Among the many things have have been going wrong for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, the run game's failure to improve is a thorn stuck in everyone's side.
Somehow the league's worst rushing attack from last season got even worst this year. Despite making changes in every key area of the room -- from naming a new RB1 to hiring a new running backs coach -- the Bucs run game is averaging just 3.1 yards per game.
That's down from the league-worst 3.4 yards per game last season, although the Las Vegas Raiders have found a way to be even more terrible than the Bucs this year. If it weren't for Josh McDaniels and his utter ineptitude, the Bucs would once again be ranked dead-last in the NFL.
It's not just the big picture that looks terrible, as Bucs fans are growing tired of watching the team spin its wheels trying to get the run game going once momentum starts to build. Sunday's loss to the Falcons was a perfect microcosm, as the offense continued to false start -- literally and figuratively -- when turning to the run game.
Fans aren't the only ones noticing that a major thing holding the Bucs back is what's happening in the backfield.
Baker Mayfield says what Bucs fans are thinking about the run game
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Baker Mayfield addressed a question referencing the fact that he routinely has the biggest rushing plays on Sundays. Baker didn't call out the run game in a malicious way, rather he simply said the quiet part out loud.
"We're kind of learning that we're not going to be a run-first team," Mayfield said. "But we're still going to do it when we need to."
He went on to say that the team needs to make the most of the opportunities it has to get the run game going, and called out Trey Palmer's holding penalty on Sunday that wiped out a big run by Rachaad White.
Offensive line play has factored into the run game's struggles as well. Tristan Wirfs and Luke Goedeke seem to be carrying the load while Matt Feiler, Robert Hainsey, and Cody Mauch continue to lag behind. Those three players combined for five penalties and 35 yards against the offense on Sunday, and gave up three sacks for 19 yards on top of that.
It's hard to get the run game going when there's so much penetration, and it's all leading to a collective failure that is stunting the offense. Since the bye week Tampa Bay has scored a meager 19 points, while the defense has allowed 20 or fewer points in back-to-back games.
Either the run game needs to get going or Dave Canales needs to find a way to orchestrate play calls that navigate around the struggles. Until the, the Bucs offense is going to remain stuck in first gear.