We all saw this coming, but now it’s official.
Doug Martin’s tenure in Tampa is over. The Bucs released him today after six seasons in red and pewter.
The Buccaneers took Martin in the first round of the 2012 draft. He rushed for over 1400 yards, twice. I will never forget that game in Oakland where he ran wild for about 250 yards and four touchdowns. Heck, he was one of the top running backs in the NFL.
But it’s impossible to ignore how this all ended. There was the second-to-last game of the 2016 season in New Orleans, with the Bucs still in playoff contention, and Martin was inactive. At the time, we thought it was a benching, only to learn later he had been suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. And Martin announced he had entered a drug rehab program.
In 2017, he just wasn’t the same.
This was a move that had to be made. So now what? Well, right now Peyton Barber moves into the lead running back role, pending what the Bucs do in the draft.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
All of a sudden, things are looking up for the Buccaneers.
They beat the 49ers on Sunday, 34-17, for their second straight win. The Bucs are now back at .500.
Jameis Winston shook off an early, poorly-thrown interception to end up with a nice day. Mike Williams is showing no signs of a sophomore slump. And even without Doug Martin, the Bucs suddenly have found a running game, thanks to another big day from Jacquizz Rodgers.
When Tampa Bay fell behind 14-0 early, I thought it was going to be a long afternoon in Santa Clara. No sir. The next 27 points were scored by the road team.
The fact that San Francisco’s run defense is terrible should not diminish the effort by Rodgers, who finished with 154 yards on the ground. Evans’ performance (two more TD’s) is even more impressive when you consider that Vincent Jackson was placed on injured reserve last week. Russell Shepard and Peyton Barber also found the end zone. Who are those two guys? That’s my point; other players stepped it up nicely.
The defense is also playing much better. Yes, they let the ‘Niners march right down the field to start the game. And the second TD they gave up was the direct result of a bonehead mistake by Winston. But the D held San Francisco to a field goal the rest of the way.
Roberto Aguayo missed another field goal. Yes, it was a 50-yarder, but it’s only going to add to the scrutiny surrounding the second-round pick. He’s now 6-for-11 on FG’s this season. Not good enough.
But six games in, and the Bucs are very much right in the mix. The next three games are at Ray-Jay, where Tampa Bay has struggled to win in recent years. That has to change, starting with the game against a very good Oakland team next Sunday.
Photo courtesy: buccaneers.com