ALL DOUG LONG: The Bucs’ game plan this weekend was simple: give the ball to Martin early and often. Photo courtesy Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

A fumble. A blown call. A clutch touchdown. Every week the action in the NFL forces the headlines around the league to change. To evolve. A cold team becomes a hot team. A hot team slips up. Someone one is one game closer to the playoffs and someone is one game closer to their season being over. These are the weekly notes on the trends and other happenings from around the league after every weekend.

Teach Me How To Doug-ie

Before I salivate over the man, let me preface this by saying I was skeptical of Doug Martin as a pro back at first.

Yes, he came from Boise State where I usually am biased towards Broncos products (How is Kellen Clemens starting in the NFL?!), but he just didn’t seem as sexy of a choice compared to some of the other guys in the class.

Then there was the whole part where I was a big believer in LeGarette Blount. We had seem some real flashes of brilliance out of the guy early on and I couldn’t believe the Bucs were ready to invest such a high draft pick in yet (what I deemed) another risky running back.

He got off to a little bit of a slow start in the first quarter of the season, but watching him now, it’s clear the Tampa Bay rookie back. Since the Bucs’ bye week, here are his rushing yard totals in chronological order: 76, 85, 135, 251. Map that out on some graph paper and that’s what we call an upward trend, my friend!

What’s Week 10’s total going to be? 300-something? Where does it end? A 500-yard game? I’m speaking in hyperbole, of course, but it’s very apparent to me now that this rookie has a very, very high ceiling. In an age where having a 30-touches-per-game feature back is becoming rarer and rarer, Martin might just be the exception to the rule.

Some were concerned about his smallish size coming out of college, but let me offer you a comparison. Two starting running backs in the NFL are 5’9″, 215 pounds and 5’8″, 212 pounds. One of them is Doug Martin. The other is Ray Rice.

Refereeing the Refs Should Be Black and White

The NFL came out yesterday and said publicly the referees in the Panthers-Redskins game blew a call. If you watched the play and saw how it developed, this news shouldn’t surprise you. In fact, it alone, really isn’t worth talking about.

What IS worth talking about is how the NFL is playing politics with what does and does not choose to say publicly about the officials. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the NFL throwing these guys under the bus when they shamelessly defended every atrocious ruling their replacement pals made in the first few weeks.

So what’s the difference? The difference is the NFL had something to lose in one case and nothing in the other. If they publicly admitted that the stand-in officials were a detriment to the product the league put on the field every week, it would be nothing but ammunition for the unionized refs in ending the lockout.

Of course, the replacement refs WERE in fact a detriment to the product, but the NFL couldn’t very well acknowledge that, so what do they do? They go out there and say, “Yeah, sure, that was the right call. Why not?”

If you’re going to embarrass yourself for selfish reasons, than embarrass yourself for the selfless reasons too, NFL. A referee blew a call. Hold on, let me see if Brian Williams is free for an on-air program interruption. The best outcome here would be that you just shut up on all matters, but if you insist on weighing in publicly, at least do so in a consistent manner.

Cam’t Stand Them

Was there anything more obnoxious than listening to the Carolina Panthers after picking up just their second win of the season? These guys have the brashness and arrogance of a dark horse Super Bowl darling, not a team that is a leading candidate for a Top 3 draft pick in April.

Cam finally had a decent game for the first time in a while, and instead of humbly enjoying a bounce-back week, he was back to the Superman histrionics and big, beaming grins that couldn’t excrete cockiness any faster.

Then there was DeAngelo Williams, one of the most overpaid players based on his production, saying that a Redskins game program that called it a homecoming game got him “fired up”. He was talking like he put up numbers the same way Doug Martin did, not 37 rushing yards and a touchdown most of which came on a play where the Redskins defense pulled up because the ref inadvertently blew the whistle. Then again, if you’ve had the kind of season Williams has had, I guess 37 yards and a score is a big day even IF the NFL itself came out and said it was a mistake.

Williams says he got mad at the “homecoming” game label because a homecoming game supposedly is a college football thing where a big, bad team schedules pint-sized cannon fodder school to beat up on. I could go on for days citing all the ways that that is just not true, or — OR — I could just point out that the Panthers were 1-6. You ARE a pint-sized team, DeAngelo! So even if your half-wit assumption was correct, you guys actually fit the bill!

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you you’re Appalachian State and not Alabama.

Call me old-fashioned, but for me to actually like a team, I want them to be gracious in victory and humble in defeat. After watching the postgame press conferences the past two weeks, we knew how big of sore losers the Panthers were, but Sunday we found out that they were actually sorer winners. We’ve already seen Newton make headlines for using the word “sweetheart”, but these unlovable losers are anything but.

NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing he is on Twitter! Make sure you follow him @bclienesch for NFL updates and other shenanigans!