Jul 282012

Discipline was a major problem for the Buccaneers under Raheem Morris, which is why they lost 10 straight to finish last season and why Morris was predictably fired. The Buccaneers hired Greg Schiano, a more disciplinarian coach, this offseason and he has already made his mark, trading Brian Price just 2 years after he was a 2nd round pick by the previous regime, after a series of issues dating back to his rookie year.

Two of the players who had the biggest discipline problems last year were Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount. Both fell in the 2010 NFL Draft for that reason, as Williams went in the 4th and Blount went undrafted. However, both had amazing rookie years in 2010, especially for where they were drafted (or weren’t drafted). Last year, however, both were disappointments. Blount was frequently late to practice and put in no effort to improve as a blocker or receiver, while Williams would fall asleep in team meetings. Both were also out of shape and partied far too much, especially Williams.

While I don’t know about Williams, it appears that Blount’s discipline has gotten better with the new coaching staff in town. Schiano, in fact, praised Blount’s work ethic, singling him out by saying “LeGarrette has bought into what we’re doing, he’s working incredibly hard, and if you watch and you see the things he does from time to time, it’s great really great running back play.”

Rookie Doug Martin, who they traded back up into the end of first round to get, will get the majority of the carries and see most of the passing down snaps. However, they plan to run the ball a lot so there will be enough carries for both of them and, while he doesn’t pass catch well, Blount is a very good runner when motivated. He averaged 5.0 YPC as a rookie when he had something to prove.

Besides, just look at Joseph Addai (2009), Chris Wells (2011), DeAngelo Williams (2008), Marion Barber (2008), and Fred Jackson (2010). All of those guys arguably had career years the season after their teams spent early picks on a running back. Meanwhile, rookie backs tend to struggle, even ones drafted in the 1st round. Backs drafted in the first round since 2007 have just averaged 165 carries as rookies. I like Doug Martin a lot, but there’s some sleeper value with Blount at his current ADP in the late 9th round.

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