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Running game takes a step forward in historic playoff run

Photo created by: Douglas DeFelice

The Bucs Defense has stepped it up in this postseason and we are all very much enjoying the hell out of it. Getting pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, disruption, errant passes, interceptions, points off turnovers, wins. They seem to be peaking at just the right time, it's been a pleasure to behold.

I would be remiss though if I didn't call attention to something I have been actively hollering about for all of the last two seasons. That subject is dear to my heart. I have felt over the past two years that the Bucs were missing out on a chance to be a better offensive unit as a whole. All they have had to do is just utilize the stud that they have in the backfield like they do the ones going in motion, and lining up in the slot. Readers weren't too receptive to the idea last season. They didn't believe in the second year running back like I did. Oh there were a few here and there that saw what I did. For the most part there was push back on the idea.

My feeling since very early in the 2019 season was, and remains that Ronald Jones II is as much of a star talent wise as almost anyone else on the offense. Yes, even Mike Evans. Evans has proven it year in, and year out. Jones coming into year three was still a well kept secret to most. Now don't everyone lose your minds. I'm not saying that Jones has accomplished, or done what Evans has done. I'm saying that talent wise, they are on comparable levels. Evans is one of the very best receivers in the NFL. Ronald Jones in my opinion is in the top 3-5 at his position. I think if we gave Jones enough carries, he would fight it out every season for the rushing title. Back here on earth, on Arians offense that is never going to happen.

What is happening is that after playing lip service to Jones and the running game for two seasons. Arians and Leftwich are finally implementing more of a run game since we made it into the playoffs. Especially early on in games. I haven't seen the Bucs venture too far without running the ball, all the way to the end of the last two games. They are going to need to do the same against Green Bay if they want a chance at head slapping the Packers again.

It was an important, brilliant move for Jason Licht to have picked up Leonard Fourrnette. He filled in very nicely while Jones was injured. He's not going to break off long touchdown runs as often as Jones can do. What he does give you though is hard running and chunks of yardage. He's a chain mover, and he can catch the ball as well. The two were used well against the Saints, and I'm hoping for more of that at Lambeau. The Bucs are still going to without fail throw more than they run, and that's fine. Giving the running game a little bigger slice of the pie though was needed for so many reasons. Not the least of which is play action for Brady. Packers Defense will be coming at Tom hard. Play action can slow them down a bit, but only if you are effective running the ball. The Bucs over the last couple games have been just that. If Sundays game starts out with some nice gains running the ball, I'm going to relax just a bit, and confidence will sneak in a bit more. Run that Football Arians, hats off to you. Go Bucs!!

Some interesting facts: The Packers use a dime package on defense 49% of the time. That's the highest in the league. It means that there are less players in the Box to stop the run. The Bucs rushed 29 times in the Washington game. They rushed 35 times against the Saints.

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