Coming into today’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ running game was stuck in the gutter.
In fact, in a statistical sense, the rushing attack was deep in the gutter, as the Buccaneers ranked last across the league in terms of rushing yards per game.
Much of these problems have been due to predictability, both in terms of play calling and personnel usage, as offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has struggled to find a balance regarding the two subjects.
Far too many times this season, has he given opposing defenses free passes by predictably running the football on first, second, and third down. And too many times, has he tipped his hand by deploying Leonard Fournette on obvious running situations more times than not.
These mishaps have given this Buccaneers offense a short hand and have prevented it from sustaining any sort of positive momentum so far this season.
But today against the Seattle Seahawks, we were given a rather different look from the running game, one that didn’t align itself with the lethargic and disappointing trend we’ve seen so many times this season.
Against the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay arguably found more success in their run game than they have all season, rushing for 162 yards on 44 statistical carries. Most of that success didn’t come from the usual bell-cow in Fournette though.
Instead, it was rookie Rachaad White who took the brunt of the carries, and made the absolute most of his opportunities.
White himself rushing for 105 yards on 22 carries, providing an instant spark to a running game that had been dead for weeks.
He was physical between the tackles, but he provided a noticeable spark along with the physicality, something that Fournette hasn’t done and won’t be able to do this season given how much trek has worn off on his tires.
Rachaad White just tossed Quandre Diggs like he was a child. pic.twitter.com/tDVcNjmmdO— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 13, 2022
“It felt great to run the ball.” Todd Bowles said.
This Buccaneers offense has relied on one dimension to look passable at most this season. That one dimension being the passing game and its ability to move an entire unit down the field.
The results haven’t been fantastic as you’ve noticed, with the team suffering as a result across the board.
The Buccaneers’ staff has at least said they’ve tried to find solutions for the rushing attack — although those haven’t been notable in any shape or form. With poor form and a staff that seemingly couldn’t find answers, the running game continued its downward spiral into oblivion.
Today though they found that remedy and it appears White himself was the solution in itself. Not scheme adjustments, just a switch in personnel to White and success was found instantly.
Moving forward, this change should give this offense more room to operate in terms of predictability. Leftwich has seemingly echoed his sentiments about his love for an efficient ground attack, and how much he loves to expand his offense as a result of having one.
That includes play action, a concept Leftwich has been hesitant to run more because of his outdated beliefs when it comes to using the concept consistently.
Either way, if the running game can find its footing, then this offense only stands to benefit.
A better running game means less long down and distance situations, which would then lead to a better offense and more points on the board.
That’ll lead to a better reputation offensively, a happier Tom Brady, and positive outlook going forward into the most difficult months of the season.
A portion of the season this veteran and battle tested group has shown, that it can shine. And for the Buccaneers, a chance to give their battle tested group to ravage through that portion of the season, is something they can only ask for.
Featured image via Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports