Legarrette Blount has been the foundation of the Bucs' running game for most of the season. His combination of size and speed presents a problem for defenses, and tacklers seem to magically fall off the big man. But there's one thing he cannot do: make people miss. He can outrun some angles, he can run through people and he can jump over people - but I don't think I've ever seen him juke anyone.
Enter Earnest Graham. The 31-year old running back lacks speed and size, but he does have some elusiveness. That elusiveness was on display on Sunday, and it was a big reason why he had a productive day. In fact he created a number of plays that Legarrette Blount could never have made.
Case in point: Earnest Graham's 34-yard scamper in the second quarter. Click the link to see the video and follow along. The line blocks to the left, leaving a hole over right tackle. Both Erik Lorig and Jeremy Zuttah, pulling from his left guard spot lead in front of Graham through the hole. That leaves Graham one-on-one with Roman Harper, my favorite Saints whipping boy.
And then, Graham makes a beautiful jump cut which leaves Roman Harper grasping at air and allows the running back to pick up the first down, and then some. Legarrette Blount could never have made that play, because he can't make those jump cuts. He could have tried hurdling or running over Roman Harper, but usually the big man would be stopped - maybe picking up a few extra yards by dragging Harper.
Earnest Graham created space for himself to gain 34 yards. He didn't need much speed to outrun the defense on the play, but he did need that elusiveness. That's what Graham brings to this offense: the ability to make a man miss.