The signs were pointing to Doug Martin supplanting LeGarrette Blount as the Buccaneers’ top running back as soon as Tampa traded up to get Martin near the end of the first round in April.
That shuffle was made official on the team’s website earlier this week and coach Greg Schiano addressed it during his press conference on Tuesday. Schiano said that Blount was understandably disappointed when he got the news, but that he’s confident Blount understood why the decision was made.
“At the very beginning I sat them both down and told them what the deal was,” Schiano said, via Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times. “They knew it. I think – when you watch the tape, and LeGarrette’s a smart guy – when he watches the tape, he sees that he got outperformed.”
Schiano also said that Blount will have the chance to vault back over Martin once the season starts if he is the more productive back.
“We don’t hand out jobs and sign them over. It’s always competition around here, continually. I think Doug’s done a great job and that’s why he’s got the No. 1 seat. But he’s got to work to keep it.”
While we don’t doubt Martin will lose the job if his performance is less than the team desires, it would be surprising to see them turn back to Blount in the near future. Like many other new coaches, Schiano has spent his first offseason replacing players from the old regime with ones of his choosing. Martin is the most vivid example of that shift and it will likely take a large volume of evidence to shake Schiano’s belief in the choice he made at running back.