TAMPA — As many big plays as the Bucs racked up in the passing game Sunday against the Giants, coach Greg Schiano made it clear there was one key aspect missing:
"We need to run it better than we did the other day," he said. "We have to be able to run when we want to run."
Schiano likes what he has seen from rookie RB Doug Martin, but the first-round pick racked up just 66 yards on 20 carries against the Giants (3.3 yards per carry). The Bucs ran the ball 36 times in a Week 1 win over Carolina (with Martin picking up 95 of the team's 130 yards), helping Tampa Bay dominate time of possession (37 minutes, 27 seconds).
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said while establishing the run is important for controlling the clock, it also goes hand-in-hand with those big passing plays. Further, LG Carl Nicks said it'll help protect QB Josh Freeman from the likes of Cowboys six-time Pro Bowl LB DeMarcus Ware.
"If we're able to establish that run and get that going, that opens up some things down the field," Sullivan said. "And it also opens up the ability to wear those pass rushers down a little bit so that when we do go to a straight dropback and we work on various concepts, (offensive linemen) are able to hold up against superior pass-rushers and we can get the ball down the field."
BEING BLOUNT: Schiano said RB LeGarrette Blount remains No. 2 on the depth chart behind Martin.
But Blount, the team's leading rusher the previous two seasons, has seemed to disappear from the offense. He had zero rushes in the loss to the Giants after just three carries for 8 yards in Week 1. Blount sustained a stinger against the Panthers but was cleared to play in New York after MRI exams on his back and neck, saying he was physically ready to go.
When Schiano was asked Thursday whether he envisions Blount getting more carries, he said he believed so but wasn't ready to commit to a number.
"I don't know — I think he will, yeah," Schiano said. "But I don't want to sit here and tell you that's the way it's going to unfold. I hope that's the way it unfolds."
SAFETY NET: One bright spot on the defense has been first-round pick S Mark Barron, who has stepped into a starting role and performed.
The former Alabama star tallied 10 tackles and two passes defended Sunday.
"He has shown that he's a quality NFL starter," Schiano said. "He's made plays, he's covered one-on-one. He's been a physical presence. He's got a lot of room to improve, which is exciting, because he's done these things and he really can be a fabulous player. We've just got to keep moving the progress forward."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has taken notice. There was speculation on draft day that Dallas would pick Barron at No. 6 (instead of LSU CB Morris Claiborne). Garrett said Barron made a visit to the Cowboys facility and they watched him work out, leaving impressed.
"Everything we know about him was that he's an outstanding football player and an outstanding young man," Garrett said. "Doesn't surprise us at all that he's playing as well as he is early into his career."
MISCELLANY: WR Sammie Stroughter (right foot) did not practice again, and CB Anthony Gaitor (hamstring) was limited after fully participating Wednesday. DE Adrian Clayborn returned to practice after missing Wednesday because of a family matter, and LB Quincy Black (back) was back to full participation.
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parcells takes exception … with Coughlin
Bill Parcells had a problem with the actions of one of the coaches after the kneel-down at the end of the Giants-Bucs game on Sunday. But his issue was with Tom Coughlin.
Parcells, a former Giants coach, took issue with the actions of his former assistant during the postgame handshake after the Giants beat the Bucs 41-34. A steamed Coughlin lectured Bucs coach Greg Schiano at midfield after Schiano's Bucs attacked the Giants as they tried to take a knee at the end of the game.
In an interview Wednesday on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Radio, Parcells said if he were in Coughlin's shoes, he would have delivered that lecture in private.
"I think I would've handled it a little differently if I was on the other side," Parcells said. "I may have not called attention to it at that time and maybe made a phone call a little later in the next week."
The problem, Parcells said, is the postgame handshake has become way too much of a public spectacle.
"It's a different time now," Parcells said. "There's so much more scrutiny on these coaches. When I was coaching I didn't have 150 people running to midfield to watch me shake hands with the opponents' coach."
As for what Schiano ordered his players to do – what the Giants labeled a "cheap shot" and a "bush league" play – Parcells said he's seen it before in the NFL and "I don't take exception to it."
New York Daily News