Heading into week one of the 2022 NFL season, the Buccaneers and new head coach Todd Bowles had some questions along the offensive line. This prompted the media and fans to wonder if they can dominate up front like they have in years past. Would they be able to run the ball with success? Can they keep Tom Brady safe?
Silencing the Buccaneers’ Doubters
On Sunday night, they silenced all the doubters and physically dominated a playoff team from last year. This performance was made even more impressive considering starting left tackle Donovan Smith went down early in the game due to injury. Behind a young and bruised offensive line, the Buccaneers averaged 5.2 yards per carry on designed runs.
Leonard Fournette got most of the workload, carrying the ball 21 times for 127 yards. However, 54% of Fournette’s rushing yards were before contact. Open holes were a thing all night, and it allowed the Bucs to control every aspect of the game. The coaching staff seemed confident in rookie Luke Goedeke and backup Josh Wells because they made their side the play side for most of the runs.
Interestingly, the Buccaneers showed a more diverse run game with featuring more pulling lineman. These concepts were rarely used when Bruce Arians was the head coach. Although these plays are hard to install and could lead to some confusion, they help the Bucs get their guards in space.
Running the ball successfully does multiple things that can lead to a win. Like stated earlier, it can wear down a defense and make passing off a play action lethal. There is also an effect on mentality, when a defense repeatedly gets beat by a physical running offense.
Without a passing game, it is nearly impossible to win, but running the ball efficiently and building your offense off that will lead to wins. Passing the ball well definitely has more value, but without a steady commitment to the run that keeps defenses on their heels, it could lead to turnovers and sloppy football. The Bucs seem to want to run the ball a lot this year and always keep the game in control. With this, the offense, will have fewer turnovers and a greater time of possession. This balances the offense and will make it hard for any defense to shut down.
We couldn’t end this article without bringing up “The Block” by Fournette on Cowboys’ linebacker and apparent snowflake Micah “Michelle” Parsons.
Leonard Fournette 🥞🥞🥞🥞
— PFF (@PFF) September 12, 2022
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