The Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster was already potent in 2020 and might have just upgraded. Recently signed Giovani Bernard provides versatility for the Buccaneers offense and that will surely make Tom Brady very happy. Bernard has had a solid career thus far, in eight seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. The veteran running back brings over 6,500 yards from scrimmage with 33 total touchdowns to aid Tampa Bay’s odds of repeating. Here’s how the Giovani Bernard signing could help the Bucs offense be even better this season.
Giovani Bernard Signing Provides Offensive Versatility
After winning a Super Bowl, it’s hard to find much to be upset about. Well, Bruce Arians found one such spot, drops by running back. According to The Athletic’s Greg Auman, the Buccaneers running backs led the NFL with 17 drops last year. This is as many as the New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks backs had combined in 2020. This is one area the Buccaneers were lacking and one of the major reasons they signed Bernard. Ball security is critical and Bernard has the third most receptions among running backs since 2013. Brady essentially now has his version of James White, who he counted on so often while with the New England Patriots.
Versatility has been Bernard’s calling card since he entered the NFL. Early in his career, Bernard was used in multiple ways. First, as a traditional, 20-25 carry running back who also excelled as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. He then morphed into mostly a third-down back when Joe Mixon arrived for the Bengals. Bernard was also fantastic in this role and one of the best pass-blocking backs in the league.
Fitting Right In
Assimilating to a new team and culture can sometimes be a daunting task. But this does not seem to be a problem for Bernard. In fact, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has been very impressed stating, “You tell him something once, he gets it, he’s able to execute it and operate it, which lets you know he’s been around a lot of good football. It’s been great so far, so he’s been doing a hell of a job for us just in the passing game, in the run game, just being a pro, doing the things that we’ll need our running backs to do.”
Tampa Bay has the potential for quite the three-headed monster at running back. Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, and Bernard all have different traits that make them valuable to the Buccaneers and dangerous for the rest of the NFL.
Leading the Way
The Buccaneers are counting on Bernard to be both a leader in the locker room and on the field. Leading by example has been the trademark for Brady for 22 years. Now he has another veteran to help carry this torch. This is not a foreign concept to Bernard, and Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was effusive with his praise in this regard.
“You know Gio doesn’t get a lot of shine because of the role he plays, but in my opinion might be the most critical role on the team. He’s a great leader.” – Joe Burrow https://t.co/ASI1TmQiXq pic.twitter.com/S5yg3qIcPy
— Lindsay Patterson (@LndsPatterson) October 28, 2020
Adding a quality player, person, and leader of Bernard’s caliber is a great start as the 2021 season comes into focus. The Buccaneers still feel they are the cream of the crop and are eager to prove once again they are the NFL’s best. Bernard hopes to help lead them to the promised land.