Should the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Shut Down Doug Martin for the Season?
It's a question many Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are asking right now.
Should the team "shut down" second-year running back Doug Martin for the remainder of the 2013 season? First, we need to know the exact prognosis of Martin's injury, and right now, we don't.
As if the #Bucs needed more bad news: I'm told the shoulder injury to RB Doug Martin is serious. Could be out several weeks or longer.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 21, 2013
The next day, FOX Sports' Mike Garafolo provided a rather grave update on Martin's injury:
Source tells @FOXSports1 Buccaneers RB Doug Martin suffered what's believed to be a torn labrum in his shoulder. Season possibly over.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 21, 2013
Moments later, NFL Network's Albert Breer confirmed Garafolo's report on Martin's injury and made a more distinct statement about his 2013 availability:
As @MikeGarafolo said, Bucs RB Doug Martin suffered a torn labrum yesterday against the Falcons, and is out for the year.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 21, 2013
At that point, it seemed as though it was only a matter of time until the Buccaneers officially announced that Martin's sophomore NFL season was over.
However, that never happened.
And NFL.com's Jeff Darlington tweeted this:
Bucs still holding out hope Doug Martin (shoulder) isn't done for year. He's almost certain to Thursday game but hasn't yet been ruled out.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) October 22, 2013
On Tuesday, Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune tweeted some hopeful news on the Martin injury front:
Bucs RB Doug Martin says his shoulder injury is not necessarily season ending and is currently day to day, "working with the trainers.''— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) October 22, 2013
The only thing that's clear is that no one—especially the media—knows if Martin's injured shoulder/labrum will medically keep him off the field for Tampa Bay's final 10 games or if he'll be able to return.
Does it matter, though?
Martin shouldn't receive another meaningful carry until Week 1 of the 2014 regular season.
That idea isn't suggesting that the Buccaneers should "give up" on this year. It's Week 8. No teams should be giving up at this point, and it's highly doubtful that any are doing so.
The idea's rooted in the long-term future of the franchise.
Then again, we mustn't ignore the fact that Tampa Bay is 0-6 and has one of the worst offenses in the NFL:
|Yards Per Drive||Points Per Drive||TDs Per Drive|
|24.96 (31)||1.16 (31)||.116 (31)|
And we mustn't ignore the fact that the Buccaneers are five games out in their division and sit in last place in the NFC.
After their extremely disappointing start, employing a more forward-thinking approach would probably be the most intelligent thing for the Buccaneers to do.
Though Martin plays a devalued position, Tampa Bay used a first-round pick on him in 2012, and he amassed 1,926 yards from scrimmage as a rookie.
Running backs get injured often, have short shelf lives and, in the majority of cases, their production can be replaced by a collection of cheaper, mid- to late-round picks.
However, the soon-to-be 25-year-old Martin is a nice building block for the Buccaneers organization.
He's only logged 507 touches in the NFL career, meaning he has plenty of good football ahead of him.
Here's a look at how some of the top, pass-catching running backs have fared after—or around—the 500-touch mark in their respective careers:
|Touches||Yards||Yards Per Touch|
|LeSean McCoy (After 497 touches)||720||3,652||5.07|
|Jamaal Charles (After 493 touches)||614||3,466||5.64|
|Ray Rice (After 495 touches)||1,142||5,759||5.04|
Based on those numbers, the Buccaneers should be encouraged by what could be ahead for Martin and thereby should protect such a valuable running back commodity.
But this is where things may get dicey.
If Tampa Bay's losing ways continue, could Greg Schiano, and even GM Mark Dominik, be on the hot seat?
Without a doubt.
Both men likely realize their jobs will be in jeopardy unless there's drastic improvement over the last half of the season.
Remember, Schiano went 7-9 last year and hasn't exactly received the most flattering publicity in 2013 as the team heads into late October without a win.
Dominik took over as Tampa Bay's GM in 2009. Since then, the Buccaneers are 24-40 and haven't made the playoffs.
Should the Buccaneers "shut down" Doug Martin for the remainder of the 2013 season?
Would added pressure to succeed in the short-term change the thinking of Schiano and Dominik regarding Martin playing this season?
Let's hope not.
The results can be devastating for a team when coaches and GMs make decisions with their own, individual motives in mind and disregard how those decisions could negatively affect the future of the organization if they're let go.
Doug Martin should be preserved for the future, the place in which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a chance to return to NFL relevance.
Playing him during what looks to be a wash of a 2013 season could be damaging to one of the league's young and most exciting offensive players.
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