Seeking rushing title, Martin also leads RBs in fumbles
Doug Martin is wrapping up one of the best seasons ever by a Bucs running back, ranking second in the NFL with 1,354 rushing yards with an outside shot at catching Minnesota's Adrian Peterson for the rushing title this weekend.
His success has been a big part of the Bucs' improvement to six wins, but for the first time in his career, he's struggled with fumbles, losing five this season, the most of any running back in the NFL.
"It feels like a bad dream right now," Martin said Sunday after he lost two fumbles in the Bucs' loss to the Bears. "That's out of character for me to fumble the ball twice in one game. I'm embarrassed. ... I feel like I let the team down."
All five of Martin's fumbles this season have been recovered by opponents, and all five have been converted to points -- four touchdowns and a field goal. And his five fumbles don't count a botched handoff in the Bucs' loss to the Rams -- because Martin never had possession of the ball, the fumble was officially credited to Bucs QB Jameis Winston.
Martin's fumbles are surprising because it wasn't a problem for him in his first three NFL seasons -- he lost a single fumble in 2012 as a rookie and one in 2013, with none last year, giving him just two in 580 carries before this season. With five fumbles in 273 carries this season, he's fumbling more than 5 times more often per carry this season than in his NFL career up to this point. The only players in the NFL to lose more fumbles this year are both quarterbacks -- Cleveland's Josh McCown and Tennessee's Marcus Mariota.
Even with that, Martin can reset his career best in rushing yards if he can rush for 101 yards in Sunday's season finale against the Panthers; he would need 191 to break James Wilder's franchise record of 1,544, set in 1984 on 407 carries.