Lovie’s Mindset On Running Backs

February 25th, 2014
doug martin

49ers GM Trent Baalke explains, indirectly, why Doug Martin is Lovie Smith’s bellcow.

A cool thing about attending the NFL Scouting Combine is Joe got to listen to other top-notch general managers and kind of get a feel for their mindset and what makes their teams great. Joe could sit and listen to guys like Ted Thompson, the mastermind of the Packers, talk all day.

Now when Joe got a chance to have limited time with Bucs coach Lovie Smith, Joe was mildly surprised when Lovie said he wanted a bellcow running back and make no mistake about it, Doug Martin is that bellcow back.

Lovie did throw in a caveat that he wanted a strong stable of backs to complement Martin — so Martin isn’t beaten into the ground.

Later that morning when 49ers general manager Trent Baalke had his media session, he wasn’t necessarily talking about the Bucs but put the Bucs puzzle together when discussing running backs, specifically, his own bellcow, Frank Gore.

“I don’t want to answer for 31 other teams,” Baalke said. “I think when you look at it, I’ve maintained for a long time that that position has evolved a little bit. You see less and less of the bellcow backs and more of the rotation system. There are certain teams, and we were one of them last year, that did predominantly use one back. But it’s getting harder and harder to find those guys. And it’s getting harder and harder for those guys to hold up at the NFL level.”

There you go. Few teams use a bellcow back because they don’t have one, otherwise, they would use him. The Bucs, with Martin, like the 49ers, have one. Hence, why there’s no rotation and why Lovie said he wants backs to complement Martin.

Now the question is can Martin hold up? In only his second season he suffered a season-ending injury (oddly enough, on a pass play). That will be something to watch for this season.

Of course, if Martin gets better blocking, then he should have a little less wear and tear.

25 Responses to “Lovie’s Mindset On Running Backs”

  1. Dennis Says:

    Tedford has always had a two back system in Cal and he will bring the same to Tampa…

    My question to @Joe has Jeff Demps made a decision yet?

  2. You Go Joe Says:

    So Bellcow running backs are your all in one, blocker, runner, catcher and also play maker all the traits of Gore, Martin and AP. Just to name a few, but it is hard to find a solid RB. they get injured, or just can’t catch well or block. Look at the Pats, they have all types of RB individually, but not an all in one.

    That is why I am dam proud of muscle hamster!!! I miss him already 🙁

  3. SAMCRO Says:

    Nice article Joe! ..nice read.

    To sum it all up, if I got this right, you said, Unless you are one of those teams that are fortunate enough to have a feature back then you must rely on using a running back by committee approach. So it’s not really a choice these clubs really make but made out of necessity. If they all had a bellcow then they would all be geared toward using the bellcow.

    There’s not much more I could add that you didn’t already cover. great job

  4. Bucsfanman Says:

    Now, if they’d just stop throwing 20 yard fade routes to him…
    Dennis- you can’t be serious with Demps? He played in what, 2-3 games and pulled a hammie. An Olympic sprinter pulls a hammie running 12 yards?! Move on. He’s a special teams guy at best.

  5. Mort Says:

    Demps might be a special teams guy at best… but we need a dynamic return man who doesn’t put the ball on the carpet or make stupid decisions. Demps has the exact physical traits you want when you draw up the position idealistically. He could be a great benefit to special teams. He’s fast as anyone in the league and can run the ball rather effectively in space.

  6. Rrsrq Says:

    Wouldn’t count Demps out, look at what Percy Harvin did in just one game, Demps definitely has that kind of speed and close in ability, Tedfordmqantsmspeed in space, Demps has that this offense could be great for him

  7. biff barker Says:

    Bellcow is just a word. Let’s not trip over it.

    We’ll keep James and add another big running back. I just can’t see Lorig prospering in a two back set.

  8. BucsfaninChina Says:

    Demps is no Percy Harvin. He’s quick, but Percy is all kinds of elusive.

    Looking at Chicago, Lovie used Forte as his 3 down back but always had someone else there to pound the rock for short yard situations. Then Tedford was a guy who loved usingg 2 backs, especialy is the pass game.

    Rainey looks to be odd man out.

  9. Ryan Oster Says:

    Yeah because Ricky Bell, James Wilder, Mike Alstott, Warrick Dunn, Michael Pittman etc… never caught any passes.

  10. Mitch Says:

    Martin = Good, James = Above Average back up, Rainey = Average-role player Lorig = well rounded blocker w/ limited running & fair catching ability , Demps= needs to stick with track.

  11. Orca Says:

    I think bellcow back may mean something a little different to Lovie than it did the Schiano. I’m don’t think we need to worry, especially since Tedford’s offense will probably not be punishing RBs up the middle all the time.

  12. Bucsfanman Says:

    I agree BFC, Demps is no Harvin. Demps hasn’t proven a thing in the NFL yet. That’s why I don’t get the clamoring. What good is speed if you’re on the sidelines nursing an injury?
    Put him on special teams and pray he stays healthy, IF, football is even of interest to him.

  13. DallasBuc Says:

    Sorry…Martin was led into a crushing hit on a wheel route down near the goal line by Glennon and his new daddy Schiano. I can’t see Lovie or Tedford ever putting Martin in that position again. Freak injury on a poorly executed stupid play.
    Martin is durable and I don’t expect him to be out of action like that again for a long time.

  14. Andrew 1 Says:

    Doug is the man, theres no doubt about that. As for Demps, I doubt he will even be on the roster next season. But we can still find a really good KR/PR in this draft. Someone like slot reciever Solomon Patton from Florida, who I think highly of, has run the 40 yard dash in 4.27 and can be had in the 7th or even as an underrated free agent. He is not a real big guy, but he does have blazing speed. He would absolutely fit the bill as a KR/PR.

  15. stevek (MGM) Says:


    Can the kid from UF play?

    Running fast and being explosive is nice, but can the kid play?

    I hope we snatch up Devin Hester in FA.

  16. Andrew 1 Says:

    @ Stevek

    I would say yes, he can absolutely play. Im not very good with names but after watching him play, I made a point to remember his name. He is a smaller guy at 5’9″ and he didnt get very many opportunities with the gators having a crap passing game, but when he did get his opportunities he was explosive and very much a play maker. idk, he will go largely unnoticed, but I like him.

  17. Andrew 1 Says:

    And I also would also love to see us get Devin Hester if its possible.

  18. Joe Says:

    Tedford has always had a two back system in Cal and he will bring the same to Tampa…

    You know this how? This just in, the NFL ain’t the PAC-12.

    My question to @Joe has Jeff Demps made a decision yet?

    Yes, his mind has never changed. He wants to compete in the Summer Olympics in 2016. Until Demps decides he wants to be a full-time NFL player, he is totally off of Joe’s radar. Right now that guy is little more than a pipedream.

  19. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    “Since Jeff Tedford said he likes the idea of using multiple backs, referencing his days coaching at Cal when he had two backs rotating in and out. And that he also wants a back who can “bang it in” at the goal line.”

    How about converting Syracuse ((RB Jerome Smith)) into a FB (He was a beastly LB in Highschool). As a junior he led the Orange with 840 yards and has 11 rushing touchdowns despite an inconsistent passing game that has encouraged opposing defenses to focus on stopping the run. He’s a violent north-south runner, with soft hands. We have two 7th round picks, could be a steal, I’m just saying

    Jerome Smith vs PSU 2013

    2013-14 Jerome Smith Season Highlight

    Jerome Smith vs Louisville 2012

    Jerome Smith vs UCONN 2012

  20. Joe Says:


    Geez, are you the kid’s agent? 🙁

  21. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    Just another passionate BUCS fan Sir.

  22. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I think James could almost become a Mike Alstott type of runner.

    I count Demps out. He just doesn’t have a heart for football.

  23. bigpoppabuc Says:

    James needs to bulk up and embrace his one cut downhill style, and Dougie needs to get back to trusting his vision and his speed and come back with a vengeance.
    Lorig is a smart, tough cat but also is undersized, so I could see an upgrade at fullback…but Lovie s got his bell cow and his ace in the hole if ask me.

  24. Tomcin Says:

    Would love to see the Bucs get James Wilder on the third day.

  25. JoeBucsFan.com » Blog Archive » Jeff Tedford Offense? Scoring Points - Tampa Bay Bucs Blog Says:

    […] Lovie told Joe at the NFL Scouting Combine that Doug Martin would be his “bellcow” running back, but he did like the stable of running backs on the roster to complement […]