The Buccaneers 38-31 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars featured a successful running game. While it was a joint effort, fourth-year back Doug Martin was a big reason for it.
Martin finished the game with 123 yards rushing on 24 carries and two touchdowns. His ninth 100-yard game makes him tied for third in team history with the most 100-yard games. He also finished with three receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown.
“When I go into a game, I just think about if I do my job and play hard, then everything else will fall into place,” Martin said following the game Sunday. “I find a way to do my job and just keep on punching and something eventually is going to pop. That was my mentality going into the game.”
That mentality worked as his performance puts him in the running for this week’s NFL FedEx Air & Ground Player of the Week. And his two touchdowns may make him the favorite.
But beyond his weekly success so far this season is a bigger situation. And that is whether the Bucs should (or can they) keep him for the long term. The team decided this past offseason to not pick up his fifth year option on his contract. It has clearly been a motivational tool as it has forced Martin to perform.
But Martin is running like he did his rookie season. He is looking better in his running style and appears determined to prove the Bucs wrong in not picking up his option.
However, how many times have we seen a player perform well during their contract year and once they get a new contract fade away once again? Will that be the case with Martin as well?
Tampa Bay can begin contract discussions at any point, including in season, if they decide to move forward with him. In a way, they should. Just to see where is mind set is. Then there is also Charles Sims who appears to have improved from last season’s inconsistencies as a rookie, making their thought process on the matter much more difficult.
There are a lot of questions surrounding how the front office should handle the situation in the backfield. While some view it as there being time left to decide on what to do, that time to make a decision can run out quickly. Then Tampa Bay can find themselves regretting the decision they made.