TAMPA – Going into the second of three games without two-time Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still trying to figure out the best way to utilize the running backs they do have.
Their original game plan was to use Jacquizz Rodgers as their lead back and to turn to Charles Sims on third down and Peyton Barber in short-yardage situations but that plan may already be changing.
Though Rodgers graded out well last week as both a runner and a pass protector, according to offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the Bucs most effective back, at least from a ground-gaining perspective, was Barber.
The second-year pro out of Auburn ran 10 times for 47 yards, and just as you would expect, that performance has the Bucs wondering if Barber should get a few more carries, at least in the short term.
He has certainly earned the opportunity to get the ball more, Monken said, but the Bucs are a little hesitant to take Barber out of the other part of the role they initially carved out for him.
Because he’s a little bigger than both Rodgers (5-foot-6, 205 pounds) and Sims (6-foot, 213), the Bucs like the idea of using the 5-11, 225-pound Barber as a punisher and closer in the second half when defenses are tired.
That’s how they used him last week, when each of Barber’s 10 carries came after halftime, and as much as they’d like to use Barber more in the first half going forward, they don’t want to dampen the impact he can have in the second half.
“He’s much more of a load,’’ Monken said of Barber. “And as we got going a little bit last week, (he was delivering) body blow after body blow there at the end of the game and both teams were tired.
“I mean, it’s always a matter of who’s going to finish the game, but he’s always a good guy to have in short yardage and as I said, you want him to finish the game if you can.’’
The easy solution may be to simply use Barber a little more in short-yardage situations. After all, the Bucs turned to Sims for one of those last week and the result was disappointing to say the least.
On a third-and-1 play from their own 47 the Bucs gave the ball to Sims, who proved yet again why he’s not cut out for such duty when he tried to shimmy his way through the hole instead of attacking it head on.
Had the Bucs used Barber in that situation, not only would they have met their objective of keeping Rodgers fresh, they probably would have converted the third down as well.
And it’s not like one carry would have worn Barber out. Even if he gets three or four short-yardage carries early in the game he should still be able to close games out the way the Bucs believe he can.
Fantasy Football “Start/Sit” for Florida players Week 14
Everyone’s favorite time of year has arrived, that is if you had a good season. The fantasy playoffs are here, and if you made it, chances are some Florida players helped get there.
This week the Buccaneers will host the reeling Colts. The Jaguars will host the under-performing Chargers, and the Dolphins travel to play the ever-disappointing Jets.
The Buccaneers will entertain the Colts, who have the 13th overall defense. The Colts are 1-4 in their last five games and desperately need a win. Last week, they were torched on the ground by Titans RB Derick Henry. However, this was the first 100-yard rusher against the Colts this season.
The Bucs again surprised fantasy players last week, when Ronald Jones was benched in the first half for not picking up a blitz. This led to Peyton Barber scoring two touchdowns, while Jones had zero points. The Colts have surrendered two passing touchdowns in each of their last three games. Last week the Tampa Bay offense didn’t have to do nearly as much as usual.
This week, expect the Bucs vertical passing to be back throwing the ball at least 35 times. With a stout run defense, Jameis Winston will need to be at the top of his game in a big test for this Bucs team.
The Jaguars offense has been rough through the air with Nick Foles back. Now, Foles is back on the bench in favor of rookie, Gardner Minshew. The Chargers come into town with the 4th ranked pass defense, but let Drew Lock and Cortland Sutton connect for 74 yards and two touchdowns. The Chargers own the 18th ranked rush defense, and that is music to the ears of Leonard Fournette.
It has been a rough couple of weeks for the running back facing some stout run defenses. This weekend look for Fournette to get back on track. With the return of Minshew means the D.J. Chark becomes even more attractive. Chark was still the top guy with Foles in, but he and Minshew have a good connection.
The Dolphins are coming off one of the stunners of the year beating the Eagles in a 37-31 shootout. This week they set their sights on the Jets, who just gave the Bengals their first win. The Jets have the leagues’ best-run defense, which is usually significant. However, the Dolphins can’t run the ball effectively at all.
That means Ryan Fitzpatrick will be throwing a lot against the 19th ranked pass defense.
Last week Fitzpatrick and Devante Parker destroyed the Eagles secondary. This week they will have all the opportunities to do the same thing to the Jets. With the tight end position a mess, Mike Gesicki is an option again, who has scored in two straight games.
Colts Kicker Adam Vinateri out for Bucs game
The Colts are traveling to Tampa Bay but will likely take on the Bucs without their future Hall of Fame Kicker, Adam Vinatieri.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 5, 2019
Before the matchup last week against the Titans, Vinatieri had began to experience a bit of pain in his left knee, the leg he plants to kick with his right leg. He told reporters that the pain began to increase through the week which led him to be placed on the Colt’s injury report for the first time this season.
Later Friday afternoon, Indy made Vinatieri’s “out” status official:
Per Coach Reich, RB Marlon Mack and WR Parris Campbell are expected to play Sunday.
More on who's in and who's out for #INDvsTB:
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) December 6, 2019
Vinatieri who is currently the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, has struggled to be consistent this season and has made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts. He’s cost the Colt’s a couple of games in his missed eight field goals and six extra points.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said Wednesday that Vinatieri saw some doctors and got scans to figure out the severity of the problem. From there, they’ll consult with doctors and make a decision, which could potentially end his career. He’s currently sitting at 599 made FGs in his 24 seasons, just one shy of the 600 mark.
Earlier this week, Indianapolis secured rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers and the 45 year old Pro Bowler had said on Thursday that if he got the go ahead from everyone, he’d take the field on Sunday.
“Docs and trainers and everybody will put their two cents in and we’ll see if we can go,” Vinatieri said. “If I can go, I’ll go.”
Obviously, he did not get good news, and that means the rookie McLaughlin is in to kick at Raymond James Stadium.
The Colts are looking to stay in the race for the AFC wild card spot, in a similar situation as the Bucs, so this Sunday (and really every Sunday from here on out) is a do or die for both teams.
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