Can Buccaneers' running back rotation actually work?
Coach Raheem Morris has revealed a very ambitious plan to use at least three of his running backs extensively in games this season, something that is a good idea in theory.
But Morris' intention to use the backs based on a formula might be tough to pull off.
The plan works like this: The starting running back would play two series, followed by another back taking the next two series, with the third back playing a single series. Then, the routine starts all over again. The back who receives a single series would be used for situational plays where his strengths can be taken advantage of (i.e. short yardage, third down, etc), thereby getting him a little more involved.
The three backs are most likely going to be Derrick Ward, Earnest Graham and Cadillac Williams, but not necessarily in that order. Morris sounds like the Bucs are going to shy away from using return man Clifton Smith too much in the running game, even though coaches have said they want to involve him somehow.
Anyway, here's the problem: rotating two backs works is one thing, but using three as extensively as the Bucs intend to gets a bit tricky. What happens if Ward starts a game and gashes the defense right out of the gate? Morris said coaches will be open to throwing the plan out if a player got hot, which is good. But that throws off the rotation for the remainder of the game.
Also, running backs will tell you they tend to get better as the game wears on and they start to accumulate carries. This is something both Graham and Williams have said of themselves. Under this format, there's not a lot of opportunity to get warmed up. Will that hurt their performances?
Overall, this is a very intriguing plan Morris and his staff have cooked up. It looks great on paper, but we'll have to wait and see how it works in reality.
We'll get our first taste Thursday night against the Dolphins when Cadillac Williams starts and kicks off the aforementioned rotation.