Cover 3 is a weekly feature column written by PewterReport.com’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat writer Trevor Sikkema published every Tuesday. The column, as its name suggests, comes in three phases: a statistical observation, an in-depth film breakdown, and a “this or that” segment where the writer asks the reader to chose between two options.

SIKKEMA’S STAT OF THE WEEK

Ah, Valentine’s Day.

The manufactured holiday that calls for couples everywhere to fight for reservations at one of their favorite restaurants only to find out the menu they love so much from the restaurant changes for such a special occasion and they’re not even serving anything you like for … double the price – I’m not they cynical, I promise. I’m half kidding. The occasion of Valentine’s Day can be fun as long as you’re doing things with the right person, but there are also some great (awful) stories on how people try to use Valentine’s Day to find such a right person.

Here’s my funny story to share.

There was this girl I knew back in high school. I went to a smaller school so everyone kind of knew each other, but through sharing classes I shot my shot and got her number at the beginning of the semester. We had been talking for a few weeks, and soon Valentine’s Day approached. We weren’t dating or anything, but I thought this would be a good way to feel out if there was anything more there.

So, I asked her if she wanted to go out, and she said yes. We went out to dinner at Carrabba’s because your boy was as basic as could be back in the day. The food was good – everything is bread, how could it not be? – and it’s not like anything went wrong, things just felt a little awkward; you could tell there just wasn’t that “click.”

After dinner we went and saw a movie she really want to see. It was some horror movie that I can’t even remember the name of because I hate horror movies more than anything in the world and just stared below the screen the whole time. After the movie I drove her back to her house and as we pulled up and said goodbye, I leaned in to kiss her, she leaned in to kiss me, and we knocked heads before it even happened – we actually kissed on the second attempt, just to be clear.

As I drove away, I was recapping how the entire night went and how we had been talking leading up to it, and though there were some nice moments (me making her laugh, her making me laugh and the second attempted kiss), once things got into a more serious, committed setting, you could just tell there wasn’t a future there (she agreed, by the way).

Doug Martin and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a similar situation.

I’m sure you’ve read everything there is to read about  Martin, to this point. You know that he’s been a 1,400-yard Pro Bowl rusher twice in his five-year career, but you also know that he’s has three seasons where he’s rushed for less than 500 yards while failing to stay healthy. If you’re keeping score at home, that means he’s been a worthwhile “franchise back” less than 50 percent of his career. And all of that goes without mentioning that to end the 2016 season – his worst season yet health- and stat-wise – Martin was hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs that carries over into the first three games of next season.

Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Mark LoMoglio/PR

The hardest thing to do in every relationship is realize when something is no longer working out and when to cut the cord. There are always going to be moments of happiness – you’re not in the relationship because you like being miserable – but there are definitely different kinds of happiness: ones that are short-lived, and ones you know can last a long time.

Even when Martin was running at his best in 2014, his Success Rate via 4for4 wasn’t as high as fellow running back, Charles Sims, and wasn’t even as high as the Buccaneers’ 50 percent Team Success Rate score.

The Success Rate formula is explained like this:

One of the best ways to quantify consistency is through something called Success Rate (SR). This advanced stat measures the percentage of “successful” plays for an offense based on down and distance. It also takes into consideration if the team is ahead or behind in the fourth quarter.

This is a much better measure of efficiency than Yards Per Carry (YPC) because it doesn’t penalize for short yardage situations like a 3-and-1 plunge or for running out the clock in the fourth quarter. 

In the 2015 season, Sims scored a 57 percent rate as opposed to Martin who scored just a 48 percent. Taking into account that the Bucs’ total Team Success Rate score was right at 50 percent, Martin did not even hit the team’s average score when on the field. This was all during his best season as a runner in 2015.

But, I get it, advance stats can have their holes, and at the end of the day, Matin was the second-leading rusher in the NFL that year. That is true and I cannot take that away from him – nor am I trying to. But that was also when Martin was 26 years old, had 332 less carries on his body and was one less major hamstring injury into his career.

Because the entire topic of Martin has more to do with what he will be from this moment on, let’s look at some of the top running backs in the NFL from this past season as they appear moving forward.

RKNAMEAGEATTEMPTSYARDSY.P.C.
01Ezekiel Elliott213221,6315.1
02Jordan Howard222521,3135.2
03Demarco Murray292931,2874.4
04Le'Veon Bell242601,2724.9
05Jay Ajayi232611,2684.9
06LeSean McCoy282341,2675.4
07Davis Johnson252931,2394.2
08LeGarrette Blount302991,1613.9
09Devonta Freeman242271,0794.8
10Lamar Miller252681,0734.0

Of the Top 10 running backs in the NFL last season (statistically), only two of them were older than Martin will be going into the 2017 season, DeMarco Murray and LeGarrette Blount. If you were to expand that to even the Top 15, the next two guys would be Mark Ingram, who is younger, and Frank Gore, who you can’t convince me physically ages like the rest of us mortals, followed by Melvin Gordon, Carlos Hyde and Isaiah Crowell who are 23, 26 and 24, respectively.

Bucs RBs Charles Sims and Doug Martin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Age matters, people, especially when you realize two of the three players I mentioned in that Top 15 who are older than Martin had the worst yards-per-carry averages on the list. And it matters even more considering only four of those Top 10 running back are being paid among the Top 10 in running back contracts. Plus only one of them, LeSean McCoy, is making more than Martin on his current contract.

The running back position is a value position. Discounts come around ever year (the draft) so you better be sure you’re getting you money’s worth. Even under his rookie contract, Martin was 50-50 when it came to even being a dependable player. On two separate occasions, Sims in 2015 and Jacquizz Rodgers in 2016, a younger player proved to be more effective – key word: effective – than Martin on the field, which made them better value on the payroll as well. 

On my less-than-deal date, there were some good moments. But when things got into a more serious setting, we could both tell it wasn’t going to workout long-term. Since the Buccaneers tried to get serious with Martin, signing him to that five-year, $35-million dollar deal, things just haven’t felt right.

I think this is the sign.

If Martin were to come back to the Buccaneers, it wouldn’t be under the contract he has now. What they would most likely do is release him from the contract he signed last year without any salary cap penalty due to his suspension, and sign him to a much smaller deal. But with the above evidence on running backs and age, and considering he won’t even be playing for the first three games, is a discounted Martin even worth it?

I saw short-term happiness with Martin in Tampa Bay. But five years and a lot of carries later, it’s getting more and more obvious that those moments weren’t foretelling of a serious commitment.

1
2
3
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
Subscribe
Notify of
53 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Iowabucfan

I would say Mack because of the big play ability. Coach Koetter has said the Bucs need more “splash” plays. I think he can put in the time to work on the little things and improve.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
David DeLeon

It’s hard to decide on Martin, if we could work out a deal that works better I wouldn’t mind waiting one more year before getting rid of him. In some of his really good games he was on the bench fourth quarter. That was probably a Lovey decision though.

Also I like the speed of Mack, but neither in the first round. Maybe 3rd for Mack, 4th for Kanara.

What if Cook is available though

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
JayBuc52

Kanara would be a good change of pace back, but those are a dime a dozen. Having a home run hitter like Mack is something you can’t teach, you have it or you don’t. The “little things” can be taught. Speed and vision can’t be. In another possession type offence, Kanara would be ideal. You run clock with him and he can get you a first down and keep the sticks and the clock moving. However, Koetter is not that kind of coach and he has made it clear he is looking for home run type players. Mack is that… Read more »

chefboho

I can’t tell you how many times my brother and I would flip sh$t at the tv because Martin would constantly be caught from behind on long runs.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Destino102

My best Valentine’s Days were spent with a gravity hammer on Guardian.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
ussoldier77

I agree that it is a tough decision, however I have watched them both extensively this season (wife is a Vol). My verdict would be to look at the blueprint of the most successful team in the NFL over the last decade; New England. When they have had successful pass catchers in the backfield (Faulk, White, Lewis) the Patriots have just been downright dangerous. So many times have these backs bailed out the offense with their ability to catch the ball out of the backfield that it has made it look easy. Also, in the NFL it is all about… Read more »

bEubanks11

Can we take both and move on from Sims and Martin? Kamara being the 3rd down back better than Sims and Mack having to be game planned for… To answer the question based off the way you posed it though, I’d have to take Mack. If we had an empty stable I’d go Kamara being more complete but with other talents in place mack fills a hole that no one else can fill at the moment.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
drdneast

Here we have another writer trying to get rid of one of our better players without and compensation by coming up with “analytics” I have never heard of. Give me a break. Instead he lobbies for a player who has had “fumbling” problems in college and who doesn’t know how to pass block and needs work on catching the ball out of the backfield. If I didn’t know better I would have thought that was just and extensive post from surferdude without the perfunctory “sucks” verb used somewhere in the missive. After watching Mack carry the ball, its not hard… Read more »

jme0151

Exactly!!!!!!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
wnb0395

Have to agree that Martin is getting rid of himself.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Naplesfan

That is not an established “thing”. It all depends upon Martin’s fitness to play during the off-season, and the mutual agreement between Licht and Martin on a new contract to replace his likely-to-be-voided existing contract.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
jp414

Sorry, but Martin has a history of being productive only 40% of the time. What other players would you want to keep paying who only play up to their potential in 4 out of 10 games? RBs take a lot of pounding & their careers are short, but in this case, Martin was injured and missed significant time in his 2nd, 3rd & 5th seasons. He’s not a back that’s been around and producing consistently for 5 or 6 years and is only now starting to show the wear. He’s a coin flip every season! He makes sense only at… Read more »

cgmaster27

DRD, why exactly do you think Martin is a “good player”? Please explain how a dude that is good 1 out of every three years is a good player. He’s injury prone, has a drug problem clearly, has had 2 good years out of 5, and can’t outrun a 250 pound linebacker. How exactly is this guy good again?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Naplesfan

Easy, cg. Any player who can twice in four seasons finish either first or second in the entire league in production is, by any possible rational definition, a good player. That he had injuries that hurt his production in two of those same four seasons only makes him very much like other leading running backs, like Adrian Peterson, or the other guy the Bucs drafted as a RB in the first round, Cadillac Williams. The position of RB is injury prone, period. All runners are subject to it, which is why most RBs are considered over the hill by the… Read more »

Naplesfan

And whatever “drug problem” Martin has, we don’t know what it is, whether it is a debilitating addiction, or simply a decision to used banned PEDs. Makes a huge difference which one it is.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
jp414

Can’t agree with you on this one, either, Naplesfan. If Martin simply had made a decision to use PEDs, why would he have checked himself into rehab? Doesn’t rehab, by definition, mean you have a ‘debilitating addiction’? He even said he realized that he had to start asking for help, and that he couldn’t beat his problems by himself. If Martin himself has described his situation as a ‘debilitating addiction’, why would you want to see it as something else?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Naplesfan

Because we don’t know what “it” is. Until we do it is mere speculation. There is no value in speculating. Martin knows what “it”is, and the team knows what “it” is … be the public does not know what “it” is.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
jp414

I can’t follow your last comment here at all. What do you mean by ‘we don’t know what “it” is.” What do you mean by ‘it’? Are you saying we don’t know what substance he was abusing? I don’t see how that really matters, other than degree of the seriousness of the addiction, but OK. It isn’t like Martin was admitting to an addiction to shots of espresso coffee. The NFL doesn’t test for caffeine & nobody goes to rehab because their coffee fix is out of control. Reports came out that it was Adderall, which is definitely an addictive… Read more »

BucsPhan2Phear

Great article…but these two are overrated. Perrine and Hunt seem like better fits for our offense. It’s a shame as there aren’t many pro style running backs in college as they are all coming from the spread.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
yuccaneers

Trevor – specifically speaking of “success rate” it was originally discussed in the book titled “The Hidden Game of Football”, written in 1988, by Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer and John Thorn – the gist is, that on first down, a play is considered successful if it gains 45% of needed yards, on second down, a play needs to gain 60% of the yards needed, and on third or fourth down for a play to be considered successful a new first down must be gained. Now I know many have taken the research further over the last 30 years – however… Read more »

bEubanks11

This is fantastic. Trevor, I am so thankful to have the info and analysis you bring to the table. Some agree, some don’t but at least we’re talking football. None of us have the ability to pull the trigger or even influence the ones that will so obviously this is all just in good fun. Discussing and speculating is all us powerless fans have at the moment. Thanks for turning over some fresh dirt for us to sift around in!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
GoldsonAges

What an amazing article. I’ve got two comparisons. Kamara – Ajayi 1st. Ajayi has better top end speed but both players are natural runners with elite balance. Mack – David Johnson. Well, not quite but Mack does have that turbo speed that allows him to make the huge plays. DJ is an elite athlete in every regard and Mack is not in that class IMO. One last thing, I saw the mock that had Kamara going to us at 19. That would be a disaster. David Johnson is one of the best players in the NFL and he was a… Read more »

toofamiliar17

If I had to pick between these two in the same round, it’s Kamara and it’s not even close. Home run ability is badly overrated, IMO. You’re talking about maybe a couple handfuls of plays per season, and that’s for the absolute best big play backs in the game. Kamara’s excellent balance and clear superiority in the passing attack make him a clearly better option than the ball insecure, physically deficient passing game liability Mack is. Honestly, Mack is one of my least favorite prospects in this draft and has been for some time. I hate watching him run and… Read more »

wnb0395

Toofamiliar, the problem with Martin isn’t him missing the first 3 games of next season, its the fact that he is injury prone. Martin has been in the league for 5 years and 3 of those years he has failed to rush for more than 500 yards. Every running back has an injury sometimes but you cant be injured 60% of the time and expect to make top 5 money at your position. Even the worst year bell has had he at least had 500 yds rushing. Bell has surpassed Martins numbers in 1 less year. Bell averages avgs 1011… Read more »

Naplesfan

wnb – your logic is based on Martin making top five money, and therefore is flawed. He won’t. If Martin is still on the roster in 2017 his pay is going to be a small fraction of his voided contract guarantee. The Bucs are most likely to offer him a base salary, reduced by the number of games suspended, that is relatively low, but if he performs as he did two years ago would compensate him fairly with incentive payments. Pay for performance. That is the best that Martin can get anywhere, so I doubt he would try to go… Read more »

wnb0395

Naples, your saying the same thing I stated in my last 2 sentences. If Martin wont take a pay cut then cut him. If he does take a pay cut we could add incentive bonuses so he could still make his top 5 salary as long as he performs as a top RB. But thank you for explaining it better than I did.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
toofamiliar17

I agree that we have leverage to get him to accept less money in a new contract, and that we should do that. No argument there. I struggle with the injury thing, though. I just don’t know how much I actually buy that being healthy is a legitimate skill. In other words, for most guys, it seems like it’s more luck related to me. I mean, look at Demarco Murray – literally starting from his freshman season in college and going through his third season in the NFL, he sustained some kind of significant injury in every season but one.… Read more »

Naplesfan

Yup,. toofamiliar. The problem is the position – starting running back. They’re all prone to get injured because they make their living trying to bust through and between 300-350 pound defensive lineman and linebackers. The position that on average has the shortest NFL career length is the running back. It’s also not a secret that the four positions that the NFL has striven for two decades to protect with rules changes – the quarterback, the punter, the kicker, and the “defenseless receiver” – tend to have relatively long and healthy NFL careers as long as they remain productive … most… Read more »

wnb0395

I agree that every running back gets hurt and misses games. The average starting running back misses 2-3 games a season. Demarco Murray has had 1 season out of 6 where he missed more than 3 games. That’s not injury prone. Doug Martin has had 3 out of 5 seasons where he has missed at least 5 games. That’s 60 % of his NFL career he has missed at least 1/3 of his season. He also has 2 out of 5 years where he has missed at least half his season. So for 40 % of his NFL career he… Read more »

Naplesfan

I tend to believe that the Bucs won’t just cut Martin … I expect them to void the contract and resign him to a much lower-paid base salary with some incentives should he revive his performance from two years ago. He’ll miss the first few games due to the suspension, and then we’ll see whether he’s a keeper or not. Obviously we still need another one or two RBs on the roster besides Martin and Rodgers and Sims. Sims is not on his way to a second contract with the Bucs, unless he greatly improves his productivity this season. As… Read more »

MudManVA

Mixon in round 2 baby! I know I didn’t answer the question, it would be Karmara but no sooner than rd 3.
Great analogy on Martin, we lost that love’n feeling.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Naplesfan

Don’t want that dude associated with the Bucs in any way, fashion, etc.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
wnb0395

Everyone in KC said the same thing about Tyrek Hill including myself when the chiefs drafted him last year. No body wanted him after he beat the mother of his child. As much as I dont like it, now he is a hero in KC.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
toofamiliar17

Yea, he is, but that’s just one year. If Hill beats the hell out of a woman in a year and half, sure, they’ll have gotten that time out of him, but (1) he may well be useless moving past that point, and (2) they’re going to take a ton of flack for bringing that guy into their community, as well they should. One year of not getting caught hitting pregnant women doesn’t mean his problems are behind him, lol.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
stlbucsfan

The Bucs should look at Mixon and Hunt as the potential heir apparent in the draft. Fumbling issues and no real burst are the reason I wouldn’t take either of these guys. The people that want to replace Sims don’t understand that he fills his role. Last year we asked him to be an every down RB and he’s not. Just bc somebody can’t carry the load does not mean they have no value. He was dynamic catching the ball and made plenty of big plays on 3rd down scoring touchdowns and breaking tackles down the field, don’t make the… Read more »

wnb0395

Sims reminds me of White from the Patriots this year. He is an OK runner but excels in catching passes out of the back field. There is always room for that type of Sproles RB.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Mark Tavanyar

My valentines dates were playing condemned with a pillow over my eyes and then wishing “Fun John” was there…

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
jongruden

It’s perplexing to me how fickle Bucs Fans are Doug Martin ran for two 1,500 yd seasons and some fans think he sucks knowing he had injuries the other yrs, they want to run the guy out of town after one down yr, how did Todd Gurley do this yr are Rams Fans running him out of town or Thomas Rawls in Seattle? I say give Martin this yr and then we can start scouring the wire for rb’s in college.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
plopes808

I think we should sign Martin to a 2-3 year deal at a discounted price. Give him a few years to earn himself another big check and cut our losses if he is unable. In the meantime, we will have time to draft and develop a replacement. For now, we should definitely be resigning Rodgers who proved himself last year

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
thewbacca

I would say Kamara due to durability. Mack’s style and underdeveloped control looks like it could lead to turnovers … plus he carries the ball low in stride. NFL will not be as nearly forgiving as NCAA. If the players were equal, I would still edge Kamara because I think someone who has been through as much adversity better realizes opportunity as well and may have a slight advantage as a pro – something that both the muscle hamster and Josh Freeman lacked. Look at Blount from where he was to where he is now. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit… Read more »

MudManVA

Bring up Mixon & the unforgiving come out. What he did was deplorable, but that was 2-3 years ago. Hopefully he has grown up & woman are untouchable. We wouldn’t have drafted Winston or Spence if we held that standard. If Licht & scouts are comfy it is worth the bet. He is a first round talent that will go day 2 or 3.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
thewbacca

I would pass on Mixon due to the deep talent but agree that he should get a shot in the nfl. Maybe take a day 3 flier on him. You can’t be serious comparing a young man who caused a woman to get her jaw wired shut to another who uses ecstasy in college. Wow. As far as Jameis, that one is iffy. No conviction yet the system around him is inherently biased. So 50/50 there. He has kept out of trouble and proven to be a good pick so far; I just don’t think Tampa wants to become the… Read more »

Naplesfan

The argument with Winston was over whether what he did with the gal was consensual, or not. That is something that can be tough, if not impossible, to determine after the fact.

What Mixon did was obviously not “consensual”. Which is why the conviction rate for assault and battery is a helluva lot higher than it is for rape.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
scubog

Gee wiz Naples; out of 41 comments 8 are from you over a 7 hour span. You must have more free time than the rest of us. Me, I check Pewter Report each morning and that’s about all I have time for until the next day’s morning cup of coffee. What’s your secret? I know you like it best when you can dispute someone’s comments so you can tell us what we all should think, but I somewhat share your view on RB’s and Doug Martin. There’s little doubt that Doug will fall victim to the”Curse of the Scubog Player… Read more »

surferdudes

Drug Martin will be lucky to be in the league next year. Consider his three game suspension, his injury history, his age, and a draft loaded with young cheep legs. Scu, you got almost 5 good years out of that Jersey, not bad. They should put the names, and numbers on with velcro!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
drdneast

The same people who want to cut or waive Martin for nothing in return will also be the same ones complaining and screaming when he shows up in New England and rushes for 1500 yards and takes the Patriots to another Super Bowl. Can you imagine the Patriots with a real effective back like Martin in the Patriots backfield. Egads. And would you take a pay cut from the Bucs who are still building for a Super Bowl run or one from the Patriots who know how to get there on a regular basis. Seriously folks, get a clue. It’s… Read more »

bucballer

It’s not just the Buc’s willingness to resign D. Martin… its would Martin want to resign here if cut? The Buc’s would have to officially cut him first to void the remaining years of his contract. When they do this, they would have to offer him a number that will be much smaller than the contract just voided. I believe Martin will not agree to this paycut. I don’t believe we have heard from Martin about what he is going through since the suspension other than the prepared statement he released after his suspension. I wouldn’t resign with the Bucs… Read more »

Mr. Incredible

I’d like to see an analysis of McCafree against these guys. At least with him you don’t have to worry about any nonsense.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...