The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a prolific passing attack last season that led to some sky high game stats for most skill positions. The rushing attack didn’t meat those standards. The Buccaneers finished as a bottom five rushing attack. That contributed to the offense having to throw a ton and led to a high risk passing offense. Buccaneers running backs contributed to the second lowest average yard per carry (YPC) at 3.92.
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers want to be a good team, especially late in the season when it’s cold and the defenses are better, that number has to be better. Lets take a look at the runners that will have the task of turning these results around.
Peyton Barber is the returning starter from last year and he performed admirably. Barber was initially looked at as the incumbent starter just waiting for someone to take his job. He wasn’t having it. Barber could have been looking over his shoulder at first but what he saw didn’t worry him. Barber came into camp last year playing well and fast. He was the toughest back to bring down and usually landed forward. Peyton carried the ball 234 times for a total of 871 yards for a 3.7 average YPC. Those numbers do not look great, but they did help the offense when they need a tough yard or two.
The team did struggle to run and pass block last year under newly rehired offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and this season has to be different. Specfically if they expect better rushing results. One of my biggest criticisms from last season was the coaching staffs willingness to forget the Bucs had Barber to run the ball. The offense was predictable more often than not because of it. Barber looks to be the starter again in 2019 and if he can crack the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his short career, he can earn a job here in Tampa or elsewhere in 2020. He wasn’t much of a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield last season. The team doesn’t need a full three down back but if Barber improves, he could become a great asset.
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Ronald Jones II
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Ronald Jones II in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft to be the starter sooner than later. After one season of seeing him play it looks like it will definitely be later. To put it short, he didn’t see the field much of the season and when he did, it was awful. He didn’t hit holes quickly but to be fair he was hit behind the line of scrimmage more often than not. His 23 attempts for 44 yards would be awful for a games worth of statistics. Those were his full season stats. It’s unclear why he was inactive for the first few games of the season, but when he was active, he did nothing to show the team he should be active. With his breakaway speed he should have been a threat to catch the ball at least but he has bad hands. Hopefully that improves this summer.
He has recently put on weight this offseason and is now playing around 220 lbs. That in theory should help him stay upwards more often and shed arm tackles. This season will be huge for Jones if he cares to be on this time for his immediate future. If he doesn’t show much in the pre-season, and one of the UDFA’s has a good showing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is cut before week 1.
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The Other Guys
The team has a couple guys that could earn a job with the team including Andre Ellington who was a runner under Bruce Arians in Arizona. I could see him earning a role similar to Jacquizz Rogers as a change of pace/third down guy. If he doesn’t make the team it will most likely be because Bruce Anderson has earned a role. He is one of the undrafted guys trying to earn a job. The rookie comes from North Dakota State and he brings good speed and the ability to catch and return kicks. He is a true sleeper to earn playing time from Arians this upcoming season and is a guy to keep an eye on.