by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
This is the type of article that would’ve seemed like lunacy about 18 months ago. Martin was coming off a stellar rookie season, with 1,926 total yards and 12 TD. He was a workhorse. He appeared to be the next superstar.
When he struggled out of the gates last season it was easy to overlook. He scored just 1 TD in six games, averaging a meager 3.6 yards per carry. Things were supposed to get better, instead they got unbelievably worse.
In that sixth game Martin suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder, ending his season and sabotaging many a fantasy season. In his absence the Buccaneers tried a variety of backs, with varying degrees of success:
- Bobby Rainey – 3.9 yards/carry (137 carries)
- Mike James – 4.9 yards/carry (60 carries)
- Brian Leonard – 3.9 yards/carry (47 carries)
You would think that, under new coach Lovie Smith (who used to maximize Matt Forte, with the biggest knock being a lack of TD) that Martin would slide right back to the top. Then the team opted to use an early round draft pick on Charles Sims, throwing a wrench in that assumption.
Bucs offensive Coordinator Jeff Tedford was quoted by Rock Stroud (click here for the article) as saying:
“I think you have to alternate,” Tedford said Tuesday. “Even when we had two, 1,000-yard rushers (at California), J.J. Arrington was a 2,000-yard rusher and and we had a couple times guys had a thousand yards apiece. But I don’t believe that one back can carry the load. It’s just too physical. I think you probably need to have two to three guys to bring different things to the table. But I think you at least need to have two to be able to spell them here and there and keep them healthy and tat type of thing.
“That’s the goal to try and create some depth right there where there’s not a dropoff when one guy comes in and another guy goes out. There’s no dropoff. We just keep going.”
That certainly makes it sound like the team isn’t going to focus on just one running back. While Martin should start, there’s going to be pressure for him to produce early in the season. The coaching staff has shown no ties to the former Bucs on the roster, already looking to replace Mike Glennon (despite his strong showing as a rookie). Obviously Martin is a different animal, but it doesn’t mean he’s locked in to being the lead back.
Anything can happen, but this appears to be a scary situation. We obviously still love his upside and would welcome having him on our roster, but there is an awful lot of risk that comes with drafting him. Keep that in mind before pulling the trigger, especially at the likely cost of a second round pick.
Sources – ESPN, Tampa Bay Times
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