Midweek Analysis: No Commitment To Run Game
Posted November 01, 2006 by Roy Cummings
Updated Nov 01, 2006 at 10:54 AM
TBO.com - Tampa Tribune
IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve said it before and IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ll say it again: Bucs coach Jon Gruden is too quick to abandon the running game. He did it again Sunday during the BucsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ 17-3 loss to the Giants.
Despite gusting winds that made it virtually impossible to throw the ball, the Bucs ran the ball just 13 times, including just four times during the second half.
Gruden will argue that the fact the Bucs were down by two scored dictated the pass-happy approach, but he abandoned the run in this game well before the first half was over.
ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s the second time this year that heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s done that. He did the same against the Falcons, treating a 14-point deficit as if itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s a 28-point deficit and all but ignoring running back Cadillac Williams.
WasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t Williams the player Gruden was going to build his offense around? IsnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t he still the most potent weapon on the offensive side of the ball? If so, then why isnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t he being used more?
You can almost justify GrudenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s decision to take his best weapon off the field on third down, but allowing Williams to run the ball just eight times in any game in which heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s not hurt is unacceptable.
GrudenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s reason for ignoring Williams stems from his belief that throwing the ball is the quickest way for an offense to cut into a large point deficit. On that point heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s not wrong.
But when your offense is averaging just 2.8 yards per pass play as the Bucs did on Sunday, then giving the ball to Williams, who is just as likely to break free for a big gainer or score as anyone in the passing game, is equally sensible.
NO DEEP THREAT: They may never admit it, but the Bucs miss Chris Simms. What they miss about him is his ability to throw the deep ball. Bruce Gradkowski can throw the deep ball, too, but he has yet to prove he can connect on it the way Simms used to.
Simms had an uncanny ability to hit on his deep throws, particularly to Joey Galloway, and that did a couple of things for the Bucs.
First, it gave them a big-strike capability, a chance to score points almost immediately with one play. It also forced the safeties to play back and opened up a lot of other offensive options.
As long as Gradkowski struggles in this area, the Bucs will struggle to score. The reason is simple: with no viable deep threat, the safeties can cheat up and take away the short passes and the run game.
WHEREÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢S ALSTOTT? Whatever happened to Mike Alstott being this teamÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s short-yardage and goal-line ball carrier? As limited as it is, wasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t that supposed to be AlstottÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s primary role.
ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s what everyone was led to believe, but the Bucs have found themselves in several short-yardage situations the last two weeks and Alstott hasnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t been given the ball in any of them.
Not surprisingly, the Bucs have not fared all that well in those short-yardage situations. It would seem that a good short-yardage option would be to run Alstott behind Jerald Sowell.
It may be predictable, but if that combination canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t get you a yard on third-and-1, then maybe nothing can.
DEFENSE REBOUNDS: YouÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ve got to hand it to the BucsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ defense. After a miserable outing against the Eagles a week ago, they bounced back and did a tremendous job keeping the Bucs alive in their game Sunday against the Giants.
The takeaways werenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t there this time, but the tackling was much better and so was the pass rush. If the Bucs keep getting defensive efforts like that, theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢ll continue to win some games. If they donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢t it could be a long season.
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