It was an all-too-familiar sight last Sunday: The Buccaneers enter a game trying to establish the run, but they fall behind early and the run’s no longer an option.

A large part of turning the team’s fortunes around is predicated upon keeping running back Doug Martin in the offensive equation for four quarters and head coach Lovie Smith said as much this week.

“For us to get out of this hole, we need to get the running game going and stay in games where we can continue to run the football,” Smith said Wednesday.

Martin ran effectively when given the chance last week against Tennessee, gaining 41 first-quarter yards on eight carries, but rarely heard his number called for the final 45 minutes. Tampa Bay fell behind 21-0 before the start of the second quarter and the Bucs found themselves scrambling to play catch up the rest of the way.

Martin finished with 11 total carries for 52 yards (4.7-yard average) and also had two third-quarter runs of 8 and 11 yards brought back because of holding penalties. Bucs running backs totaled 74 yards on 20 attempts (3.7-yard average) and the team rushed for 92 on 26 when factoring in six Jameis Winston scrambles for 18 yards.

Tampa Bay now faces a New Orleans team struggling to find defensive stability under coordinator Rob Ryan. The Saints finished near the bottom of the league in total defense, rushing defense and points allowed last year and Sunday’s performance at Arizona didn’t look much different.

The Cardinals rushed for 4.8 yards per carry and finished off their 31-19 win with 120 yards on the ground on 25 attempts.

Now in his fourth NFL season, Martin said this week’s all about moving forward and seizing opportunities – penalty free – when they arise.

“The last game’s behind us,” he said. “It’s not what we wanted, it’s not how we wanted to start, but we’re focusing on the New Orleans Saints this upcoming weekend. The guys are hungry; they want to win and they’re competitors. They’re ready to go out here and fight.

“We’ve got something for the Cover Zero to counter that,” Martin said when asked about situations where New Orleans puts extra men at the line, leaving potential openings for him to exploit. “I can’t really say what we have in store, but there’s always some opportunities out there and you’ve just got to make the most of them.”

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About the Author: Eric Horchy

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e
e
5 years ago

Ask for more Hamster; get more Hamster.

deeznuts
deeznuts
5 years ago

If you ask PR we should trade Doug Martin and start Charles sims and draft Winston. Instant success…LOL

Roland
Roland
Reply to  deeznuts
5 years ago

Charles Sims is the WORST back to make a Bucs roster in years. Painfully mediocre when he is at his best.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Roland
5 years ago

Rik Berns was the worst.

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  deeznuts
5 years ago

Well PR’s reporting, coverage and creativity for stories are all still top notch which is why I still come here (they did predict we would pick Winston early on after all). However their analysis is terrible and has been going downhill for years, which is why I do my own. Predicting who the Bucs will pick is reporting, predicting who the Bucs SHOULD pick is analysis. I also feel like they’ve had enough time to finish working out the bugs on this website if it were a priority.

deeznuts
deeznuts
Reply to  pinkstob
5 years ago

Pink- I’m glad you and I seemed to be the only two hardcore Mariota supporters this offseason. At this point, I can only resort to “trolling” the PR forums. Funny how the general consensus changed so quickly after one game- we almost got ran out of PR by our fellow posters

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  deeznuts
5 years ago

Lol, agreed Deeznuts. Although we’re not alone, I think there are a few more Mariota supporters in the offseason who are still around PR, they just don’t post as often.

wnb0395
wnb0395
Reply to  deeznuts
5 years ago

You 2 werent the only Mariota supporters. I just hope that Winston becomes great and proves me wrong.

fredster
fredster
5 years ago

Yea and I’m on record saying trading Martin would be dumb. Yea the run game is crucial to success. So is Winston not playing like a chump, O line actually blocking someone, D Line getting pressure, coach actually making adjustments and coaching not just standing there with a stupid blank expression, etc, etc.martin has been the only bright spot on this garbage team this year. If the defense gets behind again or Winston puts us in another deep hole again we will have to abandon run again.

fredster