Before I go into the article itself, I want to clear something up.
Many of my Bucs-related articles have been poorly received due to the wacky opinions within them.
Please understand that the bizarre ideas within my articles do not always reflect my actual views, as I often just want to provoke discussion with these abstract opinions.
I promise that I will no longer play devil's advocate. And if I do, I will always mention it before I do so.
Now that we got that cleared up, let's talk some football.
I want to start by saying that LeGarrette Blount is misunderstood as a running back.
And no, I am not going all contrarian on y'all.
Public opinion says that Blount is not a starting-caliber RB, and while he is no Adrian Peterson, he can definitely hold his own when grounding and pounding.
The negative view of Blount is probably due to a combination of a me-first attitude and a less-than-stellar sophomore season. He had an average 2011, averaging just 4.2 yards per rush attempt and totaling a weak 781 yards on the ground. He had dismal game-to-game consistency, often running for 5 yards per carry one week to 3 YPC the very next week.
However, much of this inconsistency is due to the limited number of carries he received. In the season opener versus the Lions, he got just "five" carries. In the final three games of the season, he carried the ball only 17 times. It's almost like Raheem Morris got too caught up in "Year of the Quarterback" craze and decided to throw out the running back position.
Should LeGarrette Blount Start in 2012?
One should note that, while Blount missed one of the teams' four wins, he was an impact player in the other three wins.
Must I mention that these were his three best games of the season?
Josh Freeman and the wide receivers were not where they needed to be to spearhead a pass-heavy attack. Still, Tampa Bay threw the ball more than Green Bay in 2011. Josh Freeman is not Aaron Rodgers, Mike Williams is not Greg Jennings, and Kellen Winslow is not Jermichael Finley.
It's not like Blount was a small-time rusher in 2010.
In his rookie season, Blount accumulated over 1000 yards and averaged an astounding 5 yards per carry. Thirty-eight first downs do not hurt his case either. Blount was never a bad running back, he just didn't get the respect from the coaching staff that he so sorely deserved.
And if you doubt Blount, the Bucs have another quality running back in Doug Martin.
The rookie, hailing from Boise State, runs with power, vision and speed. It's no wonder what Greg Schiano saw in Martin; Martin is a carbon copy of one of Schiano's old Rutgers student, Ray Rice. Yes, that Ray Rice.
If somehow Martin and Blount aren't enough for you, Tampa Bay also hosts speed demon Michael Smith, a rookie out of Utah State. And there's Mossis Madu and Robert Hughes and De'Anthony Curtis.
The backfield is quite crowded with young talent, and that's a very good thing.
Coach Schiano will run the ball more than what we've seen in years past. With such a varied and deep backfield, he should have no problem doing so.