Buccaneers run-game biggest winners after Jones and Rudolph signings

Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers newest additions will open up the passing game for Tom Brady. However, the biggest winners after the moves will actually be the Buccaneers run game.

Shortly after he was named the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Todd Bowles came out and said that the team will focus more on the run-game during his tenure, or at the very least this season, and have a more balanced offensive attack as a result. Even though the Bucs went out and signed Kyle Rudolph and Julio Jones to short-term deals in what may be Tom Brady‘s final season, at least in Tampa Bay, that doesn’t change this mindset on the running game. If anything, it only further proves their commitment to this new approach.

Perhaps lost in the aftermath of Bowles’ proclamation, was the fact that he also added that the offense will be much more reflective on what Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich want to do. Former head coach Bruce Arians was a fan of the “chuck and duck” approach if you will, and while it’s easy to assume that Brady and Leftwich would automatically be on board given the array of weapons, that’s not exactly the case. Bowles wouldn’t have come out and said that about the offense if everyone was not on board. Besides, some of Bradys most successful years were when he had a strong run game to depend on, or at the very least dump off passes to.

As for these outside weapons, with Jones added to a wide receiver room to go along with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and the other newly acquired receiver Russell Gage, the Buccaneers possess quite possibly the most awesome quartet of receivers in the entire NFL, when healthy.

The health is the key. Godwin is on the fast track to return sooner rather than later, but we don’t know how sustainable that knee will be going forward. The health of Jones is just the health of Jones at this point, and that’s something everyone needs to accept. That said, opposing defenses will still need to respect the talent and plan accordingly.

Now able to trout out an intimidating four-wide receiver set, it would be very enticing to throw the ball to any of those options, as Brady would be able to get the ball out quickly with limited protection in the absence of a tight end. However, with linebackers likely to drop off in coverage when faced with this setup, it would be just as easy for him to turn around and hand the ball off to (the slim) Leonard Fournette, who should have about a two-yard head start.

The other part of the Julio signing that’s significant is the fact that out of all the veteran wide receivers that were available, and honestly out of all the receivers the Buccaneers already had, Jones is quite possibly the best blocker in the run-game. It’s one of the many aspects of his game that make him so great.

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Speaking of blocking, that is also quite possibly the biggest strength of the new Tampa tight end Kyle Rudolph. Cameron Brate was at the top of the tight end depth chart, but his blocking ability leaves much to be desired, as he’s known more as a receiver. With the addition of Rudolph, now the run-game will have another road grater to run behind to get them going. On paper, the signings were big deals due to the big names. However, their skills in the run-game were probably the biggest reason they were brought to town in the first place .

The problem with the Buccaneers approach to the run-game last year was not that they ran the ball too much, it was that they ran the ball in times when everyone knew they were running the ball. Now, with opposing defenses having to account for all of these weapons, and of course account for Brady himself, they should be able to be a little more crafty with when to run the ball, especially if they want to do it more.

At the end of the day, Kyle Rudolph and Julio Jones joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is great for Tom Brady, but it’s even better for Leonard Fournette and the sneaky-deep  running back room.

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