Doug Martin 525x349 Assessing the Rookies   Doug Martin vs BlountHere is another article by one of our very own DFW members Mark Modelski. Is there more to meets the eye with the TB backfield situation? Let’s take a closer look at a different point of view from Mark, are we all missing the boat on Blount?

Assessing the Rookies – Doug Martin
by DFW member Mark Modelski

Team:  Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ht / Wt:   5’9′ / 223
Age / DOB:   (23) / 1/13/1989
College:  Boise State

The Buccaneers drafted Doug Martin in the late 1st round of the NFL draft.  Immediately he became a perceived commodity for dynasty football owners.  I think the guy has talent and does everything really good – albeit not great.  The consensus seems to be that this guy is going to be the man in Tampa Bay before the training camp even starts.  I’m not so sure about that.  Much of this article will discuss Blount simply because you can’t assess Martin’s situation without taking a close look at his competition.  Besides, Blount is a hot topic in dynasty world in his own right so we may as well kill two birds with one article.

First off, the Legarette Blount gang pile is out of control.  Guy is flat-out not even close to as bad as what he is being made out to be.  This guy’s highlight runs stack up against any player in the game.  You think that is bs?  Click on these links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7Ka2iDGAWA (he is 247 lbs) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_mayV_AFMI.  His stats in 2010 are eye-popping.  Let’s take a look at some evidence and see if this guy is the waste of space he is being made out to be.

Straight to the hard evidence.  His biggest knock is the fumbles.  Blount had (3) in 2011.  Ben Tate: Less caries more fumbles (4).  Bush and Matthews both had (5) and had only a handful more carries.  There were several top running backs with (3) fumbles.  Ball security is something that can improve – especially with a young running back.  Adrian Peterson had 9 fumbles, yes nine, in 2008 and only (1) in 2010. 

Now yards/carry – Blount wasn’t great in 2011, but not as bad as you might think.  His (4.2) is on par with Chris Johnson (4.0), Marshawn Lynch (4.2) Frank Gore (4.3), and Arian Foster (4.4).  Now take into consideration how putrid the Buccaneer offense was last year and maybe 4.2/carry isn’t all that bad.  The Bucs were diseased last year by losing, and it effected everyone.  He did average 5/carry in 2010 – that’s not too shabby.   There are also two major reasons to think there will be improvement: Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks.

Let’s dig deeper into 2010.  One could make a fairly legitimate argument that Blount was the best running back in the NFL in 2010 during the second half of the season.  Blount led the league in yards after contact (3.7/carry), missed tackles per rush (he had 50 in 201 attempts and the next closest was AP with 46 in 283 attempts), and elusive rating (I’ll let Pro Football Focus explain that one: http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2011/03/24/elusive-rating-2010/).  Is it impossible to think a guy entering his age 25 season can do what he did as a 23 year old without having any significant injuries?  Here is what the website had to say on Blount’s 2010:

But, given an opportunity, Blount set about running like a man possessed. It reminded us a lot of Adrian Peterson – running with the kind of wild and reckless abandon that simply wins battles against defenders that are only prepared to make a tackle, not fight for it as well. Blount was able to run around, over and through defenders and recorded a ridiculous number of forced missed tackles given his time starting. Most impressive was the repertoire of moves he pulled out and that he was running behind a far from stellar offensive line in Tampa Bay.

Finally Blount struggles on 3rd down because he can’t pass protect.  When a guy his size struggle to pass protect on 3rd down it basically means that he is not very smart.  Still, the guy is built like a linebacker so if he can figure it out then he’ll be a great pass protector.  Maybe that won’t happen, but it definitely could.

There is plenty not to like about Doug Martin.  To me his most glaring blemish is his mediocre to below average stats in 2011 .  He played ONE good game against ONE mediocre defense.  That was Nevada (52nd ranked) in which he went for 126 and averaged 6/carry.  He played ONE really good defense and that was Georgia (3rd ranked) – he did not fare well to say the least.  Versus Georgia, Martin averaged 2.4/carry with a long run of 9.  Ouch.  The ranking on the other defenses he played: 76, 90, 101, 84, 70, 106, 98, 112, and 88.  That is bad.  Oh I left one out: San Diego State (57th).  He averaged a hearty 3.6/carry against San Diego State.  The kicker is that he only averaged 4.9/carry on the entire season against a bunch of terrible college defenses.  My money would be on Blount doing better.

Martin does everything well, but nothing great.  He is sort of a boring running back.  Yet, people are excited about the guy because he fell into a great situation… or did he?  I know plenty of dynasty owners who are falling over themselves to get their hands on this dude out of Boise State, but not me.  I see a motivated Blount coming out this year and playing with passion – he has something to prove just like he did in 2010.  Doug Martin might have been the best thing for him.  If Doug Martin can’t run the ball against WAC defenses (or whatever crappy conference he played in) I am leery about how he will run against NFL defenses.  If the guy in your league has been brainwashed into thinking that Blount sucks, I wouldn’t think twice about taking a chance on him.  Don’t get me wrong though, Martin will get his chances but he has much to prove.

PS: I never once said “To be Blount”.