You know what impressed Joe most about last season? It was how Doug Martin, after a modest start, turned the corner and became a Pro Bowler despite running behind a line riddled with injuries.
Some believe Martin not only will be better this season, but he could very well have a record-breaking campaign.
The pride of Northwestern, Scott Smith, writing for “The Captain’s Blog” on Buccaneers.com, thinks Martin could have a 15-touchdown year.
The problem with choosing a specific statistical first-time achievement for a Buccaneer player is that there aren’t too many obvious milestones left, especially after Freeman’s 4,000-yard campaign last year. Doug Martin rather noisily chased 2,000 yards from scrimmage last year, and while that would have made him just the third rookie to hit that mark it wouldn’t have been a first time for the Bucs. James Wilder had 2,229 during his amazing 1984 season. 100 catches, 1,500 rushing yards, 25 touchdown passes, 200 tackles, 15 sacks, 10 interceptions – they’ve all been done.
We could go with 30 touchdown passes or 20 sacks or the next even number up on some of those lists, but we’ve chosen the 15-touchdown campaign – scoring 15 TDs, that is, not throwing them – for one good reason. The Buccaneers are the only team in the NFL who has never had a player hit that milestone. James Wilder’s 13 touchdowns in 1984 remains the franchise’s single-season record.
Obviously, Doug Martin would be the leading candidate. He had 12 touchdowns as a rookie, which is a pretty impressive opening salvo. If one assumes a little more development in his (already outstanding) game, and in the Bucs’ offense as a whole, it’s not hard to envision a jump of three more scores. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams might have a shot, as well.
So let’s say this does happen, that Martin reaches such a milestone. That gives Joe good vibes. If a running back sets records, that generally means his team isn’t throwing the ball that much. Often, lousy teams rack up a lot of passing yards because they are playing from behind.
If Martin is scoring that many touchdowns, it tells Joe the Bucs are winning the time-of-possession game, which often translates into victories.