The Tampa Bay Buccaneers remain winless on the 2013 NFL season after week nine, but they were incredibly close to garnering their first victory over a quality Seattle Seahawks team in raucous Seattle. The Seahawks unexpectedly needed overtime to put the Bucs away in the contest.
While Tampa Bay’s defense was certainly a big help in their near-upset of Seattle as they force three turnovers on the day, they weren’t the star of the Buccaneers’ performance. That honor would go to the replacement of injured running back Doug Martin, rookie and sixth-round pick Mike James.
In his first start of the year with Martin out on Oct. 24, James looked not great. He took 10 carries for only 39 yards and caught four passes for 25 yards. Not only did James not seem to be running all that productively, but it also seemed like the Bucs weren’t putting a great deal of faith in the rookie to get them production on the ground.
Against the Seahawks, though, Tampa Bay kept feeding James the rock and it paid dividends. The Bucs gave James 28 carries on the day, which he took for a fantastic 158 yards on the ground, good for a 5.6 yards-per-carry average. In addition, James also caught two balls for eight yards and notched a rare passing touchdown on a jump pass in the red-zone in the first quarter.
Arguably the most impressive part of James’ day was the environment in which he produced it in. He wasn’t up against a lowly defensive team, but was rather up against the vaunted Seahawks defense on the road in one of the most hostile opposing stadiums in the league. That has to count for something.
Going forward, I’d expect the Bucs to show more faith and continue feeding James on the ground. Putting too much faith and giving too much work to rookie QB Mike Glennon clearly isn’t the answer as the Bucs still sit at 0-8, but maybe James can help right the ship and help this team avoid the dreaded 0-16 season.