Doug Martin a.k.a. “The Muscle Hamster” came as a puzzling early free agency move for the Oakland Raiders under Jon Gruden’s new influence. Martin is headed back to his Bay Area roots for a stint in Oakland. The Stockton, California native brings an oft-injured six-year resume highlighted by a couple of really productive seasons.
Doug Martin – RB, 5’9″, 223 lbs, 29 years old
Martin was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of Boise State at the back-end of the 1st round of the 2012 NFL draft. Martin didn’t waste any time proving himself, his rookie numbers were incredible, rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns while catching 49 passes for 472 yards and one score. That equated to 1,926 total yards from scrimmage.
His efforts would notch him a Pro Bowl nod and he was immediately being revered as one of the best young versatile backs in the NFL. That would be short-lived after a mediocre start to the 2013 season when he suffered a serious shoulder injury that ended his season after only six games. Martin saw a trend in the 2014 season again with mild production when he was available and battling a multitude of lower bodily injuries, only playing in 11 games.
Martin’s rookie season was almost a long forgotten memory heading into the 2015 season, then he shocked the league again. Martin exploded in 2015, rushing for 1,402 yards and six touchdowns while catching 33 passes for 271 yards and one score. Against all odds, Martin made his second Pro Bowl while also achieving AP First-Team All-Pro honors. Unfortunately, after that, Martin digressed yet again. In both the 2016 and 2017 seasons his production mirrored that of his 2013 and 2014 seasons. In each of those four down years, he never accumulated more than three touchdowns or rushed for more than 500 yards. Entering 2018 free agency, Martin was seen as a 29-year-old running back that might be on his way out of the league with a long list of injuries while nearing the 30-year age mark this season.
The Standing RB Roster
Martin comes into a running back depth competition prior to the draft even taking place. The favored hometown hero Marshawn Lynch undoubtedly has taken the reigns as the starter headed into 2018, while the standing depth has had mixed results. The younger running back duo of Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington have both had impressive moments, also followed by disappointing blunders. Between the two, it’s fair to assume that only one survives the 53-man roster cut.
Not to be overlooked, Elijah Hood is also an underdog on the roster. He’s a bit of a throwback style back that had some solid consistency in college while protecting the ball. Hood never fumbled in his three seasons at North Carolina while rushing the ball 430 times and catching 40 passes. That’s pretty incredible and bodes well to impress Gruden. Hood is also is versatile enough to play some fullback and Gruden has been clear he’s still looking for those.
The competition theme is appearing everywhere on the roster and the running back group will be no different. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gruden adds some late preseason camp cuts from other teams onto the roster, I confidently believe he’s looking everywhere. Gruden loves his backs. Let’s not forget, in 2001 during his first Raiders coaching tenure, Gruden had a stable of running backs that consisted of Charlie Garner and Tyrone Wheatley with two aggressively used fullbacks in Jon Ritchie and Zack Crockett. Gruden will demand great depth from his backfield from a personnel standpoint, he wants to use them all.
Gruden Takes a Flyer on Doug Martin
Gruden is making a calculated move that is very cap friendly by bringing in Martin. This move in no way can hurt this team, as Martin’s ceiling, as proven before, is very high when healthy. Returning to his hometown area might be the best change of scenery to re-motivate Martin being around a great coaching staff and an offensive roster that has a very high potential.
Martin likely aims to be the veteran pass-catching back in Gruden’s power run scheme offense that is varied with his west coast flair in the intermediate passing game. Martin’s career catch percentage is very impressive and that might be his best shot to make this roster predominantly as a backfield passing target to offset Marshawn Lynch’s power game. If the pattern of Martin’s career means anything, he’s due for his third big season in the NFL and what better place to do it than at home?
How could any Raider fan forget when Doug Martin ran the “Oakland Marathon” during Week 9 in the 2012 season while making an appearance in Oakland? Every bit of those 251 yards and four touchdowns in that game still haunt me to this day, so here’s to welcoming him in Silver & Black!