Tampa BayWatch – My Thoughts on the Bucs

Can Cadillac carry the load ?

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I wrote the majority of this prior to the Bucs game against the Saints on Sunday, where despite a rib injury Cadillac Williams showed sparks of his rookie season form. His stats weren’t stellar in terms of yards but he looked like he was finding the form of his rookie season.

Cadillac Williams picked up another injury on Sunday against the Seahawks and I’m concerned that we are going to have another season where he’s is never fully fit. Williams burst onto the NFL scene in his rookie season rushing 290 times for 1,178 yards and picking up the NFL Rookie of the Year. Last season he was hampered by a back injury and only played 14 games, his stats dropped to 225 rushing attempts and 798 yards. Williams is currently struggling with bruised ribs and is a game day decision. Is it time the Bucs looked at a split backfield like Dallas, Chicago or last years Colts ?

Does Cadillac need help in the backfield ?

During his college playing career Williams was part of numerous running back by committees, but is mainly remembered part of a stellar backfield that also contained Ronnie Brown who was drafted by Miami in the same draft that the Bucs drafted Williams. Looking at Williams’ college stats he never really carried the load as he is in Tampa. In his 3 seasons with the Auburn Tigers he took about 50% of the carries and Auburn were able to go to another quality RB to give Cadillac time to recover. Since his time in Tampa Cadillac has been the true #1 RB and his carries have increased by 30%.

At Auburn, Cadillac carried 120 times in 2001, 141 in 2002, 241 in 2003 and 239 in 2004. In his rookie season in Tampa, he carried 290 times and in 2006 he carried for 217 although this number was over 14 games and was off the field a lot in 2006 due to injuries. Although the increase doesn’t seem that much, these extra carries could be taking its toll. Michael Pittman is a nice change up as the #2 RB but certainly doesn’t spell Cadillac like Ronnie Brown used to at Auburn.

Last season seemed to be the year of the two headed monster in the backfield. The Colts (Addai and Rhodes), Bears (Jones and Benson), Saints (McAllister and Bush), Cowboys (Barber and Jones), Falcons (Vick and Dunn), Broncos (Bell and Bell), Jaguars (Drew and Taylor) all utilised 2 RB’s. Although each team had a primary RB, the second player spelled the other heavily and racked up over 100 rushing attempts. This balanced attack ensured that each of the teams (apart from the Colts) were in the top 15 rushing teams. I know that there are numerous reasons behind rushing success, such as recievers that can stretch the field, a dominating O-Line but having a fully healthy RB also helps. In the case of the Bucs, the stats are skewed well towards Cadillac, Michael Pittman had 47 attempts in ’06 and 70 in ’05.

So should the Bucs follow this lead or carry on with a main man in the backfield ?

My gut feel is that 2 high class running backs is a luxury that this team can’t afford at the moment. We still have a number of holes across the team that need addressing for the long term success of the franchise. The Bucs have retooled the offensive line via the draft and free agency and this should help Cadillac this season (however the run game was a concern in the game against the Saints). Michael Pittman, at 32, is on the downside of his career and the Bucs will need to find another #2 RB to compliment Cadillac, whether that is through the draft or free agency.

As a Bucs fan, I have to hope that Cadillac can stay healthy over the course of a season as he showed in his rookie season that he can be a real threat in this league.


Written by UK Bucs Fan

September 17, 2007 at 2:55 pm

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