At a time when Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has received plenty of praise for his work during the offseason, his coach has opted for pragmatism regarding the things that will, or won’t, happen when Martin returns from the final three games of his PED suspension.
Asked during an appearance on the Ira Kaufman Podcast, via JoeBucsFan.com, how Martin’s return will be handled if the Buccaneers are moving the ball well at that time.
“Well, you answered your own question,” Koetter said. “That is all hypothetical, all right? Everything — how do I know if everything is going to go that way? Hopefully, at the end of the three games Doug is still in good health. But we have no idea what is going to happen to our other tailbacks by then. So, I don’t spend too much time worrying about that kind of stuff. . . .
“How can you have too many good players? I sort of look at it as we will cross that bridge when we get to it, because, why worry about it until you have to? We have a lot of other stuff that we need to be concerned with. You know, if everything was 100 percent perfect — I don’t have experience with a guy taking three weeks off and then coming back. So, you will have practices in there and we would have to see how we are doing as an offense, how we are doing with our running game. We will just have to see.”
That’s hardly an unequivocal endorsement, and it’s hard not to wonder whether the Buccaneers, who owe Martin no guaranteed money due both to the suspension and the fact that (despite being a vested veteran) he won’t be on the Week One active roster, will consider dumping Martin if the other tailbacks on the roster are getting it done. It’s likewise impossible to rule out a trade, given that other teams may have needs at the position by the end of September, due to the inevitability of the injury bug.
Regardless, there’s a good chance that the running game will be thriving without Martin, given the extra attention defenses will be devoting to stopping one of the best collections of pass catchers in the game. Rarely if ever will the Bucs be facing eight men in the box, while will make it easier to establish the run with players who are younger and cheaper than Martin.