Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has just made a major statement in the case for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Heck, he very well may win it after what he did against the Oakland Raiders in Week 9.
Martin had been solid for Tampa Bay all season leading up to the matchup with the Raiders, having rushed 129 times for 543 yards and three touchdowns to give him a 4.2 yards-per-carry average. He was playing well, but not Offensive Rookie of the Year well.
Then Martin went off, putting the Buccaneers on his shoulders in Oakland and rushing 25 times for a ridiculous 251 yards and four touchdowns.
Oakland had no answer for Martin, a 23-year-old back who combines a physical, bruising running style with solid speed. Add in an ability to catch passes out of the backfield, and Martin has all the tools of a franchise cornerstone.
The late first-round pick has to compete with the likes of running backs Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins and Trent Richardson of the Cleveland Browns for the award, not to mention quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
But after his performance against the Raiders, Martin may just be able to run away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Martin has right around the same numbers as Morris and has better average statistics than Richardson.
The issues with Martin's case for the award are the impact Griffin has had in Washington and just how great Luck has been in Indianapolis. Not only does Luck have the Colts in postseason contention, but he has been setting records left and right.
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Statistically, Martin should not have any issues finishing close to the top of the pack for rookies in terms of statistics. He has several games against weak run defenses left on schedule, including matchups with the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints.
Martin needs a combination of good health and down games from his main competitors to win the award, but it's not as outlandish as one might think. Luck has a tough slate of games remaining, and Morris and RGIII balance out each other's production on the ground.
Meanwhile, Martin has become the main cog of the Bucs offense. He has put up eye-popping statistics and highlights over his first eight NFL games, but it's a safe bet that the best is yet to come.
With a second half to the season as good as his first, Martin has the chance to run away with this season's Offensive Rookie of the Year award just like he ran away from the Raiders.