Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was named 2015 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year, Pepsi and the NFL announced on Friday.
Winston was selected among five finalists, including Oakland Raiders WR Amari Cooper, Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley, Seattle Seahawks WR-PR-KR Tyler Lockett and Kansas City CBMarcus Peters.
“It feels great to receive this honor from the fans,” Winston said. “My goal coming into my rookie season was to come in and do whatever it took to help us win games and compete. As great as this individual accomplishment is, it is really a reflection of how well our entire offense did this season. The fans are what make our sport so great and getting this kind of recognition based on their votes is very special to me.”
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
Each week, five nominees were chosen for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week and NFL fans voted for the winner on NFL.com. Those results were used to help determine the finalists. Winston won three Pepsi Rookie of the Week awards (Weeks 2, 5 & 11). In Week 11, Winston threw five touchdowns with no interceptions and joined Ray Buivid (December 5, 1937) as the only rookie quarterbacks in NFL history to accomplish the feat.
Winston started all 16 games for Tampa Bay, throwing for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdown passes, with six rushing touchdowns, all team rookie records. The 2015 No. 1 overall pick posted the third-most passing yards by a rookie in NFL history (4,042) and the second-most ever by a Buccaneers quarterback. His 22 touchdown passes were the fourth-most by a rookie in NFL history and tied for the fourth-most in a single season by a Buccaneers quarterback. His combined 28 touchdowns (22 passing, six rushing) were the most by a quarterback in Buccaneers history and tied for the third-most by a rookie in NFL history.
“As I have said before, I truly believe Jameis deserved to be honored as rookie of the year,” Buccaneers Head Coach Dirk Koetter said. “There were many fine candidates, but taking every snap at the most difficult position on the football field and producing one of the greatest statistical seasons by a rookie in NFL history speaks volumes to the type of player and competitor Jameis is. Beyond that, he provided leadership and intangibles that made immeasurable differences to our football team. I am very happy for Jameis and look forward to working with him to build on an outstanding rookie season.”
Winston was the first Buccaneers quarterback to earn a Pro Bowl selection since 2007 (Jeff Garcia), the first rookie quarterback to do so in team history, and the first rookie quarterback named to the contest since 2012 (Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck & Russell Wilson).
– Report courtesy of the Buccaneers communications department
Photo: Cliff Welch/PR
This weekend isn’t just about the best team in the NFL being crowned.
Other things, like the newest class of Pro Football Hall of Fame will be announced, in addition to an award Bucs fans will be paying close attention.
On Saturday the Associated Press will hand out their annual awards, including announcing the NFL Rookie of the Year winner.
Bucs rookie QB Jameis Winston is a strong candidate after being just one of three rookie passers in the NFL to pass for over 4,000 yards, and also finishing with 28 total touchdowns, again, an accomplishment only three other rookies in the history of the league have achieved.
This week, polled media members including former 49ers and Lions head coach Steve Mariucci, said they would choose Winston as their choice for rookie of the year honors. Mariucci was joined by fellow analysts Ladanian Tomlinson, Nate Burleson, Dave Dameshek, Judy Battista and Ike Taylor who all picked Winston over Rams running back Todd Gurley and Raiders’ WR Amari Cooper.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers official website put together a great case for Winston and why he deserves the honor. You can view it by clicking this link.
With the Senior Bowl in the rearview mirror and the Combine quickly approaching, mock draft season is in full force come February.
Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Eric Dellaratta/PR
On Monday PewterReport.com released its second Bucs 7-round mock of the year, predicting somewhat of a twist following a week of practice in Mobile. After initially pegging Emmanuel Ogbah of Oklahoma State at No. 9 overall, Scott Reynolds now has Tampa Bay selecting Eastern Kentucky defensive end, Noah Spence.
Spence, a former blue-chip recruit of Ohio State, finished his sophomore season in Columbus with 50 tackles (14 for a loss), 7.5 sacks and one forced fumble. The ascending defensive end was suspended the following year for failing drug tests, and subsequently transferred to Eastern Kentucky.
Since then Spence has made a strong recovery, and has re-emerged as one of the top pass rushers in all of college football. Last season he notched 63 tackles (22.5 for a loss), 11.5 sacks – including four multi-sack games – and three forced fumbles. The Colonels star only made a stronger case for himself last week in Mobile, from performance on the field to private interviews, as SR detailed in Monday’s column.
Luke Easterling of BleacherReport.com released his latest 32-team mock draft on Monday and also has Spence tabbed to the Bucs.
After calling Tampa Bay’s need for an explosive pass-rusher “chief”, Easterling alludes to Spence’s dominant performance in the Senior Bowl as reason for his stock rising. He goes as far as to say that Spence “has established himself as the best pure edge talent in this draft.”
While the Buccaneers won’t pigeonhole themselves into taking someone too early based on need, they’ll eventually have to address the secondary at some point in the draft. That’s when a late-round, overlooked prospect comes into play.
William & Mary safety DeAndre Houston-Carson earned an invite to the Senior Bowl after finishing his collegiate career with a team-leading 109 tackles in 2015 (double-digit stops in 6 games), in addition to four interceptions. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound safety compiled 124 yards on those four picks, showing his elusiveness in the return game and ability to capitalize on splash plays.
Potentially holding him back is subpar competition at a small school and just one year of experience at the safety position. Some scouting reports say he’s undersized and too raw at this point, but Tampa Bay has shown willingness in the past to draft small-school, underdeveloped players. See Ali Marpet, arguably the team’s best lineman in 2015. Like Marpet, Houston-Carson impressed in Mobile while trying to prove he can play up to the competition.
A First-Team All American, Houston-Carson started 45 games over four seasons, playing cornerback his first three years before converting to free safety and having one of his most productive seasons. Houston-Carson finished his collegiate career with 293 tackles, 10 interceptions and nine special teams blocks. Last Tuesday he told PewterReport.com that he’s currently more comfortable in coverage – again, three years spent at corner – but he’s working diligently to improve his in-the-box play and run-stopping ability.
Below is the transcript from his quick Q&A with PewterReport.com
DeAndre Houston-Carson, S William & Mary
(On impressive stats in 2015)
“I think, first and foremost, it speaks to the team that we had. We had a great scheme and great coaches and the players really bought into that. And then I really just think it speaks to effort, as far as tackling. As long as your running to the ball with heart, you’re going to get a lot of tackles. That was really the result.”
(On where he’s more comfortable, in coverage or in the box)
“That’s a good question. I like to pride myself on being able to play both, so I’m going to try to show off those skills this week.”
(On what he had to work on the most in Mobile)
“I guess probably coming down into the box. I played corner my first three years and I just made the move to safety. I played linebacker like in youth football. I played some safety in high school, too, but just getting used to it.”
(On zone or man coverage)
“When I was a corner I prefer playing man coverage. I think most corners do, just being able to compete. But I do think there’s value in playing zone in certain situations.”
(On the Bucs)
“I have talked to the Bucs. I talked to a scout, and we were just getting to know each other. I think it went well, hope so.”
PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds joined 620 WDAE’s Pat Donovan and Aaron Jacobson on the Pat and Aaron Show on Sunday morning to discuss the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offseason personnel plans, the value of Jameis Winston going to the Pro Bowl and which players from the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl would be great fits in Tampa Bay. On the eve of the release of PewterReport.com’s latest 2016 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft, Reynolds also debuted the name atop of the new mock – Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence.
Click here to listen to the 12-minute podcast full of Reynolds’ insight and the inside scoop he gleaned from the Senior Bowl live from Mobile, Ala.
The Buccaneers will undoubtably look to add defensive end help in this year’s NFL Draft, and a player the team has looked into closely is former Ohio State Buckeye Noah Spence who finished his college career at Eastern Kentucky. Spence was kicked out of Ohio State after his sophomore year for failing multiple drug tests for ecstasy.
Braxton Miller, a former teammate at Ohio State, talked to PewterReport.com last week at the Senior Bowl about his friend.
“He is a baller man, I wish he could have stayed but he had to make a transition to a different college,” Miller said. “But it was good for him to get away from the scene at Ohio State. But when it comes to football, he is a baller. That is my little brother. I am happy to see him out here.”
Spence notched 8.5 sacks at Ohio State, including 7.5 as a sophomore in 2013, then sat out the 2014 season before playing his junior season at Eastern Kentucky where he recorded 11.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss.
“He brings different aspects to the game. I feel like he could play linebacker too,” Miller said. “He’s fast and he is big. He doesn’t look like a D-end with the way his body shape is. He reminds me of Von Miller. Noah is a hardworking guy. He has a motor now.”
On Wednesday night in Honolulu, the five Buccaneers selected to play in the Pro Bowl found out if they would be suiting up for Team Irvin or Team Rice. After 34 players were pre-selected on Tuesday, the captains had 48 players to choose from.
Photo: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The first Buccaneer taken off of the board on Wednesday night was LB Lavonte David, selected 12th by former Cowboys WR Michael Irvin. Not long after, Irvin would pick up another Buccaneer in rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston will have the luxury of throwing to some of the best receivers in the league including Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and DeAndre Hopkins, among others. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers leading tackler in Lavonte David will line up next to Anthony Barr and Sean Lee.
After being pre-selected on Tuesday, Gerald McCoy and Logan Mankins found out they will be playing under head coach Jerry Rice. With Team Rice’s 13th pick, the Hall of Fame receiver selected running back Doug Martin, who finished second in the NFL with 1,402 yards. Martin will share the backfield with the NFL’s leading rusher, Adrian Peterson, as well as Chris Ivory. McCoy will line up alongside Team Rice captain Aaron Donald and Eagles standout Fletcher Cox.
The game will be televised nationally on Sunday night at 7:00 on ESPN.
While some may say Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston backed into the Pro Bowl due to Tom Brady electing not to go, not many could have predicted the former FSU star would earn a trip to Hawaii in his first season in the NFL, regardless of how he got there.
Even Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht would be hard pressed to admit he thought Winston would be Honolulu bound this early in his career. But Winston is in fact a Pro Bowler, no matter how you look at it, and Licht talked to PewterReport.com exclusively this week during Wednesday’s Senior Bowl practice about Winston’s year overall.
“I’m just very excited for him. It speaks volumes for what he did as a rookie but it also more importantly, and I think he would say the same thing, speaks volumes for what the team did offensively and what Dirk Koetter and Mike Bajakian accomplished with him. Dirk and [George] Warhop and the whole staff, working with what we had as young guys, young receivers, young O-linemen, for our quarterback to get recognized, I think it shows you what young, up-and-coming team we have.”
Winston’s rookie season was far from perfect, but he did complete 312 of his 535 pass attempts for 4,042 yards, and threw for 22 touchdowns while running for six more TDs, becoming just the third rookie in NFL history to throw for over 4,000 yards.
At the Senior Bowl last year, former Bucs general manager and current ESPN analyst and Sirius XM NFL Radio contributor Mark Dominik nailed it when he told PewterReport.com that he predicted quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota would go 1-2 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay selected Winston with the first overall pick, while Tennessee chose Mariota with the second pick.
Coming off a 6-10 season not only cost former Bucs head coach Lovie Smith his job, it also means that general manager Jason Licht will be picking in the top 10 for the second year in a row. Dominik, who is scouting talent at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. and covering the practices for ESPN and Sirius XM NFL Radio, believes the Bucs are well-positioned to get a great talent with the ninth overall pick.
Ex-Bucs GM Mark Dominik – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“Just like every draft class, this one is going to be heavily laden with underclassmen,” Dominik said. “It’s a good year to be in the top 10 – a very good year. It’s also a nice year to not need a quarterback and to be in the top 10, quite frankly. I think there is going to be some great value this year in the top 10. Whether you need offensive line, defensive line, cornerback, safety or wide receiver, there are enough guys that are top-10 worthy so you are probably going to get the best guy at his position up there.”
While Tampa Bay has obvious needs at defensive end and cornerback, Dominik said that Licht isn’t pigeonholed into selecting a defensive player with the ninth overall pick.
“The one thing you have to be careful about and what you don’t want to do force your number one perceived need into your rankings on your board,” Dominik said. “You have to let your board play out. Need always plays a role in it – there’s no debating that. But I think that Jason is a very good worker of the board and pulling players out where they are supposed to be taken.
“A great case in point is trading up for Ali Marpet last year. Jason knew there was a great chance that he was going to come off the board [before the Bucs picked in the third round] and it was a very smart move to do that.”
Dominik did some wheeling and dealing in his day as Tampa Bay’s general manager, trading back into the bottom part of first round of the 2012 draft to select Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin ahead of the New York Giants, and also trading third- and fourth-round picks to Houston for the Texans’ second- and seventh-rounders in the same draft for Pro Bowl linebacker Lavonte David. Dominik appreciates how Licht has maneuvered the draft board several times in his brief stint as the Bucs G.M.
“He has a good sense of when to move,” Dominik said. “He also traded up for Kwon Alexander [in the fourth round], too. Jason doesn’t say, ‘I’ve got to take a defensive end at number nine’ and just pulls the trigger and takes one. It’s more about letting the board come to him and maybe doing some maneuvering. Everybody wants a legit pass rusher, but they are hard to find. Not every draft is going to put one out there. And sometimes you need to be patient and let the right player come to you, but it might not be at No. 9.”
New head coach Dirk Koetter’s staff is full.
The Buccaneers announced Monday that Brett Maxie will serve as their defensive backs coach next season.
According to a team press release, Maxie comes to Tampa Bay after spending the past two seasons at Vanderbilt, working as the secondary coach (2014) and cornerbacks coach (2015). Prior to his time at Vanderbilt, Maxie spent two seasons with the Tennessee Titans (2012-13), serving as the defensive backs coach.
Maxie worked with current Buc Alterraun Verner during his time with the Titans, helping the corner reach his first and only Pro Bowl in 2013.
Maxie also spent three seasons as the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive backs coach from 2008-11.
Prior to his coaching career, Maxie spent 13 seasons in the NFL as a player. While starting 104 of 153 games played, he compiled 588 tackles, 81 passes defensed, 23 interceptions (300 return yards, three touchdowns) and four sacks. He entered the league as a college free agent with the New Orleans Saints, where he played from 1985-93, before stints with the Atlanta Falcons (1994), Carolina Panthers (1995-96) and San Francisco 49ers (1997). Following the 1999 season Maxie began his coaching career with the Panthers, working as quality control/defensive backs coach (1998). He then worked with the 49ers as assistant defensive secondary coach (1999-2001) and defensive backs coach (2002-03) before joining the Falcons as the defensive backs coach (2004-06) and the Miami Dolphins as the secondary/safeties coach (2007).
2016 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coaching Staff
Dirk Koetter – Head Coach
Nate Kaczor – Special Teams Coordinator
Todd Monken – Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers
Mike Smith – Defensive Coordinator
Mike Bajakian – Quarterbacks
Butch Barry – Assistant Offensive Line
Dave Borgonzi – Defensive Quality Control
Mark Duffner – Linebackers
Jon Embree – Tight Ends
Jay Hayes – Defensive Line
Jon Hoke – Secondary
Dave Kennedy – Head Strength & Conditioning
Brett Maxie – Defensive Backs
Carlos Polk – Assistant Special Teams
Tim Spencer – Running Backs
Paul Spicer – Assistant Defensive Line
Ben Steele – Offensive Quality Control
Joe Vaughn – Assistant Strength & Conditioning
Chad Wade – Assistant Strength & Conditioning
George Warhop – Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line
Andrew Weidinger – Assistant Wide Receivers/Game Management
Zack Grossi – Assistant to the Head Coach