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Dirk Koetter defends Doug Martin, blames blocking

The Bucs need to shore up their run-blocking.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

DIrk Koetter still likes Doug Martin, who has just 303 yards on 95 carries this season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach defended his back today, claiming that his lack of production is mostly not his fault—making it, by implication, the blocking’s fault.

It’s not him that is not consistently moving the ball. In my opinion, he is not the reason we are not moving the ball on offense. If you look at that tape, Doug’s making a little bit out of not too much more often than not. We went over this exact thing last week. When the passing game is not going well, the quarterback takes the heat. When the running game is not going good, the running game probably takes too much heat. It’s a team effort. If we went through all 19 of Doug’s carries we would see he had an explosive on the trap on the first drive [and] he had a nice seven-yard run that he bounced outside. Doug had a couple really nice runs that were four-yard gains.

That’s consistent with what Pro Football Focus charted, as they claimed Martin produced almost all of what little yards he gained after contact this week—meaning defenders were in his face before he even got to the line of scrimmage, constantly. As Koetter said:

Their front four was physical and we were a little too high in our pad level at times. We did not do a great job of run blocking in this game, but that‘s an O-line thing. That’s a tight end thing. That’s a lead blocker issue. The running back is going to take the hit.

It also reinforces another simple fact: the Bucs offensive line is not playing good football, and hasn’t been for most of the season, especially in the running game. Despite supposed run-blocking powerhouses Ali Marpet and J.R. Sweezy, nothing’s happening up front. Whether that’s down to talent or coaching or both remains to be seen, but it’s certainly something the team will have to address this offseason.