RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
After defending the overall performance and hard-running of Doug Martin for weeks, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter made the surprising move of deactivating the fifth-year pro in favor of Jacquizz Rodgers.
Martin has followed up last year’s 1,402-yard, six-touchdown, All-Pro-worthy effort with a season to forget in 2016. He’s rushed for only 421 yards and three touchdowns on 144 carries, giving him a career-low 2.9-yard average per attempt. During the last three games leading up to Saturday in New Orleans, that average was a combined 2.7.
Running behind an offensive line that’s struggled to open lanes and stay healthy hasn’t helped Martin or any Bucs back thrive, but the coaching staff decided a shake-up was needed last weekend. When asked about the situation Monday, Koetter tried to explain the decision while also defending his two-time Pro Bowl runner.
“I’ll stand by the defense,” Koetter said. “He is running hard. We do need to give him more lanes. But again, I made the decision I felt ’Quizz would give us a better opportunity last week and ’Quizz did a good job when he was in there. People can say whatever they want about Doug if he was in there but we don’t know. He wasn’t in there. I’m not trying to confuse anybody. That’s not my intent. I’m trying to put the Bucs in the best position to win games.”
Tampa Bay had to get away from the run because it was playing from behind almost all day against the Saints. Rodgers managed to average 4.2 yards and pick up 63 and a touchdown on 15 carries.
The Bucs have one game left and their playoff hopes have all but vanished because of two straight deflating defeats. Even if they don’t get the help they need to sneak into the postseason, a win over Carolina would give Bucs their first winning season since going 10-6 in 2010.
Finding how who’s toting the rock out of the Tampa Bay backfield, however, will have to wait.
“Well, right now I’m not going to say anything about who’s going to play this week because I don’t want to do Carolina any favors,” Koetter said. “As we said last week, we made a decision for the Saints game based on what I thought was best for our team that week. We’ll do the same thing this week. We’ll make a decision, not just at running back, but also at every position. When you’re in the last week of the regular season and you have different guys banged up, there are other decisions made like that but this one was just a little bit higher profile.”
Adding plenty of concern to the state of the Tampa Bay backfield is the five-year, $35.75 million contact Martin signed this past offseason to stay with the Bucs. The $8 million he earned this year and the $7 million coming his way next year is guaranteed.
Koetter was asked if this late-season benching may have an effect on Martin’s future with the organization.
“I have no good answer for you on that,” Koetter said, “but that decision [to deactivate him against New Orleans] was made and I’ll stand by it. At some point this week, it’ll be apparent what our decision is going to be this week and I’ll stand by that the same way.”
I love Koetter’s honest approach.
Martin was hurt and the OL was a mess all year. Bucs should be careful about discarding him just yet. Beef up our RB position no doubt, but hold on to the muscle hamster. He still has some lightning in him.
I understand that next season Doug’s money is guaranteed and after that he can be cut with little or no CAP ramifications.
There’s your answer, he gets back to 100% and competes to start next season. Hell, he’s great every other season, right?
When Dougie is fully healthy he’s the best RB on the team and should start and get the most carries. If he’s healthy that should apply this year or next. Koetter is just jealous after seeing E. Elliott in person what a great RB does for an offense. Too late now to move up and draft Elliott.
Everyone thought I was crazy when I said we should move up and grab Elliot. Dude is a beast. We could have used Martins money plus the money from Sweeney and sign Josh Norman. It would have fixed out CB and RB problem.
In my opinion, there was more to this move than putting the 4 best RBs on the field. I’m not sure what it is, but it feels like some kind of message was being sent.
I have no problem with whomever the coach decides to play – it is his right as head coach. What feels odd about this is that Martin was a healthy scratch one week after Koetter praised Martin for his hard running and commitment to the game. He even went on to suggest that the O-Line should open more running lanes – meaning it’s as much their fault as it is his! Why inactive? Why not just bench the guy? Any animus here?
Koetters non-committal on Martin’s future isn’t in Koetter’s hands as he has no control over the 53 roster. That is entirely in Licht’s neck of the woods. The move was made with two games remaining on the schedule not giving Martin any reps to say he should even play the final game. If he is not inactive for the Panther’s game, then being inactive for the Saints was punitive. If he is inactive for the last game, the something’s wrong in Bucville folks!
This doesn’t appear to be a kneejerk move by an overreaching coach. Licht is involved in this discussion and what happen after this will be determined by Licht. Doug Martin is a two time pro bowler that has turned out to be a feast or famine RB. Every other year he is lights out in between years where he performs at the bottom of the league.
Koetter’s offense depends heavily on the running game – a consistent running game. Have they decided that Doug’s inconsistency is now a liability? He’s 29 nearing the graveyard year 30 for RBs. Could he be let go in 2017 even though he still has 7mil guaranteed? The short answer is yes! Is it the right answer – not my call!
If Licht learned anything about contracts, it would have been the contract of DE Michael Johnson whose contract had no offset language and when cut early for non-performance, the Bucs were stuck with a 7mil tab with no offset from his contract he got to return to the Bengals – Johnson double-dipped!
So I assume that Doug’s contract does have offset language. If cut he is not likely to retire. His next contract would offset the 7mil owed by the Bucs and if he is cut after April 1st, they can move half of the dead money to 2018. So it could be done with little or no impact on cap space.
I have no idea what they will do or how they may go about it. What I have learned as a Buc fan is to expect the unexpected. What Koetter did was certainly unexpected. Let’s see where it goes from here. Whatever happens, I’ll still be a Buc fan. Go Bucs!
Correction: Just caught it when I re-read my post. Martin is 27 and will be 28 in January, 2017.
Rick Stroud @NFLSTROUD 7h7 hours ago
@DougMartin22 will be inactive Sunday vs. Carolina. In a corresponding move, #Bucs signing Russell Hansbrough off NYG practice squad Tues.
In another tweet, Stroud said this move is related to the Doug Martin situation. Stay tuned for details!
It’s the Curse of the Scubog Player Jersey. My # 22 is now at risk of joining my #24 Revis in the back of my Bucs gear closet. Yes folks, I have a closet devoted to it.
I am reserving judgement on Martin for now. I remember hearing a commentator classify Martin as a type of RB that only performs well when he is 100% but lousy when he has any type of nagging injury. Plus he seems to do better when the defense is spread out. Since our top draft picks are probably going to be spent on the offense this year, he could rebound next year. Regardless it appears his contract is structured such that we can’t get rid of him even if we wanted to.
we can always trade him
I didn’t even think about that. Although my guess is that we wouldn’t get that much for him. Maybe a 3rd round pick at best. Which I would not consider enough for a trade
This is why I don’t want my head coach also acting as O.C.. I know Monkin is the O.C., but can’t you see the disconnect happening behind the scenes? Does Koetter the O.C. call more running plays for Rodgers on Sunday to prove Koetter the H.C. was right? So Koetter’s dealing with his H.C. duties all week while Monkin does the heavy lifting on game planning, then Dirk grabs the sheet on game day, and says I’ll take it from here? What Monkins not good or smart enough to call plays? Don’t like it. Our offense has suffered as a result. Licht, take a page from the Cowboys play book, strip Koetter of play calling, like he benched Martin, for the good of the team.
Koetter called the same amount of run plays last week (16) with Rodgers starting as he did the previous week with Martin starting. The only difference is Martin avg 2.6 ypc compared to Rodgers 4.2 ypc. The previous 2 weeks martin got 22 caries and avg 2.9 ypc and 17 carries and avg 2.6 ypc, the same game Rodgers got 7 carries and avg 4.1 ypc. Rodgers is avg 1.5 ypc more than Martin. Thats what this is about. Doing whats best for the team and right now Rodgers is the better RB on this team. Only the great coaches have the balls to sit your high paid RB and start your back up when he is out performing your highly paid RB. I love the move by Koetter. It shows no favortism will be given and every position is earned.
I think that is an over reaction to Martin getting benched. Koetter called out ASJ at the beginning of the season. Turns out that he had a valid reason for doing that. My question is, what is the real reason Martin was deactivated? That is a huge difference from being put on the bench. There is something else there that we are not being told
I have seen very few openings for him to get started I think the play calling is to predictable If I have a good idea when and where the are going to run so does the other Team. Go Bucs
Aside from all the armchair analysis of Doug Martin’s running style and capability, what’s puzzling here is that Koetter strenuously defended Martin’s play just a week ago .. then a few days later he inactivates Martin. Now Martin appears to be headed out the door. What the heck happened? Something changed.
We need a mole on the inside. Horse used to have an operative inside the palace walls. What’s the scoop Horse?
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