LeGarrette Blount Needs to Play Larger Role in Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offense

Jamal Wilburg@JWilburgCorrespondent IOctober 1, 2012

Sept. 30, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount (27) scores a touchdown against the Washington Redskins during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Washington defeated Tampa Bay 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Matt Stamey-US PRESSWIRE

LeGarrette Blount has been noticeably absent in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense this season.

Blount was the team’s leading rusher in his first two seasons in the NFL, but has only carried the ball 13 times for 44 yards so far this season. Sunday, against the Washington Redskins, his six carries was a season high.

His 13 carries represent 13 percent of the Bucs' rushing attempts so far this season. That number is a far stretch from 2010 and 2011 when he accounted for 47 and 53 percent of the Bucs’ carries respectively.

Blount has the ability to be a game-changer. He has broken long runs (remember Green Bay last year) and made very athletic plays in his first two years in the NFL.

Why is Blount not playing a bigger role in the offense?

The obvious beginning is the new regime under head coach Greg Schiano and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Sullivan has called Blount a complementary back and has been using him as such behind rookie Doug Martin.

One of the popular reasons for the Bucs not to utilize Blount more in the offense is that he makes the offense one-dimensional. The common rhetoric has been that he misses blocking assignments and isn’t a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.

This would make for a good argument if not for the predictable, uncreative and conservative offensive game plan that the Bucs have displayed in the first four games of 2012.

So far this year, the Bucs ran the ball 101 times compared to attempting 119 times. That may initially sound like they are slightly leaning toward passing over running. However, on first and second downs the balance is tipped 87-84 in favor of run plays.

You also have to consider that against the Redskins the team only had 18 rushing attempts, making the numbers appear more balanced overall.

The team is still leaning run—only with its most experienced running back sitting on the sideline.

Doug Martin started off very impressively against the Carolina Panthers, rushing for 95 yards on 24 carries. Since then his productivity has slowed down, with only 152 yards on 47 carries in the three games since.

Against the Dallas Cowboys, Blount gained 11 yards on his first carry. He only carried the ball three more times in that loss.

"At the end of the day, if they tell me to go in, I'm going to be ready," Blount told Stephen Holder from the Tampa Bay Times. "I might not play as much, but I stand there and listen and do everything that everybody else does. My time will come. And I'll be ready."

Until his time comes, he will be waiting, toes on the sideline.


Jamal Wilburg is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.

Like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or visit his website.