Update: Lovie Smith denied the report that Doug Martin was benched because of pass protection issues in today's press conference.
Doug Martin was benched during the second half of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers, and Steve Gallo now reports that this was due to his struggles in pass protection rather than an injury. Anyone who watched the game would not be surprised by that development.
Greg Cosell discussed this very issue on 98.7 The Fan today, and he went a little more in-depth on the Fantasy Guru podcast.
"I was disappointed in him in all areas. I think he looked very stiff as a runner. I don't think that he looked like he has much looseness in his hips. In some ways he kind of reminded me of what we've seen out of Trent Richardson. Just very stiff. And the most disconcerting thing, which will limit his snaps if it continues, is he was terrible in pass protection. And that will limit his snaps."
This was a recurring problem for Martin during the game, and this is a rookie mistake that should have been eliminated from his game ages ago. It's why the Bucs used D.J. Ware and Brian Leonard in passing situations under Greg Schiano. Because when you can't pass protect, you can't be on the field regularly in passing situations.
So then we go to Bobby Rainey, right? Well, maybe not. Cosell noted that he wasn't very good in pass protection, either, and it's not like he dominated on the ground, either. He got 12 yards on four carries and another eight yards on two more catches, plus a fumble. That production isn't great.
The Bucs can potentially solve that by giving Mike James more snaps, who looked good in that role last year but didn't see the field at all against the Carolina Panthers.
Another concern is Josh McCown's play, which was....subpar until the final quarter.
"I didn't think he played particularly well," Cosell told 98.7 The Fan. "I thought he was a little undisciplined in the pocket regarding his footwork, his movement, his reads. He didn't pull the trigger on a number of throws that were there. One thing that really stood out to me was that he had a tendency to climb the pocket when he doesn't need to, and when you do that you create your own pressure."
"The [Greg] Hardy sack in the second quarter and the forced fumble, that was a first-and-ten shot play and they got when he wanted. [Mike] Evans ran the deep over route and that ball needed to be thrown. But when McCown go to the top of his drop, his feet weren't set. He wasn't prepared to deliver the football. So by the time he was getting prepared to deliver the football, the timing of the throw was gone. And to me he created his own sack there. "
This is related to another issue that showed up during the game: McCown waited a really long time to throw the ball on many, many throws. Again, these are problems that largely seemed fixed during the fourth quarter, but it remains to be seen whether or not that was a temporary blip.