“We Will Just Have To See”

June 22nd, 2017

Dirk Koetter talks Doug Martin usage

Winning Bucs coach Dirk Koetter is sailing into uncharted waters.

Yes, training camp is five weeks away. The first preseason game is seven weeks away. A month later, the 2017 regular season kicks off.

We know one Bucs player who won’t be available for that first game at Miami is running back Doug Martin. Last year, Martin was popped for a whiz quiz and he sought treatment for a dependence issue. Flunking the whiz quiz handed Martin a four-game suspension by the NFL. He served one game last year and will miss the first three games of 2017.

As the Bucs have made clear, Martin is dealing with an issue bigger than football. So at this point, on this Thursday in late June, no one knows for a fact Martin will return to Tampa Bay. Martin’s health is the primary goal and priority No. 1.

But a sticky situation may be just beyond the horizon. Let’s say Martin does return. What will be his role be when (if) he is available for Week 4, a late-Sunday afternoon home game against the Giants?

Joe asked Koetter about this subject for this morning’s edition of the “Ira Kaufman Podcast.” Even Koetter confessed he doesn’t really know. Yet.

JoeBucsFan: This is a really fluid, hypothetical question: Everyone wants the best for Doug. With what he is going through, which you stated before, it is bigger than football. Let’s say everything works out great for him. He checks all the boxes. Everything is good on a health standpoint. Great training camp. Runs really well in the preseason. Then he hits the [final] three-game [portion of his] suspension. Whoever you choose to carry the rock in those three games plays fantastic, [runs] for four or five yards a clip. When Doug becomes available, does is automatically slotted back into the starting spot or are you the type of coach who will go with the hot hand? How would you determine what happens at that point?

Dirk Koetter: Well, you answered your own question, that is all hypothetical, alright? Everything – how do I know if everything is going to go that way? Hopefully at the end of the three games Doug is still in good health. But we have no idea what is going to happen to our other tailbacks by then. So, I don’t spend too much time worrying about that kind of stuff. Again, I go back to what I just said, ‘How can you have too many good players?’ I sort of look at it as we will cross that bridge when we get to it, because, why worry about it until you have to? We have a lot of other stuff that we need to be concerned with. You know, if everything was 100 percent perfect – I don’t have experience with a guy taking three weeks off and then coming back. So, you will have practices in there and we would have to see how we are doing as an offense, how we are doing with our running game. We will just have to see.

This seems like the smart, prudent option for Koetter.

If (pick a running back, any running back) is breaking off four- or five-yard runs a pop, the offense is humming and, more importantly, the Bucs are winning, Joe isn’t sure how or why anyone would louse up a good situation by fixing something not broken and force Martin (after a three-week layoff) into the starting lineup.

Of course, if the Bucs offense is stagnant, the running game impotent and the team is struggling for wins, then that makes Koetter’s call a whole lot easier.

That is, if Martin returns.

40 Responses to ““We Will Just Have To See””

  1. 813bucboi Says:

    the best case scenario would be the oline being dominate right out of the gate….wouldn’t matter who’s running the rock if the rb has 2 or 3 holes to run thru…..hopefully quiz can run like he did last year and doug can return to his 2015 form….GO BUCS!!!!

  2. Buc1987 Says:

    I say it’s a good thing that this happened to Martin…

    What else would we have to read about?

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    @Dirk Koetter: “Well, you answered your own question, that is all hypothetical, alright?” Coach could’ve stopped right there Joe. Everything after that was gravy.

  4. Lamarcus Says:

    Looks like a no brainer for Koetter or anyone with common sense. Can’t have enough good players. So what if the others are running 5 a pop or not Martin will be there as he is today. Saying Martin returns is saying as he is not on the team today. Martin is on the team now. Martin is the best option. Look at other teams and how they handle their suspended players….. they don’t get cut

  5. rrsrq Says:

    I am a big DM22 fan, however I can see where you are coming from, being an Orlando Magic fan when they ventured into the NBA championship and was playing lights out with back up point guard Rafer Alston, then Jameer Nelson got healthy for the finals, the Magic inserted him back in the line up and then got swept. My basketball analogy, you can’t mess with the chemistry, but at least this is early in the season.

  6. Mike Says:

    Dearest Joe,

    Please stop trying to influence our head coach’s thinking with your brilliant “Journalism”, AKA, seeds of doubt and Doug hate.

    Thanks so much!

    Yours truly,

    All fans, coaches and front office staff who, with functioning, rational and reasoning minds, realize we have a potential candidate for the NFL rushing title on our roster, when healthy and focused.
    Ridiculous comment. First, Joe has zero influence on Dirk Koetter. Get real. Second, Joe asked the coach a straight question after he’s had 2 months to be around Martin since his return. Joe has no “Doug hate” whatsoever. Joe does, though, despise a 2.9 yards per carry average with a passion. It’s not Martin had a small sample size. He was in the top-30 in carries in the NFL.–Joe

  7. Lord Cornelius Says:

    imo best case scenario is McNichols balls out and is a steal of a feature back and we move Martin for a draft pick.

    Don’t think that’ll happen. I’m guessing we role with Martin/Quizz/Sims most the year based on experience with Koetter

  8. mike n Says:

    I remember the 1st preseason game of 2015. Doug had a few carries and looked like he was shot out of a cannon. Looked fast, fit, and the way he did his rookie year. In the 1st few minutes you could tell he was going to have a big year. He was focused and it was his contract year. Maybe we get one more year like that (13 games) and then he goes somewhere else after the season? Too bad the suspension is 3 games instead of two because he didn’t play the last 2 of 2016. Will be an interesting training camp.

  9. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    If I had to put in a percentage, I would say there’s a 10% chance Doug comes back, and a 1% chance he comes back without taking a pay cut (only because there’s always a chance, so I can’t put zero). First of all, I don’t expect us to struggle offensively with him out. Second, he’s not getting a good endorsement from the team. All we are getting is “we will see”, and that doesn’t sound like the team is 100% in his corner. Finally, I don’t think we are going to run the ball as much as we have in the past. I think with all the additions to the offense, we are going to go 4 wide and sling it around the field. We have the best young QB in the game (a #1 pick), a bunch of weapons, and a coach that isn’t scurred to fling it around.

  10. Joe Says:

    Doug hate.

    Don’t hate him. Never did. Actually rather like him.

  11. Picaroon45 Says:

    The Dolphins (30), Bears (27) and Vikings (20) ranked in the bottom of rushing defense in 2016. The Giants and Patriots tied at #3. The running game should be successful in games 1-3 and face a more difficult time in games 3-4 running the ball, regardless who is the primary RB in each game.

  12. shouldhavedraftedeifert Says:

    so many words, yet so little said.

  13. The Buc Realist Says:

    Hawaiian is closer to the truth of the handing it off and running it up the middle will be going down!!!!!! The fans will have to “realize” in the first couple of games, that the O-line learning to gel with all the new players in new positions, not to lose their heads and scream for drug martin the savior!!!!!!

    But the 4 vert concepts will be more apparent this year!!!!!!

  14. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    That’s seems like it happened yesterday rrs,still a foul taste inn my mouth over that one. Good analogy tho bro.

  15. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    Largely agree with your take at 10% but I’m no longer certain Doug will automatically be forced to take a pay cut if he stays.

    If he stays it means the Bucs master plan of drafting McNichols to take Doug’s place has either failed or at minimum been placed on hold. Our desperation factor increases.

    If Quiz/Sims/Barber do not produce and it appears clear that Doug can based on a great pre season…our desperation factor increases.

    IMHO the only way we keep Doug is if we NEED him. If we NEED him than one more year of 5 million is not going to make a difference on the cap or the budget. OTOH if we try to renegotiate Doug may be amenable then again there may be other teams 3 weeks in with RB needs as bad as our or even worse who might be bidders. If Doug stays I think he gets paid.

  16. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Real talk Hawaiian and Lord. I agree Realist!!!,it should become more evident this season.

  17. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    I just can’t see a scenario with what we have on the roster at RB this team struggling in the run game. Are they household names no but they were all good enough to make it to the highest level of football. With a beefier O line, the attention that will have to paid to the outside weapons I find it hard to believe we will struggle in our run game. Its about the system that makes the pats run game click. I heard all draft season we can take a RB in the later rounds. We did so and I’m good wit that. Just do your job an we’ll be fine.

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    Hawaiian, fastest way to lose IMO is to become predictable (seems like we Bucs fans have seen that act before for some reason). The beauty of having multiple WR, TE, RB weapons is that Koetter now has many more options to match our strengths against opponents’ weaknesses (and yes, every NFL team has weaknesses, even the Patriots). Tend to think that the Bucs … on the season … will end up with roughly 40% rushing and 60% passing. But in any given game, the ratio could run 50-50 or 30-70. Doubt that we’ll see very many (if any) games this season in which the Bucs rush more than they pass though. Too many WR & TE weapons to not employ them.

  19. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    With the weaponry we now have( thank you Mr. Licht )we don’t require the leagues rushing leader. Just a few guys that do they’re job effectively. Sorta like Freeman and Coleman over in atl.

  20. tmaxcon Says:

    hawaiian is dead on with his post. the only additional factor is there is NO WAY Koetter or Licht will trust Doug Martin. They paid the man and he screwed them. Do not underestimate that.

  21. Erik w/ Clean Athletics Says:

    Ahhh, the cup runeth over…. What a nice feeling.

    I think McNichols emerges as our #1 RB eventually, but I really do love all of our RB’s.

  22. Pickgrin Says:

    There’s a hell of a lot better chance than 10% that Doug Martin is part of this team in 2017. More like 70% IMO – but 50/50 minimum at this point.

  23. tmaxcon Says:

    if he does play there is 3 out of 5 chance he SUCKS!!!!

  24. Pickgrin Says:

    Statistically true tmax. So is the 40% chance he will be one of the NFLs best RBs…

  25. webster Says:

    Guys, this is not rocket science and no this is not the same as the magic bringing back nelson. Nelson had not played in 4 months and it was the finals. Week 4 of the nfl season is nowhere near the same. You know i did not see the steelers debating about bringing back leveon bell after being suspended. No they plugged him in eventhough williams was balling. What is with the joes for not thinking that two is better than one? Your coach just said it, there is nothing wrong with having talent. Who the freak cares if a running back is running a 4 yards a pop? It could mean many things ie the run defense sucks or one big run inflates the stats. Adding martin to that mix is a plus. Why would you frown on that? I get it, get rid of martin but sign a 36 year old wr who would need to play special teams. Makes perfect sense.

  26. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    Agree with Hawaiian

  27. Cobraboy Says:

    Why would anyone put any weight on the answer to a hypothetical—and leading—question.

    Koetters salient comment: “Again, I go back to what I just said, ‘How can you have too many good players?


    I suspect he’s tired of answering the same question over and over and giving the same answer every time.

    [If you can find last time Koetter was asked that specific question, please email Joe the link. There was nothing “leading” about that question in any way. — Joe]

  28. Cobraboy Says:

    @shouldhavedraftedeifert: word!

    Koetter didn’t say much of anything.

  29. Cobraboy Says:

    The ONLY way Martin comes back at less money is if he clears waivers and no other team offers him more as a Free Agent.

    Why would he want to come back to a team that cut him?

    Will never happen.

  30. biff barker Says:

    Hypothetically, the Rays may have the same problem in CF soon enough.

    Koetter’s right though, a deep roster is a nice problem to have.

  31. BucEmUp Says:

    Koetter saying you can’t have to many good players is pretty telling….he is planning or hoping to have Martin for the remainder of the season after week 3

  32. The Buc Realist Says:


    If you have been in the league for 4 years, then they do not go thru waivers!!!!!

    and if they are going to lower his number, it will be announced after the season starts. Then he has less leverage of going to a new team to learn a new offense, and more likely to stay and play at a very reduced rate!! If they like him then you put in “incentives” that if he basically has a pro-bowl season he can earn back 75% of the original contract!!!!!

    But right now they will make him look good to see if they cannot trade him, and if they don’t he will be injury insurance, then maybe a contract restructure if they need him!!!!!

    Go bucs!!!!!!!!!

  33. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    “There’s a hell of a lot better chance than 10% that Doug Martin is part of this team in 2017. More like 70% IMO – but 50/50 minimum at this point.”


    Fair enough if that is your opinion, but what exactly are you basing it upon? I don’t see how even the biggest Doug Martin fan in the world can be so naive to believe that the organization has endorsed Doug Martin. If you think the team saying “we will wait and see”, and “we don’t have to make a decision yet”, then we have given him a ringing endorsement. If you live in reality, that’s the first step in getting rid of someone.

    Could he be on the team – absolutely. But I see far more scenarios where he isn’t on the team versus ones where he is. That’s where I come up with the 10%. I think he needs us to not only be losing, but not running the ball well, and probably having some RB injuries on top of all that. Oh yeah, and he would still need to take less money. Even with all that, I can still see us going in another direction. It’s not like finding a RB is as hard as finding a QB or pass rusher.

  34. Pickgrin Says:

    Hawaiian – there’s been plenty of signs that the Bucs are supporting Martin. To me, the most telling quote in all of Koetter’s most recent answer was – “How can you have too many good players?”.

    If the Bucs were 90% leaning towards getting rid of Martin as you contend, don’t you think that the team would have drafted a RB prior to round 5 from the best class of RB prospects to have come out in well over a decade??

    You think they feel that strongly about Quizz Rodger’s ability to stay healthy and carry the primary running load for 16 weeks in the most important upcoming season for this franchise in recent memory?

  35. Cobraboy Says:

    @ BucRealist. True, no waivers. But a contract is IN FORCE until he is released, and then the release is announced to every team. Renegotiation CANNOT be done in private prior to release or it’s “tampering.”

    There is NO re-negotiating a CURRENT contract that is in force. He would have to be released first.

    And why would Martin want to play for the team that treated him so poorly?

    I see ZERO actual signs the Bucs have any intention excepting keeping him. None. Either word or deed. In fact, you’d think the team would be running other RB’s with the #1 in OTA’s if they were thinking of cutting the guy.

    YOU may not like the guy, but I assure you that the NFL is stacked with personnel pros, not casual fans.

    It’s a long way before any decision has to be made.

  36. Hawaiian Buc Says:


    First of all, judging off of last year, Doug Martin is not a good player. He was downright horrible. Who gives 2 craps what he did 2 years ago. I can make a list of players who were good 2 years ago and are garbage now. I see a guy who played well on a contract year, then took his money, partied, and cost his team a trip to the playoffs. He is the reason we didn’t get to play in January – make no mistake about it. You think Koetter and Licht don’t know that? You think they’re just going to forgive him and move on – all for the chance that he MIGHT have a good season?

    As for Rodgers, he was 10 times better than Martin last year. He’s a better pass catcher, a better pass protector, he fumbles less, and ran the ball considerably better than him. And oh yeah, he doesn’t get suspended with the team’s playoff chances hanging in the balance. As for him staying healthy, I have more faith in him staying healthy than I do Doug Martin. At least I don’t think Rodgers is out getting blasted every night, which I’m going to guess probably isn’t too good for the body.

    This team isn’t going to rely on a RB this year. This is a passing league and we have a #1 QB with tons of weapons around him. Our QB loves to sling it, and so does our coach. The RB better be able to pass protect and catch passes out of the backfield. Once we are airing it out all over the field, you or I could run the ball, as the defense will be on their heels.

    You can believe whatever you want. I see why you think he’s coming back, as on the surface it looks that way. I’ve just seen enough football and heard enough coach speak to know that the chances are slim, and I would be shocked if he ever suits up again (I don’t know if they will even let him play in the preseason).

  37. Cobraboy Says:

    @Hawaiian: Once again, first contact on Martin at least one yard behind the LOS was on 43% of his touches last season. 43%. I challenge you to find any RB in the last 5 years with an equal or higher stat, much less with more yards.

    To show how he dictated stacked defenses, according to a PFF stat another posted offered, the Bucs as a team had first contact behind the LOS on running plays like 24% of the runs.

    How is that his fault?

    As much as I like Rodgers in his role with the Bucs, in his 78 games in the NFL, he has started a total of 10 times, including 5 with the Bucs. He is NOT a proven starter by any stretch of the imagination. Additionally, only one season in his 6 year career has he averaged more than 3.9 ypc. Last season, take away his 45yd. run, and he would have averaged—Ta Dda!—under 4.0 ypc.

    Injuries happen, especially to RB’s. Even good RB’s. Or great RB’s.

    In the two years he’s been healthy he’s been a Top 2-3 RB in the league. In the years he’s been injured—torn labrum in ’13, MCL sprain in ’14, hammy in ’16—he’s not done well, but no RB with those injuries would have either.

    Right now Doug Martin is the best RB on the Bucs roster by far. Folks may hate him, folks may complain, folks may exaggerate, but it is what it is.

  38. Maze Says:

    You nailed it Joe it’s not that confusing. If say Jermey is running well early and continues to improve its his job to lose. Martin has earned nothing but another chance. Period

  39. Maze Says:

    More like a 75% chance he returns lol

  40. JMarkBuc Says:

    For those who say the Bucs aren’t endorsing DM, why would they at this point? No organization with a player in DM’s situation is gonna say ” everything is great you are right back to your starting job, all is forgiven”. They are gonna keep him in prove it mode as long as they possibly can. He may be in prove it mode for the rest of his career for that matter.

    IMO, DM makes the team.. Quizz could pop a hamstring in week one, you never know.. If he does come back and plays well, one of the other RB’s could all of a sudden have a ” mystery injury” and be put on IR.. Then be brought back later. Two players can return from IR this year right? Would buy a little more time.. Just sayin’ . In any case there is a long way to go before any of it can be decided..just like coach K said