By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
The Buccaneers surprised the football world with a key inactive that no one saw coming.
Tampa Bay listed running back Doug Martin as inactive for Saturday’s game against New Orleans. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Martin was a healthy scratch via a coach’s decision, which is fairly peculiar for a team that has dealt with a bevy of injuries at the position.
Martin missed six games from weeks 3-9 due to injury, and hasn’t broken 100 yards rushing in a game all season, but his value to the Buccaneers‘ running game can’t go overlooked. In the absence of Martin, the Buccaneers were forced to turn to Rodgers, Charles Sims, Antone Smith and Peyton Barber, among others. The stable of backs that often resembled a merry-go-round has Tampa Bay ranked 21st in rushing at 101.1 yards per game, with Rodgers exceeding expectations to keep the ground game afloat.
The return of Martin’s bowling-ball style of running was welcome, though the numbers don’t say the same. Of backs with 100 or more rushing attempts, Martin ranks last in yards per carry with 2.9. It’s also worth noting that Rodgers was a healthy scratch against Dallas in Week 15, a game in which Martin finished with a paltry 42 yards on 16 carries (2.6 ypc). Perhaps against the Saints, Tampa Bay is electing to go with the more elusive Rodgers.