Yardbarker Horiz

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Carnell Williams is still the Cadillac of Buccaneer Running Backs

He had to know coming in.  It had to be on his mind this past offseason.  And I'm sure it was no surprise to the coaching staff.  Opponents were going to stack the box against Josh Freeman to force the young quarterback to win games for the Buccaneers.  Which means Cadillac Williams was going to be the priority-one item on the Stop-That-Guy list every Sunday this season.  He had to know it.

How's it working so far?  The Buccaneers are 3-1 through the first quarter of the season.  So it's working just fine for Tampa Bay, thank you very much.

The best way to take pressure off a quarterback is a solid running game.  The Buccaneers have a solid, experienced offensive line, many of whom have played next to each other for multiple years.  It makes sense for the Buccaneers to be a run-first team.  It's no secret.  It's not even a rumor.  The Buccaneers want to run the ball down your throat, period.  The best of days is when the pass is needed to augment the run game.  The rough days are when the pass is needed to open up the run.

And let's face it -- if we know this, then opposing teams know it.  Head Coach Raheem Morris knows it.  And Cadillac Williams knows it.  3.4 yards/carry against Cleveland, 1.9 yards/carry against Carolina, 2.2 yards/carry against Pittsburgh, and 3.0 yards/carry against Cincinnati.  Every carry against a loaded front, with or without an included blitz, every yard hard earned.  And through it all you never hear a complaint.  Williams never points a finger.  Because he knows until the team establishes the young quarterback and young wide receivers as a threat you have to respect, he has to be ready to fight for every yard.  And should they dare start to look the other way, he has to be ready to explode.  Guess what?  It's a perfect fit to his mentality.  What do you think a guy who's had two shredded knees rehabbed would be like on a football field?  Happy?  Give me a break.

And don't discard Earnest Graham, either.  He knows the same thing, and as fullback he leads the charge on most plays.  Graham is another guy who has paid a long list of dues to get to the field.  What hasn't he done for this team?  How in the world can you think about changing a highly effective piece of the puzzle away from exactly what it is right now?  He's going to be the difference in a lot of games -- a 61-yard dagger from under the Buccaneers own goal posts last Sunday makes the point precisely.

Don't even get me started on how good Williams and Graham are catching the ball out of the backfield either.

There may be younger players showing flashes of talent on the roster, and we the fans are excited about all the youth and the future we believe they bring.  But there are some positions where the experienced players bring a heavy focus from other teams.  The attention on the Buccaneers backfield gives the youngsters on the edges room to roam.

But the tide is changing.  3-1 will do that.  Teams are starting to see that forcing the pass does not win the game.  In fact, concentrating only on the run game is become dangerous (just ask the Bengals, who had the ball, 1:30 left in the game, and a seven point lead).  The Buccaneers can beat you through the air -- they never called a running play in the fourth quarter against the Bengals.  And won.

What are you going to do now?  One thing is for sure:  Do not look past the four-legged creature roaming the Buccaneers backfield on game day.  It's a mistake you will regret.

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