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No love for Bucs and Dolphins running backs?

Florida Football Insiders

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Drake

Even though the running back position in general and run games as a philosophy have been de-emphasized in the 2010s NFL, you still obviously have to have some balance on offense. And just as importantly, you must have some option of handing off to attain short-yardage success, too.

With all of that understood, former Jaguars back turned NFL network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew recently published his ranking of all 32 NFL teams Run games.

And whether you’re talking about the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott, the Giants and Saquon Barkley or the Rams and Todd Gurley, obviously there are teams that have explosive big playbacks featuring them.

However, once you get towards the bottom of his listing, you start to run out of impact running backs for the teams whose Run games have suffered recently

Along those lines, after a disappointing second season Jones-Drew marked down his former franchise, the Jaguars, and star running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette was a mess of injury and off the field issues last year. And, The Jags came in at only 16th on his list with his analysis:

Bringing in Nick Foles will definitely help the Jaguars offensively, but the team is also going to need a bounce-back year from Fournette. He was about half as productive as he was in 2017, the season in which the team was a win away from the Super Bowl. He must return to rookie form. To do so, Fournette needs to dedicate his time to getting his body right. Being in great health doesn’t just happen overnight; the work starts long before Week 1.  

And then Jones-Drew listed numerous teams who’ve struggled and you had to get all the way to the end of his list find the Dolphins and the Buccaneers.

In both of their cases they’re relying on young back fields with now first-year coach is taking over trying to get used to them.

In Miami it will be Kenyan Drake now as the primary ball carrier, but they do have second year back Kalen Ballage and drafted Washington’s Myles Gaskin to compliment and compete with him this year. And, while Jones-Drew acknowledged that Drake has some potential, he still listed the Fins unit, as a lowly 31st saying:

Drake is an explosive player and eclipsed 1,000 yards from scrimmage last season, but he’s never been a consistent, every-down back, which is why he doesn’t rate higher here. Plus, I’m not quite sure what this Dolphins offense will look like with head coach Brian Flores and offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea, who both came from New England, at the helm. O’Shea was the Patriots’ wide receivers coach for a decade, so I’m wondering how similar (or different) Miami’s offense will be to the Pats’?

Finally, Jones-Drew saved his worst for last, and yes, that’s the Buccaneers. With former undrafted back Peyton Barber returning as the primary ball carrier, but last year’s second round pick, Ronald Jones, slated to challenge, MJD is unimpressed:

The Bucs’ ground game struggled in 2018, ranking 29th in the league, and was led by Peyton Barber. Barber was re-signed to a one-year deal this offseason, but I expect Jones to emerge as the team’s top back in 2019 because, well, he wasn’t drafted 38th overall in ’18 for no reason. He was a healthy scratch for the first three games of last season and then was sidelined by a hamstring injury later on, but he has the opportunity to re-write his NFL story this season in a new offense under Bruce Arians.

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