The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their first preseason game 17-9 Thursday night to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bucs only ran the ball 21 times, averaging just 1.5 yards per rush. Don’t take this lack of running the ball in one preseason game as a sign of how the Bucs plan to execute their offense this season.
“We’re going to be a run-first football team,” Bucs Head Coach Dirk Koetter said at practice Monday. “You’ve got to run the ball and stop the run to win in this league. We’re not going to change from that.”
With the Bucs running the ball just 21 times Thursday night, yet passing it 46 times, some people may have wondered if they were going to become a pass-first team. The Bucs were down 14-0 with 10:07 still left in the first quarter. When a team falls behind by two touchdowns so early, many teams will abandon the running game by throwing the ball to get to the end zone quicker. Take into consideration as well that quarterback Jameis Winston was only going to play the first quarter and the Bucs wanted to get him some reps in.
The Bucs have a second-year quarterback in Winston and three good running backs with Doug Martin, Charles Sims and Mike James. Having reliable running backs can be a young quarterback’s best friend. Being able to hand the ball off to his running backs 30-35 times a game will take a lot of pressure off Winston. Sticking to a run-first offense seems to be the best way for the Buccaneers to have a successful offense.