Bruce Arians on RBs: No Todd Gurley or David Johnson, but don’t need one

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The Buccaneers made notable additions to several areas of their team after hiring Bruce Arians as their new head coach in January, but they didn’t address the backfield.

Andre Ellington was a low wattage veteran addition to a running back group headed up by Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones, which may leave some wondering if the Buccaneers have enough at the position for the coming season. Arians doesn’t subscribe to that theory or any theory centered on needing a star running back.

“I like our backfield. I think it’s [an] OK backfield. There’s not a David Johnson or a Todd Gurley. But you don’t need one,” Arians said, via Ira Kaufman of

Arians was asked a followup about paying to upgrade the group and said he doesn’t believe that a team should “overpay for that position.” He noted that Johnson came in as a third-round pick and made an immediate impact for the Cardinals as an illustration of needing the right guy for your system.

Barber, Jones and Ellington will need to be the right guys in Tampa this season or Arians’s offense will likely fail to launch as hoped.

17 responses to “Bruce Arians on RBs: No Todd Gurley or David Johnson, but don’t need one

  1. Ronald Jones has as much ability as any of the RBs listed above. He just has to show up and stay healthy. On the other hand, Saquon Barkley was the best RB in the NFL last year, and look where the Giants finished. If Arians can get his QB to play at a high level, the offense will be good enough. That’s the tricky part, if you ask me. It’s a QB league. Jameis Winston has as much physical ability as any QB in the league. I don’t think he lacks intelligence either. But those things are just raw materials. They need to be properly manufactured to get the product you want. That’s what Arians is being paid to do. It’s a great challenge for the coach and I think he’s ready to roll with it. Hopefully everyone involved is ready to work.

  2. Coach blowhard only managed 1 playoff win in Arizona…and that was with David Johnson.

  3. Very intrested in seeing the progress the Bucs will make this year. So far, I see a improved defense, and, yes, the kicking game. The offense all depends on Winston NOT making costly turnovers that cost us points. Hopefully we can add one or two more veteran RB’s as other teams cut down to mandated roster size.

  4. Arians is right. You need good RBs but not stars. It’s a lot wiser to put that money into an oline that can run block well. Look at recent super bowl winners…

  5. Bruce Arians is right that you don’t need one ultra high-profile, highly-paid RB, but you should at least have 2-3 good-very good ones. Is what he has there good enough, is the question?

  6. First of all, Ronald Jones may be better than anyone thinks. If Bruce feels that way, he’s smart to keep his mouth shut about it and not hype the kid.

    Secondly, Bruce is right; RBs don’t need to be great for a team to succeed.

    Thirdly, however, when has Bruce won without a stud in his backfield? Never.

  7. Arians’s offense WILL likely fail to launch as hoped. The most crucial piece is still missing – an NFL caliber qb…

    Maybe next year, Tampa Bay!

    4-12 and top 5 draft pick!

  8. After Gurley and Bell teams will think twice about giving RBs a big contract. Cowboys shouldn’t cave to Zeke. Tag him for 2 years and let him go. It’s not personal it’s business.

  9. I mostly agree with charliecharger, the NFL has become a QB’s league. That said, it’s also a system league. You need a QB and a system that fits the talents of that QB. The system and the QB have to match. Pairing a system and a QB that doesn’t fit the system won’t ever be as good as a QB that does. The question in Tampa Bay, is that system right for Winston, and can Winston thrive in it?

    There are several theories about offense. You run to set up the pass. You pass to set up the run. Another theory is you set up plays to take advantage of the defenses weakness. Arians loves the passing game. So basically he passes to set up the run. In that offense, Arians doesn’t need a star running back, just some good ones he can count on depending on the situation. Evens leads the receiving corp. Tampa has solid receivers and TE’s. The OL will play a big roll in Bucs offensive success. Can this group pass and run block equally?

  10. The Patriots have proven that you don’t need star running backs to win championships.

  11. The Patriots have proven that you don’t need star running backs to win championships.

    Correct, but Arians( aka the self proclaimed maven of football) is far from Belichick. It’s not even close in all facets of coaching a game..
    Further, Winston (aka Publix Crab) is far from GOAT Brady. And a star QB really helps a teams running game.

  12. Anyone saying the Bucs “offense WILL likely fail to launch as hoped,” is flying on a big hate and probably unaware they were FIRST in Passing Offense last year and third in Overall Offense, meaning their O is already top shelf in the league. If anything, QB whisperer Arians, as he’s widely respected for being, around the league and in the media, should be able to finesse Winston to a level heretofore unseen, as well as making an accompanying jump in the running game. This means an offense not only as good as last year, but likely to be even better.

  13. Usually I do not agree with the blowhard but in this case I do. It will be intetesting to watch the Jets, who have the opposite take on running backs.

  14. I say tyelee got it right. Bucs don’t have a playoff QB. Go ahead and laugh, but I swear the Bucs would have been much much better off trading Winston for a top secondary player and keeping Fitzpatrick. Fitz has proved he can kill it in 2/3 of his games, but needs some D to get the pass defense just back to average. Pass D was pathetic last year. Winston is already stinking it up in camp. I absolutely don’t know why he’s still around. He must have a hell of a clause for playing time in his contract.

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