Doug Martin's big week continues. After rushing for a whopping 251 yards and four touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders, he's won about every award imaginable. Martin has won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award and was named Ground Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week today.
Martin has earned a lot of praise this week - and some of it is certainly hyperbolic. Bill Cowher called Doug Martin the "new back" - small, with great balanced and great vision. In a conference call with Tampa media this week, Norv Turner called Doug Martin "Emmit [Smith]-like" in some of the things he did. There's certainly some truth to those statements, but let's not forget that Martin is still a rookie who has faced some awfully poor run defenses. The Muscle Hamster (yes, we're sticking with that nickname) has been amazing, but he's not a top-tier running back - yet.
What's impressed me most about Martin, though, has been his power and ability to run inside. That's what the Bucs have done recently, and that's what got him his big runs: power runs up the gut. Steve White explains all of this perfectly on his blog. For all the calls to get Doug Martin into space earlier this season, he's at his best as a downhill runner in the tackle box. The issue early in the season wasn't that he can't run inside, it was that he was rushing his reads and simply wasn't running very well. Since the bye week, though, he's improved by leaps and bounds. If he can keep this up, he should continue to have big days on the ground - and he'll be doing all of it up the gut of opposing defenses.