Over the past few weeks, Bucs fans have debated the distribution of running back carries over and over again. Should Legarrette Blount take the lead, with Doug Martin just being a change-of-pace back, or should the first-rounder get the chance to be a true bellcow back? So far, neither player has been particularly convincing. Martin has just 247 yards on 71 carries, while Blount hasn't done any better with 44 carries on 13 attempts. The Bucs want to be a running team, but it hasn't worked out that way so far.
NFL Films producer Greg Cosell thinks he has part of the answer: Martin hasn't had enough carries. Here's what Cosell had to say about Doug Martin's performance so far on the Fantasy Guru podcast:
I think Doug Martin is a volume runner who needs carries to get into a rhythm, and I don't think he's been given that opportunity. There's not a lot of room. I don't think he's a pure make-you-miss, get-a-ton-of-yards-on-your-own back. But I think he's a tough, physical grinder. And those backs, to me, need carries. And I don't think they've been able to play that way. So he's not gotten enough carries and he's not had a lot of room, so I don't really feel I can give a true evaluation of Doug Martin yet.
But that picture doesn't really fit with reality. Martin had 24, 20 and 19 carries in the three first games respectively, and that's a pretty decent amount of carries. The Bucs have been able to keep every game close and haven't been forced away from the pass, so they can certainly afford to feed him the ball. But if a back can't get going with 20 carries in a game, then the problem can't really be the volume of carries.
There are a lot of problems with the running game in general. The blocking has been subpar, with Ted Larsen and Erik Lorig being especially at fault, while Doug Martin and Legarrette Blount have both been lackluster. The playcalling has been mind-boggling at times, with far too many runs up the gut and not enough runs to the outside. Martin has flashed a couple of times, while Blount has barely had a chance to shine, but neither has been consistent. That should come with more time, but for now the answer may be to lean on the pass just a little bit more.