A year ago RB Adrian Peterson was available on the free agency market and the Bucs were apparently one of the teams taking a good look at him before psas\sing on him. Now, it’s 2018 and the same scenario exists, and Tampa Bay may be ready to take a small gamble on bringing the future Hall of Famer in for one last try.
More on that coming up.
First, during the 2017 off season Peterson had been released by the Vikings in a salary cap move, yet was definitely in demand to land somewhere. And that original somewhere ended up being with the New Orleans Saints. However, he didn’t last long as the Saints had rookie Alvin Kamara emerging and Peterson’s time on the field quickly dwindled.
Peterson, nicknamed “AD” for “All Day,” as in “I’m going to run through, around and to the endzone faster than you, ‘All Day,'” didn’t carry the ball 10 times in any of the Saints first four games.
Almost immediately after coming to the Cards, he destroyed the Buccaneers in his debut (above) with 26 carries for 134 yards and 2 TDs, as they routed Tampa Bay. “AD” would have another 159 yard rushing day two weeks later in a win over the 49ers. However, he never sustained that success and a neck injury ended his 2017 after week 10.
It also ended his time with the Cardinals.
So, Peterson is 33 years old, and looking, again for a home.
And Tampa Bay might be just what he and they are both looking for this year.
Even though the Bucs have young RB Peyton Barber, who has two years in coach Dirk Koetter’s system, and drafted USC speedster Ronald Jones last month, Peterson, when healthy, might fit the short term veteran role.
Not unlike the Dolphins bringing in 34 year old Miami native Frank Gore, to a backfield with RBs Kenyan Drake and recently drafted Kalen Ballage, Peterson would bring experience and leadership to the young backs.
And, one critical relationship is with Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston, whom Peterson has spent off seasons, like 2017, working out with on the West Coast, etc.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) March 30, 2017
And, just like the Fins bringing in Gore, Peterson will come at a bargain financially, at this point and it would be a low risk move.
Now, there are certainly other contending teams, Jacksonville for one, and the Seahawks for another, that could use him for short term solution in 2018. And, “AD” has been letting everyone know recently, that he’s still a physical monster in the workout room:
Will the Bucs be interested with all the leverage in their favor for a short term inexpensive deal?
We will find out soon enough.
Bucs QB Winston practiced Wednesday despite ankle sprain
Embattled Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a sprained ankle near the end of Sunday’s 34 – 17 loss to the Saints. However, when the Buccaneers took the field Wednesday for the first meaningful practice for their upcoming game with the Falcons this week, Winston was able to give it a full go.
Bruce Arians says QB Jameis Winston (ankle) was a full participant in practice today. However, OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) did not participate.
— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) November 20, 2019
Winston was injured when Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson fell on his left leg in the fourth quarter Sunday, but limped around and stayed in the game. He subsequently threw an interception to New Orleans defensive back Marcus Williams on the next play. Williams ran it in for a touchdown with Winston hobbling towards him as he raced down the sideline.
Winston never came out of the game on the final two possessions, although Arians said postgame that he had considered putting little used backup Ryan Griffin in with the margin 34 – 17 and Winston ailing.
It’s no secret that Winston is fighting for his Tampa Bay future, as the Bucs have floundered to a 3 – 7 start, and he leads the NFL with 18 interceptions. And, as we also pointed out on Sunday Tampa Bay is now 7 – 22 in their last 29 games that Winston has started over the last three seasons.
None of those numbers bode well for him receiving a long-term contract.
As for Griffin, he has been a star in each of the last two pre-seasons and is the only viable Buccaneer backup at the moment. Tampa Bay lost veteran Blaine Gabbert to a left shoulder injury in preseason and he has been placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Although Winston is expected to play out much of the remaining six games, if Tampa Bay looks bad/losses Sunday in Atlanta to drop to 3 – 9, there may be more growing sentiment to give Griffin a look to see if he is potentially someone that could quarterback the team in the future.
Should Bruce Arians take over Bucs play calling?
As the Bucs get ready to battle another NFC South opponent on the road Sunday, their overall struggles have dropped them to a 3 – 7 record. And while their pass defense is the worst in the NFL, increasing criticism is growing of their offense and specifically, play-calling. And that’s where head coach, Bruce Arians, may come into play.
For the first time in his NFL career, since he became a play-calling offensive coordinator and then a head coach, Arians has given way on the play-calling on game day this season to offensive coordinator, Byron Leftwich.
Now on the surface, the Buccaneers have been scoring a bunch of points. In fact they are seventh in the NFL at 27.7 ppg and have scored at least 23 points or more in every game since week two.
However, a deeper examination shows that the Buccaneers are lacking seriously in balance on offense. That includes Sunday against the Saints, where they only ran the ball eight total times and just six times from their running backs.
This included a first-quarter, where the Bucs only possessed the ball twice and ran a total of 5 plays, as they fell behind New Orleans 13 – 0. Then, as the Saints lead grew to 20 – 0, obviously, the Bucs were going to become much more of a passing team to try to get back in the game.
But, even when they did get a touchdown and then eventually a third-quarter field goal to cut the lead to 20-10, Leftwich did not mix in run plays, as the second half unfolded.
Yes, the Buccaneers used screen passes to Ronald Jones and also receiver Scotty Miller to try to offset the Saints pass rush, but the lack of commitment to the run was glaring Sunday. And the other component is: this nullified any play-action threat from the Buccaneers, which they’ve had success earlier in this season.
Since Jones became the starting running back four games ago, he’s only carried the ball more than 11 times in one game, and that was 18 carries in the 40-34 OT loss at Seattle three weeks ago. He carried four times Sunday.
As for Leftwich, he did call the plays for second half of last season in Arizona and has been very familiar with Arians’ offense. This is because he previously played with Arians and Ben Roethlisberger in the same offense in Pittsburgh.
Still, when you’re the guy responsible not only for the gamenplan, but for what to call and when, the pressure turns up.
Again, the Buccaneers have scored a bunch of touchdowns, but some of them have been late in games, while the team has been trailing by two or more scores and that can skew the overall offensive stats and scoring, too.
The reality is Tampa Bay does not have an identity with their run game right, now and with six games to go they need to try to figure out, if they can get one back.
And, it may be that Arians who had tremendous success in Pittsburgh and in Indianapolis prior to becoming the Cardinals coach by calling plays, takes those reins back over at least for a game or two to see if it makes a difference.
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