Bucs running back Doug Martin ran 23 times for 66 yards (2.9 average) against the Saints last Sunday, and while those numbers don’t quite meet his Pro Bowl standards, coach Dirk Koetter made clear that stats aren’t telling the full story.

Martin’s one-yard touchdown, for example, saw him shed about three tackles to sneak into the end zone on a second effort.

“Hard,” Koetter said adamantly when asked how Martin’s been running. “He’s been running hard. Those two runs on the goal-line – when I see that stat about two-point-something rushing average or whatever it is, I say, ‘Man, that two-yard run he made in San Diego, I sure like that one.’ And that was a one-yard run I think [Sunday] and he broke about 10 tackles to get one yard, but it was our only touchdown of the game. Doug’s running hard.”

Since returning from a hamstring injury in Week 10, Martin’s gained 379 yards while averaging three yards per carry. It’s worth noting, though, that Tampa Bay’s offensive line has not been at full-strength since Week 9. At times, the team has even had to rely on undrafted rookies along the line during their five-game win streak.

So while there’s been some outside criticism of the fifth-year pro, Koetter recognizes other factors contributing to the struggles in the run game. Similar to his defense of Lavonte David a few weeks ago, the Bucs coach has no complaints about Martin or thoughts of making Charles Sims or Jacquizz Rodgers the bell cow in the backfield.

“We’ve got to give him more,” Koetter said. “We’ve got to give him more lanes. He was running into some rough looks, some unblocked guys and there’s nothing wrong with Doug Martin. People are complaining about Doug Martin, there’s nothing wrong with Doug Martin. We’ve got to play better around him.”

On Wednesday, offensive coordinator Todd Monken said the team would like to get Sims, Rodgers and Peyton Barber more involved, but there’s only one ball to go around and a crowded backfield is a “good problem.” He added that there’s just a “natural trust with [no.] 22.”

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders. Contact him at: [email protected]
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