History Suggests Struggles For Martin

June 28th, 2017

Faces uphill climb.

In a perfect world, embattled Bucs running back Doug Martin returns from his suspension in Week 4 and tears the NFL apart, rushing for 1,700 yards.

Alas, that is Joe’s hope. Joe also hopes for the winning Powerball lottery ticket and his own Caribbean waterfront resort where nubile island women cater to his every desire.

As Bobby Knight famously said, hope is a four-letter word.

Last year, among eligible running backs (minimum 6.25 rushes a game), everyone’s favorite Muscle Hamster was dismal. Martin averaged 2.9 yards a rush on 144 carries. That was the worst in the NFL.

Repeat: Worst in the NFL.

(For those who are too quick to blame the offensive line, why was it all of Martin’s running back mates, who met the same minimum criteria, had better numbers? To suggest the line was the root of Martin’s problems is to suggest the offensive line was laying down for Martin and blocking for everyone else, which is an absurd notion.)

So Joe decided to do research using Pro-Football-Reference.com, seeking how common it is for a running back to be the worst in the NFL in yards per carry and bounce back. Joe looked at every season this century. The results are not promising.

Far more often than not, a guy who posted the worst yards-per-carry was either on a downward slope to his career or it was a career-ending season. Beginning in 2000, only one running back has ever recovered from such a terrible season and rejuvenated his career. And it is a former Bucs running back at that, Warrick Dunn.

In 2001, Dunn had but 2.8 yards-per-carry, worse than Martin’s 2016 season. He rose from the dead and would have three more 1,000-yard seasons before his career was finished. In fact, Dunn is the lone running back with the worst yards-per-carry in a particular 21st-century season who later had a 1,000-yard rushing season (again, he had three). Two future Hall of Famers, Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson, each had an NFL-worst yards-per-carry in their careers and returned to 900-yard rushing seasons, but both running backs were in the twilight of their careers.

For Joe, there is a common denominator here: Bettis and Tomlinson are in Canton. One could also argue Dunn deserves consideration for Canton. He ran for just under 11,000 yards in 12 seasons. That’s not shabby at all.

(Dunn’s 913 yards-per-season average is better than Marcus Allen’s 765 yards per season and about equal to Thurman Thomas’ 928.)

So why is Joe bringing up this common denominator? There is just no way with a straight face anyone could soberly suggest Martin is a remotely candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It took elite running backs to claw their way back to respectability from such a horrible season.

The list below is of players who finished with the worst yards-per-carry average in each NFL season from 2000-2015.

Their terrible season is noted and so is their best rushing season following stubbing their toes so badly. The results are not pretty.

2015: Matt Jones, Washington, 460 yards rushing in 2016.
2014: Tie: Alfred Blue, Houston, 698 yards rushing in 2015; Ben Tate, Cleveland/Minnesota/Pittsburgh (didn’t play again).
2013: Willis McGahee, Cleveland, (didn’t play again)
2012: Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville, 863 yards rushing in 2015. Currently a free agent.
2011: Thomas Jones, Kansas City, didn’t play again.
2010: Chester Taylor, Chicago, 77 yards rushing in 2011.
2009: Three-way tie: Steve Slaton, Houston, 93 yards rushing in 2010; Larry Johnson, Cincinnati/Kansas City, ran for a total of two yards in both 2010 and 2011; LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego, 914 yards rushing in 2010.
2008: Chris Perry, Cincinnati, didn’t play again.
2007: Rudi Johnson, Cincinnati, 237 yards rushing in 2008.
2006: Kevan Barlow, New York Jets, never played again.
2005: Marcel Shipp, Arizona, 41 yards rushing in both 2007 and 2008.
2004: Anthony Thomas, Chicago, 378 yards rushing in 2006.
2003: Three-way tie: Amos Zereoue, Pittsburgh, 425 yards rushing in 2004; Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh, 941 yards rushing in 2004; Eddie George, Tennessee, 432 yards rushing in 2004.
2002: Jonathan Wells, Houston, 325 yards rushing in 2005.
2001: Tie: Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay, 1,416 yards rushing in 2005 (had three 1,000-yard seasons after 2001); Jameis Jackson, Cleveland, 382 yards rushing in 2003.
2000: Tie: Darnell Autry, Philadelphia, did not play again; Travis Prentice, Cleveland, 13 yards rushing in 2001.

So, just based on recent history, for one to expect Martin to return to Pro Bowl status, well, that seems is a prayer.

It’s more likely Martin gain 650 yards this season, 50 yards per game, but is that good enough or, more importantly, should that be good enough?

Unless the Bucs are going to be the 2017 version of Air Coryell, a running back averaging 50 yards a game likely won’t cut it.

Joe is a history guy. And looking at the past 16 seasons, the numbers are not in Martin’s favor.

Of course, Joe can always cross his fingers and hope for the best.

57 Responses to “History Suggests Struggles For Martin”

  1. Dewey Selmon Says:

    There was an article yesterday about the best 5 OL playing and Hawley getting pushed back. If every RB is avg 4.0+ and martin continues at 2.9 then we know the problem. If every RB is subpar 3.7, then we know it’s the OL.

  2. Edgar Says:

    Careful Joe. Getting stat heavy 🙂

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    This is certainly a convincing argument cutting Martin or certainly resigning him to a “prove it” contract.

    Martin has a history of up and down years……if we do keep him, let’s hope he becomes the second Buc running back to excel after a bad year.

  4. The Buc Realist Says:

    The history not relevant to this situation!!! There is not a history of a RB that was 2nd leader rusher, then got paid, then partied his way to the injury, then the bench, then to suspension!!!!!

    Before anyone can say what they will do to drug martin we have to get by all the “if’s” !!!! If they do not trade him, and then the big “if” is how the RB stable performs during the first 3 games!!!! and health of the RB!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!

  5. J 2.0 Says:

    Dunn also had a sever case of turf toe in 2001. Huge Dunn fan.


    As in release him and let some other team have him.

  6. J 2.0 Says:


  7. SCBucsFan Says:

    History suggests this blog wanted Cook not Martin

  8. BigHogHaynes Says:

    Partied his way to injury…you is one ass/backwards..trump/like ..Jack/Ass and Joe what were the other Bucs RB’s averaging ..3.1 umm 3.3 umm then maybe they should have been named “STARTER”!! Quizz was over 4 yards per carry.–Joe

  9. rrsrq Says:

    Of course Joe points out Dunn, Tomlinson and Bettis, all three were pro bowlers or better, everyone else on that list never even breathed a pro bowl, Martin has. Is he Bettis, Tomlinson or Dunn, not at all, but when he is hitting on all cylinders and we hope as a Bucs fan he is, his best years are comparable to all three. The names on this list does not make an argument for me, yet

  10. gotbbucs Says:

    The first three games of the year will determine the future for Martin. The front office has to do nothing right now but wait and see. Right now they have a motivated Martin and a motivated group of RB’s looking to steal a starting position away from Martin. It’s a win-win heading into camp.

  11. RayJameisStadium Says:

    Martin is crossing his “t’s” and dotting his “i’s” at One Bucs Palace with his performance. Knowing his after work activities is the prudent information in his case.

    History is as good as a meteorologist!!!

    Sunny skies today…
    …but don’t forget your umbrella!!!

    Only Licht has the answer. Licht and company are checking Martin’s were about after dark. That is the decision making scenario since he is showing commitment at One Bucs Palace. Their PI’s must be in high alert on operation “Martin Gate.”

    Background checking on a daily basis. Do you think Martin’s home is bugged? His cell and home computer hacked?

    Martin Gate operation will go full force on the first 3 weeks of the season.

    Is not about HOPE is about the Super Bowl Team – Certainty and security

  12. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    I’m expecting Martin’s quasi agent to post here at some point.

  13. Cobraboy Says:


  14. Tnew Says:

    First off. Doug is signed to the ultimate “prove it” contract. Any new deal wouldn’t be nearly as team friendly regarding cutting him for performance.

    Now, Good rundown of the numbers. Stats work best when external factors aren’t in the mix. Discounting Martin’s external factors would be a dangerous personell move.

    Just consider this:
    Martin had a significant hamstring injury last season

    Koetter treated him with kid gloves last off-season.

    Martin needs outside motivation, like an expiring contract to be motivated

    Our starting center weighed in at 280

    The Bucs were 6-2 when he was in the lineup. (One of the losses was the cardinal game, only down 0-10 when he was injured in the second quarter). Also of note, his only “healthy game” was 23 carries for 96 yards against the NFC champs.

    Do I absolve Doug of his transgressions. Do I forgive and forget that he let the team down late in the season by doing Molly. Not a chance. Do I count on him to be a major factor, no but I realize that he is a Luxuary the Bucs can afford. His upside is 2015. Plus, people can learn from their mistakes. Most have to feel the fear of losing something to make a change. Hopefully, Martin feels that fear

  15. Cobraboy Says:

    To complete the “history”, care to mention how injuries factored into those numbers?

  16. Cobraboy Says:

    Jos Said:

    (For those who are too quick to blame the offensive line, why was it all of Martin’s running back mates, who met the same minimum criteria, had better numbers? To suggest the line was the root of Martin’s problems is to suggest the offensive line was laying down for Martin and blocking for everyone else, which is an absurd notion.)

    None of the other Buc RB’s played against a stacked box as Martin did. None of the other Buc RB’s were hit behind the LOS anywhere near the number that Martin was. In fact, on 43% of Martin’s carries first opponent contact at least 1 yd. behind the LOS, whereas, according to PFF, the whole team, including Martin, first contact behind the LOS was at a rate of 23%.

    Teams feared Martin and stacked the box. Teams didn’t fear the other RB’s and dropped more in coverage.

    When Martin was on the field the Bucs record was 5-1. When Martin was not on the field the Bucs record was 4-6. How do the Martin detractors explain those stats?

  17. BadHombre Says:

    Joe hates Doug Martin and here are some more garbage reasons proving Joe is on an endless mission to bury Doug Martin despite all signs continually showing the Bucs like him and will keep him.
    Joe doesn’t hate Doug Martin. Pure silly talk. –Joe

  18. D-Rome Says:

    Martin’s best years are behind him. I’ll be stunned if he plays a snap on 10/1.

  19. 813bucboi Says:

    doug will be back and run like a wild man…..1600 yards….GO BUCS!!!!

  20. Coach Says:

    At this point its supremely obvious that Joe wants Doug Martin gone.

  21. Maze Says:

    Good morning even to all the Martin bashers. Careful Joe, Doug may soon ban you from all future interviews

  22. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    There is no question in my mind that Joe wants Martin gone…..Oh, we’ll get the standard disclaimer “Joe hopes Martin runs for 1500 yds”….but the constant articles calling for the Bucs to sign RBs like Peterson & Forte prove otherwise.
    I genuinely root for all Bucs to succeed as long as they are still on the roster. That included Freeman, ASJ and others who faltered. It’s just in my Buc DNA.

  23. Pick6 Says:

    with all due respect to the joes, who are riding this horse daily like they have so many others, i hope this business of predicting doom & failure on the doug martin front looks as misguided in hindsight as your daily praise of johnny football or your “should’ve gotten bridgewater” motif

  24. Buccfan37 Says:

    Even a Martin fan can’t get too uppity about his chances to reverse his decline. Memo to myself.

  25. 3-4 SILVABAC Says:

    Lol, yeah Joe, damn this is old…89 other players you COULD write about

  26. The Buc Realist Says:


    It might not matter as Joe only interviews Buc Players!!!!!!!!

  27. Lamarcus Says:

    Yea man. I’m finally convinced. MARTIN IS IN JOE CRAP LIST AND WANTS HIM GONE. nobody last year played their best. That’s y we didn’t make the playoffs. Martin was far from the TEAM problem.

  28. LakeLandBuc Says:

    He’s running behind the 30th best or 3rd worst ( however you look at it) O-Line in the NFL. This is the ranking that PFF are giving them, and I totally agree with them. I don’t expect anything from the Bucs ground game this season, with or without Doug.

  29. Dooshlarue Says:

    Hey Joe,
    Can you please drop the DM articles and instead focus on more relevant things like:

    How is Johnnie Football doing?
    Is Roddie White going to make a comeback?

    Licht is in the driver’s seat on this one.
    Just let it play out will ya?

  30. Cobraboy Says:

    Why the nonsense, man? First, Joe writes about what Joe finds interesting. That’s the only rule here. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Take your mouse elsewhere. Second, Joe has no beef with Doug Martin. Joe was in front of Martin when he spoke at One Buc Palace a month ago. Joe even gave Martin a little breather and flipped the subject from his drug issues to his take on Jeremy McNichols, you know, football. Here’s that story: https://www.joebucsfan.com/2017/05/hard-runner/ … Joe is a Bucs fan. Not only that, Joe has a vested interest in the Bucs’ success. Bucs win and traffic here goes up. Bucs lose and traffic goes down. Again, if you don’t like Joe writing about the Bucs’ running game and Martin, then don’t read it.–Joe

  31. unbelievable Says:

    See Joe here’s the problem: You’re acting like all out other backs were good and only Martin struggled. The fact is Sims was garbage as a lead back (most of us already knew this), and Quizz only had 2 or 3 decent games, and his best came against the worst garbage defense in the league (49ers). And none of those guys were facing stacked boxes the way Martin was. None.

    Here’s how I breakdown blame in the run game woes:

    20% on the lack of receiving weapons (although we have Mike Evans, AND the leading touchdown scoring TE, Cameron Brate)

    25% on repetitive, predictable play calling (see lack of weapons above)

    35% on poor o-line play (MOST running plays stuffed behind the LOS in the entire league! And, Koetter said yesterday they were weak at the point of attack.)

    20% on our running backs

  32. Bucsfan4life Says:

    Who cares what history suggest. Before ap came back from his injury that hadn’t been done before. I like coming here for articles and Bucs news when there is some but every martin article has been based on mostly reaching from what someone did or didn’t say in an interview and nothing on what is actually happening. If we went by what’s happening and what’s been said he will most likely be here unless a breakout season by another rb or a relapse. He looks good in practice and he is taking first team reps and will most likely take first team reps in preseason. That tells me what I need to know until Bucs make their decision after week 3

  33. Bucsfan4life Says:

    And I agree with unbelievable. Sims proved he can’t do it and Rogers had I believe 2 maybe 3 good games and one was against panthers and one against 49ers. Nothing to write home about

  34. Mike Johnson Says:

    Rubbish. Complete idiotic nonsense. Thats what this article is. Not even..comment worthy.

  35. Kobe Faker Says:

    Still no love for our starting running back …Jacquizz

    Rodgers going to be top 3 rusher by week 4 and rush for 1k yards in 2017

    all our backs will be productive against 7 man fronts and our Oline will play well

    “Koetters playcalling and VH3 will be the keys to our 2017 Tampa Bay season”

    Kobe Faker

  36. The Buc Realist Says:

    The day kobe faker became kobe liar!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Right before the Bucs victory over KC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Kobe Faker Says:
    November 20th, 2016 at 10:42 am
    Yes, i will sacrifice myself in behalf the the tampa bay bucs.

    If tampa wins i will not post here ever again

    Lets go bucs!

  37. Kobe Faker Says:

    After what Jameis did front of 100k KC fans, chiefs knew they needed a franchise qb like we have

    Mahomes should give have his money to jameis

    Drafting Mahomes is KC’s ” I hope he is our KC Jaboo” draft pick

  38. Bucco bruce Says:

    Molly martin will lead the league in rushing despite 3 games out.tampaaaa

  39. The Buc Realist Says:

    And after that day kobe faker should have changed his name to “kobe liar” or “kobe welcher” or even “kobe faker 2.0”!!!!!!!!

    How can you dare to show your face to the JBF family when you made a bet and did not live up to it!!!!! don’t answer because its the same reason jfro-pak is human garbage!!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Cobraboy Says:

    No nonsense, Joe. None.

  41. tmaxcon Says:

    martin is simply unreliable take all the drugs out of it. licht will not gamble the future of the bucs on a unreliable POS who screwed his team last year. this is nfl not church league softball… there are millions of dollars difference in revenues from a winning successful organization or a basement dweller and you idiots want to gamble on a proven bad running back who has had more bad seasons than good. majority of his yards are meaningless garbage. like gmc way more smoke and mirrors than actual game changing moments. martin was never a game changer. a nice piece 2 out of 5 years but nothing special. i’d rather see him homeless than screwing over the bucs teammates again.

  42. tmaxcon Says:

    i’ll say one thing for Martin positive unlike Cancer93 Martin has actually taken over a game in his career where as the soft one only disappears

  43. mike Says:


    Masking your Doughate with stats isn’t fooling anyone.

  44. Cobraboy Says:

    @tmaxcon: can you point out ~ANY~ teammate who has ~ever~ made ~any~ comment about Martin “screwing over” the team?

    Or are you projecting again?

  45. tmaxcon Says:


    when you can’t stay healthy and produce because you are using drugs and drinking that’s letting your team down. his hamstring injuries are direct relation to hydration. obviously molly and alcohol dehydrate you thus making you vulnerable for injury.. its actually hard to stay hydrated on molly

    second and the only thing that matters is the loser got caught and is suspended thus letting his team down and screwing over teammates. dude made bad choices he choose to drink and pop molly. he chose drugs and drinking over his teammates. that can not be disputed or the little gerbil would not be suspended.

  46. Cobraboy Says:

    @tmaxcon: Understood.

    You have no evidence whatsoever that any teammate thinks he screwed them over.

    Surrender noted.

    Now I get to ask: can you point to ANY trainer or doctor familiar with Martin’s hammy who said the cause was dehydration because of alcohol and drugs?

    I’ll wait right here.

    Here is my point: there is NO ONE who knows the FACTS of what went down, and what the front offices and coaches think about the situation. It’s all conjecture, opinion, speculation, rumor mongering and projection that you, the Joes, Dumig and all the chattering classes produce.

    One does not have to be a Martin fan to see how many are willing to railroad and lynch the guy based on nothing other than rumors or cherry-picked “facts.”.

  47. JimmyJack Says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to compare Martin to the worst of the worst. I would say that he has a much better chance to rebound from a bad season then the likes to Chris Perry(who?) and Willis Mcaghee(how do you spell that).

  48. Bucsfanman Says:

    This statement by unbelievable seems to be ignored when this argument comes up:

    “35% on poor o-line play (MOST running plays stuffed behind the LOS in the entire league! And, Koetter said yesterday they were weak at the point of attack.)”

    Using Rodgers’ (a scat-back) YPC as a measuring stick does not tell the whole story. I don’t know what games other people were watching, but I saw defenders in the backfield constantly when Doug was handed the ball. Even Koetter alluded to it in Joe’s article yesterday. Why do we keep skirting this FACT?

  49. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Bucs could have signed AP – they didn’t
    Bucs could’ve drafted Dalvin Cook- they didn’t
    Obviously, coaching staff thinks they’re going to get 75-80 yds per game from motivated Martin , especially with receiving weapons and upgrades on offense.
    Joe- last year- no Howard, no Sweezy, no Jackson… you really think these players won’t make a difference?

  50. tnew Says:

    Doug Martin..2017 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.. That would be a great headline for a story on JBF.. Dare to dream, but stranger things have happened.

  51. LongSeason Says:

    If running game is firing on all cylinders then Martin may be released during window where Bucs could opt out of contract.

    Martin could come back if he has a strong camp, pre-season (pending the number of carries he gets) and on one of two conditions.

    Martin renegotiates a more cap friendly contract filled with less base pay, guaranteed money and more incentives.

    The running games is struggling despite great or good blocking.

    I am for the Martin accepting a renegotiated cap and cut friendly contract. Earn it or lose it.

    Martin’s problems are not the reason why the Bucs haven’t been good. In his best two years the Bucs were 7-9 and 2-14. The bottom line is the team has lacked overall talent the last few years. The talent is better now so things are looking up.

    There are three main questions about Martin.

    Which RB on the team is a more talented runner than Doug?
    What will be Doug’s availability over the next few seasons?
    How did handling the pressure of being an NFL starting RB affect Doug and his suspensions?

    I personally like Doug. He has proved to be human but he hasn’t beaten anyone up, he never rammed his Hummer into his wife’s BMW with daughter inside and he never engaged in dog fighting.

  52. Trubucfan22 Says:

    Joe doesnt hate doug Martin. He knows that if he trolls us he will get clicks. He’s basically Tom Jonesing us. Lol
    Wrong. Joe writes about what Joe finds interesting. Do you really think Doug Martin stories “get clicks?” That would be completely inaccurate in the scope of the way you are projecting. Joe will confidently state that you have zero idea of what piques the interest of the Bucs-fan masses. Also, notice that Joe doesn’t play any one story more than any other on the JoeBucsFan.com. They all get equal representation in the queue, unlike traditional media and other sites that have varying locations and promotions for stories when they are published. –Joe

  53. bucs_365 Says:

    Joe suggests… History is just what it is. And history has no bearing on whether Martin is mentally and physically healthy. Joe continues to work the anti-Doug Martin narrative.
    More stupidity. First, Joe wrote numerous positive things about Doug Martin through spring practice, from looking quicker to Jameis rallying behind Doug in an interesting moment with fans, and more. Frankly, Joe doesn’t even know what a narrative is as it relates to this website. Again, Joe writes about what Joe finds interesting. The Doug Martin situation is awfully interesting and compelling. Joe doesn’t like Doug Martin the player coming off a brutal season. The film don’t lie.–Joe

  54. Cobraboy Says:

    Joe, I watched EVERY carry Martin made in 2016. Three. Times. Coaches film.

    What about the film is lying? On 43% of his carries, he was hit at least one yard behind the line of scrimmage! Is that “lying?”

    Now on one point I will agree with you: getting hit behind the line of scrimmage on 43% of your carries is, indeed, “brutal

  55. Cobraboy Says:

    Bucsfanman Says:

    “35% on poor o-line play (MOST running plays stuffed behind the LOS in the entire league! And, Koetter said yesterday they were weak at the point of attack.)”

    Using Rodgers’ (a scat-back) YPC as a measuring stick does not tell the whole story. I don’t know what games other people were watching, but I saw defenders in the backfield constantly when Doug was handed the ball. Even Koetter alluded to it in Joe’s article yesterday. Why do we keep skirting this FACT?

    Doesn’t fit the paradigm.

  56. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    Cobra, Doug should consider making you his agent. You definitely support the guy.

  57. Cobraboy Says:

    @Love and Warrick: I support facts and truth in football analysis.

    I have posted the FACTS regarding every touch the guy had in 2016. But those FACTS don’t fit some folks emotional agenda.

    I just don’t like seeing anyone trashed with made-up baloney.

    That’s all.