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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Retooled Ground Attack Spurs Victory Against Ravens

The Buccaneers beat the Ravens 26-20 in the preseason finale, fueled by a revitalized ground attack


On Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium, the Buccaneers tallied their second-consecutive win to conclude the 2023 preseason slate. During the 60-minute matchup, the run game fueled the Bucs' offensive surge. The Bucs accumulated 158 yards on the ground across 33 carries, spearheaded by Rachaad White, Sean Tucker and Patrick Laird. That marks the most rushing yards in a preseason game for Tampa Bay since the club's meeting with the Jaguars in 2016 on August 20. Even more impressively, the 2023 Week Three output for Tampa Bay was on 11 fewer carries (33) than the aforementioned 2016 contest (44). 

The Bucs have installed a new offensive system in 2023 under the tutelage of Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales. The revamped scheme will utilize wide and mid-zone, duo, misdirection and jet-motions to stimulate play-action and bootleg designs. The system will have similar roots to that of the Sean McVay-Kyle Shanahan-Kevin Stefanski tree with disguised pre-snap looks. However, there will be variations tailored to maximizing the Buccaneers' personnel. 

"You want the defense on their heels," Baker Mayfield described. "You make the run game look just like the play-action and vice versa so it keeps them off balance. We are not inventing the wheel on our scheme, just [formation-wise] and personnel-wise, we are able to get in and out of the huddle and do a lot of things. It is pretty versatile…Guys understand that we have to have both the run and the pass game to succeed." 

Last season, the Bucs finished as the worst-ranked rushing unit in football. In 2023, the focus is reinvigorating the ground assault. On Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens, the unveiling occurred. Spectators received a taste of what the Bucs' retooled rushing attack will look like. In preseason, the gameplan is 'vanilla' in nature to not provide a tell for opposing teams. In essence, Dave Canales did not pull out the inventive tricks up his sleeve for an exhibition game in August, but the results were nonetheless encouraging to see.

White led the charge, posting 39 yards on seven carries (5.6 average). Sean Tucker was next with 34 yards on 10 carries (3.4 average), and Patrick Laird joined the mix with 27 yards on three totes (9.0 average). Ke'Shawn Vaughn (26 yards), Ronnie Brown (13 yards), Cade Otton (12 yards) and Kyle Trask (seven yards) rounded out the group. Laird had the longest run of the night, a 21-yard rush up the middle where he hurdled a Ravens' defender to gain additional yardage. White, the Bucs' featured back, looked decisive on cuts and was patient in letting blocks develop. He showcased burst after changing direction, the ability to stack cuts and threw in a lethal spin move for good measure (crowd pleaser) to elude tacklers. 

"Then Rachaad, just his tempo, he is not exactly a flashy guy," Mayfield stated. "He is really smooth, so when it comes to our scheme, his running style is really going to help us out. Just following the center tracks and timing it up to make the right cut. People sleep on his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He is extremely talented and athletic." 

The preseason is more about making a statement than revealing scheme identity. The Buccaneers accomplished that sentiment on the grass versus the Ravens, revitalizing the ground attack in the 26-20 victory.

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