At 0-2, the Buccaneersare facing plenty of scrutiny from the outside world. It doesn't help that Tampa Bay's quarterback, Josh Freeman, appears at odds with his coach, Greg Schiano. Despite the increasing focus on the Schiano-Freeman relationship and an 0-2 start, second-year running back Doug Martin says there's "no panic" in Tampa just yet.
Martin, speaking on behalf of Gillette's Precision Performance campaign, also said that Freeman "definitely has the potential" to be the Buccaneers franchise quarterback.
"You know, he can be. He definitely has the potential to be that," Martin said. "He's a fighter, he's a competitor. He'll do everything he can to win games. And if he does that, he'll be here a long time."
Interesting, maybe, that Martin doesn't think Freeman is the franchise quarterback. Not saying he offered a tepid endorsement of Freeman, because he didn't. And most people probably wouldn't say that Freeman already has become the Buccaneers quarterback of the future by any stretch.
Regardless of his status it's clear there's some sort of friction with Schiano and Freeman at this stage. We've seen too much evidence to believe anything else. Martin said he thinks the tension is actually overblown and declined to comment specifically on it, saying he's going to "keep it within the family walls."
"I don't believe so," Martin said of the tension between Schiano and Freeman. "We're gonna keep it within the family walls and we'll get it figured out, get it situated. And we'll keep any negative [rumors] outside of the family walls and we'll move on forward and we'll be fine."
Of course, it would be a lot easier to deal with all of the negativity if the Bucs weren't winless on the season. When I asked Martin how much the win-loss record affected the negative press, he clearly brightened up and noted that if the Bucs were 2-0 this sort of discussion might not be taking place.
"Definitely. It would definitely be a change," Martin said. "If we were 2-0, everybody would be cheering for us but unfortunately we're 0-2 and everybody wants to start pointing fingers and media wants to talk to people. That's just something you've got to tunnel vision out and brush it off."
Tampa Bay is only two last-second field goals away from being 2-0 (even if it would be an ugly 2-0). Martin acknowledged that the losses were "tough" but said there's "no panic" in the Tampa locker room just yet.
"Yeah both those two games were tough losses for us," Martin said. "To put all that hard work in and to lose by a last second field goal it kind of hits you. But there's no panic. No panic. Everybody's excited to move forward because we know what we have as a team and everybody is confident with each other."
Sunday in Week 3 might be a good litmus test for Tampa Bay. It's up against an always-tough Patriots team that happens to be in the opposite situation as the Bucs. New England won their first two games but didn't do it convincingly.
Tampa Bay would love to flip the script on the Pats and if that's going to happen they'll need Martin to play a big role.