The Buccaneers’ running-game totals have declined from an encouraging 130 yards in the season opener to 79 in Week Two and 75 last Sunday in Dallas. That’s not a catastrophic trend, and game situations obviously play a part, but it’s safe to say the Bucs want to get more out of their running game on a consistent week-to-week basis.
One way to do so may be to find more work for LeGarrette Blount. The team’s leading rusher in 2010 and 2011 has just seven carries for 27 yards so far, as rookie Doug Martin has taken the lead and done nothing to disappoint the coaching staff.
“I think LeGarrette, we need to get him more involved,” said Head Coach Greg Schiano on Wednesday. “I’m not thinking about any changes [to the starting lineup], just getting him a little more action. There was the whole thing with the injury, and we didn’t know what it was, and that threw things into flux a little bit. He’s practiced very well now and he’s ready to go, so I think we’ll have a good one-two punch like we envisioned early on. That’s my hope.”
That approach would please left guard Carl Nicks, perhaps the team’s most effective run-blocker up front.
“I would be very happy to see that,” said Nicks. “I’ve been waiting for it. I love Doug to death, but I want to see that. It changes up how the defense plays the run. The way you tackle LeGarrette is way different than the way you tackle Doug. It’s night and day. But you need that thunder-and-lightning aspect in order to be successful. I think we’ve got that and hopefully we can use it.”
Schiano says there is no set percentage of handoffs he is looking to give either Martin or Blount; rather, he describes it is a “perfect-feel” type of thing. Ideally, Blount’s insertion into the game would give the offense a dynamic and bruising changeup, and that would in turn help Martin when he comes back into the game, rested and ready to provide a different look.
“One week it could be 50-50 and the next week it could be 80-20 – whatever fits the situation perfectly,” said Schiano. “But you’ve got to be careful because when you go totally by feel you can look up and it’s the fourth quarter and he’s only got one carry. So it’s a delicate balance.”