Florida State RB Dalvin Cook – Photo by: Getty Images
SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL.
FAB 1. IT’S TIME FOR BUCS TO START OVER AT RUNNING BACK
Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter is famous for saying that the best kind of ability is availability. Truer words haven’t been spoken.
Newsflash: running back Doug Martin will be unavailable for the Buccaneers the next four games, beginning on Sunday against Carolina as he serves a four-game suspension for PED (performance-enhancing drug) usage, which has reportedly been for Adderall use. It is unknown whether Martin has any other substance abuse issues.
With his absence on Sunday, Martin will have missed eight games this season, including six with a hamstring injury. He also missed Saturday’s game in New Orleans when the team learned he was going to be suspended for four games. In the eight games he’s played in, Martin has averaged a paltry 2.9 yards per carry.
Bucs RBs Charles Sims and Doug Martin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Fellow running back Charles Sims won’t be available, either. He’s been placed on injured reserve with a pectoral injury he suffered at New Orleans on Christmas Eve. Sims has missed nine games this year and had his least productive season, rushing for only 149 yards and one touchdown on 51 carries (2.9 avg.) with 32 catches for 190 yards and one touchdown.
“Charles had two severe injuries this year, so health is a big part of this game,” Koetter said. “Charles and Doug played the whole season last year injury-free and I think they both played extremely well. This year, they didn’t have that opportunity to play the season injury-free.
“At any position, but running back especially, that’s tough. In Chuck’s case, his injuries were such that they were severe and that we had to put him on IR and then this is another one where we have to put him on IR. They’re both significant injuries. We’re not talking about just bumps and bruises.”
In three years with the Bucs, Sims has had just one healthy season, and that was last year when he rushed for 529 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and caught 51 passes for 561 yards and four touchdowns – all career highs.
The NFL is very much a results-oriented business. As Bucs legend Warren Sapp is famous for saying, ‘The eye in the sky don’t lie,’ which means you are only as good as your game film.
In a “what have you done for me lately?” league like the NFL, it’s time for the Bucs to blow up their backfield and start over.
It’s time to move on from Martin, and find someone this offseason to ultimately replace Sims, who enters a contract season in 2017.
That might seem harsh considering the fact that Martin is going into rehab and is seeking help for his addiction problem. But the fact is that his substance abuse problem didn’t likely start this month. The guess is he’s been battling this all season – after getting $8 million in guaranteed money this year with a five-year $35.75 million contract extension that in hindsight he didn’t deserve if he was going to turn in such a disappointing season.
I share Koetter’s sentiments in that I hope that Martin gets the help he needs this offseason.
“The only thing that I really want to say about the Doug Martin situation is that I think it’s a positive thing that he’s taking steps to put himself in position to have better health and have a better life, long-term,” Koetter said. “So that really has nothing to do with the football side of it, but I think that’s a real important step. … The important thing in my mind here is you’ve got a young man’s health and I think it’s important that he’s taking steps to fix that, long-term.”
Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Getty Images
When healthy and focused, Martin has proven to be quite the talent. He’s had two 1,400-yard Pro Bowl seasons. The problem is that he’s now had three seasons in which he’s rushed for less than 500 yards and couldn’t stay healthy.
Martin rushed for 456 yards with one touchdown in six games in 2013, and 494 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games in 2014, averaging 3.6 yards per carry and 3.7 yards per carry, respectively. Martin has never had a season in which he hasn’t had a 20-yard run until 2016. He had 144 carries this season and Martin’s longest run was a 17-yarder in Week 1 at Atlanta.
In his five years in the league, Martin has shown that he can be special just 40 percent of the time – and stay healthy over an entire year. Sixty percent of the time he’s shown he can be average at best – if not below average – and injured.
In three years in the league, Sims has shown that he can be special and stay healthy just one third of the time. Two thirds of the time he’s proven that he can’t stay healthy and be productive over the course of an entire season.
The Bucs need running backs that are reliable when it comes to productivity and durability, and the facts state that Martin and Sims aren’t either.
There’s a reason why Martin’s contract negotiations went down to the wire last spring. With two Pro Bowl seasons bookending two sub-500-yard seasons, Bucs general manager Jason Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg wondered which Martin they would be getting in 2017 after signing him to such a rich contract extension – the Pro Bowl version or the sub-500-yard version.
There was some legitimate hesitancy by the Bucs to re-sign Martin, but in the end Licht and Greenberg had no choice. How could they not sign a player that aided Jameis Winston’s development during his rookie season and helped Tampa Bay’s offense eclipse 6,000 yards for the first time in franchise history? Martin was the NFL’s second-leading rusher after all.
Yet it turns out that Martin proved to be a bad investment.
Was the hamstring injury at Arizona his fault?
Was the fact that the offensive line didn’t play up to its potential on a consistent basis this year?
But was it Martin’s fault he used whatever drug he used to get suspended?
Yes, absolutely. And that’s a problem because he willingly jeopardized his season by using a banned substance.
Hey, whatever Martin used certainly wasn’t performance-enhancing. His 2.9 yards per carry average this season was the worst of his career.
Given his history, what type of season would you bet your mortgage Martin turns in next year – a 1,400-yard season or a sub-500-yard season?
Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
I think there is some genuine concern for Martin within the walls at One Buc Place. Martin’s a nice guy, and with the team’s family atmosphere the players, coaches and management are all rooting for him to get well and are supporting his efforts to get clean.
Yet there is the cold, hard business side of the NFL that suggests that had Martin broken more tackles, read more blocks, made more defenders miss and averaged closer to the 4.3 yards per carry that Jacquizz Rodgers has averaged that the Bucs would have made the playoffs this year.
If Tampa Bay beats Carolina on Sunday, the Bucs would have likely missed the postseason by just one game. Had Martin rushed for 100 yards against Los Angeles, Oakland or Dallas and done more to turn the tide in any of those close losses he could have made the difference.
Of course the same could be said of Winston, wide receiver Mike Evans or tight end Cameron Brate, right? A more accurate pass here, or a catch instead of a drop there could have changed the outcome in any of those narrow defeats. But Winston, Evans and Brate did a far better job living up to their expectations season than Martin did.
Winston is poised to top 4,000 yards passing again and his 27 touchdown passes is a career high and has tied the team’s single season record.
Brate tied Jimmie Giles’ franchise record for most touchdowns in a season by a tight end with eight to lead the NFL, in addition to catching 57 passes for 660 yards.
And of course Evans has earned a Pro Bowl berth with a career-high 91 catches for 1,256 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Martin has fallen well short of his expectations, and the Bucs need to revamp the running back position from the top down. That means attempting to trade Martin, who turns 28, this offseason. Martin can’t be trusted to be available or produce, and Licht needs to get something for him now while there’s a chance.
Moving Martin will be difficult due to his age, this year’s poor production, the fact that this is a running back-rich draft and his looming three-game suspension to start the 2017 season.
If Licht can’t trade him, then he should force Martin to take a drastic pay cut, as his $7 million salary is no longer guaranteed due to the suspension, and let him compete for a job – if he’s clean.
Regardless, it’s time for Licht to draft a running back – or two – to compete with Rodgers, who should be re-signed to a short-term, inexpensive, prove-it contract loaded with incentives.
LSU’s Leonard Fournette is projected as a top-10 running back and will be out of the Bucs’ reach on draft day. But there are two other first-round running backs that are really worth taking a look at.
The first is Florida State junior Dalvin Cook. I happen to believe he’s the best and most complete running back in the draft due to his speed, durability, vision and balance. The 5-foot-11, 213-pounder reminds me of Emmitt Smith and Thurman Thomas. Cook, who has rushed for 4,319 yards and 45 touchdowns over his Seminoles career, has been a model of consistency.
After rushing for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns and catching 22 passes for 203 yards as a true freshman taking handoffs from Winston in 2014, he had a breakout season last year with 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 7.4 yards per carry with 24 catches for 244 yards and one touchdown. With a bowl game remaining against Michigan, Cook has rushed for 1,620 yards and 18 touchdowns with a 6.0 average and 30 catches for 426 yards and a receiving touchdown.
Winston was asked about Cook last year in a press conference during his rookie season.
“I wouldn’t trade in Doug Martin for anything in the world,” Winston said. “He’s definitely the best back that I’ve seen in a long time – other than Devonta Freeman and Dalvin Cook (laughs) – but I love Doug. I won a championship with Devonta and Dalvin, he’s a great guy – I’m Florida State-biased. If [Doug] would have gone to FSU, he would have been the best. But Doug is an amazing guy. The way that he sticks one foot in the ground and gets vertical, and the amount of tackles that he has broken this year and the amount of weight that he’s taken off of my shoulders for my rookie season, I couldn’t be more thankful for Doug than anything in the world. I love Doug and I thank him. My family thanks him for what he’s done for me this season.”
Make no mistake. Winston would love nothing more to hand the ball off to Cook if he were to replace Martin.
The Seminoles star has five games with three touchdowns or more, four games with 200 yards rushing and six runs of 70 yards or more. He’s the total package and a Day One starter as a rookie.
Florida State QB Jameis Winston and RB Dalvin Cook – Photo by: Getty Images
If Cook were to slip outside the top 10 picks – which I’ve actually seen in some mock drafts, but think is foolish because he’s so talented – Licht needs to make one of those bold draft day moves and go up and get him. He would be the perfect fit to replace Martin as Koetter’s feature back.
The other first-round runner that Tampa Bay needs to consider with its first-round pick, which will likely be around No. 20, is Stanford’s ultra-talented Christian McCaffrey. The son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey is listed as 6-foot, 200 pounds, but may be closer to 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, and has rushed for 3,922 yards and 21 touchdowns in his Stanford career, including 1,603 yards and 13 touchdowns on 253 carries (6.3 avg.) this season. McCaffrey added 310 yards and three more TDs on 37 catches in 2016 despite missing one regular season game due to injury and Stanford’s bowl game as he prepares for the 2017 NFL Draft.
After rushing for just 300 yards and catching 17 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman, McCaffrey exploded onto the national scene with 2,019 yards and eight touchdowns on 337 carries last year, in addition to 45 catches for 645 yards and five more scores as a sophomore. With 632 career carries and seven games with at least 30 carries in his career, McCaffrey has demonstrated the ability to carry the load as a feature back.
He’s had five runs of 50 yards or more in his career with five catches of 50 yards or more, too. McCaffrey has also had five games with 200 yards rushing or more and five more with a combined 200 yards between rushing and receiving yards. He’s had four games with at least three touchdowns, too.
At the very least, McCaffrey can be used like Sims in Koetter’s offense, a runner and receiver – only faster and much more elusive. In fact, there may not be a better all-around weapon in the draft than the quick, shifty Cardinal. McCaffrey has caught 99 passes for 1,206 yards and 10 touchdowns in his three years at Stanford. He’s also completed 2-of-3 passes for two touchdowns and has a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 98-yard kickoff return for a score.
McCaffrey could be Tampa Bay’s version of Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill – a weapon on both offense and special teams. Imagine the ways Koetter could use McCaffrey’s skill set in the backfield, in the slot, flanked out wide and in the screen game.
McCaffrey has been projected to be a late first-round pick, going between picks No. 20-32, so there’s a chance he would be available when Tampa Bay is on the clock.
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey – Photo by: Getty Images
While you might balk at the notion of spending the Bucs’ first-round pick on a running back, understand that Cook and McCaffrey are three-down players with rare ability, and McCaffrey could provide a serious boost to Tampa Bay’s stagnant return game.
But running backs are a dime a dozen and can be found in later rounds, right?
I’ll remind you that Martin was a first-round pick and certainly looked like it in 2012 and 2015.
Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott, a rookie Pro Bowler and the league’s leading rusher, was a top-5 pick this year.
Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, the league’s best runner when healthy, was drafted No. 7 overall by the Vikings in 2007.
I’ll also point out that seven out of the top 10 running backs of all-time – Emmitt Smith (first), Barry Sanders (third), LaDainian Tomlinson (fifth), Jerome Bettis (sixth), Eric Dickerson (seventh), Tony Dorsett (ninth), Jim Brown (10th) – were first-round picks. Not only were they first-rounders, they were top 10 picks.
Still not convinced that some running backs are worth first-round picks? Consider that 19 out of the top 25 rushers in NFL history were first-round picks. Here’s the rest: Marshall Faulk (11th), Edgerrin James (12th), Marcus Allen (13th), Franco Harris (14th), Adrian Peterson (16th), Fred Taylor (17th), Steven Jackson (18th), John Riggins (19th), O.J. Simpson (21st), Warrick Dunn (22nd), Jamal Lewis (24th) and Thomas Jones (25th).
There are some talented running backs in this year’s draft outside the first-round that have the ability to possibly become starters in the NFL. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, who is viewed as a second-round pick, is a battering ram that reminds me of Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart when he came out of Oregon. Arm tackles rarely bring him down and when Perine, who set the NCAA record for rushing yards in a game with 427 yards against Kansas in 2015, gets to the second and third levels he has the speed to go the distance.
Perine’s Sooners teammate, Joe Mixon is equally talented and has second-round talent, but faces serious character questions over punching a female student in 2014 and may go undrafted like LaGarrette Blount did unless he returns to Oklahoma next year. Wyoming’s Brian Hill and Toledo’s Kareem Hunt are middle-round picks that also intrigue me and would look good in red and pewter.
Bucs RBs Doug Martin and Charles Sims – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs should pair Rodgers with a rookie running back – or two – to challenge Sims, Peyton Barber, Russell Hansbrough – and possibly Martin – for roster spots next year. Koetter is a run-first coach who knows that a strong running game sets up play-action, which leads to the big, explosive passes downfield that the Bucs’ head coach and play-caller craves. Have a big-time, dependable, productive running back is crucial to Tampa Bay’s offensive success.
I wouldn’t rule out the Bucs drafting Cook or McCaffrey in the first round and the team moving on from Martin next year. In fact, I would welcome it.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
Thanks for your efforts and that of your staff reporters and analysts here at PR – you have the best writing and analysis on the Bucs anywhere in the media. Kudos to you all.
Regarding your Fab 5 points, I’m not at all convinced Jason Licht should draft a running back in the first round, let alone trade up to get any particular back including Dalvin Cook. It’s not that running backs are a dime a dozen, but most of them have short careers due to injury, and Bucs fans know that better than anyone. Instead, I’d rather see the Bucs invest more in the trenches, both offensive and defensive. A great offensive line can make any decent back look like a star – the Dallas Cowboys are Exhibit A in that argument. And a great defensive line is the first and most important step in building a great defense. We have too many holes to fill on the Bucs roster to be giving up draft picks to over-draft any running back, I don’t care how good he is.
As for Gholston & Spence, there’s a lot to be said for continuity and keeping them on a defense that has improved substantially over the course of this season, but which also went downhill when Gholston was knocked out of the lineup with his elbow injury. We don’t need to over pay either guy, and Jason Licht is a very good salary cap manager, so that shouldn’t be a worry. I expect Jason will find a way to keep both guys.
100% agree on bringing back Gholston and Spence. They’ve both produced and add necessary pieces to our DL. Plus, they both WANT to come back. We need players who love Tampa and want to play for the Bucs. That matters when things get tough. I’ll take mercenaries, KeShawn for example, but I want more guys who play here because they love it.
As much as I’d like to have Cook at rb, there are still holes on the offense and defensive line that need to be addressed in the 1-3rd rounds.
A great Fab 5, Scott.
I don’t mind being called an FSU homer (I am) by saying it would be wise to draft Dalvin Cook. The familiarity he and Jameis already have, coupled with his burst, vision, elusiveness, our the backfield hands and pass pro ability can’t be ignored, just because he went to FSU. I feel like mentioning the Bucs should draft a LEGITIMATE great player from FSU is frowned upon. Let me say this, I don’t care if the player went to UF or UM. I wan’t the best players on the Bucs, cause I want us to win. The only players worth drafting from FSU this year are Cook, DeMarcus Walker and Derrick Nnadi (if he comes out.) If you deny their talent, you’re just biased. (Also Derwin James in 2018)
I’m fine with VJax not being around. Like the players said, the team didn’t need him to lead them or anything like that. Kwon, Jameis, Shep, McCoy are moving forward. I thank VJax for his time in Tampa and his community work. Truly one of the best FA moves in franchise history. Bucs & the Tampa community are better off because he joined the team.
We’re a young team and our core is even younger. Kwon, Jameis, Evans, Brate, VH3, Ali, Smith (x2), Pamp, Caleb, new WR2, new RB etc. I’m really excited about next season if we can add more impact pieces on offense and a few on defense. What we accomplished this year, all things considered, is downright remarkable. Last years team wouldn’t have won 3 games against this schedule and the injuries we suffered. The future is bright.
Roots – it’s fine to be a homer for your favorite college, as long as, amongst us Bucs fans, it doesn’t take precedence over the interests of the Bucs. We’ve certainly had some excellent players come out of FSU over the years, including a certain Hall of Famer and our current starting QB. I like Dalvin Cook as a running back, and while he’s may not be the first off the board amongst running backs, he’s certainly among the top small handful in the nation.
As I commented above, it’s more a matter of how high can any team value any running back as a draft pick. We’ve often seen top notch college running backs get drafted high in the first round, but be out of the league just a few years later, or just reduced to one of many running backs if still in the league. Doug Martin was offensive rookie of the year when we drafted him, then suffered too injury-plagued seasons, came back last season, only to be a bust this season. Cadillac Williams was another one of the Bucs highly celebrated first round picks with a great rookie season, only to be out of the league a few seasons later.
Look at all the first round running backs in the last 6 years:
2016 – Ezekiel Elliot – a great rookie season, but durability is yet to be proved
2015 – Todd Gurley – only so-so as a rookie (845 yards and 3.2 ypa), better as a soph (1,106yds/4.8 ypa); Melvin Gordon – very good rookie season (997/3.9) but not very good as a soph (641/3.5)
2014 – no first round picks at RB
2013 – no first round picks at RB
2012 – Trent Richardson – OK as a rookie (950/3.6), and thereafter a total bust; Doug Martin, up and down; David Wilson, a total bust
2011 – Mark Ingram, a bust in his first three seasons (averaged 487 yards) and OK in his last three seasons (averaging 891 yards)
2010 – CJ Spiller, a bust in his first two season (ave 422 yd), OK in the next two seasons (ave 1,088), then a bust the last three seasons (ave 143 yds); Ryan Matthews, a bust in his first season (678 yd), good soph season (1,091), down again in third season (707 yd), then up again (1,255 yd), then a bust again his last three seasons (averaging 510 yd)
That’s not a record of success in the NFL draft for running backs in the first round. Which is why most teams are very reluctant to spend a first round pick on a running back.
I can see the logic in Dallas going with a RB in the first, given that they already had what most consider the best offensive line in the league, a veteran quarterback, and some great receivers in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. But only time will tell whether Elliot is a long time keeper, or whether his success is more due to his O-line than due to his skills.
Naples – What’s best for the Bucs is ALWAYS what I think about first. If a player that is best for the Bucs just happens to be a Nole, all the more better. I really just want the best players on the roster. Regardless of school affiliation.
You make great points about the running backs drafted in the last 6 years. But so did Scott when he broke down the all time greats/current greats and their draft positions. Cowboys could have rode with McFadden, cause RB wasn’t a clear need, but Zeke is a good back. He accentuates their already dominant line. It’s clear we need OL improvement, but we also need RB help now too. It’s a weak draft for OL though. We have pieces, Caleb, Pamp, Sweezy return, so maybe next year will be better. I always thought Sims was a luxury pick & he hasn’t proven otherwise. Doug is either top 5 RB or he’s in the training room. I don’t want to see him leave, but he can’t stay at $7 mil. And teams went away from drafting RB, because of the rule changes to that led to a more open passing attack. Now the pendulum is swinging back a bit, as evident by the last two drafts. Teams are lighter and faster now at LB, and OC are taking advantage with more power running schemes. Not saying it’s Dalvo or bust, but I can’t just dismiss his talent because of previous busts at RB. We’ve had plenty of DE, S, QB, DT busts over the years too.
I’d be happy to see Dalvin Cook on the Bucs too. The question is, what will us cost us to get him?
If he slipped to the second round which is quite plausible given the running-back heavy draft in 2017, I’d be comfortable with him as our second pick of the draft. Not comfortable at all taking Cook (or any other running back) in the first round… and I’d vehemently object to trading UP in the first round in a clear reach to get him as Scott advocates in this Fab 5.
The bottom line is that of all the running backs taken in the first round since 2010, as I laid out, not a single one of them put two first-round-worthy seasons together in their first two years in the league. That’s equivalent to near 100% failure to obtain first round value for first round picks. A first round pick needs to be a high probability success, and running backs taken in the first round simply don’t justify the high cost.
AS a fellow Noles fan I feel your pain roots. Just mentioning someone who plays at FSU , gets you run out the chat boards. The problem is these guys aren’t just chatted up for playing for FSU, they’re some of the best in their perspective classes. Demarcus is fantastic and his stats back it up. If he’s there in the second maybe, but I don’t think DE is big on our wish list this year with all of our holes. He’s a legitimate non stop motor guy that has 26 sacks over the last two years, and that’s playing inside and out.
As for Derwin, that’s a pipe dream like Ramsey was. Hopefully we won’t be picking high enough to get him, because I Guarantee you he goes top 10 minimum. He’s a freak, and even better than Jalen at this point in his career. As for that, let’s kick some Michigan ass tonight Roots! Go Noles, and Go Bucs!
Notes fans run out of this chat room? It seems like that’s all there is here… I think I’m the only Canes fan in here… But, I still love Jameis and yes, Dalvin Cook is the real deal. I personally think he’s going to be gone before the late teens on the draft board, but it’s early. I think at this point, the Bucs need to really look over the OL potentials with the first pick, but we’ll see how things start to fall over the next couple of months.
Fear not e, I too am a canes fan. You realize how hard it is every year when cgmaster27, my twin, and myself go through the pain of that game. To lose on an extra point being blocked this year killed me. Richt has that team on the up for sure. They hammered wvu. To answer, yes, I would love to have Calvin cook on our team as well, but we will just have to see how the needs of other teams play out. It’ll be an interesting draft.
Well ole dalvin and walker proved to validate your “homerism” last night . Both played outstanding.
When Mr. Licht signed Martin to this contract extension, he said “We don’t mind paying for production”. I applaud that because it tells all the players in the locker room, if you produce, you’ll get paid, which is very motivating. On the other hand, I am all for letting Martin walk, or come back on a very reduced salary. Because, if you don’t produce, you won’t get paid, which can also be very motivating.
I am excited about this team and its future!
Happy new year everybody!
Well then why sign him? Players have to honor thier contracts whether its a cheap deal or a high dollar deal but teams on the other hand if they pay a guy and the next yr the production falls then they can get out of it. Just like a player i think teams should be forced to honor contracts. NFL the only sport i think where the contracts are not fully gurenteed. maybe that needs to change
The RB that you didn’t mention is Texas junior D’Onta Foreman who finished as the nation’s leading rusher and the only FBS player to rush for 2,000-plus yards in the regular college football season.
Foreman is projected to be a Day 2 draft pick (second or third round) by NFLDraftScout.com. He finished with 2,028 rushing yards on 323 carries and 15 touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Foreman was the only FBS player to rush for at least 100 yards in every game he played in 2016, setting a new school record. If the Bucs are dead set on drafting a RB, I would trade down for additional picks and take this guy in the 1st.
At 6-foot-1 and 249 pounds, Foreman is a physical Earl Campbell type of runner with the balance and toughness that makes him a chore to tackle, picking up his knees and running through contact. He isn’t exceptionally fast, but gets where he is going quickly with the vision to follow his blockers to the hole and scamper through tight spaces.
Although he is more of a tank than a make-you-miss back, Foreman has loose hips to weave through run lanes, picking up speed as he goes. He is also an imposing back, the type of ball-carrier that forces defenders to think for a split-second before attacking due to his powerful build. The Bucs need a big that can wear a defense down, take a licking and keep on ticking. I think Koetter would appreciate another RB like Steven Jackson in the lineup.
Sorry! Forgot to credit NFLDraftScout for excerpts. Truth in reporting!
I like the kids size and stats for sure Mac, that’s one big dude. My only concern for him is that he’s kind of a 1 year wonder. Now that might be a good thing as he has a little less wear on the tires but he got used a lot this year with 323 carries. Not sure of his straight line speed. My other concern is his lack of catching talent. I know there aren’t too many three down backs per se in the NFL, but it helps. He’s only got 12 total catches in 3 years.
If we take a receiver in the first round, I wouldn’t mind this pick at all in the second as you stated though.
Mac When you mention RB’s and compare them to Earl Campbell I start salivating like a dog. Maybe it’s not fair to compare him to the Tyler Rose just yet.
Just so you know I would take Earl the Pearl over any RB ever.
So, yes I would try to snatch him up.
Maybe we will be a better team if we just drafted all FSU players lol…
So, the Bucs had thenbest running back duo inmthe NFL last season and now they’re junk? I think if there are two things that Pewter Report doesn’t get, it’s that injuries happen and that players are human. Too oftrn PR hops on the bandwagon to turn yesterday’s heroes into today’s garbage (ahem! V-Jax). I wouldn’t drop Martin or Sims for anyone else. They are superb at what they do. The line and the tight ends need upgrading and the Bucs need another dangerous outside receiver who pulls the safety out of that 8-man box. Football is not fantasy football. A player’s name does not determine his average yards per carry.
All eleven players on offense determine the outcome of every play. Every single one has a role to play, and how well they do it in that moment determines how far the play goes. You catch someone on the other team making a mistake that gets them beat, you get a big play. Doug Martin breaks tackles and bursts through holes. Those are his talents. Sims pass blocks and gets open to make catches. Those are his talents. Replacing one famous player with another will not get you a winning team. It hust creates more roster churn and gives you more people you have to bring up to speed. I’m tired of watching the Bucs nurture players through early success and then dumping them in a rough patch or a cash crunch. They do it more than any other team I’ve ever paid any attention to. Part of it is a kind of “You’re perfect in every way, or your a dirtbag” false choice standard that both PR and the Glazer family bought into for a while. I think the Glazers have realized the foolishness and hypocrisy of that way of thinking. The Patriots (Talib and Blount) helped to show them in spectacular fashion the error of their ways. PR has yet to come around to reason. It also hasn’t escaped my notice that players who get run out of town on a rail for “moral reasons” are never white. I don’t blame PR for that, I do blame some fans. But there is absolutely a pattern there.
Will Gholston is a great role player in probable running situations and a fierce guy. He is the only Bucs player whose replica jersey I would be proud to wear to every game. Whether or not the Bucs bring him back is a similar football IQ test to whether they would bring Michael Bennett back when he hit free agency. Go for the sure thing, you’re smart. Go for the cheap guy with a lot of unrealized potential, you’re the sucker who gets to watch Seattle win the Super Bowl. Akeem Spence seems to make less of an impact, really to the point where he slid down the depth chart to the bottom among active DTs this season. He seems like a nice guy, but expendable.
I totally agree that the Bucs’ most obious needs are on the lines, particularly the O-line’s pass blocking tackles (Dotson is the only legit one). Finding someone who can complement McCoy in running situations in the interior (someone dominant, and Spence is not that).
Superb at what they do? The only thing Doug Martin is superb at is missing games. This guy has almost missed half of the games hes been under contract. That is terrible. He’s had 2 good years in 5, his rookie year, and his contract year, wow what a surprise. He knowingly took an illegal substance and screwed himself and the team as well.
As for SImms, he’s right there with Doug, he’s always injured. Yes he’s a pass catching back, but he’s useless outside of that. He doesn’t play on special teams, and he does nothing else besides third down.
You are right in assessing that our line hasn’t played well this year, there’s no doubt about that, but when Rogers can average a 1 1/2 more than Doug a carry behind the same line, something’s wrong with the Back.
It may be less about Doug Martin the individual than it is about the position of running back being very injury prone, for the very obvious reason that they make their living trying to squeeze between rapidly converging big bodies in the trenches. The very best running backs can’t seem to stay healthy for more than a couple of seasons in a row without suffering severe injury and spending time on the sidelines or on IR. The better the offensive line the less likely the injury time off. And given that quality offensive linemen tend to have careers about twice as long as quality running backs, it makes more sense probabilistically to invest in the best O-line we can build and then just plug’n play running backs as they become available. That’s been the approach of some pretty darned good teams in recent years including the Patriots, Seahawks, Cowboys, Steelers, etc.
We’ve tried drafting top shelf running backs in the first round twice now in the last decade, and both got their careers derailed by injury, and without our Bus properly investing in a top shelf offensive line.
I’d say it’s time we learned something and stop repeating the errors of the past. Follow the model of the winners and focus first on O-line. After all, they not only make the runners look good, but they’re necessary insurance for protecting our first overall draft pick quarterback. Surely that’s an investment worth protecting.
Besides, Jaquizz Rodgers looked pretty good this year when he was healthy.
Some good points Russ. But you went off the rails with the comment about black and white guys getting run out on a rail.
I’m for going for a DL or OL in the first round; problem this year is we don’t have that many selections at our spot so I propose we actually trade down and out of the 1st round for multiple draft picks. We do have young players on IR that are ready to challenge some of our weaker positions; RB,Center,Safety,CB. Does anybody know why we don’t place injured players like Gholston & Goshler on IR? I still don’t get it why we didn’t bring Westbrok up from the PS to play in this last game; maybe it will happen today or tomorrow. With Dotson back I am more comfortable to say we will win this game. Go Bucs!
This is just more of the same thinking that has doomed the Bucs to mediocrity or worse for the last 14 years. Talib and Blount are just two examples of good players we cut, others are Clayborne, Bennett, Foster, Barron. Players can be nurtured and trained, and they’ll grow as both people and athletes, or they can be dropped at the first sign of trouble. A team like the Patriots can take those players and educate them, turn them into professional players. What exactly is it that has prevented the Bucs from doing the same? I’d say much of it is a lack of loyalty, if the Bucs management were more loyal to it’s players, the players would be more loyal to them. This family thing the Bucs have going is great, but does it apply to the players only? Do the players feel like Bucs management is family too, or do they think of them as “others”? This would be a great opportunity for the Glazers and Licht to show that the family thing means more than an unproductive season. If they give Martin a chance, it could be the inspiration he and the team needs going into next year. The knowledge that the Bucs, as a whole, will stand up for one another, like a great team,and family, should.
Full Disclosure: I bought a Martin jersey this season after his contract extension, I don’t want to have to shelve it along with my Freeman jersey, that would suck so bad.
I don’t think Jason Licht has been particularly disloyal to the players, while at the same time he’s also willing to admit errors and cut his losses with either free agents or draft picks who didn’t get with the program. The initial public reaction by Licht this week was very supportive of Doug Martin, so there’s no sign of any intent to treat him unfairly.
On the other hand, Doug Martin clearly let down his team and fans by his illegal use of PEDs. Unlike the case of Kwon Alexander last year, which appeared to be a dumb mistake of not checking with trainers before using a particular supplement, it sounds from Martin’s own remarks and other media reports like he intentionally used the PEDs to improve his performance.
For that reason, the Bucs are fully justified in voiding the 2017 guarantee in his contract. If he completes his rehab and gets healthy again, the Bucs should offer him a renegotiated contract at a much lower salary, with performance incentives if he does perform well on the field next season. That would be fair to all involved. I expect something like that will take place.
Whatever that PED was, it sure didn’t work. I have to agree with your hoped for scenario that Doug Martin returns at a more reasonable salary and is given an opportunity to earn a spot on the team next season.
If they give Martin a chance to redeem himself, they also give him a chance to torpedo next season like he did this one. Many teams would stand behind 4.5+ ypc doug martin. As Scott lays out pretty well, that’s not who doug martin has proven to be. He’s been designated the bell cow back going into every season of his career. 3 times out of 5 he’s put up under 500 yards. It’s a disservice to fans and players to bet your “run-first” offense on a guy like that to have one of his good years.
Blount, Talib, Bennett, were all consistently good and productive when they got the boot for non-football reasons. Foster & Barron were 2 talented players (IMO) who were victims of the coaching\scheme turnover. Doug has somehow made it through 3 coaching regimes as the presumed workhorse back on the back of 2 good years. And when you really drill down to those “good” years, there were a few transcendent games, a few good ones, and lots of games that were just okay or less than okay.
Stand by the guy? yes. Rely on the guy? no, no, no
as well-liked as he is, and as productive as he was early on, Vincent Jackson has been a part of zero winning teams since arriving….the team went on a 6-2 run this year starting with the game he went down. is it coincidence, or despite the tremendous work he puts into his own game, is he one of those players that doesn’t “hate to lose” enough, to quote VJax’s fellow team captain?
Great Fab 5 as always. I’ve said it since the middle of the season, the Bucs will be taking a back in the draft this year. I’d like to see if they can bring Doug back, but at a MUCH cheaper price.
Scott watch out even mentioning Cook as that will get you labeled a homer around here, even though you’re not a FSU fan like Mark. Cook is the best back in this class and it’s not even close. Mcaffery is a good three down back, but to me, he’s just another Charles sims. Not a guy you can run up the gut at all.
Cook is a TD waiting to happen every time he touches the ball.He’s breaking off a 20 yard run every 7 times he touches the ball. He’s also averaging 9 yards a carry against FBS competition so he’s doing it against the good teams.
There’s no player I want on the Bucs more save for Jameis at the time, however , and I hate to say this, I wouldn’t trade up for him. We just have too many holes. Where we are at, we could get Corey Davis from WM and I would love that as well. Our first pick is either RB or WR, it can’t be anything else. Looking at this draft class, it’s relatively weak at lineman in the first round so we can worry about that as we go. Second and 3rd I would look at an offensive lineman somewhere.
As for VJ, nothing but respect to that guy as he has played very well for us since we picked him up, and he’s done it with shoddy QB play as well. Wish him well, but he clearly won’t be a Buc next year.
I would love to see Spence and Gohlston resigned next year, We should be able to get them relatively cheap and they are both key players at working against the run. You need guys like these on your roster and they have earned a spot on this team. I mean , it’s not like the Bucs will be strapped for cash now that VJ’s 11 million will be coming off, Dougs 7 million came off, and Verners 7 million will be coming off, along with others. We’re going to have a shit ton of cap space to work with. Just have to be smart about it. And stop bringing in lineman form free agency, that never works for us.
Tandy should be our starting safety no doubt. Strangely every time I aw the saints make a long pass play last week, Conte was shown as the guy getting smoked. Tandy deserves and extension. Maybe a 2 year show me kind of deal.
AS for the last one, Koetter has done an outstanding job with this team. I love his no bullshit attitude, compared to Lovies shit canned responses every week.
With the Injuries, the youth, and the brutal schedule getting to 9-7 would be a stellar season. Missing the playoffs hurts, but for the first time in a long time, us Bucs fans got that special feeling again. It was a really good season fellow Bucs fans. Let’s sweep Cam the crybaby to finish it off.
Cook is really good, but if we dont improve this OL, it doesn’t matter who is back there. Not to mention, Jameis was pressured and hit way too much this season.
Plus there’s already too many warchants and FSU jerseys at Bucs games 😋
Bucs should draft a RB in 2017 as it is a deep class. The last time they missed out on a deep RB draft they deeply regretted and made knee jerk reactions by over drafting RB’s.
Great Fab Five again Scott, thanks and a hat tip for making both the season AND the off-season more interesting.
I too would like to see Gholston and Spence brought back. Both are contributors and help in the need on the DL for run stoppers.
As for drafting Cook or any RB in the first round I’m not so sure. Doesn’t it depend a lot on what happens in FA? Don’t we still need a RT, another CB and certainly a bonafide number two WO, a speedster who can stretch the field and catch the ball?
My thinking is that with a lot of CAP space and some due diligence Jason Licht out to be able to fill these needs or some of them in FA. In recent years the Bucs have had better success in second tier FA’s and done poorly early in the process. Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson and J.R. Sweezy immediately come to mind as early FA flops. I believe the Bucs ARE just a few players short of serious contention and now is the time to get in big. There’s a window here before contracts for Winston, Evan, Alexander, Marpet etc. come due and CAP room tightens up. AND if the Buccaneers can hit and hit big this winter they can draft the BPA and if that player is a RB, GREAT!
Finally, this business of some “fans” wanting to lose the final game in Tampa this season against the Panthers? It makes me sick. For what? A chance to move up a couple of spots in the draft? I submit the winning record to close the season on a young team and improved scouting in the draft no matter WHERE the Bucs pick is FAR more important than a demoralizing loss on Sunday to end the season. It’s nice to see that fans, players and coaches who matter most are working for and pulling for a win to close a pretty damn good season. Especially considering the start. Progress baby, progress.
Those fans who prefer the Bucs lose to the Panthers to end up with a higher Draft position are likely not sitting in the stands with us Garv.
I thought it was extremely dumb to root for Bucs losses even two years ago, when the race to the bottom was over which highly regarded college quarterback would fall to the Bucs. Looking at the performance of both players over their first two seasons, we would have done well with either player. It’s never considered a win to end up with the number one pick in the draft. Consolation prizes suck. Championships are the objective.
Hell no they’re not. I’m looking forward to ending this season an a high note. Should be a fun game. Great weather and New Year’s Day!
The Bucs have invested draft picks in the offensive line, there is talent there. Ali Marpet and Donavan Smith are high draft picks and will be fixtures on the line for years to come. They just extended Dotson this year, we have the versatile Pamphile and perhaps Sweezy gets healthy for next season, we are grooming Calib Benoch (sp), Hawley while scrappy is a bit undersized and probably should be replaced. I am not in panic mode about the offensive line as many on here are, it is almost the same as last season with the exception of Mankins. Perhaps a free agent center could be signed to compete. All this chatter about drafting an offensive lineman in a weak offensive line class is in my opinion doubtful in the first round, if they did who heads to the bench?
Well, Marpet and Smith were second rounders … the best left tackles are usually drafted in the first round. We haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since 2006 (Davin Joseph). In 2001 we took Kenyatta Walker in the first, and the last one in the first round before that was all the way back in 1991 (Charles McRae). Given that offensive linemen account for 5 of 22 starters on a team – 23% of the roster – we’ve only drafted OL in the first round in 3 of the last 26 drafts – or 11% of our first round picks.
So, while this is not a new issue for the Bucs, we historically have given short shrift to the offensive line in our drafts, under-representing by less than half.
The names you cited should be proof that drafting an offensive lineman high in the draft, like running back, is no guarantee for success. One of our best LT’s (Donald Penn) wasn’t drafted at all. Cleveland just cut a recent top 10 pick who failed.
There’s no guarantees in anything, but Kenyatta Walker was a starter RT on our sole Super Bowl winning team, and Davin Joseph was better than most everyone else who’s been on the line since he left a few years ago.
And like it always is, the quality of the pickers is what most determines the quality of the picks. A Browns first round pick doe NOT equal a Patriots first round pick.
The pickers for the Bucs have mostly sucked. The only two good draft pickers we’ve ever had were Rich McKay and now Jason Licht.
We have certainly had our share of Draft blunders over my 40 years of watching this team; including Richie NcKay and Jason Licht, each of whom had a few picks that didn’t work out as planned. Ron Wolf and Jerry Angelo didn’t do too bad.. Ken Herrock was pretty bad. Worst might have been Phil Krueger.
We’ve also had some Draft trades of our choices that were so laughable. I hate to even think about them.
Perhaps Scott and the Pewter Report folks could do some research and we could debate the best and the worst pickers.
Agreed skipper and the fact that the line class appears as weak as it is, is what I don’t like about this draft class.
I’m looking for guys like Gholston and Spence to be resigned and creating that veteran depth that the Bucs desperately need. Right now, marveling at the Dallas O-line, I wonder what kind of success Jameis and the boys would have with that kind of protection? On the other hand, we had two offense-heavy drafts and then a defense heavy draft last year… I don’t anticipate a heavy lean one way or the other this year. My main hope for this offseason is that Smitty is back as our DC. You can feel the optimism on the boards these days; and for good reason. Better days ahead for the Buccos.
It’s easy to hate Martin right now but I’ll vouch for him and I bet GMC, LVD, and Vjax would too. Remember when Vjax sat out nearly a season in SD over contract negotiations and got arrested for multiple DUI’s? He turned out all right. watching all the way back to Boise state (where he put up gross #’s), you’ll see Doug was born to be a running back. He gives 100% effort on every carry whether it’s 50-0 or 0-50. He’s worth rolling the dice on next year..but I would agree we need to draft a RB. He’s not the only NFL player using aderall. It’s medicine for people with ADD/ADHD..not steroids. In any case it’s not good but he was straight forward and well spoken when referring to the suspension/rehab.
Tremendous FAB 5 Article Scott! The information on Martin and Jackson was very informative. – Curt (3sk)
Thank you, Curt!
For anyone that questions how special dalvin cook realy is, I present to you , the orange bowl. Dude is just incredible.
It was awesome for sure.
in regards to the Muscle Hamster… its all about the $$$! Strictly business, not personal! Not worth 7mil/yr. If he is willing to take a 50% paycut and resign, then yes we resign him! The Bucs caught a break in regards to being able to get out of his contract with his recent suspension! Run Forest run! He has 1-2 years top, left in those legs. It’s a young man’s game. Thanks Doug for all your efforts for the Bucs. You were a good Buc. Time to move on. Say bye to Sims as well. Nothing special there as well. Again, nice guy, but its business, not personal. I worry about the window of opportunity we have with this core group. Winston, Mike, Kwon, Lavonte. As for draft, I think we go for best player available at a need position… I’m just saying! We need to protect the franchise or all the talent in the world wont win games with talent at QB. 14 years since we had a decent QB! Need I say more. Go Bucs!
“without talent at QB” Typo.
I’m not ready to throw Doug on the ash heap just yet. If he did exert maximum effort on every run I’d say yes. Let him get healthy and draft a center for the love of god. We really need a left guard too. Maybe Sweezy will be ready. I hope so.
The BUCS are just snake bit with free agent OL men.
Those guys maybe played 10 games total added up. Unreal.
Draft DL and OL please, pretty please.
Great RB’s always have great OL. Besides that we might want to keep Jamie’s upright for a few years. Sometimes this season I thought he was gonna get killed.
With the new CBA drafting a top shelf back makes more sense now then ever. Think about it, a backs best years are his first few. Getting a great offensive weapon, on a five year rookie deal is a great investment. The mistake teams make is resigning that back to big money after his first five years. Unlike receivers, and some other skill positions, rookie backs often have great first years instantly adding life to your offense. So yeah, I think if you have a shot at special talent in the first round you take it.
Scott, thanks for a great season of Fab 5’s, and to everyone here’s to a Happy New Year! I want a win tomorrow and a lot of effort. Square your home record at 4-4, get rid of the 2 game losing streak and go into the offseason with pride. As frustrating as the past few weeks have been, if we look back to the beginning of the season, we all had hope but realistically knew we’d be around this record and we would HAPPILY accept that after last season. As fans, we’ve been entertained much more this season than we have in awhile. I hope we are able to pick up a few quality free agents this offseason and draft well and build around the core. I’ve said all along that they are young and with that there will be ups and downs. Next season, I’ll have the opportunity again to see a late season home game and I want it to be meaningful. I’ll also make the trek to Buffalo to support the Bucs in only their second trip to Buffalo ever. I couldn’t get tix to the first meeting because it was T.O.’s first game as a Bill and the home opener that year and it sold out in seconds. Anyways, cheers to everybody, let’s get a W tomorrow and Happy New Year!
I totally agree with restructuring Martin’s deal to take a smaller cap hit. Keep Rodgers on and have them compete for the starting spot. Barber proved to be a worthy rotational back and Sims is a great receiving threat out of the backfield.
I doubt it will matter as all these backs will most likely be gone by the time we’re on the clock, but even if they are, I agree with many posters that we need to shore up the lines first. On that note though, I don’t see any first round worthy OL available so we should go DL first and OL later.
Gholston and Spence have definitely earned an extension. They shouldn’t be too big of a cap hit and both seem to legitimately WANT to play here. That, along with continuity go a long way. Although safety was a concern earlier in the year, they seem to be playing fairly well now. I say keep McDougald at least, maybe even Conte on a team friendly contract. Grab another S in the draft or FA to compete.
VJax’s presence or lack thereof hasn’t seemed to hurt our teams’ performance much. We have new, young leaders in Jamies, Kwon, and GMC to pick up that slack. I would love to see VJax back next year if the contract is right. Unfortunately he seems to have taken a slight step backward and become a little injury prone in his later years. He’s still a viable WR2 but we’ll have to see how he recovers from his latest injury. WR is another big need in the draft or FA.
We should get Bond back next year and finally get to see what he can do. LB is one of our strongest positions but Smith won’t be around forever. Hopefully Bond can fill that gap and that’ll be one less need in the draft.
Build the lines first, grab a WR2, and a S in FA and the draft. In Licht we trust, he’s got a pretty good track record for us thus far. Next year will be the first time in a LONG TIME we will be starting out the season with realistic playoff aspirations. Go Bucs!
The Patriots will sign Martin and he will have 1400 yards next year……lol
This year for Bucs fans showed improvement and promise but ultimately ended on a very sour note and showed we are still a ways away from being a playoff team. Hoping we have a great draft next year.
Happy New Years to all! I’ll be at game as always tomorrow. Hope we stomp the Panthers and end with a winning record! Go Bucs!
I’ll add my 2 cents to the debate this way:
1) I concur with Hank above…it doesn’t matter if you have Foreman/Cook/Fournette/etc. or the actual Earl Campbell, none of them is doing much behind our Oline….unless we can play SanFran 16 times.
2) yes we did produce the #2 rusher in the league in 2015 behind our then Oline…except that the one subtraction in 2016 was our best Olineman, and only pro-bowler from that team. It wasn’t all Mankins, but I think his influence has been understated, and revealed in 2016’s performance.
3) yes drafting Olinemen in the 1st round is a good idea, ala Dallas (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zach Martin)…despite the poor history we have of drafting accordingly…in fact, if our Bucs draft history is going to be the barometer by which we decide whether or not draft a position, we probably won’t pick anyone.
Dallas has the model, Licht needs to follow it (Murray leads the league, McFadden even looks good, then Elliot leads the league…it’s not the RB. Dak Prescott looks like Tony Romo….it’s not the QB).
So glad JoeBucsFan.com has surpassed this garbage site as best Bucs content. I used to love reading Pewter Report, and used to love reading your SR weekly scott, but you Scott Reynolds have turned into a joke. Every week on WDAE morning after a Bucs win, you have to get in your “as you know I called for Lovie Smith to be fired last year”.
Dude, get over yourself. The firing of Lovie wasn’t even the biggest factor of the turn around, it was the maturation of Jameis Winston and the Bucs players following him as their leader.
Yes Koetter is probably a better Coach, but mostly because Mike Smith is better DC. Koetter cost us a playoff spot with his bonehead time management in the Rams game, and wasn’t game management your biggest beef with Lovie? Plus lets not forget your comments after the Bucs went 1-3 that the problem was lack of TALENT on defense, not M.Smiths coaching. Well same lack of talent was prevalent during Lovie’s tenure. Its the firing of coaches that causes the lack of talent.
Im done with PR for good. Ill take Isbitts and Kaufman over Reynolds and Co.
If this truly is the end of Vincent Jackson’s playing career, I would be thrilled if the team brings him on as a coach or an offensive assistant.
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