In the race for starting Buccaneers running back, neither Doug Martin nor Jacquizz Rodgers made a real statement in game number one.
For the first three games of the regular season, the Buccaneers depth chart at running back is set. Well, at least at the top it’s set. With Doug Martin serving the remaining three games of his suspension, Jacquizz Rodgers will see the bulk of the work on the ground. As the 2016 team rushing leader, Rodgers should set the season off on the right foot. With all the weapons available to Jameis Winston through the air, there should be room to roam for the running game.
But what happens after the suspension is over? Many of us believe that the team should move on from Doug Martin. Not only does he now have the suspension on his record, he has injury problems and inconsistency throughout his career. Some believe that they should have either cut bait with Martin by now, or should do so before he returns to the field as a Buc. Let the young players take over the running back position.
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However, at least at this point, it doesn’t appear that Martin is going anywhere. We heard all offseason about how good he looked. Jason Licht said Martin looked as good as ever. The words could be lip service, but seeing that he is still with the team, it doesn’t appear that way.
If we assume that Martin is part of this team, than we must assume that we look at the running back position the old-fashioned way. The best player should get the starting role, meaning that there is a de-facto competition between Rodgers and Martin for the number one spot after week three.
If that is the case, someone had better step up, because nobody did in the first game.
Overall the Bucs ran for 3.8 yards per carry against the Bengals. It’s not a great number but it’s not the worst either. But as you look at the individual performances, you see that most were low. The number was brought up by Charles Sims and Jeremy McNichols. Everyone else, including the top of the depth chart, had a poor performance. Both Martin and Rodgers ran the ball four times for 11 yards, a whopping 2.75 yards per carry.
That’s not exactly an example of taking the bull by the horns from either guy. And there is a competition going on here, if we take the words at their face value. Think about it. Jason Licht has stated that Martin may not return as the starter. If we take all of the love for Martin and combine it with that statement, it equals a regular competition. How are those decided? Performance on the field. We may not see the result of this competition until week four, but it is a competition. Someone needs to step up and lead it.
Establishing a solid running game could be the difference between this offense being good and elite. One of these two guys needs to step forward and it starts in the preseason.