The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a few risks this offseason, as they always have to do. Many think that one of those risks was not addressing their offensive line, I would suggest that they could have done more about their pass rush. Bleacher Report’s Sean Tomlinson, though, thinks their biggest risk is relying on Doug Martin carry their running game this season.
The Martin of 2015 ran for 1,402 yards while averaging nearly five yards per carry. If that Martin does indeed return, the Buccaneers offense is ready to blast off after adding wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end O.J. Howard.
But the problem, and risk, is that the Martin of 2015 existed two years and one injury ago. Martin missed six games in 2016 while recovering from a hamstring injury, and when healthy he averaged only 2.9 yards per carry.
Which Martin will show up in 2017? That question will follow the Buccaneers all summer.
This is certainly a risk, but it’s not as big of a risk as it seems here. The Bucs have plenty of options if Doug Martin doesn’t return to form, and they’re certainly not married to him. In fact, they can cut him at any point before week four of the regular season without owing him a dime.
The Bucs will rely on Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and Jeremy McNichols for at least the first three games of the regular season, when Martin is suspended. Rodgers showed last year that he’s still a useful runner, while Sims and McNichols both have qualities as receiving backs. Add in second-year back Peyton Barber, who had some promising moves last year, and the Bucs aren’t at all lost if they can’t rely on Martin.
Basically, the Bucs relying on Martin has three possible ways of going right:
- Martin plays well enough to reliably power the Bucs’ running game.
- The Bucs get a competent running game out of their varied stable of backs.
- Jameis Winston and company play so well that the lack of a running game doesn’t really matter all that much.
Only if all three of those things fail do the Bucs really have a problem. That’s a risk, certainly, but not a massive one.