Rookie head coach Greg Schiano wanted to implement a run-first oriented offense as soon as he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His desire to establish the running game was evident as soon as the Buccaneers moved back into the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft and selected RB Doug Martin. But, could changes be on the way for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers running game after the team’s bye week?
Schiano has had high praise for Martin, comparing him to Ray Rice on several occasions this offseason. Martin looked good this preseason, but he’s struggled in the regular season and it’s obvious that Schiano is trying to light a fire under Martin in order to get his productivity where he believes it should be.
One thing hindering the Buccaneers and Martin, was the loss of Pro Bowl OG Davin Joseph. Once Joseph went down the offensive line has been a work in progress. OT Demar Dotson has also replaced veteran OT Jeremy Trueblood on the right side.In order to help with the running game, the Buccaneers signed TE Nate Byham, noted as one of the top ranked blockers in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Heading into this season, the Buccaneers had anointed Martin as the starter and in the first few weeks of the season, third-year back LeGarrette Blount was nearly invisible. Now, his role might appear to be increasing. Blount has just 13 carries on the season compared to Martin’s 71. The Buccaneers have added RB D.J. Ware to the mix as well.
The issue plaguing Martin, is the lack of big plays. In four game he has no runs over 20 yards. He has just 18 runs over 18 and of those 18, six are for 10 yards or more.
Schiano’s comments recently were directed at Martin and his lack of explosion. “I can run through a hole. It’s about what you do after the initial play. Can I make someone miss? Can I run over someone? What are you making on your own? What are you creating? That’s where I’d like to see us continue to grow.”
Martin told reporters this week that he believes the big plays will come, it’s just a matter of better execution. In the mean time however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see LeGarrette Blount start to cut into the number of carries Martin receives each game.