While no one is confusing the Buccaneers with the New England Patriots, their 5-5 record is surprising some around the NFL. And with the recent success on the field, players are earning national honors.
On Thursday the National Football League announced that Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin has been voted FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week for Week 11.
Facing the Philadelphia Eagles, Martin rushed 27 times for 235 yards (8.7 avg.). His 235 yards are the most in the NFL this season and the most since 2012, when Martin rushed for a career-high 251 yards (11/4/12 at OAK). His 235 rushing yards stand as the 20th-most in a single game in NFL history and join Martin with O.J. Simpson and Corey Dillon as the only two players to have two games in the top 20 all-time.
Martin notched an 84-yard run – the longest in Buccaneers history – and a 58-yard run, becoming the first player since 2012 to notch rushes of 80+ yards and 50+ yards in the same game (Adrian Peterson, Week 15). He rushed for 177 yards in the first half, the most in the NFL since Jamal Lewis’ 180 on September 14, 2003. Martin helped lead a Buccaneers rushing attack that totaled 283 yards, the most in a game in franchise history. He is currently second in the NFL in rushing yards, with 941 on 188 carries (5.01 avg.). His 5.01 rushing average is the most by any running back with at least 150 carries.
This is Martin’s fifth career FedEx Ground Player of the Week award, after winning three in 2012 (Weeks 8, 9 & 11) and one in Week 5 of this season. His five wins are the most by any player in franchise history and he is the only Buccaneers player to ever earn the award multiple times in different seasons.
Martin wasn’t the only Buccaneers to win an award this week as the NFL also announced today that quarterback Jameis Winston has been voted FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week for Week 11.
Going against the Philadelphia Eagles, Winston completed 19-of-29 passes (65.5 pct) for 246 yards and five touchdowns, with a 131.6 passer rating. Winston became the first rookie since Ray Buivid in 1937 to throw five touchdown passes and zero interceptions in a game. The five touchdown passes tied a record shared with Buivid and Matthew Stafford (2009). His five touchdown passes – to five different receivers – tied a franchise record.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
Winston joins Marcus Mariota as the only rookie quarterbacks in NFL history to throw four touchdown passes in one half of a game. Winston is also one half of a duo (along with Doug Martin) that became the first teammates in NFL history to have one player throw for five touchdowns and another rush for more than 200 yards in a road game.
Winston’s 15 touchdown passes are tied for the most by a rookie quarterback through the first 11 weeks of the season since the merger, while his 2,305 passing yards are the third-most.
This is Winston’s first career FedEx Air Player of the Week award and the first for the Buccaneers since 2010 (Josh Freeman, Week 17). Winston is only the third quarterback in franchise history to earn the award (Freeman, Chris Simms).
– Part of this report is courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications Department
This week Pewter Report unveils a new feature from correspondent Steve Cheah who will provide video plays taken from the coaches film of selected Bucs highlights from the previous week’s game. This week here is the video of Jameis Winston’s first two touchdown passes against the Eagles.
1. Winston TD to Mike Evans
Winston finds Evans on a fade route to the left side to get the score even at 7-7. The touchdown drive was critical, as the Eagles had taken the opening possession and quickly moved down the field to take an early lead.
2. Winston TD pass to Vincent Jackson Jackson, returning to the lineup after missing three games with a knee injury helped open things up for the Bucs offense. Winston throws a great pass to Evans who uses his 6-foot-5 frame to essentially box out the cornerback while also getting inside the safety who was a step late.
Cheah is an avid Bucs fan and PewterReport.com reader who currently lives in New York City. You can follow Cheah and see many more of his video highlights from the coaches film on Twitter @CHEAH_SAY
Two days after Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith described keeping running back Doug Martin in town as a team priority, the fourth-year running back dittoed the feeling.
“I love Tampa. I built a house here so I love it here,” Martin said of the city right before saying it would be a priority to re-sign with Tampa Bay before leaving for another organization. “This is my fourth year here and I’ve built a lot of relationships around here and like I said I just love Tampa.”
If the contract situation is a motivator or a distraction, Martin’s doing his best not to admit to either.
“That will take care of itself,” he said of his potential value after this season. “I’m just going to go out there and do my job on the field. I know if I do my job everything else will fall into place.”
Tampa Bay had the opportunity to pick up Martin’s fifth-year option but declined to do so this past offseason. That decision’s worked out for both parties, Smith said Monday.
“Is Doug Martin a priority? I can say that, yes, he definitely is,” Smith said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all to go in to the fifth year. I think it has benefited Doug as much as anything. He’s in a great position now. I don’t think Doug came into the season thinking he wasn’t wanted around here. It’s the complete opposite of that and we have acknowledged everything he’s done along the way and we put him in a position to have the type of year that he is having right now.
“I think it’s all good. If I’m Doug Martin, I’m pretty happy I didn’t sign a contract before and like the position I’m in right now.”
The Buccaneers and Eagles released their first injury reports of the week on Wednesday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DE George Johnson – Calf – Did Not Participate
G Ali Marpet – Ankle – Limited Participation
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Shoulder – Limited Participation
DE Josh Shirley – Calf – Limited Participation
G/C Evan Smith – Knee – Did Not Participate
S Keith Tandy – Concussion – Did Not Participate
S Mike Adams – Ankle – Did Not Participate
T Anthony Castonzo – Ankle – Did Not Participate
CB Vontae Davis – Hamstring – Did Not Participate
WR Phillip Dorsett – Ankle – Did Not Participate
LB Jerrell Freeman – Ribs – Did Not Participate
RB Frank Gore – Ankle – Did Not Participate
WR Andre Johnson – Not Injury Related – Did Not Participate
QB Andrew Luck – Abdomen/Kidney – Did Not Participate
LB Robert Mathis – Not Injury Related – Did Not Participate
CB D’Joun Smith – Knee – Limited Participation
G Hugh Thornton – Shoulder – Limited Participation
LB Erik Walden – Foot – Did Not Participate
Defensive back Akeem Davis and center Ben Gottschalk were signed to the Tampa Bay practice squad Wednesday.
According to a press release from the organization, there was a spot available due to offensive lineman Ryan Groy signing on the Buffalo Bills’ active roster.
Davis, 6-foot-1, 200-pounds, re-joins the team after having spent Week 10 on the Buccaneers’ practice squad. He’s played in 15 career games over two years, notching one tackle, one forced fumble and 12 special teams tackles.
Gottschalk, 6-foot-5, 293-pounds, also entered the league last year and spent the 2014 offseason and preseason with the Kansas City Chiefs. He split time in Tampa Bay and San Francisco this past offseason.
Sunday’s 45-17 win in Philadelphia might have been the Buccaneers’ most obvious sign of improvement since the beginning of the season, but according to Lovie Smith, it was far from the first.
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 22: (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The head coach, who received a great deal of criticism for saying “it takes a good football team to get out to a 24-0 lead” following the monumental collapse in Washington, stood by his claim that the team had shown signs of growth even in losing efforts.
It was just time for the Bucs to learn how to finish and show that progress on the scoreboard, which was exactly the case last week.
“A lot of you didn’t want to hear that, [you] just wanted to see the score like all of us,” Smith said. “[You] wanted to see the results at the end… (But) it takes a good football team to get up on someone 24-0. Now, to see our football team learn how to finish a game that way (In Philadelphia). We didn’t see that type of game (in Washington), but at the same time you see those improvements showing up on Sunday. That’s what happened (Sunday).”
After consecutive wins – the first time for the Bucs since 2013 – Tampa Bay sits as 5-5 and in the hunt for a wild card spot. The talk of improving has turned into talk of playoffs. But while Smith knows his team is relevant and in contention, the message heading into next week hasn’t changed.
“It’s about that next opponent,” Smith said. “All those other things will take care of themselves. We talked an awful lot about getting to 5-5. Now we have chance to get over .500, win three games in a row. That’s what we’re going to talk about.”
With criticism starting to bubble up, linebacker Lavonte David responded by turning in his best two-game stretch of the season.
Last week’s standout performance in Philadelphia earned the fourth-year Buccaneer the added honor of being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. David intercepted his first two passes of the season and returned the second for a touchdown to cap Tampa Bay’s 45-17 thrashing of the Eagles. The pick-6 was the first of his career and he’s up to eight interceptions through 56 games played, which ties him for the league lead since the start of his 2012 rookie season.
According to a Bucs press release, David became the first linebacker in franchise history with more than one multi-interception games. In addition to the swipes, he also tallied six tackles Sunday and pushed that season total to 87.
Bucs faithful watched him bring down 12 Cowboys ball carriers and register his second sack of the season during Tampa Bay’s 10-6 home win over Dallas.
David is currently the only player in the NFL with 80-plus tackles, two-plus interceptions, two-plus sacks and one-plus forced fumbles.
The NFC Defensive Player of the Week award is David’s second. He also earned it after Week 12 of 2013 and joins Derrick Brooks and Hardy Nickerson as the only linebackers in team history to pick up the honor more than once.
Tampa Bay players have now received recognition as conference player of the week three times this year, the most in a single season since 2009, the team stated. This year’s other Bucs recipients were linebacker Kwon Alexander (Defensive Player of the Week, Week 8) and Bobby Rainey (NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, Week 5).
The busts of Tampa Bay Buccaneers that reside in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio are limited, with just the sculptures of Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks prominently displayed.
But that number could be growing soon, as two former Bucs made the cutdown to 25.
On Tuesday night, the Hall announced next year’s semifinalists, and former head coach Tony Dungy, and hard hitting safety and fan favorite John Lynch, are among those that will be debated for election.
Dungy was hired in 1996 after former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson and former Gators head coach Steve Spurrier turned down the job offered to them by the Bucs new owner Malcolm Glazer. Dungy coached the Bucs from 1996 to 2001 and led them to four playoff appearances. Dungy, who was fired by the team following the 2001 season, was then hired by the Colts where he went on to became the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl. Ironically the win came against the Chicago Bears, who was coached by current Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith in the game.
Lynch was known for his ferocious style of play and hard hits on the field, but a gentle personality once the game was over. Lynch played 11 seasons for the Bucs, then four more for the Denver Broncos. The former Stanford star finished his Tampa Bay career with 973 tackles, which ranks him fifth all-time in team history.
Bucs SS John Lynch & DT Warren Sapp – Photo by: Getty Images
The 2016 class will be announced on January 31 but both Lynch and Dungy face some tough competition, as former Packers QB Brett Favre is almost certainly a first ballot Hall of Famer. Others who the Bucs duo will have to compete against include Terrell Owens, Steve Atwater, Roger Craig and Jimmy Johnson, just to name a few.
Buccaneers.com Senior Writer Scott Smith recently published an excellent case for Lynch on the teams website and you can read it here.
It’s not often that you see an opening drive as impressive as the one the Buccaneers had to start the second half last Sunday.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
Taking nearly 10 minutes off the clock, Tampa Bay drove 80 yards down the field on nine plays, all while overcoming three penalties – one of three teams to score on a drive with three flags this season – and converting on four third downs. The last third down, of course, being Jameis Winston’s 8-yard TD pass to Cameron Brate to extend their lead to 35-14 in the third quarter.
“If you just talk about an offensive drive in an NFL game, it doesn’t get any better than that,” head coach Lovie Smith said Monday. “To have that many plays, to fight through adversity – having to convert on quite a few third downs and overcome quite a few penalties – it did so much for our team.”
Beyond the poise and resilience shown on that possession by Jameis Winston and his offensive teammates, the nine-play drive also gave the Bucs defense an extended rest. One way to defend an up-tempo strategy is by not even having to defend it, and that was largely the case Sunday as the Bucs dominated time of possession, 35:54-24:06. Not to mention Philadelphia became quite predictable down 21 points with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“When you play a fast-break offense like they have, you can get a little gassed at times,” Smith said. “The way you can offset that a little bit is to have a long drive on the offensive side. That will be a drive that we will be talking about for a long time.”
It was a drive that proved Tampa Bay out-coached the Eagles on both sides of the ball. The defense responded to Chip Kelly’s up-tempo strategy by getting three takeaways and one score, never having an issue with play-calling or positioning, and the offense, for its part, methodically drove down the field, looked far more composed and held the ball for 10 minutes longer over the duration of the game.
Tampa Bay announced another roster Tuesday after being awarded defensive end Kourtnei Brown via waivers from the Houston Texans.
To make room for the addition, the Bucs waived defensive end Lawrence Sidbury.
Brown, 6-foot-4, 253-pounds, played one game with the Bucs earlier this season and played another with Houston.
He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 and spent that offseason and preseason with them before being waived. The Clemson product has also spent time with the Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams.
Sidbury played this past weekend in Philadelphia, getting in for six defensive snaps and 12 on special teams without logging any stats. It’s the third time this season the sixth-year defensive end has been let go by Tampa Bay.