There is little doubt that Doug Martin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ second-year running back, can improve upon his wonderful rookie campaign. The questions are: How much better can he get and, more importantly, how exactly can he manage to get better?
Martin set the bar pretty high. He’s already a Pro Bowler, already fantasy football nobility, already #57 on NFL Network’s Top 100 Players. He narrowly missed becoming just the third NFL rookie to put up 2,000 combined yards from scrimmage, and his 1,454 yards on the ground alone ranked as the 10th-best rookie total in league annals. He scored 12 touchdowns, averaged 4.6 yards per carry, fumbled only once (and it was disputed) and caught 49 passes. There simply is no hole in those numbers, no obvious deficiency to erase.
By the standard coaching trope, however, every day that you don’t improve, you get worse. Martin may have to go very high to improve upon what he has already done, but that is clearly the goal for both him and the Buccaneers.
“Yes, I had a great year last year, but there’s always room to improve,” said Martin. “We’re out here, we’ve got a great backfield of backs and we’re shaping them up and looking pretty good. We want to make it to the Super Bowl and we’re out here full speed trying to get it.”
But the question again: How?
“That’s a good question,” said Head Coach Greg Schiano on Wednesday, after watching another impressive performance by the young back out on the practice field. “Because I think he looks really good out there.”
Still, Schiano says there is answer, and it has two parts, one mental and one physical.
“My whole thing with Doug is, continue to get a better understanding through [Running Backs] Coach [Ernest] Byner and the rest of our staff, just a better understanding of what all your job is,” said Schiano. “And then, physically, taking of himself.”