It’s time for PewterReport.com’s 2-Point Conversion post-game column, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game. For the second straight week, Tampa Bay’s defense was the key to a 28-11 victory for the Bucs as the team recorded back-to-back for the first time this season. Bucs rookie inside linebacker Devin White had an interception and a scoop-and-score as Tampa Bay built a 25-0 halftime lead and never looked back as the team improved to 5-7.

2 BIG STATEMENTS

STATEMENT 1: White Continues To Break Out For Bucs

It was day of firsts for Bucs rookie inside linebacker Devin White as he led his team to a 28-11 victory over the Jaguars in Jacksonville to help Tampa Bay win back-to-back games for the first time this season.

A week after White recorded the first two full sacks of his career against Atlanta, White notched his first career interception when he picked off Nick Foles on the Jaguars’ first drive in Jacksonville on Sunday. That interception led to an eight-play, 69-yard Bucs’ touchdown drive that was capped off by a 15-yard touchdown run by Peyton Barber to give Tampa Bay an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

But White wasn’t done. The rookie recovered his first fumble and scooped and scored from 14 yards out to give Tampa Bay a 15-0 lead after a successful two-point conversion run from Barber.

Some NFL draft pundits suggested that Tampa Bay should have drafted Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen instead of White. And through the first 11 games of the 2019 season, it looked like those pundits were right as Allen recorded eight sacks and two forced fumbles, and the rookie pass rusher added another sack and forced fumble on Sunday against Tampa Bay.

Bucs ILB Devin White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

But after White returned to action from missing three games with a knee injury he’s become a tackling machine and a big-play producer for Tampa Bay’s defense. He’s lived up to his draft billing as the fifth overall pick, and over the past two weeks, White has been every bit the player that Allen has in terms of showing off his play-making ability.

White is really putting together quite the splash play stat sheet during his rookie campaign. Through 12 games this season, of which White has only played in nine, he’s posted 69 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, three passes defensed, one fumble recovery, one interception and one defensive touchdown.

STATEMENT 2: Tampa Bay’s Own Version Of Sacksonville

The Jaguars – also known as Sacksonville for their prowess of getting to the quarterback over the last couple of years – came into Sunday’s game with 34 sacks. But it was Tampa Bay’s defense that was getting to quarterback Nick Foles on Sunday in Jacksonville and racking up the sacks. The Bucs out-sacked the Jaguars five to four, and got to Foles so much that it forced a quarterback change at halftime.

A week after recording six sacks, an interception and a scoop-and-score in a 35-22 win at Atlanta, Tampa Bay’s defense turned in another spectacular effort a week later in Jacksonville. The Bucs defense forced three takeaways to end the Jaguars’ first three drives on Sunday.

Inside linebacker Devin White recorded an interception on the first drive, and then scooped up a fumble caused by a Shaquil Barrett sack and returned it 14 yards for a defensive touchdown – the Bucs’ second in as many weeks. Outside linebacker Carl Nassib sacked Foles in the second quarter and forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul also dropped Foles in the second quarter for Tampa Bay’s third sack of the first half. Pierre-Paul now has 3.5 sacks on the season.

Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh
Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Barrett entered the game with 12.5 sacks, which was tied for second in the league with Arizona’s Chandler Jones, but now has 14.5 after collecting two on Sunday, and has re-captured the NFL lead from New Orleans’ Cameron Jordan (13.5). Barrett was tied for the league lead with five forced fumbles entering the game and got his sixth on Sunday.

Nassib now has five sacks on the year and is just two away from topping last year’s career-high of 6.5 sacks, while Suh leads the Bucs with three fumble recoveries, including two for a touchdown. New outside linebacker Sam Acho even got into the action on Sunday, recording his first sack as a Buccaneer and giving Tampa Bay its fifth quarterback capture of the day.

With five sacks in Jacksonville on Sunday, Tampa Bay’s defense now has 33 on the year after recording 38 last year with four more games to go.

2 PROBING QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: Has The Bucs Defense Turned The Corner?

Yes. Tampa Bay’s defense has become a takeaway machine in the last month as the Bucs have won three of their last four games. The defense has been the catalyst with 13 sacks, four forced fumbles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns combined in those three victories.

Bucs CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
Bucs CB Sean Murphy-Bunting – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Although Tampa Bay’s defense gave up 11 points in the second half after the Bucs opened up a 25-0 lead at halftime, the young unit made an important goal line stand that kept Jacksonville for making it a one-score game. The Bucs defense held the Jaguars out of the end zone for seven straight plays inside the Tampa Bay 8-yard line. Rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting came up with a timely end zone interception in the fourth quarter that prevented the Jaguars from cutting Tampa Bay’s lead to 25-18.

The young Bucs secondary has played better over the last month, and held Jaguars quarterbacks Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew II to a combined 240 passing yards and just one touchdown. That’s a sign of progress, as is the fact that Tampa Bay held Jacksonville to just 11 points, which was the fewest amount of points the Bucs have surrendered this year.

QUESTION 2: Has Winston Turned The Corner?

Maybe. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston had thrown at least two interceptions in each of the last three games – two of which were actually Tampa Bay wins, ironically – and was interception-free on Sunday in Jacksonville. While he didn’t throw a touchdown pass, Winston did make several big plays in the passing game, but he failed to get 300 yards passing for the seventh straight game, a franchise record he currently holds. Yet Winston, head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich would take a steady, efficient performance from the fifth-year quarterback in a win rather than a 300-yard game just for stats sake.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Winston started the game hot, completing 9-of-13 passes for 110 yards as the Bucs took an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. At halftime, as Tampa Bay built a 25-0 lead, Winston had completed 15-of-25 passes for 212 yards. Winston was throwing downfield darts with impressive touch to wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end O.J. Howard in the first half.

Naturally, the fewer turnovers Winston has, the better chances the Bucs have of winning the game. Winston had just one, which came on a sack-fumble on a blindside hit. Winston had thrown eight interceptions in the three previous games combined, but was more in control and comfortable on Sunday in Jacksonville and finished the day completing 21-of-33 passes for 268 yards. More days like this from Winston should translate into more wins for the Bucs down the stretch. The more wins Winston helps produce the more and more likely he is to stay in Tampa Bay – at least for one more year with the franchise tag in 2020.

2 BOLD PREDICTIONS

PREDICTION 1: Barrett Breaks Sapp’s Single-Season Sack Record

Tampa Bay outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett notched two more sacks in Jacksonville on Sunday, raising his season total to 14.5, which leads the NFL. It’s crazy to think that Barrett needs just two more sacks to tie Warren Sapp’s single season-sack Bucs record of 16.5 set in 2000. With 2.5 sacks, Barrett would have 17 quarterback captures and would break Sapp’s record.

Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Barrett is on pace to end the season with 19 sacks and he has four games left to continue to take down quarterbacks and add to his totals. I don’t know if he gets to 19, but I think Barrett at least gets to 17 down the stretch to dethrone Sapp’s mark, which would be quite the feat.

PREDICTION 2: Bucs Win Three In A Row

Tampa Bay’s 28-11 victory in Jacksonville was the team’s first back-to-back winning streak all season, and with the way the Bucs have played lately – winning three of their last four games – they don’t appear to be done yet. Tampa Bay returns home next Sunday to host Indianapolis, which got off to a 5-2 start to the 2019 campaign, but has lost four of its last five games.

The Colts are now 6-6 on the season and appear to be quite beatable. With the way the Bucs defense is playing, don’t be surprised if Tampa Bay prevails in its next game at Raymond James Stadium and improves to 6-7 on the season by winning its third straight game.

One more win and the Bucs would show improvement over last year’s 5-11 record. That happens on Sunday in Tampa Bay.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

24 COMMENTS

  1. Honestly the only thing us Bucs fans wanted to see this year was Improvement. No one expected us to go out and dominant the league especially with the youth in this secondary, but even BA would agree that this was a season of Great Opportunity & Possibility. I mean how often are you going to get to face this many rookie QB’s in one season? I can imagine Quietly inside the walls OBP they are probably reflecting on the season saying to themselves: What if we would have just beat the Giants? Why did I let Winston throw 20 int’s before changing my playbook? I should’ve cut Vernon Hargreaves in training camp for being “Soft”. And here is the biggest one, “what was I thinking giving Byron Leftwich total control over my offense”? Wow 2019 the Season of What If!

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  2. B.A. said that they are going into stadiums now expecting to win. I hope our guys come into Raymond James expecting to win! We have to stop $h%*#@g in our own house!
    We now have a D in Dampa. Go Bucs!

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    • I remember a time where teams dreaded coming to Tampa to play. The heat and defense were stifling. The fanbase was rockin also. We have to protect the house. 100% agree.

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      • Yep. Also, we cannot let the opponent have more fans in the stands than we do.

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        • Lol,that’s true. Are the seats expensive?

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          • i’m living in Hawaii now, but I don’t think they are any more expensive than other cities.

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  3. The win yesterday reminded me of a game from the late 90s, early 2000s. Good solid D with an offense that didn’t screw up. Our QB, like Brad Johnson back in the day, didn’t shoot the lights out, but he didn’t give the ball away either. White and Barrett are today’s Brooks and Sapp.
    I feel very good about the future.
    Go Bucs!

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    • I would say Vea and White re today’s Sapp and Brooks. Before it was David and (dare I say the forbidden name) McCoy?

      I doubt we will see a dynamic duo,or trio,like 55,99,and 20.. we get very heartbroken when we dont see the same impact( although 54 is scary close to 55), but these guys were legends- a word thrown around too loosely nowadays. So I think Vea,White and co., are thier own players.

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  4. Any defense that can hold any team in the NFL out of the end zone seven times down close to the goal line has performed exceedingly well. This is a sign of maturity and a turnaround. Thanks for the great coaching job, Mr. Bowles.

    In BA I trust.
    _______________
    Go Bucs!!!

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  5. Yes, contrary to the crazy criticism here by many Bowles does not suck. He had a bunch of rookies in the secondary and it took time to gel. Not a big surprise and was likely outcome, but we as fans hoped for the first year complete turn around but wasn’t being realistic.

    I also thought Winston took huge step forward and played well despite O line playing crappy. They had too many penalties, He was hit, harassed, and had to scramble a lot more than should have imo. He succeeded despite the O line really and again I’ll credit Bowles and the defense! Just a great game.

    White is really coming into his own after slow start due to injury.

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    • I agree. Even a veteran defense takes time to absorb a new system. A team with a lot of rookies takes even longer as they they have to learn how to be pros and the defense as well.

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  6. Many game balls should go to the Def.

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  7. Also I’ve said it before but It changes a QB’s mentality when they have a defense that is good. Playing behind doesn’t work often. Ask Dak Prescott and Dallas About that. Prescott’s stats are crap against good teams and mainly because they were behind and couldn’t run. Hmm sounds like Winston doesn’t it? If you look at the int.’s in the losses to good teams when behind its ugly for Prescott.

    I also wanted to say Perriman had a great game. I called for him to be fired weeks ago. Guess that’s why I’m not the coach or GM. Lol. He was bad for a while, but they didn’t have a 3rd WR that was better or more experienced.

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  8. If I posted comments from 5 weeks ago you would see a different fan base posting here. I’m not complaining cause if your a long term Buc fan you have heard the negative chants most of Bucs existence. It has been nice to see the young Defense finally start to see what Arians and Bowles believe in. Colts aren’t the same team the were a few weeks ago so maybe the the Bucs can taste 3 wins in a row. Go Bucs…. hey 9-7 insnt impossible

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  9. Has the Bucs defense turned the corner?

    Playing better, yeah… but perspective people. We played two teams that are clearly worse than we are.

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    • I agree but if Tampas Defense plays just average or better. The Bucs have a great chance to win games.

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    • Yes, and the eagles played a much worse team in Miami and lost. It’s any given Sunday in this league. Give credit where it’s due

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  10. Here’s a bold prediction, the Bucs finish 3-1, the lone loss coming to Watson and the Texans. 8-8 season.

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  11. We lost the first half of the season. With a young team winning the second half of the season would be huge. If we could finish 5-3 or better, improving across the board, this season will not be a waste. Yes, the mood of the fan base changes with winning. As disappointing as it is to not make the playoffs again, and have another losing season, finishing strong can at least give us hope moving forward. We’d all rather cheer then jeer. Make it happen Bucs!

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  12. Not bad Bucsfan1983.
    Don’t count on the Texans looking as good as they did last night though against a flu ridden Patriots team on the road.
    Good point fredster. When Prescott first broke into the league behind the best offensive line in football with a damn good runningback, he was proclaimed the second coming and the flavor of the month.
    Now, not so much.
    The schedule makers gave the ‘Girls and the Patriots and easy soft schedule at the beginning of the year but now that they have come up against some tough teams, the losses are beginning to mount up, especially in Dallas.
    I dearly loved seeing the Bills bi$2h slap the ‘Girls on Thanksgiving in front of their home crowd.
    You are also right about Bowles, starting a DB full of rookies and first year players couldn’t have been fun but the coaching staff bit the bullet.
    Captain Sly, I have seen no big change in the Bucs playbook and if you had listened to the announcer in the game you would have heard him say the same. For good or for bad, it has remained virtually unchanged.
    You are right about winning the Giants game and throw in the Titans game with it and all of a sudden the Bucs are 7-5 and not 5-7 and we are talking a whole different story today.
    You are right about Hargreaves today but I am sure Licht had his hand in that decision. Blowing him out the door before the season started would have shined a huge spotlight on the bungled 2016 draft.
    With BA’s demeanor, I’m sure that’s the only thing that kept it from happening.

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  13. We’re about to play a tough team and this will be a good evaluation as to where we really are. A win against the Colts will really excite our base because we would have a legitimate chance at the end of the season to be 8-8; a major improvement from where we were just a couple weeks ago. Go Bucs! Be Winners!

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    • Agreed Horse. However, like Pete said above, the comments today are mostly hopeful and positive following the past two weeks of victories. I am an optimist myself, so I’m with you. Go Bucs! Be Winners! But will a loss this week immediately erase the past two weeks of optimism? Here’s how I’d answer my own question. My first thought was, well, it depends on how the Bucs play. I thought I’d be OK if they played well but still lost. I mean, show improvement no matter the result. But then I realized how dumb that sounded as soon as the thought solidified in my mind. Yes there are ugly wins and pretty losses. However, what’s most important is the W. Find a way to win no matter what; ugly or dominating. Just learn to win when you’re not playing your best game and learn to keep on winning when you’re dominating. Nothing short of a win against Indy is acceptable. If this team has truly “turned a corner” in any capacity, then show me. WIN.

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  14. I do feel a little sorry for Barrett. Despite his outstanding play all year long, having never getting a shot at a starting role until he came to Tampa, he probably won’t make the pro bowl. It seems to happen more than it should but Tampa not being a team that gets much of media mention, I don’t think anyone in the league is covering his performance except for the local media – which won’t be enough to get him into the pro bowl.

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  15. Nassib is not getting enough credit. He has made the rotation solid with 3 or 4 guys who can get to the quarterback on any play. He has five sacks in the 9 games he has played. Won’t break the bank but is a key guy to sign in the offseason.

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