Joe nearly drove off the road Monday when he heard Greg Schiano talking on the radio about how he wants to have two guys running the football and to lighten Doug Martin’s load when he returns. That just didn’t seem to fit the head coach’s philosophy, based on what’s played out on the field.
Martin, when healthy, was pounded at a pace that approached NFL records. Consider that Martin has missed 2 1/2 games with an injury, the Bucs had an early bye week, and Martin is still 11th in the NFL in carries this season.
Before Martin injured his shoulder, by Joe’s count, Mike James, Brian Leonard and Jeff Demps combined for a grand total of five carries – five! That doesn’t sound like a coach that wants two guys running the ball. And Schiano’s comment especially surprised Joe considering how much he lauded Leonard during the preseason.
“Hopefully, we’ll get Doug back. I think what we’re building is some real quality depth at the position. And we’re going to be able to, when Doug does get back, be able to, you know, not have to have so many carries on his plate, and be able to have them both carry the football, which is really what you want as a head coach,” Schiano said on WDAE-AM 620 Monday. “It’s a tough league to have one guy take every touch.”
Joe believes the bellcow use of Martin is a Schiano thing, not a Mike Sullivan move. Sullivan was with the Giants for years when they used multiple backs more effectively than any team in the NFL.
As Joe’s written many times before, Joe hopes Martin is kept out this season and starts the repair and recovery process on his shoulder immediately. There’s no reason not to in a lost season. And now that James is emerging impressively, he’s earned the carries and could prove extra valuable to the Bucs. If James can keep up his pace behind a revived Bucs offensive line, then he could become coveted in the offseason trade market and/or make Tampa Bay more attractive to a potential new head coach. (Who wouldn’t want two stud young backs?)
Regardless, if Martin does return this season, Joe’s going to hold Schiano to the two-back comment.