The Bucs on Sunday couldn't run the ball against the Bears. In fact, the team hasn't been able to run the ball all year. The Bucs rushed for 66 yards on 22 carries against Chicago. Averaging three yards a carry simply isn't good enough if you are the Bucs. The team is 29th in the NFL in rushing yards per game.
Much of the blame is directed towards the offensive line. This was a unit that was put together right before the start of the first regular season game. You would have expected some initial growing pains as that unit tried to mold together. But after after 11 games, the offensive line is the teams biggest weakness. Not only are the Bucs running backs having a hard time finding holes, Mike Glennon and Josh McCown have come under heavy pressure when dropping back to pass. As Lovie Smith told the media on Monday, he's not sure why the guys up front haven't been more productive. “I wish I could give you an answer to that. We’re working on that. We’re trying to solve that. But don’t know exactly what it is. We haven’t played our best ball always together," Smith said. "And it just takes a couple of bad plays – it’s not like we had a lot of bad plays the other day – but if you break down a few times and end up getting a really bad play – an interception or something like that – it looks a lot worse. It’s not like we didn’t get anything from our running attack yesterday. We were able to get a little bit. But again, the pressure was just a little bit too much.”
As you look at the unit collectively, they aren't any quick fixes. Drafting and developing offensive lineman over the next couple of years is the only way to fix this problem. But there is one move the team can make right now that is worth exploring. It's time to start rookie Kevin Pamphile at left tackle. Anthony Collins was brought in to be the anchor of that offensive line. So far after 11 games, he literally is the anchor of that unit. It's time to find out what the rookie from Purdue can do for the next five games.
Pamphile has seen limited time so far this year. He may not be even be the answer long term at left tackle. But after watching Collins play this season, I'm not sure he's the answer though either. The Bucs might have to address that position in the upcoming draft. Until that day comes, Pamphile should see some playing time. For me, that starts this Sunday against the Bengals.
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