As a lifelong Buccaneers fan, I’ve dealt with a lot of pain and suffering over the years. It’s not easy being a fan of a franchise that is one of the worst in NFL history, but you know what? We’ve slowly gotten better over time and at least we have a Super Bowl (2002) ring to showcase.
Tampa Bay’s new head coach, Greg Schiano (former Rutgers coach), had media day today and addressed a few situations. Luckily for us Bucs fans, Pat Yasinskas of ESPN’s NFL South was on hand and able to give us a few quotes from Schiano about LeGarrette Blount’s fumbling issues.
“I think LeGarrette has tons of ability,’’ Schiano said. “No one who touches the football will get touches if they don’t protect the football. That is one of our core covenants — the ball. It’s so important they named the game after it. We make a big deal about it.’’
Blount really was a steal for us and had a tremendous rookie season (1,007 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns), but he had a down year in 2011 (781 yards rushing in 14 games). Despite the success from a player who was dismissed for fighting at Oregon and went undrafted in 2010, Blount has one major issue (two if you count his nonexistent pass-blocking skills): Fumbling. In two years in the Buccaneers backfield, Blount has fumbled 9 times and gave the opposing team 6 of them. After Tampa started off 4-2 at the beginning of the ’11 season, Blount’s fumbling started up again and the team went on to lose 10 straight games and ultimately cost Raheem Morris his job. Now, I’m not saying Blount’s fumbles were the reason for the loses, but the horrid overall team play certainly factored in his mistakes.
With the NFL Draft coming up in April, many mock drafts have Tampa Bay selecting Alabama’s Trent Richardson to help shoulder the load in the backfield and maybe help Blount work a little harder and remaining the starting RB on the team. A lot of teams in the league have a two-back system, which works extremely well. And we definitely need one in Tampa because with Blount’s fumbling issues and his inability to be an every down back because he lacks in pass-blocking skills, sometimes it’s hard to establish a consistent rushing attack.
16-year veteran, Ronde Barber, recently signed a 1-year contract to return to the secondary and help stabilize a young group of cornerbacks. But with the signing of Eric Wright, it’s hard to tell whether or not Tampa will go after LSU’s Morris Claiborne to have a future franchise CB, especially with Aqib Talib’s court case getting pushed to July and not knowing what his future holds. As of right now, the Bucs front office has a lot of thinking ahead of them this next month or so. But at least Schiano addressed one situation: If Blount fumbles, he sits.