Doug Martin: Tampa Bay Bucs RB Explodes into Rookie of the Year Discussion

Mark GoldbergCorrespondent INovember 5, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 04:  Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum on November 4, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After putting on one of the best rushing performances in NFL history last week, Doug Martin has officially entered the Rookie of the Year discussion.

It had seemed for some time that the award would go to one of the first two picks of the past year's draft: Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

Martin, however, has gotten better each week, and if that trend continues, he just may steal the award.

Robert Griffin seemed like the early favorite to win the award. Through the first seven games of the season, Griffin threw seven touchdown passes and ran it in six more times.

In his last two games, however, he has begun to show some inconsistencies typical of rookie quarterbacks.

Andrew Luck broke the record for most passing yards in a single game last week. He now has 2,404 passing yards on the season—tied for third in the league with who else but Peyton Manning. While Luck now has the Indianapolis Colts on a three-game winning streak, he has also had a few bad games.

Meanwhile, until last week, Doug Martin had been flying under the radar.

If his big game in prime time against Minnesota was his coming-out party, his performance against Oakland was his masterpiece.

He ran the ball 25 times for 251 yards and four touchdowns.

Those are historic numbers.

But don't be fooled—Martin has been running well all season.

Look at where he currently ranks among the other rushers in the league: He's third in total yards (794), seventh in yards per attempt (5.2), third in runs over 20 yards (six) and second in touchdowns (seven).

To top it all off, he hasn't fumbled the ball once.

The argument against Martin is that he hasn't been good enough to catch anyone's attention until this week, but that's not entirely his fault. He has carried the ball 20 times or less in five games. Even though the total yards weren't there in those weeks, he did average 4.26 yards per carry with two touchdowns.

Andrew Luck is most likely the current favorite to win the award.

The Indianapolis Colts are doing better than anyone thought they would, and Luck has a lot to do with that.

After last week, however, Greg Schiano and the Tampa Bay Bucs may have finally realized just what they have in Doug Martin. If they continue to feed the beast, the Bucs may come away with more than just the rookie of the year.