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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Help is on the way for Buccaneers struggling running game

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire

TAMPA – Remember when so many thought the Buccaneers were just going to flat out cut running back Doug Martin after he was suspended for violating the NFL’s PED policy and admitting to a drug dependency issue last year?

Well, we are now seeing why that never really was a viable option and why it’s likely that inside the walls of One Buc Place right now, the Bucs are counting the days until Martin returns.

For the record, that number stands at five. Martin, who served the first game of his four-game suspension in Week 17 of last year, can return to the Bucs on Monday, the day after the Bucs play the Giants.

That means Martin could be back in the lineup as soon as next Thursday, when the Bucs take on the Super Bowl champion Patriots, and despite the fact he may be a bit out shape he probably will be.

The alternative, of course, is to stick with the group of backs the Bucs have been using but it’s hard to imagine the Bucs doing that because that group has been largely ineffective so far this year.

Granted it’s only been two games, but so far the Bucs are gaining an average of just 71.5 rushing yards per game, 26th in the league, and just 3.3 yards per carry, also 26th in the league.

Now, part of the problem is that a week ago, for example, the Bucs got behind early in the game and only handled the ball off eight times, including once on an end-around to Bernard Reedy.

But it didn’t help matters that on the first play of their first offensive series, while down 7-0, Jacquizz Rodgers ran for no gain or that their second rushing attempt, also on a first down, gained just 3 yards.

That second rushing attempt by the way was that end-around to Reedy, which came after quarterback Jameis Winston had completed two straight passes of 17 yards to Mike Evans and 18 yards to Chris Godwin.

That kind of production in the passing game usually opens up the running game a bit, but that didn’t really happen against the Vikings last week or   against the Bears the week before.

The Bucs gained 117 yards on 34 carries against the Bears, but the only back that really got going against them was Peyton Barber, who ran 10 times for 47 yards in a close-out role in the second half.

Prior to Barber getting into the game Rodgers and Charles Sims ran a combined 12 times for just 35 yards (2.9 per carry), 9 of which came on a first-down run by Rodgers.

That 9-yard run was more of an anomaly than it appears, though, because one of the biggest problems the Bucs have had running the ball has come when they’ve tried to run it on first down.

The Bucs have handed the ball off 27 times on first down this year and gained 102 yards or 3.7 yards per carry. But of those 27 runs, 18 have gone for 3 yards or less and 12 of those have gone for 2 yards or less.

Now, that trend could suddenly change this week. Opponents are running for an average of 153.3 yards and 4.5 yards per carry against the Giants, so this is a game in which the Bucs running game could get well.

If it doesn’t, well, it still may not be long before it does because Martin will soon be back and if we’ve learned anything through these first two games it’s that he is still the Bucs best back. Of course, that’s why the Bucs never cut him.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.

Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?

Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.

Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,

Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:

“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”

“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option? 

The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.

After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”

While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.

Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.

The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020

Florida Football Insiders

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?

First, the team released another video with clues about them intending to change their uniform and potentially alter their logo:

The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:

“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”

As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.

This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,

The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.

NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.

It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.

The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.

Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.

So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.

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