Bucs’ Barber hopes to be better than ‘pretty good’

by Gary Shelton on July 27, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Bucs

Peyton Barber had 871 yards last season./TIM WIRT

Saturday, 3 a.m.

Here's the problem. Peyton Barber, by most accounts, is a pretty good NFL back.

But the Bucs need a better one.

Perhaps that is the reason that Barber has received mediocre reviews as the Bucs' primary back entering 2019. Simply put, Barber doesn't dazzle. He'll get three yards if a three-yard hole is there, and he'll keep a drive going. But he isn't likely to juke a cornerback and go for 50.

Last year, he was 19th in the NFL in rushing. He was 29th in yards per game with 54.4. No shame in either number. But not a lot of glory, either. He had 871 yards, but he had eight games with 50 or less.

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Perhaps that is why so many people were pulling for Ronald Jones to be somewhat better than reality last year, and why so many hope he can finally arrive this year. Barber will give his team a good day's work, but he won't take your breath away. He's good, but he's not great.

"I still consider myself to be the underdog," Barber said. "There's four or five other guys fighting for my job, and I don't plan on giving it up. I definitely feel like I have a lot of expectations for myself. There are a lot of things that I feel as if I didn't accomplish last year that I definitely want to accomplish this year."

No one would doubt that a shaky offensive line was partially to blame that Barber's numbers weren't better. He rushed for just five touchdowns, and he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Out of 234 attempts, he had one carry as long as 28 yards. (The Bucs were second-to-last in NFL in rushing yards per carry.)

"It definitely meant a lot for me to come back here," Barber said. "Like I said, I feel like I have some unfinished business here that I can definitely improve on. And then, two, I love this city. This is a great place. I actually just bought a house not too long ago, so I definitely like it down here."

Barber has shed some weight in his efforts to be a starter.

One thing that Barber has going for himself is that he's a complete back. He'll block, and he'll catch. There are worse backs to count on.

"I'd say I'm about a seven," Barber said, rating his familiarity to the new offense. "I'm getting there. It's definitely a lot more complicated than it was last year and the previous years.  (There are) definitely more complicated blocking schemes. They ask more of us in the pass-protection, and they're going to split us out a little bit in the wide receiver game."

Whoever it is, the Bucs need a back. They have less value in today's NFL, but the Bucs need to find a way other than Jameis Winston to move the ball. They need to keep their defense in better field position. They need to keep defenses honest.

Is Barber the man for that?

We'll see. Right now, he's the man to beat out in the backfield. Will that be good enough? Will Barber be? You decide.




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