The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ running game (or lack thereof) has rightfully been under fire this entire season. As a team, the Buccaneers remain last in the NFL in rushing yards per game by a significant margin, producing less than 80 yards per contest.
Naturally, Leonard Fournette, who is the team’s number-one running back on the depth chart, has taken the brunt of the heat.
To his credit, Fournette has, for the most part, looked like himself once he’s able to get downhill. But the process of getting downhill, from whenever he receives the football, is a painstaking one. More often than not, Lenny looks slow, deliberate, and indecisive. This is most obvious when he’s in the backfield before he’s even reached the line of scrimmage.
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I have been one of the many people who have publicly expressed my eye-test observations as they relate to Fournette’s lack of explosiveness.
And during the first half of last night’s game vs. the Arizona Cardinals, Fournette was given the ball, with the Bucs needing just one yard for a first down, on three consecutive plays. The result? A turnover on downs.
It’s important to note that Fournette did have a productive game overall, especially as a receiver. He rushed for 72 yards on 20 carries and caught 9 passes for 90 yards. 162 all-purpose yards when it was all said and done.
And after the Bucs’ were able to miraculously pull out a victory, in what was a disastrous offensive effort overall, Fournette felt compelled to take to Twitter in order to respond to the many critics who expressed a similar perspective as I did, at some point during the game.
In doing so, he revealed some specific injury information that had not been made public by the Buccaneers.
It’s interesting that Fournette hasn’t been listed on the team’s injury report with any sort of foot ailment, despite apparently suffering from some form of the dreaded Lisfranc injury.
I can understand Fournette’s frustration when he hears people calling out his level of physical fitness when in reality he’s dealing with a painful injury behind the scenes.
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That said, I also think this sort of explanation would lead fans to be even more critical of the Bucs’ coaching staff for not handling the bulk of the carries over to impressive rookie, Rachaad White. Which is something that many fans and local analysts, including myself, have been calling for.
Regardless of why Fournette hasn’t looked as explosive as he did last season for the Bucs, the fact is, he doesn’t. And for a team that is desperately fighting for their playoff lives in a very weak NFC South Division, the Buccaneers need to play the players who are going to give them the best chance at winning football games.
Especially at the running back position.
And despite his solid performance on Sunday night, I have a hard time believing that this version of Leonard Fournette is that player.
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