Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers have NFL's No. 2 Rushing Offense

Jameis Winston continues to get great support from a rushing attack that is now ranked second in the league, with an average of 143.3 yards per game.

The Buccaneers are just a bit behind Seattle, which is averaging 146.6 yards on the ground. Doug Martin is leading the way with 1,133 yards, which also ranks second in the NFL individually behind Adrian Peterson, who has 1,182. Neither the Buccaneers as a team nor an individual Tampa Bay player has ever led the league in rushing.*

Tampa Bay's rush *defense has been outstanding, as well. The Buccaneers rank seventh in the NFL with an average of 94.7 yards allowed on the ground per game. That makes Tampa Bay one of seven teams in the NFL who rank in the top 10 in both rushing offense and rushing defense. It's clear from the win-loss records of those seven teams that this sort of two-way dominance is a good way to get into playoff contention. The seven teams below are ordered by their combined offensive/defensive rankings, with lower numbers being better.*

*

Team

OFF Rank

DEF Rank

Combined

W-L

Seattle

1

3

4

7-5

Carolina

3

2

5

12-0

Tampa Bay

2

7

9

6-6

Pittsburgh

6

6

12

7-5

Arizona

8

4

12

10-2

Kansas City

7

8

15

7-5

Cincinnati

9

9

18

10-2

Tampa Bay's offense gained 166 yards on the ground in Indianapolis while allowing the Colts rushing attack to pick up just 64 yards. That marks the ninth straight game in which the Buccaneers have out-rushed their opponent. Incredibly, in five of those nine contests, the Bucs have had a positive differential of more than 100 yards in that particular category. Overall, Tampa Bay has had more rushing yards than its opponents in 10 of 12 games so far, and only one team in the NFL has won that battle more often.

Most Games with a Rushing Yardage Advantage, NFL, 2015

Team

Gms.

Overall W-L

  1. Carolina

11

12-0

2. Tampa Bay

10

6-6

  1. Arizona

9

10-2

4t. Buffalo

8

6-6

4t. Cincinnati

8

10-2

4t. Pittsburgh

8

7-5

4t. Seattle

8

7-5

It is likely not a coincidence that the list above includes some of the NFL's most successful teams this year. Every team on the list has at least a .500 record and the seven clubs have a combined winning percentage of .690 (58-24).

No team has had as many games with a lopsided edge in rushing yards as the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has already posted five games this season in which it had at least 100 more rushing  yards than its opponent, including the last three in a row. There have only been 41 such games in the entire NFL this year, and no other team is on the list more than three times. The Buccaneers are the only team in the NFL with a 100+-yard rushing advantage in three straight games.

Over the last three games combined, the Buccaneers have out-rushed their opponents, 581 yards to 227, for a whopping 354-yard overall advantage. Only three teams have managed to out-rush their opponents by 350 or more yards in a three game span this year:

Team

Games

Margin

W-L

N.Y. Jets

4-6

408

2-1

Seattle

10-12

380

3-0

Tampa Bay

10-12

354

2-1

The 2015 Buccaneers have a chance to be one of the most dominant rushing teams in franchise history, in terms of how much better it has been than its opponents. The Bucs have currently won that battle in 10 of 11 games, as mentioned, meaning they can do so in a maximum of 14 games this year. The team record is 13 such performances, by the 1999 team. Only five other Buccaneer squads have hit double digits in that category: 1999, 1998 (12), 2000 (11), 1979 (10) and 1988 (10). The Buccaneers have already set a new franchise record with five games in which they have out-rushed their opponents by 100 or more yards.

The record for most games in a season in which a team out-rushed its opponent by more than 100 yards is nine, set by the Los Angeles Rams in 1973 and tied by the Washington Redskins in 1983. The Bucs could theoretically match that mark with four games to play, though that would be an extremely aggressive prediction. A total of 104 teams have had five such games in a season since the merger, but only 19 have had at least seven of them, which would be a more realistic target for the Buccaneers. Over the last five seasons (2011-15), the only team to have six such games was the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, who went on to win the Super Bowl.

It seems likely that the Buccaneers will finish the 2015 season with the greatest rushing yardage margin in team history. They would already own that mark if the season ended today, though it is possible for the team to be out-rushed over the final month and give up the top spot. If the Bucs continued to out-rush their opponents at their current per-game rate, however, they would instead end up with a margin of 779 yards, which would improve upon the old record, set in 1998, by an enormous 37.9%.

Season

Gained

Allowed

Margin

2015*

1720

1136

584

1998

2148

1583

565

1979

2437

1873

564

2012

1837

1320

517

2000

2066

1648

418

1999

1776

1407

369

1997

1934

1617

317

2005

1826

1515

311

1988

1753

1551

202

** Through 12 games

*

As for Doug Martin he narrowly missed rushing for 100 yards on Sunday for the second straight week, following up a 97-yard performance in Indy with 95 against the Falcons. That leaves him still sitting at four 100-yard games on the season. His own personal high is five 100-yard games in a season, set in his 2012 rookie season. The team record is six, established by Cadillac Williams in his rookie campaign of 2005.*

Martin's 4.99 yards per carry this year are third-best in the NFL among all players with at least 100 totes, behind Seattle's Thomas Rawls (5.57 on 141 carries) and Cincinnati's Giovanni Bernard (5.06 on 120 carries). Martin is close to establishing a new Buccaneer single-season record in that category, as seen in the chart below. Even if one establishes a qualifier of at least 100 carries in a season, the Bucs could end up with two of the top three performances in team history. Charles Sims has not logged 100 carries yet but is a good bet to do so and is averaging 4.70 yards on his carries.

*

Player

Season

No.

Yds.

Avg.

  1. LeGarrette Blount

2010

201

1007

5.01

2. Doug Martin*

2015

227

1133

4.99

3. Charles Sims*

2015

80

353

4.70

  1. James Wilder

1987

106

488

4.60

5.Thomas Jones

2003

137

627

4.58

  1. Warrick Dunn

2000

248

1133

4.57

  1. Doug Martin

2012

319

1454

4.56

  1. Ricky Bell

1979

283

1263

4.46

  1. Warrick Dunn

1997

224

978

4.37

  1. Earnest Graham

2008

132

563

4.27

* Through 12 games

Martin's 1,133 rushing yards are already tied for eighth most in a single season in team history, with a quarter of the regular season still to be played. He is on pace for 1,511 rushing yards, which would threaten James Wilder's franchise record and be just the second 1,500-yard campaign in team history.

Most Rushing Yards, Single Season, Buccaneers

Player

Season

Yards

  1. James Wilder

1984

1,544

  1. Doug Martin

2012

1,454

  1. James Wilder

1985

1,300

4. Ricky Bell

1979

1,263

  1. Errict Rhett

 1995

1,207

  1. Carnell Williams

2005

1,178

7. Reggie Cobb

1992

1,171

8. Warrick Dunn

2000

1,133

8. Doug Martin*

2015

1,133

  1. Warrick Dunn

1998

1,026

** Through 12 games

*Martin hasn't been carrying the ball alone, however. The Bucs have found a dynamic backfield combination with their lead back and second-year player Charles Sims, who has a combined 738 yards from scrimmage. In fact, the Buccaneers have the most productive pair of running backs, in terms of total yards from scrimmage, in the entire NFL, and it's not particularly close.

Most Yards from Scrimmage, Top Two RBs, NFL, 2015

Team

RB #1

Yards

* RB #2*

Yards

Comb.

TB

Doug Martin

1327

  Charles Sims

738

2065

ATL

Devonta Freeman

1287

  Tevin Coleman

368

1655

PIT

DeAngelo Williams

953

  Le'Veon Bell

692

1645

CIN

Giovani Bernard

993

  Jeremy Hill

642

1635

MIN

Adrian Peterson

1371

  Jerick McKinnon

205

1576

SD

Danny Woodhead

848

  Melvin Gordon

723

1571

CHI

Matt Forte

943

  Jeremy Langford

598

1541

BUF

LeSean McCoy

1041

  Karlos Williams

448

1489

NYJ

Chris Ivory

1015 

Bilal Powell

450

1465

Though they count just the same for the purposes of the chart above, several of those tandems are not really 1-2 backfield punches but rather situations in which one player has taken over for another injured player. That has primarily been the case in Pittsburgh, and to a lesser extent in Atlanta and Chicago. *
*

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