October 1, 2022

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Will a running game resurface for Tampa Bay in 2022?

3 min read

Leonard Fournette (7) courtesy of bucpower.com

Brady is the big underlying factor, now

Let’s go ahead and give the question above a resounding “not on your life”. The running game was seen leaving town as the Kanga hat and Bruce Arians arrived in Tampa in 2019. Oh there has been a sighting or two in the last few years, but nobody has gotten a good enough look at it actually to identify it as such. This isn’t one of those articles that will bash the organization and coaches for showing the running game the door. There is a way of thinking that goes something like “do what you know,” “play to your strength,” and “go for what you’re good at.” Who can argue against that when you have Tom Brady and number one receivers four deep? Because of the points mentioned above, you have a Buccaneers team that threw more than anyone else in the league at a rate of 65.5%. Then, it’s also true that the team ran the ball at a league-low clip of 34.5%. The arrival of Bruce Almighty in Tampa also killed Ronald Jones II’s career in Tampa, being that Jones is a pure runner type back and not much of a receiver out of the backfield. It was just a matter of time and coaching philosophy. The team’s stable is now teaming with running backs who excel at receiving. Leonard Fournette, Rachaad White, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, and Giovani Bernard are all better than average at catching the football.

Bowles takes over for the Quarterback Whisperer

In this season of 2022, one of the parameters on the team has changed from the last three seasons. Bruce Arians has stepped back and is a special adviser to the team. Todd Bowles has returned to the head coaching ranks in his place. Does the changing of the guard affect the team’s philosophy of throw, throw, then throw it again? Well, not for the most part, probably, Byron Leftwich is still the offensive coordinator, and Tom Brady is still behind center. Having said that, Bowles let it be known that there may be some games where the team will run the ball more than in the past. Saying to the effect that the offense will be taking what the defense is giving them. If that’s rushing yards, then so be it. I know that you won’t find a statement like that in Arians’ Creed, which is fine. He won a Super Bowl, doing it his way, so how can you argue? I myself prefer to pass more than run, but I also believe in having the ability to run when you need/have to and being able to dictate in that facet as well as or close to the way you do through the air. Since 2003 no team that has been in the top 3 in passing play percentage has won a Super Bowl (keep in mind the season being looked at plays their Super Bowl the new year that follows said season. The Bucs won for the 2020 season, but the game was played in 2021). During that same time, only the Cardinals (Bruce Arians) for the 2008 season but the 2009 Super Bowl made the big game and lost while being ranked in the top 3. I’m sure the stats play about the same going back even further in time. Being towards the top in passing plays in a season almost guarantees that you will not be in the big game. In Tampa’s 2020 season championship season, the Bucs ranked 10th in the passing play percentage.

A true dislike for the running game?

For myself and maybe some of you, it will be welcomed, if the Bucs run a bit more when the getting is good. So if Bowles stands by his words, the running game may well be used more than in recent years past. Let’s face it. This team hates the run. The defense doesn’t even like it when the other team does it, as they are usually in the top 2 to 3 against the run annually. Go Bucs!!

 

Sources:

Super Bowl Winners and Results – Super Bowl History – National Football League – ESPN

 

NFL Football Stats – NFL Team Passing Play Percentage | TeamRankings.com

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