Schiano's "Buc Ball" Redux: How Nicks, Blount and Martin Can Resurrect Tampa Bay
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You hear and read it over and over again.
The NFL is a passing league, a league in which supremely talented quarterbacks dominate the game. They throw to big wide receivers like Detroit’s 6'6", 234-pound Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and tight ends like the Patriots’ 6'6", 265-pound Ron Gronkowski.
Moreover, it appears Schiano’s running game will be oriented toward power running in a “passing league.” In addition, it appears he’ll rely on power blocking, eschewing the finesse zone blocking schemes currently in vogue.
Seemingly counterintuitive, it should work if Schiano can put the pieces together and everyone stays healthy. In a power rushing attack, the key is to put together sustained 10 and 12-play clock-killing drives.
Even all-time greats like Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana, today’s greats like Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton and Eli Manning and developing greats like Cam Newton can't hurt you if they’re on the sidelines.
Tampa’s offensive line was already composed of power blockers Donald Penn, Jeremy Zuttah, Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood. Then the Buccaneers signed free-agent guard Carl Nicks, moved Zuttah to center and released Jeff Faine.
That is an offensive line designed to control the line of scrimmage using brute force. It is also an offensive line that some pundits predict to be the best or one of the best in the NFL.
Speaking of force, LeGarrette Blount “Force Object” is the heir apparent to run behind that offensive line. If Blount can return to his rookie 1000-yard form, the Bucs are in good shape.
However, Coach Schiano is looking for a “cow bell” every-down back to carry the load in the Buccaneer offense.
In case Blount is incapable of learning to protect the football, mastering pass protection schemes or catching the ball, coach Schiano drafted a plan “B,” in Doug Martin.
In truth, Martin may be the projected “cow bell” back. If he can translate his collegiate skills at power running between the tackles, speed to bounce it outside on occasion and catch the ball out of the backfield, he is already ahead of Blount.
To be fair, however, remember that although Blount is entering his third season in the NFL, 2012 is his first opportunity to participate in a Buccaneer offseason program.
The best of all worlds would be for Blount to correct his shortcomings and Martin to translate his skills to the NFL. The Buccaneers could field a two-headed monster in the backfield, making it impossible for defenses to key on any one back.
As a change of pace, the Bucs drafted Michael Smith, who ran a blistering 4.32 in the 40-yard dash. If Smith can translate his speed to the NFL, defenses will have to account for one more variable.
Finally, if Schiano can successfully install a power rushing attack, Josh Freeman’s development as a “franchise quarterback” becomes irrelevant. So long as Freeman can become an efficient game manager, the Bucs can return to winning form.
Remember, Tampa won the 2002 Super Bowl with “game manager” Brad Johnson at the helm, a power rushing attack and a stifling defense.
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