Doug Martin is headed back to the Pro Bowl. Gerald McCoy is simply making a habit of it.
The NFL announced the roster for its 2016 Pro Bowl on Tuesday morning, and it included those two members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both of whom are making return all-star trips. Martin hadn't been voted in since his outstanding 2012 rookie season but McCoy has now made each of the last four Pro Bowls, making him one of the more decorated all-stars in franchise history.
The league also revealed that guard Logan Mankins and linebacker Lavonte David are alternates. They may eventually be added to the Pro Bowl roster if selected players at their position are unable to play due to injuries or playoff advancement. That would be a first-time honor for David; Mankins was selected to six Pro Bowls (2007, 2009-13) while playing for the New England Patriots.
Photos of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy from the 2015 season.
Tampa Bay entered the last quarter of the season with a 6-6 record and a prominent place in the NFC playoff hunt but has since lost twice to be eliminated from contention. Martin, McCoy, David and Mankins are all finishing the season strong, however, and are (or would be) worthy choices for the league's annual showcase of its best players.
Martin ranks second in the NFL in both rushing yards and yards from scrimmage, just barely behind Minnesota's Adrian Peterson in both categories. With 1,305 rushing yards, Martin has a chance to both break the team's single-season record in that category and become the first player in team history to lead the NFL in rushing, receiving or passing yards. He is also on pace to set a new team record for yards per carry, at 5.1, and is the only player in the NFL with at least 150 carries and a rushing average of five or better.
Martin has been a big-play weapon for the Buccaneers throughout the season, with 32 carries of 10 or more yards. He leads the NFL with 13 runs of 20 or more yards, including a team-record 84-yarder at Philadelphia that was part of a 235-yard outing. Those 235 yards are the most by any running back in any single game this year.
McCoy's four consecutive Pro Bowl berths have coincided with his emergence as one of the best defensive tackles in the league. In fact, during the four seasons in question (2012-15), McCoy has recorded 30.5 sacks, the most by any defensive tackle in the NFL in that span. He has 7.5 sacks this year to lead a Buccaneer defense that ranks 14th in sacks per pass play despite suffering numerous injuries along the defensive line.
In fact, McCoy has played through several significant injuries, including ones to his shoulder and hand that have limited his practice time through much of the year. Still, he remains a focal point for opposing offenses in virtually every game, drawing frequent double-teams at the point of attack. Like David, McCoy has been an integral part of the team's outstanding run defense, which has allowed approximately 75 yards per game over the past six weeks.
McCoy becomes the ninth player in franchise history to go to at least four Pro Bowls, and the seventh to be selected in four consecutive seasons. Among defensive tackles, the only Buccaneer to have been to more all-star games than McCoy is Hall-of-Famer Warren Sapp, with seven.
Photos of running back Doug Martin from the 2015 season.
As for the Bucs' two potential additions to the Pro Bowl roster, David ranks fourth in the NFL in total tackles with 126, just 10 off the league lead shared by San Francisco's NaVorro Bowman and the Colts' D'Qwell Jackson. He's also tied for second among all NFL linebackers with three interceptions, trailing Carolina's Luke Kuechly by just one pick. Like Martin, David is in his fourth NFL season and in that span he has amassed 555 tackles, second only to Kuechly's 574. David's 46.5 run stuffs are also second in that span to J.J. Watt's 64.5. Kuechly and Watt happen to be the last two winners of the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year Award.
David's team-leading tackle total is a big part of the reason that Tampa Bay ranks ninth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (94.4) and second in yards allowed per rush (3.3). He has also recorded a pair of sacks and is tied for the team lead with eight tackles for loss. In addition to his three interceptions, David also has 12 passes defensed, which is not only a team high but also the best total among all NFL linebackers this season.
Mankins, meanwhile, has anchored an offensive line that is clearly the most improved unit on the team, despite the fact that it has included two rookie starters for most of the season. Mankins and his fellow linemen have helped pave the way for Martin's big season, creating a ground game that has averaged 141.5 yards per game, fourth-best in the league. Tampa Bay also ranks second in yards per carry and ninth in sacks allowed per pass play, two other strong indicators of an offensive line's level of play.
Though he missed one game earlier in the season with a knee injury, Mankins has played through other assorted ailments and provided outstanding leadership for an offense loaded with very young players. He could become just the third offensive guard in Buccaneers history to make it to the Pro Bowl, joining Davin Joseph (2008, 2011) and Randall McDaniel (2000).