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Doug Martin, Bell Cow

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Averaging 3.7 yards per game in 2014 lands Tampa Bay Buccaneers' running back (RB), Doug Martin, tied for 32nd in ranking in 2014. Fellow RB Bobby Rainey averaged 4.3 yards per game last season, but he did not qualify for the NFL rankings at ESPN to be ranked. The Bucs did not accept the fifth year option on Martin's contract, an option available to first round draft picks. So why should Tampa be confident that Martin can rebound?

Doug Martin
2012 - 2014
Year Games Played Yds Avg Median Long
2012 16 1454 4.6 4.05 70
2013 6 456 3.6 4.25 28
2014 11 494 3.7 3.2 63

Outside of 2012, a Pro Bowl year, Martin's numbers look very lackluster as well as show a pattern of regression.  Some say that Martin has not had a great year since 2012. In the table above, I included a Median stat. Median is the middle of an ordered set, in this case the middle production per game of one season. The median is where you can expect most of the production to be repetitive or near it.

2013 Medians for Buc RBs (and 2012 median for Martin).

2014 Medians for Buc RB's.

Sometimes, the average and median coincide. Sometimes, they do not. If the average is higher than the median, then there is one or more games that skew the average higher than median. If the average is below the median, conversely, then there is one or more games that skew the average below the median.

For example, the median in 2012 was 4.05 yards per game. This is what you can usually expect out of Martin on most games. In one game versus the Raiders, Martin amassed 251 yards rushing for an average of 10.0 yards per attempt. That one game alone can skew the average greatly. If we were to remove that game, then Martin's average in 15 games would be 4.09 yards per rush, which is closer to the median.

Martin actually improved his median from his rookie year, but his average was a whole yard per game lower than this rookie year. 2014 came in with a new offensive play scheme: zone blocking scheme (ZBS). And Martin struggled mightily.

Sophomore year in the NFL was not very kind to Doug as he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder on a wheel route as he tried to reach for the pass outside of his outstretched arm along the sideline. It was a season ending injury, where he missed the rest of the 10 games for the season.

Injuries again come onto Martin. That rust on the season ending injury in 2013 affected him for 2014. In the second quarter of the very first game Doug had injured his left leg. He would miss the following two  games. Four games after coming back from his first injury, Martin sprains his ankle. That second injury cost him three games. Yet, Doug was still able to string together six consecutive games to close out the year.

Long ago, I researched Martin's rookie year in respect to how well Martin adapted to the NFL game. Martin improved as the season progressed. Then I read recently that Martin has been looking great in camp. It seems as though Doug has found his legs again, but why does he look good this coming season than last season? Injury.

The season ending injury that cost Martin 10 games had a great affect on his running game. From Martin's sophomore year and on at Boise State, he has not missed a game. Then factor in a new offensive line scheme and Martin struggled.

Doug Martin
Career Splits
Year Games Yard Avg per Game Per Rush Avg Average
2012 1 to 4 61.75 3.55
Bye Week
5 to 16 100.58 4.63
2013 1 to 6 76 3.72
2014 1, 4 to 7 33.2 2.82
Injury break
11 to 16 49.44 3.82

In the career splits table, notice how Martin improves as the season continues, at least in the two eligible seasons, 2012 and 2014. Both of those years, Doug has improved by a yard per rush as the season went along. Now into training camp of 2015, Doug has looked very spry.

Going into 2012, Martin was coming in healthy and in football shape. 2013 looked promising until he tore his labrum in his shoulder as a receiver diving for a ball. In 2014, he was not in great football shape as he incurred injuries early.  But later in season he was able to return into football shape. Finishing the season healthy and strong lends to being in football shape for the 2015 season.

Although Lovie and Licht fully believe that the running back situation will be by committee, the number suggest that one gets the ball to Martin and often as he will produce and get stronger while doing it.

"Dirk Koetter, once he was tired and he started watching tape of all our players, he came away impressed with Doug," Licht said. "You saw the tape when he's healthy, he's still a very effective runner."

From a JoeBucsFan link on May 4th, 2015.

From the official website video interview with Koetter at the very end of the interview.

Question: What can he (Martin) do get back to the player he was a few years ago.

Koetter: I think a couple of years ago he was getting a lot of touches.

If one believes that Martin was a one year wonder, then there is nothing to believe that Martin can resurrect his career because there is no pattern to reveal such. If you believe what I wrote here, then you see the pattern that Martin actually improves as the season progresses as well as know that Martin's sophomore year was more productive than his first year when utilizing the medians and there is no such idea this as a resurrection, but rather a continuation of Doug Martin as a running back.

Dirk Koetter believed in Martin when he first arrived. Dirk is seeing the fruition of his beliefs to retain Martin in training camp. Dirk maybe onto something most of us do not know about: Doug Martin, Bell Cow.