Can Tampa Bay Compete Without a Running Game?
In Tampa Bay, optimism reigns, as Jameis Winston the Buccaneers quarterback is becoming one of the top arms in the NFC even though he is just 23. Add to that O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson as his favorite targets at wide receiver and any NFL secondary would be on their heels facing the Bucs.
The Bucs were 2-14 prior to Winston arriving on the scene and since are 6-10 and 9-7 in his two seasons.
However, a big red flag is raised by football pundits with the Tampa Bay offense. Last season the Bucs were victorious in 5 games in which they scored 19 points or less. That is almost unheard of in the NFL. The offense for Tampa Bay has declined due to the running game.
Last season the running attack in Tampa Bay was No. 30 while the previous year it was No. 11. This season, odds makers have the Bucs with the longest odds to win the NFC South, 18 to 1 to win the NFC Championship, which is middle of the pack in the conference, and 30 to 1 to win Super Bowl LII.
However, the NFL has changed and today it is pass first and run second just ask Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan. All three quarterback guided their teams to division titles, conference championships games and two of the three to the Super Bowl last season.
Each one of the teams they play for has an explosive offense that is led by an ultra-talented quarterback and offenses that designed to pass, pass and pass some more.
Nevertheless a running game is important. The five worst rushing teams over the past five seasons have an average record of 6-10. Rushing the ball still helps to set up the pass, take time off the clock when leading and tire out the opposing defense.
For Tampa Bay, that means Doug Martin must perform better than last season. Martin has had injuries that have kept him sidelined and limited when he played hence a terrible yards per rush average of 2.9 in 2016.
Even though Martin’s production was not the best, when he did rush 16 times or more in games last season, the Bucs finished 6-1 including road wins against Atlanta and Kansas City.
Passing may be the priority, but rushing the ball help win as well.