Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense lacks speedy options

Darren Sproles, a speedy running back, was a free agent this past offseason and signed with the Saints.

Associated Press

Darren Sproles, a speedy running back, was a free agent this past offseason and signed with the Saints.

TAMPA — Having big-armed quarterback Josh Freeman play in an offense that lacks the speed for a vertical passing game is like taking an oversized driver to the Putt-Putt course.

No wonder Freeman has felt the pressure to force the ball downfield as the lack of explosive plays and play-makers has been crippling this season.

The Bucs' fastest receiver is Arrelious Benn, who is coming off a torn ACL. Mike Williams makes some yards after the catch and found the end zone 11 times last season as a rookie, but he's not a burner.

In the backfield, the Bucs have preferred big backs to scat backs.

"I think that's kind of a truth serum," coach Raheem Morris said. "We don't have (Saints RB) Darren Sproles. We don't have (Saints WR) Devery Henderson. Regis is kind of our explosive guy. He's got to come back and be explosive for us.

"You need an explosive guy. You need to keep adding tools. But by no means have we said we're a finished product. No doubt about that. And you see that when you get clear-cut examples coming to your stadium like the New Orleans Saints and how explosive they are."

The Bucs have only nine pass plays of 20 yards or longer this season, only one by Williams. After five games last season, they had 16.

Most of the big plays in the passing game have been set up by play-action, the result of RB LeGarrette Blount's relentless pounding that forces safeties to creep increasingly closer to the line of scrimmage.

But Blount has a sprained left knee that likely will force him to miss the next two games. And his replacement, Earnest Graham, is similar in speed if not stature.

Of course, the Bucs had a chance to address this problem during the offseason. But general manager Mark Dominik wasn't that interested in making a run at Sproles or Reggie Bush to add some dash to the backfield, and there weren't many free agent receivers who are deep threats.

So the Bucs will have to grind it out again this season.

"We'll continue to get better," Morris said.

"But until then, I won't make excuses for not having that type of guy."

CONCESSION: Morris made a sobering but honest assessment last week about playing Saints QB Drew Brees: He's going to throw for at least 300 yards.

"Got to look at the history," Morris said. "Wins, losses, whatever. At the end of the day, he has 300 yards. You can't stop him. But you might have two picks. You run back a punt. Something happens that changes the game."

LESSONS LEARNED: Former Bucs defensive line coach Rod Marinelli used to say there are two kinds of players and coaches in the NFL: those who are humble and those who are about to be humbled.

That's why the Bucs' 48-3 loss at San Francisco last week might not be the worst thing to happen to them this season.

A young team, even one that had won 13 out of 20 games, has to learn to be prepared each week or they can get their block knocked off.

"You've got to move in silence," Morris said. "You've got to move humble, and you've got to win humble.

"A lot of good things happen when you get humbled."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense lacks speedy options 10/15/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 15, 2011 5:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  2. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  3. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  4. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.