Monday, June 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Patience in run game pays off for Bucs

TAMPA — The Bucs trailed the 49ers 14-0 early in the second quarter Sunday, nearly 3,000 miles from home and relying on three running backs all cut from NFL rosters before this season.

And as much as they'd had success early running the ball — starter Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 48 yards in the opening quarter — they had come up short on third and 2 on the opening drive, then were stopped cold on fourth and 1.

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter didn't waver from his confidence that the Bucs could run the ball effectively against a 49ers defense that was the NFL's worst against the run.

"I think it's important … I thought we'd still have a chance to run the ball," Koetter said Monday, back home after a 34-17 win over the 49ers that evened the Bucs's record at 3-3 on the season.

And run the ball they did, piling up 249 rushing yards, the fourth-highest total in team history, led by Rodgers' tireless 154 yards on 26 carries. The Bucs' past two wins, both on the road, have been carried by a running game that has found success despite the continued absence of Doug Martin and Charles Sims to injuries.

That means not only Rodgers, who has back-to-back 100-yard games after having none in his first five NFL seasons, but also backups Peyton Barber and Antone Smith.

"I don't think it matters who's back there," Tampa Bay offensive tackle Demar Dotson said after the win. "No matter who goes back there, we treat those guys the same. What matters is the technique … Jacquizz and Barber and Smith, they did a good job, but the guys up front in the offensive line and the tight end did a good job blocking."

Rodgers had 30 carries and five catches in the win Oct. 10 at Carolina, and Koetter had a plan to rotate three backs in to ease the heavy load on his starter.

On the Bucs' first touchdown drive, quarterback Jameis Winston hit Smith — literally signed off the street last week — for a 30-yard catch to the 6-yard line, more yards in one play than the 31-year-old had in five games with the Bears last season.

"Antone got the big play on the screen and I called him an old man — I think the Antone I remember would've scored on that play, but it was still fun to watch," joked Koetter, who coached Smith and Rodgers with the Falcons from 2012-14.

Barber had totaled 6 yards on three carries in his first four NFL games, but stepped up Sunday as the primary backup.

When Rodgers got loose for a 45-yard run and needed a play off, Barber followed with a 14-yard run, and as the Bucs worked to salt out the game's final minutes, he broke loose for a 44-yard touchdown.

Barber kept the game ball from his first NFL touchdown, saying he would give it to his mother, who was one of his main motivations in leaving Auburn a year early for the NFL.

"Our offensive line was wonderful today," Barber, who finished with 84 yards on 12 carries, said Sunday.

Koetter's commitment to establishing the run as the start of the offensive identity won't be changing as the team returns home for three straight games.

Martin could soon return from his hamstring injury, and whether he does or not, the Bucs will face a Raiders defense on Sunday that is the NFL's fourth-worst against the run.

"That was amazing to get that many yards, to get the running backs some room to run," guard Kevin Pamphile said after Sunday's win. "We knew we could get the offense and get the ball rolling, and it was over at that point."

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

Comments
Ex-Bucs WR Lawrence Dawsey worked with team during OTAs

Ex-Bucs WR Lawrence Dawsey worked with team during OTAs

The Bucs had four extra coaches during organized team activities last month as part of the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, including former Tampa Bay receiver Lawrence Dawsey.Dawsey, 50, played for the Bucs from 1991-95, finishing his time ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs journal: O.J. Howard poised to take off?

Bucs journal: O.J. Howard poised to take off?

TAMPA — There's always a lot of attention on the rookie class this time of year, rightfully so. There's a reason the Bucs focused on defense, and DT Vita Vea, CBs M.J. Stewart, Carlton Davis and S Justin Whitehead all look like they could have ...
Published: 06/16/18
Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Times wiresVISTA, Calif. – Former Bucs and Hurricanes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was jailed without bail Friday after pleading not guilty to nine counts of kidnapping, rape and other charges.If convicted on all counts, Winslow, 34, could face...
Published: 06/15/18
Bucs still don’t know when Jameis Winston will throw another pass that matters

Bucs still don’t know when Jameis Winston will throw another pass that matters

TAMPA — The last pass thrown by Jameis Winston in a regular-season game was his best. The perfectly arced, 39-yard strike to Chris Godwin for a touchdown with nine seconds left gave the Bucs a 31-24 win over New Orleans at Raymond James Stadium...
Published: 06/15/18
Bucs busy on next Ray-Jay renovation with East Stadium Club

Bucs busy on next Ray-Jay renovation with East Stadium Club

The first Bucs home game of the 2018 season is still three months off, but the franchise is busy getting Raymond James Stadium ready with the fourth phase of its $160 million renovation, highlighted by a new East Stadium Club.Construction continues t...
Published: 06/15/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Gerald McCoy sounds off

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Gerald McCoy sounds off

The Bucs wrap up minicamp as Gerald McCoy sounds off on the team getting help for him, defensive line coach Brentson Buckner yelling at the veteran defensive tackle and advice for the young players who now have five weeks off before training camp.Plu...
Published: 06/15/18
Gerald McCoy: ‘Stop saying Gerald got help. No, the Bucs got help’

Gerald McCoy: ‘Stop saying Gerald got help. No, the Bucs got help’

TAMPA — On the last day of minicamp, DT Gerald McCoy made it clear that the new additions to the defensive line are what the entire team needed, not just himself."It's not about me. It's about the team," McCoy said of the addition of five new l...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Bucs hit summer break with optimism, eager for training camp

Bucs hit summer break with optimism, eager for training camp

TAMPA — This week's three-day minicamp was the final push in the Bucs' offseason, with about six weeks now until the team reconvenes in late July for training camp and the real preamble to the 2018 season.So what, if anything, can be gleaned fr...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Maybe 2018 is the year the Bucs take that step forward

Maybe 2018 is the year the Bucs take that step forward

TAMPA — The Bucs wrapped up a three-day minicamp on Thursday.“I’m going on vacation,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said.The next time we see the Bucs will be in five weeks. Just around the corner. That’s when, official...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow arrested on suspicion of rape, kidnapping

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow arrested on suspicion of rape, kidnapping

Times wiresSAN DIEGO – Former Bucs and Hurricanes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was arrested Thursday on suspicion of multiple sex-crimes-related charges, including two counts of rape, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.The departmen...
Published: 06/14/18