When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Patriots Thursday night, many eyes will be on the return of the lead running back – Doug Martin
He’s baaaaaack. Doug Martin will make his return Thursday night for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and many Bucs fans will turn their focus to him in hopes that he returns to his 2015 form. Against the Patriots, that may not be out of the question.
The Patriots are currently allowing 132.8 rush yards per game and the Bucs have had a somewhat inconsistent rush attack – given they didn’t rush the ball hardly at all against the Vikings. In their two victories, the Bucs have rushed a total of 55 times for 230 yards – a 4.18 yard per carry average. In order to neutralize Tom Brady and the Pats’ offense, the Buccaneers have to focus on the run and control the tempo of the game.
Enter Doug Martin.
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As I said on the latest Walking The Plank podcast, Doug Martin is the ultimate x-factor in this game. It’s the old rest vs. rust argument, but Martin is entering this game as fresh as a player could possibly be. The Patriots have played four games, the Bucs three, and both are playing on a short week.
Doug, if he is the running back the Bucs’ brass and fans hope that he is, will be able to pound on the Pats defense and wear them down. We all know Martin gets better as the game gets later and if he’s being fed the ball on a regular basis. In doing so, the Bucs will dominate time of possession and keep Brady’s opportunities to a minimum.
The Pats defense is also allowing 324 passing yards per game, the only team in the NFL allowing more than the Bucs’ 315.7. That means both teams can air it out virtually at will and with the loss of Kwon Alexander and likely T.J. Ward and Lavonte David this week, the Bucs have to keep their defense off the field for as long as possible.
It’ll all boil down to Martin making a grand entrance – and one heck of an impression – in this 2017 season under the bright lights of Thursday Night Football.