The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Running Back and Lineman Edition – Daniel Beebe


What were the biggest flaws for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense last season? The running backs and offensive line were glaring weaknesses. In this article, we will talk about what is out there for the Buccaneers to look at for improving their offensive struggles.

There are many free agents this year for the Buccaneers to consider picking up for the running back position. The best option would be Le’Veon Bell, but let’s face it that isn’t going to happen. The realistic players for Tampa Bay to pair with the up and coming Peyton Barber would be: Dion Lewis, Carlos Hyde, LeGarrette Blount, and Isaiah Crowell.

Peyton Barber flashed some of his talent in 2017. He finished with 423 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is a better version of Darren Sproles, in my opinion. He is capable of running between the tackles. Barber can also get to the outside and use his strength to run over the cornerbacks. I think that Hyde, Blount, or Crowell would be a better pairing for Barber.

The good would be LaGarrette Blount. In Philadelphia he proved that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. When he was with Tampa Bay, Blount was a guy with many character issues. He has since grown out of that and become one of the NFL’s most reliable backs. In 2017, Blount rushed for 766 yards and made 2 touchdowns. He split carries in Philadelphia. He also had to give way to the aerial attack that Carson Wentz brings to the table.

The bad would be Carlos Hyde. The reason Hyde doesn’t rank higher for me in free agency is because San Francisco has literally ran him a ton over the past couple years. He was the only offense for the 49ers. He has been durable, but I don’t think this would be a great signing for the Buccaneers.  In 2017, Hyde rushed for 938 yards and 8 touchdowns. He had almost 250 carries, as well.

The ugly would be Dion Lewis and Isaiah Crowell. Dion Lewis is a product of the New England Patriots. I don’t think he would be as productive in any other system. Lewis has shared carries with the plethora of Patriots running backs over the years. I believe Peyton Barber is a better version of Dion Lewis. Isaiah Crowell has been the lead back in Cleveland for the past couple years. Just recently Duke Johnson took over the lead spot in Cleveland. Crowell had 206 carries, 853 yards, and 2 touchdowns in 2017.

Will Tampa Bay do anything to make the backfield more stable in 2018? Doug Martin is on his way out the door. Peyton Barber will probably start the year as the featured back, but could be second string if one of these running backs sign in Tampa.

The next position Tampa Bay needs to focus on is the offensive line. After the 2016 season Tampa Bay fans thought our offensive line was set and we would dominate the line of scrimmage. Where did the 2016 offensive line go…..because they didn’t show up in 2017!?! There are some free agents available, but the NFL Draft is where the Buccaneers should focus on. Tampa Bay should look at Notre Dame OG- Quenton Nelson, OT- Orlando Brown (Oklahoma), OT- Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame). Any of these selections would be perfect for the Buccaneers at number 7. There are some young, proven starters that are free agents that the Buccaneers could look at.

The good would be Andrew Norwell from Carolina. He is 26 years old and is an absolute monster on the offensive line. He would be a perfect fit for Tampa Bay and would definitely make the most sense for us. We need to give Jameis more time and create holes for the running backs. We would also take him away from Cam Newton and the rest of the Carolina offense.

The bad would be Justin Pugh from the New York Giants. He is 28 years old and played mostly out of position for the terrible Giants offense last season. Pugh is one of the NFL’s best guards. He comes in second to Norwell due to his age, but make no mistake if Tampa decided to bring him in for the upcoming season all of Tampa Bay would embrace him.

The ugly would be Nate Solder out of New England. He has been a constant for the Patriots offense and keeping Tom Brady healthy, but he is 30 years old. Solder’s had some injury issues in the past, but he doesn’t miss games very often. He had a down year in 2017 and for those reasons Tampa Bay will not spend the money he will command in free agency.

The offensive line needs help it is no secret and these guys are just a few of the lineman that will be free agents in 2018. Obviously, the best two choices would be Norwell and Pugh. They will solve our issues and if we could get either of them the offense will take off in 2018. Running the ball helps the Buccaneers keep their shaky secondary off the field, as well.  Tampa Bay fans the future is bright for our beloved Buccaneers. These guys can help get us to the playoffs and beyond.

Edited by Morgan Adele