Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Less is more for Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Cadillac Williams

Cadillac Williams, who averaged 2.4 yards a carry through the first eight games, is now at 3.3.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Cadillac Williams, who averaged 2.4 yards a carry through the first eight games, is now at 3.3.

TAMPA — Cadillac Williams is like most running backs. When it comes to carries, they would likely contend, the more the merrier.

Williams still subscribes to that theory, but the Bucs' sixth-year veteran has seen his rushing attempts decline as quickly as rookie LeGarrette Blount's star has risen.

What hasn't decreased, though, is Williams' impact.

It's no coincidence that his most impressive runs and first two rushing touchdowns this season came in the past two games in which Blount has earned the lion's share of the carries and Williams has served in a complementary capacity.

For the Bucs, they're getting the best of them both.

"I think it has really helped," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "I think it's made Cadillac a more efficient runner, and he's obviously excellent in pass protection, and he can catch the ball coming out of the backfield. So we have played upon his strengths and we're still able to maintain some of our power running game. It's working."

During the season's first five weeks, Williams averaged 15.2 carries per game, rushing 22 and 27 times in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. But Williams hasn't surpassed eight carries in the five games since.

That, however, hasn't kept him from having some of his better performances.

The past two games, in particular, he has been outstanding, scoring two touchdowns and averaging 9.4 yards per carry. Williams' two longest runs of the season, 45 and 26 yards, have come in the past two games.

"He's having a real obvious impact the last few weeks," coach Raheem Morris said.

But why? Williams, 28, cites a number of reasons.

"The opportunities that I do get now, I'm going to make the best of them because you have a sense of urgency," he said. "Plus, if you (turn) on the film and watch us, you'll see it's night and day. I think the offensive line is playing as one now. There's lanes and alleys there. You have to give those guys up front a lot of credit because those guys are doing a heck of a job.

"Then, Blount gets in there and wears the defense down. They get tired of hitting that guy. Then you have a change of pace guy like me who comes in and is a slasher."

That last point is critical. Coaches always intended to have a duo in the backfield, but they never envisioned having one like this, with a 250-pound battering ram in Blount.

In the offseason, the plan was to use Williams and Derrick Ward. After Ward's ineffective preseason and subsequent release, the Bucs hoped Williams could team with speedster Kareem Huggins. When Huggins hurt his knee and was lost for the season, it was back to the drawing board.

It turned out the best combination was one coaches had never considered, one that used Williams as the change-of-pace runner, not as the featured back.

Now, Olson is fine-tuning how and when he uses each back, because Blount has gained a more thorough understanding of the offense, particularly pass-protection schemes.

When Blount — second among rookies in rushing (441 yards) — first entered the lineup, coaches were reluctant to use him in passing situations, fearing missed blocking assignments would result in quarterback Josh Freeman taking unnecessary hits.

But Blount has improved in that area, which has led to less predictable play-calling.

"I think Blount is getting more familiar with the offense, and now we can play him on some play-action plays and some passing plays," said Williams, the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft out of Auburn. "Early on, when I was in the game, (the defense knew) it was going to be a pass. So they're starting to switch things up, and it's catching the defense off guard."

Williams has been especially effective on draw plays and also has become a proficient receiver capable of making yards after the catch. And even Olson admitted Williams suddenly looks faster, though he wasn't certain that was attributable to the reduced workload.

Whatever the reason, Williams is producing.

"Right now we have a nice combination at running back that got us 162 yards (Sunday against the 49ers)," Morris said. "(Williams) had two touchdowns that were huge, big-time plays. … So, is he an every-down back at this point? Who knows?

"I'm not going to say no to that. He's not playing that position for us right now because he doesn't have to. But when it comes to everything we ask him to do — protecting, being the (third-down) back, teaching LeGarrette Blount and all the young guys around him — he's doing the job."

Less is more for Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Cadillac Williams 11/26/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 26, 2010 9:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. James Wilder Jr. back at running back...in Canada

    Blogs

    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  2. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  3. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  4. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108