Kwon Alexander had a monster afternoon with 17 sacks – Photo by: Getty Images
For the first time since November 2012, the Buccaneers have a winning record, beating the Atlanta Falcons 31-24 to start the Koetter era 1-0. The offense close the first half with a bang and kept the pressure on in the third quarter, while the defense kept their composure and made enough plays to finish Week 1 with a victory. Here’s the list of PewterReport.com’s Most Impressive Players Sunday.
LB KWON ALEXANDER
It seemed like there were a couple Kwon Alexanders on the field Sunday. The second-year linebacker accounted for 17 tackles, by far the most of any player, and a sack. Not only did Alexander make big plays throughout the game, but at critical moments too. He stopped a third-down scramble by Matt Ryan in the first quarter and later added a sack to force a punt in the third. If the stat column alone didn’t illustrate Alexander’s dominance, he also saved a possible TD on a 17-yard check down to running back Tevin Coleman, recovered for Vernon Hargreaves on a screen to Mohammed Sanu and brought the pressure on a third-down pass breakup by Brent Grimes. Alexander should certainly draw some consideration for NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
LB LAVONTE DAVID
On another team, David probably would’ve been the best linebacker on the field this Sunday. The fifth-year pro, who teamed-up with Alexander to form a lethal duo, racked up eight tackles, including three for a loss. Whether it was a pitch or screen, David looked like his usual self – a sideline to sideline, sure-tackling outside linebacker.
DT GERALD MCCOY
Save for a celebration penalty that negated an impressive sack, McCoy looked the part of one of the NFL’s most dominant defensive linemen Sunday. Along with his sack, two of his three tackles were for a loss, including a perfectly read shovel pass in the red zone, holding the Falcons to a field goal. McCoy stepped up in the fourth-quarter with two tipped slants to Julio Jones, the last one putting the game on ice.
CB BRENT GRIMES
Holding WR Julio Jones to 66 yards on just four receptions is a win in itself for a secondary. But with two pass breakups in single coverage on third down, Grimes stood out among the pack on Sunday. The former Falcon and Dolphin defended a third-and-9 pass in the second quarter and added another pass break up in the fourth that set up fourth down.
QB JAMEIS WINSTON
He was off-target in the first quarter and a ill-advised interception set up the Falcons first TD, but Winston kept his composure and had one of the best outings for any quarterback in Week 1. He was 14-of-17 for 136 yards in the second quarter and led two TD drives, the second with :14 seconds left until half. The second-year signal caller only improved as the game went on, throwing a 30-yard TD strike to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and dropping another 45-yard dime over two defenders to Mike Evans. As expected, the Bucs offense was aggressive Sunday and Winston looked more than comfortable leading the charge. He finished 23-of-33 for 281 yards and four TDs, and should also get NFC Player of the Week consideration.
WR MIKE EVANS
After catching only two passes for one yard in the first half, Winston found Evans for 15 yards on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter and that set the 6-foot-5 wideout off. He caught a 27-yard pass two plays later and a 45-yard TD on the next drive. The latter play involved an adjustment and Evans made it look easy. Evans finished with a game-leading 99 yards on five receptions.
RB CHARLES SIMS
He only had four carries for nine yards and three receptions for 32 but Sims made them count. His 23-yard TD reception off a check down was arguably the play of the game, shifting momentum in Tampa Bay’s favor, and his catch on third-and-3 in the fourth quarter all but sealed the victory. A gutsy call to throw with three minutes remaining, the screen moved the chains and drained the Falcons’ timeouts. Sims also made the tackle on Winston’s early interception.
Ts DEMAR DOTSON & DONOVAN SMITH
Offensive linemen are often overlooked, but when the QB is that kind of rhythm, the five-man front must be doing their job. The guards and center – Ali Marpet, Joe Hawley and Kevin Pamphile – open up nice holes, but Jameis Winston’s clean jersey is credited mainly to the tackles. Smith, a second-year pro, and Dotson, who just signed a three-year deal, set the edges on a sack-free day, keeping Adrian Clayborn and Vic Beasley, among others, in check all afternoon. Winston had plenty of time to set up and step into throws, particularly on the TD strikes to Seferian-Jenkins and Evans.
Honorable Mention: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TD in the third quarter), Jude Adjei-Barimah (pass breakup in the red zone during fourth quarter) and Robert Ayers (sack in the first quarter)
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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Gerald McCoy was the man today! Two sacks, two tips, and was putting the pressure on the QB the whole game.
Agreed, and I’ve been a critic of his in the past. Not only was he disruptive, he was making the big plays late in the game when we needed them. He played fantastic yesterday.
Alexander is a beast. He has to be NFC Defensive player of the week. This guy is going to be the greatest LB this team has ever had. And that is saying a lot with David right next to him and the long list of great linebackers this team has had over the decades. Last year’s draft was amazing, but he is the gem of the all of them.
I love Kwon and I believe he will be a great linebacker but are you saying he will be better than Brooks?
I will bet on it. Actually I think David will too. That is how good I think these guys are. I think by far it is our strongest position.
Let’s not give them gold jackets just yet.
Its by far one of the thinnest positions. David and Alexander are very good. They aint DB 55 good yet. I don’t know if they ever will be. That’s a real long row to hoe.
I’ll let you know in 10 years if Kwon and Lavonte measure up to DB55.
McCoy’s celebration penalty was because it was two members of the Buc’s doing a choreographed celebration. It was McCoy’s sack…blame the other guy. You get to dance when you make the play.
The other guy was Kwon… who, after today, deserves to dance until next week.
Kwon did have plenty of other opportunities to host his own tea parties today–but not on that play. If it’s true, he should be getting called out for this and not McCoy.
This board has jumped on ASJ for not knowing when to celebrate (and rightly so). There should be similar treatment for Kwon now.
That was the dunbest thing I’ve ever seen. McCoy needs to act like a pro and not taunt the opponent to draw a 15 yard penalty. Dancing? After a simple tackle? Act like you’ve been there before, chief.
You clearly don’t watch a lot of football then, chief. Everybody across the league celebrates when they get a sack. Even 36 year old Dwight Freeney still celebrates. Not to mention after getting a sack when you’re double teamed every damn play. It shouldn’t have been a flag but the only reason it was is because Kwon did the same dance making it “choreographed.” McCoy acted plenty like a pro.
I don’t believe the sack was negated. it occurred after the play was over and marked off where it occurred and was ruled an automatic first down.
Pretty silly petty penalty but this is the No Fun League.
Cam Newton can do all his theatrics that point to him and not the team and he never draws a flag for excessive celebration.
Saw this stupid BS penalty called twice today. 10 seconds max was all they celebrated, what a load of horse hockey.
But I am going to say that I really enjoyed the game. That catch by ASJ might have been the best catch by a Bucs TE ever. Very sweet. Evans catch was pretty too. But the topper was Sims catch and run, he just wanted to score. Extra sweet.
I believe Winston has a firm grasp on the offense and can only get better.
Kwon and David looked very good. You’ll see Davids tackle numbers go down because he actually has some help.
Also I’ll include the punter in this most impressive. Anger managed some decent kicks.
Watching the Cardinals as I’m writing this, man I think we can those guy also.
Glad someone else noticed Anger’s stellar day.
drdneast, I could not possible agree with you more. GMC was not mocking another player.
Good point dr.d. Cams celebrations and stupid ass superman crap is ok but they celebrate for two seconds after a sack and 15 yard penalty? The NFL is so idiotic at times with the rules.
Winston completed 69% of his passes for 281 yards and threw 4 TDs in a road game to open the season. I see no reason to dog him on the one interception. I thought he was outstanding. It was particularly impressive because we did not run the ball well. We were one dimensional and he still pulled it off.
Don’t forget Punter, Bryan Anger. With the Bucs being backed up inside the 10 yard line, I think 3 or 4 times, his booming kicks kept the Falcons at bay.
Pleased with the FG kicker and the punter both having solid days and contributing to the win. Would like to see the team keep the foot on the gas when ahead bc we made a blowout a ballgame by letting up a bit, hopefully that changes. Also I think the defense was solid, hopefully they can clean up the busted coverages but starting a rook and it being a new scheme some of that is to be expected. With more discipline and better tackling a win in AZ isn’t out of the question. Don’t read the newspapers and let’s focus on Week 2! Good win and keep building!
What’s a newspaper?
As an ex newspaperman chethevette, that hurt. But the truth.
Such a shame, too. Another reason people are growing up so ignorant.
Glad Humphries’ run out of bounds late didnt cost us. Not mentioned by broadcasters.
Great game on offense. Jameis was on fire out there, unsurprisingly making BucNut unavailable for comment this week.
The pic looked like he was clearly expecting Vincent to go in. Missed on a few deep balls early or the day could’ve been even better.
ASJ’s catch was incredible and a showcase for what he’s capable of. I thought Mikes TD catch was even more difficult as it was coming over his back shoulder with a guy hanging on him. Incredible catch. This offense will be explosive and my 30 TD prediction is a possibility.
The special Teams deserves a nod and our punter Anger was booming those kicks. For our field position on a lot of those drives was terrible and he flipped the field back , big weapon to have. Robert has been rolling all of his kicks, glad he got the critics off of his back for the moment.
Humphries is looking like a very suitable slot guy as well.
Let’s get that secondary communication down and this team will be special. I mean we geld Julio to 4 catches and 66 yards with a TD. And most of that on a blown coverage. That’s damn good.
Great start to the season!
Very impressive performance all around! Aside from a few miscues and Winston’s trademark shaky start, I didn’t see much to complain about. Winston’s miscommunication with VJax that resulted in an INT was the only bad play I can recall on offense. A few high passes early on seems to be the norm for Winston, but once he settled in he was a clear QB1.
On defense I think I saw VH3 bite on play action and release Sanu on that deep bomb but other than that I didn’t see a whole lot of rookie mistakes. Grimes got beat on the touchdown pass but was right there to contest it and just got beat. Can’t really expect them to win every battle, especially against the receivers they battled yesterday. Julio Jones was kept in check the whole game so great job by the secondary.
The stat sheet doesn’t do the Dline justice at all. They didn’t record many sacks but were in Ryan’s face all game…especially GMC. That celebration penalty was the only negative I saw from them and it was a ticky tack call anyway.
Things are looking promising if we can keep performing like this all season. Playoffs seem like a realistic goal!
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