TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Safety Thomas DeCoud #28 of the Atlanta Falcons tackles running back LeGarrette Blount #27 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers September 25, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
The Bucs have really struggled to get their offense going in the past weeks. And on Monday they face an Indianapolis Colts defense that is playing surprisingly well, both against the run and against the pass. They held Rashard Mendenhall to just 37 yards on 18 carries on Sunday Night Football.
But despite that, the Bucs must run the football. One simple reason is that the Bucs have a better offensive line than the Pittsburgh Steelers do, and the undersized Colts defense should have some trouble bringing down Legarrette Blount.
But more importantly, the Colts have two outstanding pass rushers in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. The two have combined for five sacks this year and could wreak havoc on the Tampa Bay passing game if the Bucs abandon the run. These two players are hard enough to stop when they don't know a pass is coming, but if they know the offense is going to pass they can be absolutely destructive. The Colts nearly beat the Steelers on Sunday Night last week, and Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were the only reasons that nearly happened.
To keep those two edge rushers from taking over the game, the Bucs have to run the ball. They have to hand the ball to Legarrette Blount early and often, and they have to allow him to wear down the Colts defense. If they don't, this game could be a lot closer than it needs to be.