By Eric Schmidt

From the moment the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Greg Schiano as their new head coach, the team’s offensive identity changed. Schiano wanted to make the Buccaneers a hard nosed defensive unit with an offense which focus on the run. That identity was on display last night as the Buccaneers gashed the Minnesota Vikings 36-17.

The Buccaneers moved back into the first tound of the 2012 NFL Draft in order to select the running back they believed would be the focal point of Schiano’s scheme, Doug Martin. Schiano immediately compared the player known as the Muscle Hampster, as a Ray Rice type of running back. That comparison was evident last evening as Martin recorded 214 total yards and scoring twice.

Martin rushed for 95 yards in the Buccaneers win in week one, but he struggled in following weeks. As the Buccaneers entered their bye week, there was speculation that veteran LeGarrette Blount would start playing a larger role in the Tampa offense. However, since the bye week, Martin has been on fire. The Boise State product has posted 467 total yards, scoring three times.

Martin’s struggles early on can be attributed to two issues. The Buccaneers offensive line was been a work in progress after the loss of OG Davin Joseph and the Tampa offense seemed mired in conservative play calling in the early weeks of the season.

Martin’s increase in production also mirrors the offensive explosion of QB Josh Freeman. It appears that the Buccaneers offensive coordinator has opened up the play calling and is now allowing Freeman to air the ball out as he seems to be getting on the same page with his trio of receivers, Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams and Tiquan Underwood.

In the month of October, Freeman has thrown for over 1,000 yards, nine touchdowns and only one interception, posting a 113.9 passer rating. Freeman threw three touchdowns against the Vikings, becoming the first Buccaneers quarterback to throw at least three touchdowns in three consecutive weeks.

Tampa’s offense seems to be firing on all cylinders currently, and despite a 2-4 start, the Buccaneers could climb their way back into the wildcard mix.

 

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