Stare into the face of dominance, his name is Carl Nicks. Over the past few weeks, I've watched a lot of New Orleans Saints games to watch the new Tampa Bay Buccaneers left guard. Carl Nicks signed with the Bucs on a five-year, $47.5 million contract. A hefty contract for a left guard, especially so given the money the Bucs have tied up in right guard Davin Joseph. But Nicks could easily be worth that money.
Watching Carl Nicks play football is, quite simply, fun. The man is a massive guard who knows how to win the leverage game in the trenches, and manages to keep defensive linemen in check consistently. In the playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions I saw him get beat all of four times - mostly by Justin Smith late in the 49ers game. He wasn't exactly going up against a no-name lineman against the Lions, either: Corey Williams is one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL.
While Nicks is a dominant pass blocker, and the Bucs could certainly use that, he's at his best when he's moving forward, pushing defensive linemen out of the way. Unfortunately for him, he didn't get much opportunity to do so in New Orleans. The Saints ran the ball just 431 times last season, compared to 622 pass attempts. The Bucs won't shy away from the run, though. They've made it clear that they want to run, run, run and then run it some more, with the occasional deep pass.
With Legarrette Blount, Doug Martin and
Robert Michael Smith running the football behind Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph, the Bucs have the ingredients for a very strong running game. If they can turn Nicks loose in running situations, he will destroy people - and that's going to be a lot of fun to watch.