The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense broke a bunch of the franchise’s one-season data in 2018, together with all those for most factors, internet yards, touchdowns, very first downs and yards for every perform, as perfectly as the highest 3rd-down conversion rate. And it did all of that with out a specifically productive rushing assault.
Certainly, Tampa Bay ranked 29th in the NFL in 2018 with 95.2 rushing yards for every game. Some of that was by preference the Buccaneers passed on a increased percentage of their performs (63.1%) than all but 5 other teams. Not only did the offense usually come across itself hurrying to erase an early deficit, but the passing assault was sovery good that it designed due to the fact to emphasize it. But the Bucs averaged just 3.9 yards for every have when they did hand it off, which was second-worst in the NFL. When the offense tried to build a ground game by functioning on very first down it wasn’t effective usually ample. The common across the NFL on very first-down carries was 4.5 yards the Bucs have been 31st at 3.9.
New Head Coach Bruce Arians will attempt to correct that concern in 2019. As he tries to wonderful-tune the game of quarterback Jameis Winston, he also needs to give Winston a far better prospect to stay clear of turnovers by giving him a far more trusted rushing assault. Which is the query for the Buccaneers’ offense as a whole in 2019: Can it existing far more of a threat to opposing defenses on the ground and as a result be far more balanced overall?
Which is not just a query for the Bucs’ returning functioning backs. There are ostensibly 11 men associated in each and every functioning perform, and the proficiency of the offensive line is naturally important to a very good ground game. There will presumably be plan changes with Arians and his employees using about, and probably some additions to the backfield or the offensive line.
But, just like each and every participant on the roster, the Buccaneers’ functioning backs have thoughts to reply in 2019, and that’s why we have revived our “Burning Questions” sequence as we method the beginning of the new league 12 months in March. In the months in advance, we are likely to pinpoint one particular burning thoughts for each individual participant on the roster, likely situation by situation. The limited finishes have been very first, followed by the large receivers now we switch our gaze to the offensive backfield.
As will be the circumstance at each and every situation, we are only together with players who are at this time underneath agreement for 2019, or could have tender gives as restricted and distinctive legal rights absolutely free agents. For the pending unrestricted free agents, naturally, the burning query that must be answered very first is, ‘Will they be back?’
A person Burning Concern for Each individual Buccaneer: Operating Back again
Gamers underneath agreement for 2019: 3 (Ronald Jones, Dare Ogunbowale, Shaun Wilson)
Possible unrestricted absolutely free agents: 1 (Jacquizz Rodgers)
Possible restricted absolutely free agents: 1 (Peyton Barber)
Possible Exceptional Rights Free of charge Agents: None.
Peyton Barber:Will he when all over again tackle almost 80% of the handoffs doled out to Buccaneer functioning backs?
Barber is because of to come to be a restricted absolutely free agent in March, assuming the staff extends him a qualifying offer you just before the begin of absolutely free agency. Supplied that he was the team’s major rusher in 2018 and that there at this time is just not considerably depth at the situation, this would seem very likely to transpire. And due to the fact restricted absolutely free agents occasionally alter teams – most inevitably sign their tender offer you, turning it into a one particular-12 months offer that then prospects to unrestrictedabsolutely free agency – Barber should really be in the backfield combine following drop.
The query is, how considerably of a combine will that be. Barber accounted for 234 of the 296 carries by Buccaneer functioning backs past drop, or 79.1% of all the handoffs. If one particular elements in receptions out of the backfield, Barber managed 254 of the 364 touches by Buc backs, or 69.8%. It truly is harmless to say that’s not how the Buccaneers’ past coaching employees envisioned items unfolding when the 2018 season began.
Barber, a previous undrafted absolutely free agent out of Auburn, managed this role admirably. He was resilient, starting up all 16 online games, and he was a trusted runner among the tackles, generally attaining supplemental yards right after contact. He failed to usually have large-open functioning lanes, but when he did come across a crease he confirmed that he has additional one particular-lower quickness in his three yrs in the NFL. Barber finished the season with 871 rushing yards, however his 3.7 yards for every have was not great.
Arians has run an offense around a one dominant back just before. In 2016, his Arizona Cardinals gave 373 touches to David Johnson, or 79.9% of all the touches by the team’s functioning backs. Of training course, Johnson was a Professional Bowler that season and a dynamic back who averaged 4.2 yards for every have and 11. yards for every reception. We do not however know Barber’s ceiling but Johnson was clearly one particular of the two or three most effective and most functional backs in soccer in 2016, so it really is probably not reasonable to make a comparison. The 12 months just before Johnson’s Professional Bowl campaign, Arians’ 2015 Cardinals had the league’s eighth-most effective rushing assault but break up carries really a little bit far more among Johnson (then a rookie who would begin to emerge late in the season), Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington and Kerwynn Williams.
Unless of course Barber normally takes his game to a considerable new amount in 2019, it would feel far more very likely that Arians’ Bucs will spread the handoffs around a minimal far more. That would be even far more apparent if the staff provides to the situation in absolutely free agency or the draft and/or…well, that’s the subject matter of our following burning query.
Ronald Jones: Will he emerge as the explosive playmaker the Bucs envisioned when they drafted him early in the second spherical past 12 months?
If the Buccaneers failed to hope Barber to shoulder 80% of the load past 12 months, it really is probably due to the fact they thought they would have their second-spherical draft choose out of USC on the subject a good deal far more. As it turned out, Jones played in nine online games and logged just 30 offensive touches – 23 carries for 44 yards and 7 receptions for 33 yards. Tampa Bay had designed Jones the 38th overall variety in the 2018 draft and the fifth of 8 backs taken amid the very first 71 choices. As a Trojan, Jones had averaged 5.9 yards for every have and demonstrated his explosiveness with a string of major performs. At the really the very least, the Bucs thought he could move suitable in as a enhance to Barber and his far more potent functioning design.
As the season began, however, the coaching employees failed to see a role for Jones in the offense and he wasn’t even active for the very first three online games of the season. The staff selected to retain undrafted rookie back Shaun Wilson up in its place so he could provide as a kickoff returner and get some function as a move-catcher out of the backfield. Jones also missed a run of online games in the center of the season because of to a hamstring damage, and when he came back he was made use of really sparingly. He did capture 7 of the nine passes thrown his way, a very good sign for a back who was thought of a function in progress as a receiver, but only for 33 yards. The Buccaneers under no circumstances definitely succeeded in having Jones out in space with the ball in his palms.
Now Jones will begin about with a new coaching employees, which in his circumstance is probably a positive matter. He’ll be freshly evaluated and Arians and crew will attempt to determine out how most effective to use his talents. He’ll have an entire offseason to understand the new offense and ideally will be far more prepared to present off his talents when his second schooling camp commences.
The Buccaneers may perhaps seem for far more assist in the backfield this offseason, and simply just from a quantities standpoint they’ll will need far more ballcarriers, specifically if Jacquizz Rodgers is not re-signed. But they may well also get a improve with out acquiring to include yet another ballcarrier, if Jones can emerge as the participant the Bucs thought he was past spring.
Dare Ogunbowale:Will his opportunity contributions on unique teams assist him gain an opening-day location on the roster?
Ogunbowale finished past season on the Buccaneers’ observe squad and was then right away re-signed to a reserve/futures agreement for 2019. Which is a matter for the very first-12 months back, who hasn’t definitely had a prospect to go from begin to finish with any staff.
The previous Wisconsin-Madison ballcarrier came to the NFL as an undrafted absolutely free agent with Houston in 2017, then invested about 50 percent of his rookie season on the Texans’ observe squad. His very first exposure to the Buccaneers was a 7 days on their observe squad later on that 12 months, but he finished 2017 with the Washington Redskins. Washington produced him in March of the adhering to 12 months and he wasn’t on a staff till the Bucs came calling all over again about a 7 days into their 2018 schooling camp.
Ogunbowale finished up on Tampa Bay’s observe squad all over again for about a month, then was off it for yet another month just before returning at the finish of October. Two months later on he was promoted when Wilson landed on wounded reserve, and he got a crack at the kickoff return position for a few months. He also played on kickoff protection in the course of that span and logged a unique teams deal with. The 3rd back on the depth chart commonly requires to add in some way in the kicking game in get to keep his location, and Ogunbowale suggested he could do just that in the course of his comparatively short cameo on the 53-man roster.
Ogunbowale is a comparatively major back who had some very good moments in schooling camp past summer right after his late arrival. The Buccaneers evidently want to just take a for a longer period seem at him this time around, and the far more approaches he can assist the staff would the better of a prospect he’d have to split camp with an active NFL roster for the very first time.
Shaun Wilson: Can he emerge as a productive 3rd-down back?
Wilson was a high-precedence concentrate on for the Buccaneers when the draft came to an finish past spring and all the teams began phoning the promising potential customers who had not been picked. The really productive Duke functioning back was one particular of all those who had slipped as a result of, very likely due to the fact he lacked great dimension. He won’t deficiency pace or quickness, having said that, and like Jones he designed a good deal of major performs on the NCAA stage, together with a handful of extensive kickoff return touchdowns. The Bucs thought he could at the very least be a candidate for that position and probably be capable to make an impact as a 3rd-down back.
Wilson got the active location about Jones for the very first three online games but then the staff decided to just take a seem at their second-rounder and failed to want to retain them both of those amid the game-day 46, which meant Wilson was idle for about a month. He got yet another shot when Jones was sidelined by the hamstring damage but then was pushed to wounded reserve by a shoulder damage right after participating in in two far more online games.
Wilson has due to the fact entirely recovered and will be prepared to go when the offseason system commences. His output as a kickoff returner wasn’t eye-opening (17.4-lawn common) but the sample dimension probably was not major ample as he only got to deliver 7 kicks out. He did get to a perform a little bit on offense and was capable to choose up 4.9 yards for every have on six totes, but his three catches only made 5 overall yards.
Of training course, like the relaxation of the backs Wilson will be making an attempt to carve out a role in a new offense and impress a new established of coaches. He caught 26 passes as a senior at Duke and does seem a smooth receiver out of the backfield. Could he demonstrate to be an undersized but dynamic portion of an NFL backfield in the Darren Sproles mould?