Buccaneers staying with Doug Martin at running back despite struggles
Martin has struggled this season, running for a total of 94 yards and averaging just 2.5 yards per carry in three games.
That's a worse pace than Martin was on last season before a season-ending injury, when he ran for 456 yards on 3.6 yards per carry in six games, and significantly worse than his rookie season of 2012, when Martin ran for 1,454 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry en route to making the Pro Bowl.
Backup Bobby Rainey has filled in well with Martin missing two games due to a knee injury, carrying 47 times for 220 yards and a touchdown, but Smith said he hasn't thought about changing Martin's role.
“We’re staying the course,’’ Smith said of Martin.
“Doug has done some good things,’’ Smith added. “When you’re the starting tailback, you know what goes along with that. We’d like Doug to get 200 yards every game, but we’re not there yet. But in time, he’ll break out.’’
Martin has improved slightly as the season has gone on, averaging 2.9 yards per carry in his first game back from injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4 and then 3.2 yards per carry against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. He declared himself 100 percent healthy before the game against the Steelers.
Acting offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said it's not just Martin that needs to play better for the running game to improve.
"A wide receiver blocking a safety is vital, because that safety is going to make a play if you don’t block him. A tight end and a tackle working on a double team is important. So, is the quarterback. All those things need to be executed on a high level and that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what we’re focusing on.’’
The Buccaneers (1-4) host the Baltimore Ravens (3-3) on Sunday, who are eighth in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 91.4 yards per game.
- Ben Estes