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michael89156

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: June 30, 2013, 12:00:06 AM

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Can Tampa Bay Bucs Doug Martin Become NFL's Best Running Back?

Reaching the Level of Adrian Peterson Not Easy, but Rookie Season was Strong Start


..By Jeff Briscoe | Yahoo! Sports

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 4:36 PM EDT..




Rookie running back Doug Martin (#22) electrified the Tampa Bay Bucs' backfield in 2012



 Following a sensational rookie campaign, in which he amassed nearly 2,000 total yards, it is entirely fair to ask if Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can emerge as the best running back in the NFL.
 
Longtime Bucs' fans must pinch themselves for pondering such a question.

 After all, the 37 year-old franchise so lacks a lavish history of runners that Martin is already its 12th leading rusher after a single season. Named to the Pro Bowl, the 24 year-old shattered expectations of the 31st overall selection of the 2012 draft, and supporters rightfully hope he becomes the club's greatest back.
 
However, the results from Martin's initial season should raise the bar even higher. In considering his many tools and potential for further development, I believe this talented player can rise to the top of football's elite rushers.
 


Breakout 2012 Season

The numbers are impressive. Playing in all 16 games of the 2012 campaign, Martin racked up 1,454 yards on 319 attempts for a 4.6 yards per carry average. His yardage was fifth highest in the NFL and a copious 11 rushing touchdowns also tied for fifth place.
 
The Boise State product additionally distinguished himself in the passing game, where he reeled in 472 yards on 49 receptions. Appropriately, this figure was again sufficient for fifth most receiving yards by a running back.
 
 The stats suggest Doug Martin is already among the league's top five runners.
 
 To rise to number one, however, the California native must first distinguish himself from another talented rookie. While last year's third overall pick, Trent Richardson, struggled with injuries, Martin's performance was actually exceeded by another first year rusher, Alfred Morris. Though less of a receiving threat, the Washington Redskins rookie averaged 10 yards per game more than Martin.
 
Though comparisons with Morris make sense, Bucs' fans dream loftier than surpassing the success of the surprising sixth rounder from Florida Atlantic. Instead, I wonder if Doug Martin will reach the elite level of Adrian Peterson, recently awarded the #1 spot on NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2013."
 


NFL's Best Running Back

Overcoming knee surgery, the Minnesota Vikings rusher nearly broke the single-season rushing record in 2012 with 2,097 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns. Even more notable, Peterson racked up a gaudy six yards every time he carried the ball.
 
While those numbers are jaw-dropping, Martin is not as far removed as pessimists might think.
 
All backs are capable of exceptional days that inflate averages and Peterson earns more than anyone. But Doug Martin also enjoyed such a performance, when rushing for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns in a contest against the Oakland Raiders. Playing in his hometown, the Bucs' back nearly matched Peterson's record of 296 rushing yards in a 2007 game.
 
To measure consistency, however, my preference is to measure the capability of attaining 80+ yards on 20 or fewer carries. While such stats do not reflect extraordinary effort, they often indicate the runner helped control the field and afforded his quarterback a chance to win. Martin posted seven such performances last year and missed another by four yards.
 
In contrast, Peterson produced games of 20 carries and 80+ yards in 14 of 16 contests. That is stunning and does distant Martin from his greatness. However, in looking at Peterson's rookie season, he only accomplished the feat six times. Martin exceeded that and also bested Peterson's first year total of 1,341 yards on the ground.

It was during the 2012 NFL MVP's second campaign that his numbers exploded. Not only did Peterson's rushing yardage increase to 1,760, but he reached the 20/80 mark during 13 of 16 games. That consistency enabled him to emerge quickly as the league's best runner. Bucs' fans hope Martin makes the same jump in 2013.
 


The Cadillac Williams Fears

 While blossoming into another Peterson represents the high side of Martin's potential, replicating the career of Cadillac Williams reflects a worst case scenario. Williams was Tampa Bay's first round pick in 2005 and expected to lead the attack for years. He began optimistically, with three consecutive games of 100+ yards, and 1,178 yards as a rookie.
 
But Cadillac's success was deceptive. While achieving the 20/80 mark during 8 of 16 games in 2005, Williams only netted 4.1 yards per carry. Martin bettered that by 0.5 yards, indicating he is a more efficient runner. Furthermore, Williams suffered through five contests in 2005 where he failed to reach 30 yards. Such a deficiency did not occur in 2012, as the Boise State rookie was held under 30 yards just one time.
 
Martin additionally rushed between 50-79 yards during seven games of 2012. These are the very performances that must be elevated to reach Peterson's level, since they indicate coach Schiano will not abandon the running game. Such persistence again distinguishes Martin from his predecessor, who only netted 798 yards and a miserable 3.5 yard average during his second season, before injuries marred the remainder of Williams' career.
 

Outlook for 2013

 I expect Doug Martin to back up his robust rookie campaign and move closer to Peterson's lofty perch. The Bucs' new weapon offers a rare combination of power and speed, which prevents limiting him to one description or the other.
 
Guess who else shares that profile?

 Yes, Adrian Peterson is described by the same terms, just as both runners share the under-appreciated ability to assist the passing game from the backfield. Though it is an uphill task to argue that the "Muscle Hamster" can become the NFL's best rusher, there is giant cause for optimism in Martin's corner.
 
Actually, there are two.

Nearly all of Martin's success in 2012 occurred with the team's starting guards sidelined to season-ending injuries. If the Bucs can return a healthy Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks to the offensive line, the unit will surely provide greatly improved rushing lanes for Martin.
 
Racking up nearly 1,500 yards without the bruising duo, imagine what the second-year player can do with his All-Pro guards?
 
 Finally, last year witnessed Tampa Bay implement vertical passing abilities behind new wideout, Vincent Jackson, who joined Martin at the Pro Bowl. Upon studying film, this newly demonstrated asset may force opposing secondaries to play a little deeper in 2013, which would bring smiles to the backfield.
 
 Dream big, Bucs' fans. Similar to Minnesota before the arrival of Adrian Peterson, Tampa Bay lacks a praise-worthy history of running backs. Doug Martin is ready to change that forever.

Skull and Bones

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#1 : June 30, 2013, 10:51:17 AM

I think he can become a top 5 back which is plenty good enough. 


bucs449

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#2 : June 30, 2013, 10:53:38 AM

I think he can become a top 5 back which is plenty good enough.

Agreed. Doug Martin balled out last year and will probably get even better, but as long as there are massive explosive guys like AP and Foster, they will be the top backs. Martin is so solid at everything, but that big game breaker will always be just a spot ahead imo.

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#3 : June 30, 2013, 11:03:37 AM

If no sophomore slump, he will be the top 2, et alone top 5

The Anti-Java

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#4 : June 30, 2013, 03:41:34 PM

Love the guy, but lets not crown him just yet.  Lets see another solid season.  And see if he can stay healthy.


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rpc1978

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#5 : June 30, 2013, 05:02:06 PM

Heavy workload for him last year, in fact too heavy IMO. Approx 370 touches(yikes). RBs have such a short shelf life so we really need to get someone to take several touches per game off Doug's plate if you want him to be elite.
: June 30, 2013, 06:26:52 PM rpc1978

JDouble

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#6 : June 30, 2013, 09:24:52 PM

I think he can become a top 5 back which is plenty good enough.

Can become? I'm not sure how anyone could argue he wasn't already a top 5 back as a rookie. Only question really, is can he continue to be a top 5 back.

Draft Aaron Donald



JasonOfthetower

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#7 : June 30, 2013, 11:45:45 PM

As long as Adrian Peterson is healthy, he will be the best RB in the league. Period.


lyronmewis

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#8 : July 01, 2013, 02:21:07 AM

As long as Adrian Peterson is healthy, he will be the best RB in the league. Period.

He's getting up there in age. I don't see him having more than 2 more good seasons to be honest. The majority of RBs decline pretty steadily after around 7-8 seasons.

Even if AP has another good season next year, I think Martin could top him in overall yardage and TDs just because he's not much of a threat in the passing game.

Benchwarmer#1

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#9 : July 01, 2013, 02:31:00 AM

Idk if I'd want him to be.

Every team that has a solid run game seems to suck at everything else, or suck just enough that their RB "playing great" doesn't seem to matter much.

MJD, AP, and Forte are examples of that. I hope Doug doesn't end up the same way. The dreaded "Sanders effect."

Pteranodon

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#10 : July 01, 2013, 10:34:30 AM

Every team that has a solid run game seems to suck at everything else, or suck just enough that their RB "playing great" doesn't seem to matter much.

MJD, AP, and Forte are examples of that. I hope Doug doesn't end up the same way. The dreaded "Sanders effect."

Good thing he's usually compared to Ray Rice.

BucfanNC12

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#11 : July 01, 2013, 11:05:44 AM

He has the potential to be one of the best. We just have to let time tell. Many fans thought the same case for Blount after 2010.

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#12 : July 01, 2013, 07:16:33 PM

Homers really blowing up martin....

how could you argue hes not top 5? Easily: he had 5 games of 100yds + rushing. In the games where he didn't accumulate over 100(11 games) he had 185 carries for 660yds rushing...a 3.56yd per carry total. That means he had over 1/3 of his total yards in just a few games. He had 8 games of under 70yds.  You can attribute a couple games to shoot outs and a couple to blow outs, but it still doesn't change the fact he was inconsistent for most of the year.

He looks like hes going to be a damn good back, but its way too early to proclaim anything about him given those inconsistencies. Let him string together another season like last and maybe show a little more consistency and then we can talk. If we don't wear him out he could be at least a top 10 back for a good number of years with potential to be top 5.



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Hate

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#13 : July 01, 2013, 07:29:54 PM

Homers really blowing up martin....

how could you argue hes not top 5? Easily: he had 5 games of 100yds + rushing. In the games where he didn't accumulate over 100(11 games) he had 185 carries for 660yds rushing...a 3.56yd per carry total. That means he had over 1/3 of his total yards in just a few games. He had 8 games of under 70yds.  You can attribute a couple games to shoot outs and a couple to blow outs, but it still doesn't change the fact he was inconsistent for most of the year.

He looks like hes going to be a damn good back, but its way too early to proclaim anything about him given those inconsistencies. Let him string together another season like last and maybe show a little more consistency and then we can talk. If we don't wear him out he could be at least a top 10 back for a good number of years with potential to be top 5.

Now that the rant has ended, I'd be curious to see your top 10 list today

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Rusty

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#14 : July 01, 2013, 07:50:20 PM

Soon to be trivia answer....Who was Lagarrett Blount

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