with safety Jordan Whitehead already being out, lead to the Bucs secondary being exploited as a potential weakness.

The other unit that was looked down upon after the game, was the running game. While the running backs made their fair share of mistakes, and have a lot to polish up, it is far from time to count them out in the 2021 season.

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For starters, it is so easy to overreact to what happens in week one of the NFL season. The NFL preseason has the same effect on the minds of fans. The excitement for the return of football is at an all-time high, and that fever pitch causes some people to jump to conclusions way too early and that almost euphoric mental state. The Buccaneers running backs, and their rushing attack as a whole, are going to be fine.

Let’s take a trip through time all the way back to the year 2020. It was a hard year for everybody, for a variety of reasons, and Leonard Fournette was no exception. After being cut by the Jacksonville jaguars, he came to Tampa Bay and initially struggled running the football. Eventually, towards the end of the season he got his mind, and his body right, and it led to the birth of both “Playoff Lenny” and “Lombardi Lenny”. when it comes to the running game, you have to be patient.

The lifespan of NFL running backs as far as their careers go is incredibly short compared to other positions. As such, it can take a while for bags to get their sea legs under them year in an year out. At the end of the day though, a strong running game it’s crucial to a team success.

Since the beginning of time, being able to throw the ball from the pocket, strong defensive play, and a strong rushing attack are what sustain late into NFL regular season and playoffs. In fact, you don’t even have to look far considering that’s what helped the Buccaneers on their Super Bowl run in 2020.

The Bucs should absolutely not abandon the running game. Bruce Arians already airs it out more than most coaches, end it helps that he has three to four capable backs to carry the load when it comes to changing the pace. The concept of “the run setting up the pass” might not be as relevant as it was before the days of the West Coast offense, but using backs as a way to start up the offense is still essentially the same as it’s been, just now with more short passes.

Yes, it’s true that Ronald Jones was benched thanks to fumbles, and Fournett didn’t look all that sharp. It’s also true that Giovanni Bernard is still learning a new system, and that when Tom Brady is your quarterback, it’s easy to overlook the running game due to his obvious scale, and overall aura. At the end of the day though, establishing the run as crucial as I can open up the entire playbook, particularly play action.

Sure, if it isn’t working there’s no sense trying over and over again similar to how the Bucs did against Dallas. After all, after running into a brick wall once chances are you wouldn’t want do it again. The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing expecting a different result.

That being said, there’s no reason to completely write off the rushing attack after one game. Arians, Byron Leftwich and company simply need to tweak the game plan, and play to their back‘s strengths. All of the backs had flashes, and RoJo is even getting the start this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, which shows his faith in both the player, and the unit for what that’s worth.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers run game will be fine. We just have to be patient, and if anyone knows about that, it’s Buccaneers fans.

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