Riding The Hot Hand3 min read
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been struggling on offense this season; miscues, personal lives, and non-execution of plays have been the main culprit for the below-expected performance so far. Saying that the run game hasn’t established itself in the way the team hoped for this offseason would be an understatement. After reviewing play-calling trends from the 2021 season, new Head Coach Todd Bowles began to transition the offense from throwing the football being plan A and plan A1. A solid offensive line, a resurgent Leonard Fournette, and promising rookie Rashad White would see the Buccaneers become a run-first team. The theory of dominating on the ground and leaving opposing teams vulnerable to Brady’s surgical passing was sound; however, the team has been throwing more than they have wanted to. (The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2nd in the NFL behind the Cardinals, 445, in pass attempts with 428)
When you have the G.O.A.T. on your team, you would think that you would want to throw the ball as much as possible, putting on an ariel show and piling on a whole lot of points. Contrary to this logic, the G.O.A.T. even said it himself; “we’d love to throw the ball less and control the game and run the ball and play great defense and get turnovers, and don’t turn it over and score in the red area.” So far, the Bucs are 27th in the league on rushing attempts and dead last for rushing yards with just 707 through 10 games.
Leonard Fournette has run the ball 135 times for 465 yards and 3 touchdowns, with rookie running back Rachaad White contributing 60 carries for 222 yards and 1 touchdown. It seems that the rookie running back is showing a lot of promise and even has fans calling for his name to start over the struggling veteran Leonard Fournette. White had the first 100-yard game of his NFL career in Munich, Germany versus the Seattle Seahawks.
Following that break-out performance, White became the talk of the town. Fans instantly began searching for a nickname and demanding that he is awarded the start for the foreseeable future. But what is Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles thinking? He is thinking “smart money” and will ride with the hot hand.
“Well, you saw what he can bring. He’s very athletic, he gives us a lot – ‘Lenny’ [Fournette] gives us a lot as well. Depending on who gets hot at a certain time, we’ll ride that hand. Right now, we need everybody back there – ‘Sneak’ [Ke’Shawn Vaughn] included, with Gio coming back. We’ve got guys [that] if they get in the game and they get going pretty [well], we’ll probably leave them in there.”
Coach Bowles’s concept of running with whoever is hot at any particular time may not sit well with fans who want to see the rookie get the permanent start, but it does make the most sense. Anyone can get hot at any time, and names in any kind of order on a depth chart for the position are meaningless. As long as White gets hot, White will get the rock, and I think that is what fans will see as the season ticks on.