TAMPA – Running back Doug Martin’s return to the lineup hasn’t gone quite as well as the Buccaneers had hoped. Not from a running standpoint at least.
In his first two games back after missing six with a hamstring strain he suffered in Week 2 at Arizona, Martin has gained just 99 yards on 40 carries, or 2.475 yards per carry.
Martin, though, has developed over time into more than just a great runner. He’s become a valuable option in the passing game as well and it’s there that he’s making an impact right now.
For example, during the Bucs 19-17 victory over the Chiefs, Martin became a regular part of the Bucs screen game, where he caught three passes for 42 yards, including one for 27.
He also threw one of the most important and effective blocks of the game on what proved to be one of the most critical plays of the game early in the second quarter.
With the game tied and the Bucs facing second-and-16 from the Kansas City 35, the Chiefs threw a five-man blitz at the Bucs on which defensive tackle Chris Jones immediately broke through the line of scrimmage.
That, though, is where Martin stepped up and threw what coach Dirk Koetter referred to as a “phenomenal’’ block on Jones that allowed quarterback Jameis Winston to step into what proved to be a 31-yard pass to Mike Evans to the Kansas City 4.
The Bucs took the lead four plays later on a 22-yard Roberto Aguayo field goal, completing a 63-yard drive that started with the 27-yard gain by Martin off Winston’s first screen toss.
That screen to Martin was so effective, in fact, that the Bucs went back to it again five plays into the second half. This time it went for 14 yards and once again it set up a key score.
Six plays after Martin made his catch, Aguayo stepped into a 36-yard field goal that gave the Bucs a 12-10 lead at the 5-minute mark of the third quarter.
So while he may not be doing all that much for fantasy owners right now, Martin is still doing a lot for the Buccaneers. Sometimes in ways that are less appreciated than others.