If I told you that the Bucs had the 5th best rushing attack in the league two years ago, you probably would just laugh after what took place last season. The Bucs couldn’t run the ball with any consistency during the 2016 season as injuries, 8 man fronts, and a average RB group was their downfall. Opposing defenses didn’t really have to respect the ground game and could get away with 7 and 8 man fronts. As a result, the offense struggled especially down the stretch due to lack of balance attack and having to rely too much on Jameis Winston.
This is why it is critical for the Bucs to fix their running game this off-season, so they can get back to having a balance attack and using the play action passing game. They have already taken steps towards that by adding Desean Jackson who can help open up the field and spread out the defense more. With Jackson on the field, expect the Bucs to get better looks when it comes to the run game. In addition to Jackson, the Bucs will get JR Sweezy back at guard which will help their run blocking and provide a physical presence up front.
Now let’s talk about the key piece which is the running back. With Doug Martin’s future in question, the Bucs are expected to draft a running back in the upcoming draft. This makes sense as this years draft is very deep at the running back position. The Bucs did re-sign Jacquizz Rodgers but he is not the long term answer, and neither is Charles Sims or Peyton Barber. According to who the Bucs have brought in for draft visits, it is pretty obvious that the team is looking to draft a RB within the first four rounds possibly as high as 19th overall.
I think the Bucs will take a RB early as it is very important for this team to be able to run the football to maintain balance on offense. I believe it is the Bucs number one priority going into the 2017 season as this team is very dangerous when they can run the ball and control the game. If the Bucs can get a Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey or even a Marlon Mack or Kareem Hunt, this rushing attack will be greatly improved because they will have a legit threat in the backfield. I will be very surprised if the Bucs ground attack is not back on track in 2017, and not one of the top rushing units in the league.