One question that keeps coming up this offseason is whether Legarrette Blount or
Ahmad Bradshaw Doug Martin will be the day one starter in Tampa. Who will have the honor of taking the first snap of the game? And, perhaps more importantly, who will actually get the biggest share of the workload?
One place we can look for the answer to this conundrum is New York. Specifically, the 2010 New York Giants. That was the season they had both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs healthy for 16 games and handed the ball off to those players, a lot. At the end of that season, Ahmad Bradshaw had 11 starts, 276 carries for 1,235 yards and 8 touchdowns plus 47 receptions for 314 yards. Brandon Jacobs complemented him with 147 carries for 823 yards and 9 touchdowns, as well as 7 catches for 59 yards. Bradshaw got the ball twice as much as Jacobs, but the big back was hardly an afterthought in the Giants' offense.
The comparison to the 2010 New York Giants works for a number of reasons. First, Doug Martin and Legarrette Blount resemble Bradshaw and Jacobs, both physically and in terms of their skillset. Jacobs and Blount are both tall, heavy running backs who have the ability to punish linebackers with power. Both backs struggle to be productive in the passing game, and neither back actually runs with power quite often enough making them mediocre short-yardage backs.
Meanwhile, both Doug Martin and Ahmad Bradshaw are 5'9", although Martin is significantly heavier. Both have a similar running style, as they can both make a man miss in space but have the power to be effective inside runners. Bradshaw has a little more elusiveness and speed, while Martin has more power. Both players can also be productive in the passing game as blockers and receivers.
Then, of course, there's one other fact: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator was the quarterbacks coach for that offense, and he must have seen how that distribution of carries worked. There's a good chance he'll try to emulate what he knows: the 2010 Giants.
There's a downside, too. If things don't work out and your running game collapses, you end up with the distribution of the 2011 Giants. None of the Giants running backs managed to top 4 yards per carry last season, nor did they manage more than 200 carries as the offense ran through Eli Manning.
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers want to be successful in 2012, they must find a way to regularly involve both Blount and Martin in the gameplan. And the 2010 Giants have shown them how to do that effectively.