Face Off 3/20
Should Tampa Bay have tried to keep Warrick Dunn?
Like almost all other Buccaneers offensive players, Warrick Dunn was underutilized last season. And now the Bucs’ loss will be the Atlanta Falcons’ gain.
Dunn is not a world-beater, but he is one of the most versatile running backs in the NFL. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have won NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1997 and been selected to two Pro Bowls. He struggled last year, but that was due to injury and the overall malaise that plagued the Bucs’ offense.
The Falcons offered a lot more cash than any other team to get Dunn’s services, but Tampa Bay could probably have had him for less than what he got in Atlanta. At least, the Bucs should have tried. Had management upped the ante, and especially if the coaching staff guaranteed him much more playing time, Dunn would have been enticed to stay – he said so himself.
Mike Alstott is a fine player, but he lacks the elusiveness, pass-catching ability and sure hands of Dunn. With Alstott as the focal point and no Dunn for a change of pace, the Bucs’ worries might be far from over, even with offensive guru Jon Gruden calling the shots.
Tampa Bay not only lost Dunn, but they lost him to a future divisional rival in the NFC South next season. Whether or not Dunn ultimately decided to stay or go, the Bucs should have tried harder to keep him. After all, they had cash to throw at oft-injured quarterback Rob Johnson.
- Khari Williams
Why would a team rely on a five-foot-eight, 180-pound man to carry a ball through a wall of men weighing about 100 pounds heavier and significantly taller?
Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Reeves has a pretty good reason, no, make that 28.5 million reasons.
That is the amount, along with a $6.5 million signing bonus, that the Falcons are now paying Warrick Dunn, who they just took off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ hands.
The Bucs were interested in retaining the 27-year old, five-year pro but were not willing to play the matching game for long with the Falcons, who were willing to overpay Dunn to get his services.
Dunn is a smaller player who relies on finesse and speed to gain yards. In today’s game you need speed, but the ability to overpower an offensive line and take open-field hits is a necessity for a running back.
This is why one of the most powerful running backs in the league, Mike Alstott, had more carries, 165 to Dunn’s 158, and more yards, 680 to 447, than the newest Falcon.
The Bucs were smart to let Dunn go, not overpaying a third-down back who may be replaced by either Dorsey Levens or Ricky Watters, who both average more than Dunn’s 2.8 yards per carry.
The Bucs will be a case of addition by subtraction when their offense becomes more clear with one running back, and they will be able to remind their new divisional foe the Falcons why overpaying an undersized, third-down back is not a good idea.
- Bryan Fazio