Our Run game sucks! Or Does It?

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So you think our run game sucks huh?!

You think getting a more dynamic RB1 (namely Le’Veon “Not Available and NOT coming to Tampa” Bell) would help our run game huh?!

How closely do you watch what’s happening in our overall run game?  Reality is different from what most fans seem to perceive.  Let me help you see what’s happening in our run game.

First: Our O-line has been below average in the run game.  The main reason Peyton Barber is averaging 2.8 YPC is because he’s being tackled in the backfield before he can get moving downfield.  Looking a little deeper at why that might be, we have played THE two best run defenses in the league through four games.  The Eagles are #1, the Bears are #2.  Ironically, the Saints are now #3.  But hey!  Guys!!  OUR RUN GAME SUCKS!!

Second: We have always platooned our RBs during Dirk’s era.  Whether it was Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodger, or Peyton Barber. And now rookies Ronald Jones II & Shaun Wilson.  This gives no one the chance to get rolling.  Our platooning is on everyone’s tape.  Everyone knows what we’re going to do in that department.  It’s like a lot of other things we’ve done on offense, predictable.  That’s why things worked so well the first two weeks, we weren’t as predictable.  The platoon is a pre-set game plan.  It does not account for how well any back is running.  We are not going to ride the hot hand.  In the Steelers game Barber collected 24 yards on his first three carries.  He finished the game with 8 carries for 33 yards.  Yes, we got down big in that game and had to pass our way back into it, but if you look at the play calling early, there was no reason to go away from Barber after the start he had.  That’s exactly what we did though, and it wasn’t successful.  We should have exploited the Steelers sub par defense in that game, but we didn’t.  Barber could have gone for 80-100 that night, but we decided to pass more than run.  In the Saints game Barber started with a 2 yard gain, then decoyed on the DJax bomb.  The play action fake froze the LBs and safety that DeSean Jackson ran right by.  Barber then gained 23, 12, and 6 yards on his next three carries.  But he sucks right?!

Third: Ronald Jones II does not appear to be the answer.  All of the concerns raised in the preseason appear to be very real after his first NFL start.  His hands are below average, and his best skills running are: A) Running through wide open holes and B) Running away from people with his speed.  He’s not getting wide open holes and he’s not running away from anyone at the moment.  For the crowd that believes he just needs to play more, I couldn’t disagree more!  He’s been given every chance to play as a 2nd round draft pick!  The coaching staff is trying to play him, but RoJo is the one not making it so.  Let me state what the coaching staff has stated repeatedly, HE HAS NOT BEEN GOOD ENOUGH TO MAKE THE GAMEDAY 46.  That’s the facts folks!

Fourth: The short passing game has replaced the traditional run game.  Bubble screens, short slants, RPOs, QB runs (with Fitz only), and other screen plays have all replaced the traditional handoff run game.  The goal is to gain more than 4 yards with these plays, and that’s why they replace the run game.

Fifth: We have been destroying teams through the air, so why would we run the ball?!   We have every advantage with Evans, OJ, DJax, Godwin, Hump, and Brate.  Getting to 20 total carries is probably what we should expect.  The passing game has taken over the NFL this season.  Andrew Luck threw 62 times against the Texans for example. SIXTY TWO!

If you remove the Philly game, Barber is averaging 3.7 YPC. That’s a first down every three runs, and nearly 2 minutes off the clock.  The answer isn’t getting a “better running back”, it’s making better usage of the powerful, shifty, quick footed, strong pass pro back we have in Peyton Barber.

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