Martin Strong as Ever

In the Buccaneers’ Week Eight game at Oakland, rookie RB Doug Martin had 31 yards on eight carries in the first half, as his team went to halftime trailing by a field goal. Last Sunday in Denver, the Buccaneers had a 10-7 lead at the half and Martin had run 15 times for 48 yards.

Those two road games against AFC opponents took different paths in the second half, and so did Martin’s statistics.  Against Oakland, the Buccaneers scored 21 points in the third quarter (Martin had a lot to do with that) and the running game took over completely.  Martin ended up with 251 yards on the ground, tied for the 10th most in a single game in franchise history.  In Denver, it was the Broncos who put up three quick third-quarter touchdowns, and that completely took Tampa Bay’s ground attack out of the equation.  The Bucs had to throw to try to make up the deficit, and that left Martin with just three second-half carries for eight yards.

One thing that wasn’t different between those two weeks was Martin’s level of play.  He didn’t necessarily find the gaping seams into the Broncos’ secondary like he did in Oakland, but he ran as hard as ever and might have eventually broken a few longer runs if he had more opportunities in the second half.

In other words, Doug Martin is just fine.  Fantasy football owners might not have been thrilled by his Denver performance, but his coaches have seen absolutely no reason for concern.

“Last week’s hard to judge, because with 18 minutes left in the game we abandoned the run game,” said Head Coach Greg Schiano on Sunday morning, a few hours before kickoff.  “When you look back at a game like Oakland where we had so many yards…well, let’s remember when most of those yards came.  What happens when you’re a team that runs the ball and is physical, you were people down, and some of those bigger runs happen later in the game.  We never got to that because we got down…and really, we haven’t been in that position many times.”

Sunday, Martin goes up against the league’s 18th-ranked rush defense, as the Eagles are allowing 117.9 yards per game on the ground.  The recent dismissals of both Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo and Defensive Line Coach Jim Washburn could also affect the style of play and the effectiveness of the Eagles’ defense.  Schiano and company will happily ride Martin all day if the game situation dictates that possibility.

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