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Doug Martin's 2013 and 2014 weren't as bad as they seemed

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There are three aspects to running back Doug Martin's game worth noting, all under the same umbrella. First, review the yards per game results per season to reveal Martin's production. Second, inspect reproducibility of Doug's production on a yards per carry basis. Third, emphasize what makes the diminutive back to be called the Dougernaut. These three aspects should help dispel that Doug Martin had two abysmal years of production, in a roundabout way making his two Pro Bowl years as flukes.

Back Story

Before the 2015 season, not many believed that running back Doug Martin would ever be an average running again as he reached his zenith in his rookie year of 2012, where he went to the Pro Bowl as he gained 1,454 yards rushing. A majority of Bucsnation, one of the biggest Bucs blog site, and the rest of the media all repeated the same line about Martin - one great year and two terrible ones. This assumption was based upon Martin's average yard per carry stat per year: 4.6 yards in 2012, 3.6 yards in 2013, and 3.7 yards in 2014.

This article was written during the 2015 pre-season:  Doug Martin, Bell Cow

Now in the 2015 afterglow where Doug Martin lead the league in broken tackles and yards after tackle onto a Pro Bowl season, many people are still skeptical of Martin with the same narrative before 2015 season has arisen once again - Martin has two terrible seasons. It is these two terrible seasons narrative is what many still believe that Martin's bookend productions are flukes.

Aspect 1:  Yards per Game

The average production of yards per carry is the one stat that many people focus upon about a running back's usefulness. Yet, that stat alone does not paint a full picture of production. Missing from having depth into a running back's usefulness are games played, total production, and yards per game production.

Doug Martin
Yards per Game Stat
Season Games Total Rush Yards Yards per Game
2012 16 1454 90.88
2013 6 456 76.00
2014 11 494 44.91
2015 16 1402 87.63

In Martin's four seasons, there appears to be only one terrible season, which is 2014. If one is curious of where does the yards per game production stands in 2013 season for Doug, then I did a chart for the top 5 rushers in 2013.

2013 Top 5 Rushers
Yards per Game Production
Rank Player Rushing yards Games Yards per Game
1 LeSean McCoy 1607 16 100.44
2 Matt Forte 1339 16 83.69
3 Jamaal Charles 1287 15 85.80
4 Alfred Morris 1275 16 79.69
5 Adrian Peterson 1266 14 90.43
http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/player/_/stat/rushing/sort/rushingYards/year/2013

From the yards per game production of the top 5 rushers in 2013, Doug is not that far away from Alfred Morris in the chart above. That implies Doug's 2013 was not a lost season in respect to Doug's production.

What is not evident from Doug's production information is that he faced the #1, #2, and #4 rush defense teams in his six games of 2013. Those teams were the NY Jets, Arizona Cardinals, and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. Doug Martin would never have seen those teams again if he were to have remained healthy for the rest of the 2013 season. The other three teams he faced were New England, New Orleans, and Atlanta.  And the average yards per carry for the latter triplet of teams were 4.56 yards per carry. There will be a link to this information in Aspect 2 of this article.

Conclusion:  Doug Martin had one bad season.

Aspect 2:  Reproducibility

The average production of yards per carry does not necessarily mean the running back will produce that average all the time. Can a running reproduce that average all the time? Sometimes, a game or two will either inflate or deflate the overall average. Then the final average is skewed.

Doug Martin
2015 Stats
Game Team Win Att Yds Avg fewer than 20 att fewer than 20 Win
1 Ten 11 52 4.7 1
2 No 1 21 78 3.7
3 Hou 14 46 3.3 1
4 Car 20 106 5.3
5 Jax 1 24 123 5.1
6 Was 19 136 7.2 1
7 Atl 1 23 71 3.1
8 NYG 11 31 2.8 1
9 Dal 1 18 63 3.5 1 1
10 Phi 1 27 235 8.7
11 Indy 14 97 6.9 1
12 Atl 1 25 95 3.8
13 NO 11 81 7.4 1
14 StL 18 91 5.1 1
15 Chi 17 49 2.9 1
16 Car 15 48 3.2 1
Total 6 288 1402 10 1
Average 18.00 87.63 4.9

Case in point, the average for Doug Martin in 2015 is 4.9 yards per carry. As you can tell, actual production in each game is scattered everywhere. Is there another stat that can help paint a picture that is better? Of course, there is another stat that can be used in conjunction with average. It is called the median, or the middle most number of an ordered set.  That is where you can expect more of the production to be around than the average.

Median is used all the time when discussing the prices for the housing market or income, not the average. A house or small percentage of the money generators may over inflate the average.  For example, a billionaire living in a quaint, rural area will exaggerate the income average in that area. Sometimes, median and average can meet like finding the average and median of people living in Beverly Hills.

For more information about medians and our running backs, then here are a couple of links describing it:

2013 Review of Tampa Bay RBs

2014 Review of Tampa Bay RBs

Doug Martin
Avg and Medians
Season Average Median Median - Avg Highest Avg in One Game
2012 4.6 4.05 -0.55 10.0
2013 3.6 4.25 0.65 5.0
2014 3.7 3.2 -0.5 6.9
2015 4.9 4.25 -0.65 8.7

In the Average and Medians chart, I introduced the highest producing game to reveal how one game can skew the average. Three of the four games reveal a negative median-average differential. In 2013, you see the lowest highest average in one game, but the median-average differential is a positive one. This implies there was a game or two to drive the average further down and away from the median. Peer into the 2013 article provided above to see each game production for Doug Martin as well as other running backs.

Conclusion:  Utilizing medians, Martin had one bad season.

Aspect 3:  Produces more as the season progresses

In my writing the review of Doug Martin's rookie production, I had denoted how Doug Martin improved his play after the bye week. After the bye week, Martin posted his first hundred yard rushing production. He had four more games of rushing over a hundred yards afterwards.

I reviewed this split when I wrote "Doug Martin, Bell Cow". I found a surprising trend - Doug was improving his production in the second half of the seasons. Three-fourths into the season, I decided to follow up on this possible pattern in the following article "Enable the Douggernaut."  In deed there was a pattern.

Here is the career split of Doug Martin:

Doug Martin
2012 - 2015 Season, Split Avg Stats
Year Games Yards per Game, Avg Yards per Rush, Avg (YPR) End - Start, YPR
2012 1 to 4 61.75 3.55
Bye Week
5 to 16 100.58 4.63 1.08
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 1.00
2015 1 to 8 80.38 4.5
9 to 16 94.88 5.23 0.73

Each eligible year possible for this pattern expresses that Martin goes from Doug to the Dougernaut as the season progresses. This should deter the notion that Martin only showed up for his contract year because his effort remained consistent from 2012 to 2014 and 2015.

Martin was simply not in football shape to begin 2014, but still showed improvement despite the terrible start.  Martin's 2013 shoulder injury set him back a full season in terms of being in football shape. Doug was injured on October 20, 2013. On March 31st of 2014, Doug tweeted he was finally cleared to participate with the team again.

The Dougernaut was out of football for over five months, including the offseason. The Bucs' offseason workout would begin 22 days after Martin tweeted he was finally cleared to play from his shoulder injury, as reported by CBS Sports' John Breech.

Conclusion:  Doug Martin's effort in 2015 was not due to a contract year, but because that pattern shows that Martin's work ethic is always looking to improve.

Closing the Umbrella

I hope by enlightening more about Doug Martin that we fans can put the umbrella away of Martin possessing two bad seasons. Even in a terrible 2014 season, Martin showed signs of improvement at the conclusion of the season. Before the 2015 season, not many gave Doug Martin a chance and did not believe it was possible for Martin to resurrect his career.  That notion would be correct if Martin truly had two bad seasons. Yet that was not the case.

A quote from "Doug Martin, Bell Cow",

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.

My optimism believes that Martin continues to go from Doug to Dougernaut for a few more years to come. Whether he remains a Buccaneer, though, is all on Licht.  If Licht does not retain Martin's services, then "there ain't no sunshine when he's gone" and we fans will definitely need that umbrella.