A Closer Look: Doug Martin's Pro Bowl Season

A Closer Look

Doug Martin's Pro Bowl Season

Article by Scott Smith

Doug Martin's just-completed 2015 season was simply one of the best ever by a Tampa Bay Buccaneer at his position.

By the most straightforward measure of a running back – rushing yards, of course – Martin put up the third-highest total in franchise history, with 1,402 yards on 288 carries. Martin's totals have only been topped by one other Buccaneer tailback, because his own 1,454-yard effort in 2012 is the team's second-best single-season mark. James Wilder's team 1984 team record of 1,544 rushing yards remains safe for at least one more year.

Martin is the first player in Buccaneer history to have two separate 1,400 yard seasons. In 2015, he got there in impressively consistent fashion, rushing for at least 45 yards in every game except one. The end result was the NFL's second-highest rushing total in 2015, behind only the 1,485 put up by Minnesota's Adrian Peterson.


Though a three-touchdown deficit in the first half of the season finale in Carolina limited Martin to 16 carries against the Panthers, he also caught seven passes for 60 yards. That gave him 108 yards from scrimmage in that Week 17 game and a total of 1,673 on the season.

Again, that total ranks among the best in Buccaneer history and the top marks in the NFL in 2015. Martin finished fourth on the NFL's list this year, and second among all running backs, once again trailing only Peterson (1,707). It was his own second-best single-season mark, after the 1,926 he recorded as a rookie in 2012, and it ranks third in team annals. The only Buccaneer ever to put up more yards from scrimmage than Martin in his two best seasons was Wilder, with 2,229 in 1984.


Martin did improve on his 2012 numbers in one key category: Yards per carry. His 4.87 yards per carry ranked seventh in the NFL among all players with at least 100 carries, and fifth among running backs (Martin’s own teammate, Charles Sims, was two spots higher with a 4.90 average). The yards per carry marks for Martin (and Sims) narrowly missed setting a new Buccaneers single-season record. That mark still belongs to LeGarrette Blount, who averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 201 totes in 2010; however Martin's average is the best ever for a Buc who toted the ball at least 250 times. It was also the best per-carry average among the top 10 rushers in the NFL in 2015.

In this regard, Martin was consistent as well. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry or better in half of his 16 games and only twice fell below three yards per attempt. The 6-10 Buccaneers weren't always in position to lean on Martin as much as they would have liked in the second halves of their games, but when they did give it to their fourth-year back he rarely disappointed.


One of the reasons that Martin reached the 1,400-yard mark and nearly set a new Buccaneer per-carry record is that he was by some measures the NFL's best "big-play" back. Martin led all NFL players in 2015 with 14 runs of 20 or more yards by a comfortable margin, ahead of the 11 put up by St. Louis rookie Todd Gurley. He had a total of 33 runs of 10 or more yards, which ranked second in the league. Martin's 84-yard ramble against Philadelphia in Week 11 stands as the longest run in franchise history.


Tampa Bay's offensive line was rightly lauded as one of the team's most improved units in 2015, and it obviously had a big hand in helping Martin put up his superb numbers. Even so, the NFL's best backs often have to do some of the work on their own after darting through the initial gaps created by their O-Lines. Sometimes that's a matter of making a move in the open field to elude tacklers, and sometimes it involves breaking or spinning off would-be tackles.

That latter category is known as "yards after contact," and Martin had plenty of that in 2015. In fact, no NFL running back had more "YAC" than Martin this year, not even Peterson, the rushing champion. Of the 1,402 yards Martin racked up in 2015, 650 came after contact.


In just four seasons, Martin has already cracked the Buccaneers' top five in career rushing, with 3,806 yards. Only Wilder and the famous "Thunder & Lightning" duo of Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn remain ahead of him on the franchise's all-time rushing yardage chart.

If Martin gets a chance to build on that total as a Buccaneer, he is a good bet to put those top spots in danger, because no other running back in team history has been as prolific on a per-game basis. Martin has played in 49 games and averaged 77.7 rushing yards per contest for the Buccaneers. That's the best mark in team history, well ahead of the 54.9 yards per game posted by Errict Rhett from 1994-97.


Since being drafted with the 31st overall pick in the 2012 draft, Doug Martin has wasted little time in establishing himself as one of the best running backs ever to put on a Buccaneer uniform. He burst onto the scene with a marvelous rookie campaign in 2012 and has now added another superb effort in 2015. It was, in fact, one of the best seasons ever put together by a Tampa Bay running back.

Story by Scott Smith. Graphics by David Sharpensteen. Web Design by Eric Rook.
Additional Research and Concepts by Eric Holland.