Doug Martin: Making a Case for Rookie of the Year Honors
It wasn't that long ago that many outside of Tampa Bay knew very little about the Bucs' primary ball-carrier, rookie Doug Martin.
But that began to change three weeks ago after his 214 all-purpose-yard outing against the Vikings, when Martin introduced himself on a national stage and began his campaign to unseat ROY front-runners in quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
All Martin has done in the two games since is rush for 319 yards and four touchdowns while hauling in another 72 yards receiving.
As a result of his recent offensive explosion, Martin broke an NFL record held by the late Walter Payton for most total yards in a three-game span with 605, eclipsing Payton's mark of 593 set in 1977.
Through his first nine games, Martin has rushed for 862 yards and seven TDs to go along with 23 receptions for 296 yards and one TD.
His rushing yardage puts him in some pretty elite company, as he's tied for fourth with Tennessee's Chris Johnson, trailing only Houston's Arian Foster (872), Seattle's Marshawn Lynch (1,005) and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson (1,128).
But other than that, Martin is your average, run-of-the-mill rookie running back.
And while his performances have done wonders for his own name-recognition and status, what he has meant to this Buccaneers offense overshadows everything else.
He has become the every-down, multidimensional back that the Bucs have truly lacked since Warrick Dunn. He's sure-handed and a good pass-blocker, which has helped quarterback Josh Freeman further develop and, in turn, put together one of the best season's of his young career.
Only time will tell whether or not he'll take home the award, but the fact that Martin's name is even in the same conversation is no small feat.
After all, this was supposed to be the year of the quarterback-extraordinaire—the season where Luck and RGIII battled it out and settled the debate on who should've truly been the top pick of the draft.
But that all started to change with the emergence of Martin and the decline of Griffin and the 'Skins.
With a little more than half of the season behind us, the competition is really down to Luck and Martin. It should then come as little surprise that both of their respective teams are unexpectedly fighting for playoff contention.
While the consensus is that the award is still largely Luck's to lose—a point very hard to argue against—I believe Martin has done more than enough thus far to at least generate consideration and possibly even steal away a few votes.
Will it be enough to do the unthinkable and actually win the award? Perhaps, but who knows at this point?
Though if Martin has shown us anything, it's that he should never be counted out—or against.
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