There has been constant debate on how bad the Bucs offensive line has been. Some point to quarterback Jameis Winston scrambling for his life, others point to the running backs. It’s all opinion so there’s really no factual data in lots of these discussions.
However, if you looked closely, you can see that the offensive line was never really to blame for many rushing woes or even Winston’s faults.
There were times where Winston held on to the ball for too long which resulted in sacks. Those aren’t all on the line. As for the struggles in the running game, those faithful to Doug Martin often defended him by putting blame on those blocking for him up front. Even though there was data in the past to discredit that claim — like Peyton Barber performing better behind the same line — it fell on deaf ears.
In an Instagram story, Barber posted a video of him hitting holes and making second level defenders miss. Small sample size, but that was often evident when Barber toted the rock as opposed to Martin.
Well now there is more data.
Over the last two seasons, Doug Martin's running back teammates have averaged over a full yard per carry more than Martin, and their Success Rates (percentage of positive expected point runs) have been far superior as well. pic.twitter.com/1pMYN6JuID— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) March 20, 2018
Again, Martin ran behind the same line others did.
Credit to the Buccaneers for giving Martin another shot at redeeming himself. Many felt it was honorable. But with only two out of five seasons successfully running the football heading into 2017, writing was on the wall that the former first round selection should have never been brought back.
There are still some that feel that the offensive line is the biggest area of need for Tampa Bay. Despite the “struggles” from the line, the offense was still able to put up some yardage, ranking in the Top 10 in the NFL for total offense.