Bucs' running game sputters during 2-game skid


Bucs' running game sputters during 2-game skid

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Tampa Bay's running game has slowed down during a two-game losing streak, and the Buccaneers know they need to get rookie Doug Martin going again to remain in playoff contention.

Nevertheless, coach Greg Schiano said Monday he's not overly concerned that Atlanta and Denver were able to contain the budding young star, who's third in the NFL in rushing and second in total yards from scrimmage despite not finding much room to run lately.

Schiano said Martin appeared to be on his way to a nice day against the Broncos before Peyton Manning threw a couple of touchdown passes and Von Miller returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter to force Tampa Bay (6-6) to become one-dimensional on offense during a 31-23 loss on Sunday.

``He had 48 yards at the half. ... Usually if the game remains close, those runs only get more - they don't get less - as you wear people down,'' Schiano said. ``I thought he was right on stride to have a really good production day, but then we got behind by three scores. ... So you take away, really, the prime real estate for rushing the football, and that's the fourth quarter when people are worn out.''

Martin carried three times for 8 yards after halftime, finishing with 56 yards on 18 attempts. The Falcons limited him to 50 yards on 21 attempts - a season-low 2.4 yards per carry - in a 24-23 Atlanta victory two weeks ago.

``Overall, I thought Doug ran the ball well. And if we had been able to continue to do that ... I think we would have had a good day,'' Schiano said. ``So, I think we'll be fine there.''

With Martin bursting onto the scene with a 251-yard, four-touchdown rushing effort against Oakland on Nov. 4, the Bucs averaged 171 yards rushing per game during a four-week stretch in which they turned their season around following a 1-3 start.

Now, they've rushed for fewer than 100 yards in three of the past four games.

Tampa Bay led 10-7 at halftime Sunday. But after throwing a first-quarter TD pass to Dallas Clark, Josh Freeman couldn't get the Bucs into the end zone again until late in the fourth quarter.

``It's just when you are behind, your whole game plan turns one-dimensional,'' said receiver Mike Williams, who caught Freeman's second TD. ``We know we are a two-dimensional team. We know Doug is a valuable part of our offense. When we are behind like that and we turn ... one-dimensional, it's going to be hard.''

Only Adrian Peterson (1,446) and Marshawn Lynch (1,138) have rushed for more yards this season than Martin, who's closing in on Tampa Bay's rookie record with 1,106 yards. He's second behind Peterson (1,641) with 1,480 total yards from scrimmage.

Martin, who's also closing in on Warrick Dunn's Bucs rookie record for yards from scrimmage, is confident the team will be able to get the running game back on track.

The rookie attributed his 3.1 yards per carry average Sunday to the Denver defense playing up to its billing as one of the league's best.

He also felt the Bucs showed something by finding a way to get 13 fourth-quarter points and make the score respectable at the end.

``That's the thing about us, we got a lot of fighters on the team. We have a lot of competitors that want to win and will give it their all to win the game,'' Martin after the game. ``That's something that I personally appreciate about this team, that we have a lot of fighters and competitors.''


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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 


— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line


Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.


PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.