Doug Martin continues to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' main running back, and I'm not entirely sure why. Martin hasn't been the same player since his rookie season, when he had nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage.
The Muscle Hamster was dominant as a rookie. He's been useless ever since. He had just 522 yards from scrimmage last year, but we could blame that on limited time and an injury-shortened season. This year, he has 251 yards from scrimmage. He's run for 2.8 yards per carry and caught passes at 5.8 yards per pass. And yet, he continues to be the team's main back.
And while Martin continues to struggle, Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey have looked solid. Not that they've been dominant, which is a little hard with this offensive line, but they've certainly been more productive than Martin. Rainey has run at a sold 4.2 yards per carry, and yet he received all of one carry last game. Charles Sims is at 3 yards per carry, barely better than Martin, but he's only played three games in his NFL career.
But offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo remains convinced that Martin can get back to being the rookie he was. "We're not going to stop giving him the ball," Arroyo said yesterday. "He's still going to get his touches, we're still going to put him in positions and say 'Hey, we're going to run this play and you're going to be in.'"
Bobby Rainey and Charles Sims aren't magicians who will instantly improve the Bucs' running game. Rainey is shifty, but he's not a powerful back. He doesn't produce a lot of yards after contact, and he doesn't have that breakaway edge. Sims does, in theory, but in practice he goes down at first contact far too often. He's a great fit for the outside zone scheme, cutting back at the right moment, finding holes where there may be none and seemingly getting to the second level with little effort -- only to be cut down with a weak ankle tackle, inches away from breaking a long run.
And despite all that, both of those players are better options than Doug Martin right now. Now for the coaches to realize that.