Buccaneers running back Jaquizz Rodgers is not a very patient man. That’s OK, though, because Rodgers impatience may be just what the Bucs need to get their struggling ground game up and running again.
The Bucs have struggled to run the ball ever since Doug Martin went down with a hamstring strain in Week 2. The patient approach replacement Charles Sims brings to the job may be part of the problem.
Sims, who is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry after running 41 times for 116 yards, has proven to be a bit of a backfield dancer, a runner hesitant to hit the hole with authority.
Rodgers, who has been given one carry for every three Sims has received the last two weeks, takes a completely different approach to running the ball, and right now it seems to be the most effective approach.
“As soon as I see a seam I hit it,’’ said Rodgers, who has run 13 times for 69 yards, or 5.3 yards per carry. “Everybody has a different style. Some guys are patient, some are hit it guys. I’m a hit it guy.’’
The Bucs may have no choice but to go with that “hit-it” guy come Monday when they face the Panthers. Sims missed practice because of a sore ankle for the second time this week on Thursday.
Should that prove to be teh case, it’s important to keep in mind that Rodgers’ approach hasn’t always worked as well as it has here lately. He has a career average of 3.7 yards per carry and has never averaged more than 3.9 yards per carry in a season.
Sims, meanwhile, averaged 4.9 yards per carry a year ago when he accumulated 1,090 all-purpose yards, but he averaged only 2.8 yards per carry on 66 carries the year before, the same as he’s averaging now.
That’s not suggest Sims 2015 season was an anomaly. After all, he carried the ball 107 times last year, which is a far greater sample of his abilities than the 41-carry sample provided so far this year.
But if you add the 41 carries Sims has had this year to the 66 he had two years ago, the sample size becomes the same as that provided last year (107 carries) and in that sample Sims gained 2.8 yards per carry.
So which is the real Sims? Is it the 4.9-yard per carry scamper-back we saw last year or the back who struggled to break tackles and gain significant yards as a rookie two years ago and again this year?
The Buccaneers are back on the practice field this afternoon getting ready to play the Panthers on Monday night, and it’s unknown if Doug Martin will try to practice or eventually play this week.
But, given the fact the Bucs are on the verge of falling out of the playoff race after only a month of games, they can’t afford to exercise any more patience with only running Sims in an effort to find out, if he will run it better.