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Following a 2-6 start to the 2019 season, Tampa Bay rattled off four wins in five games before dropping two one-score contests to the Texans and Falcons, ending any chance of the Bucs finishing a season at .500 or better for the first time since 2016.

PewterReport.com offers its season grades for each Bucs unit and the coaching staff. On Tuesday we offer up grades for the offense and on Wednesday we will dish out the grades for the defense.

Take a look and see if you agree, and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

QUARTERBACKS

Jameis Winston has always carried the reputation of a high variance quarterback, flashing moments of brilliance before turning around and leaving people scratching their heads after some of his decisions, and that variance was at an all-time high in 2019.

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

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

In his first 16-game season since 2016, Winston led the league with 626 pass attempts and 5,109 passing yards and finished second in the league with 33 touchdowns passes in 2019, but also led the league with 30 interceptions and set an NFL record with seven interceptions returned for touchdowns. The closest player to Winston’s interception total was Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield at 21.

In a critical option year for both Winston and the Bucs, as the decision of whether or not to move forward with the former first overall pick is tougher than ever, he showed some of his greatest highs and most frustrating lows.
Grade: C

RUNNING BACKS

It was an interesting year for Tampa Bay’s committee of running backs. While second-year back Ronald Jones seemed to be the clear-cut leader in the backfield from a talent and production standpoint, his deficiencies in pass protection and catching passes out of the backfield were a significant hindrance in his ability to see the field early in the season as Peyton Barber carried the starting role into early November.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs RB Ronald Jones – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

As a whole the unit was unproductive, ranking 28th in the NFL with a meager 3.7 yards per attempt and 24th in the league with 95.1 yards per game, not producing a 100-yards rusher until Week 17 but that isn’t just on the running backs themselves.

Jones led the backfield with 724 rushing yards on 4.2 yards per carry, followed by Barber at 470 yards on 3.1 yards per carry, but the Bucs’ running backs were also stuffed – meaning they were hit at or behind the line of scrimmage – on 23 percent of their carries according to Football Outsiders. Only Miami and Pittsburgh were stuffed at a higher rate.
Grade: C

WIDE RECEIVERS

If it was possible to give this unit a grade higher than an A+, we would do it.

Mike Evans continued his run as one of the most dominant pass-catchers in the league in 2019, becoming just the second receiver in NFL history to start a career with six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

Across from Evans, Chris Godwin broke out as a genuine superstar this past year after playing third fiddle to Evans and DeSean Jackson since being drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft.

Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin

Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Despite both of their seasons ending early due to hamstring injuries late in the year, Evans’ finished the year 13th in the league with 1,157 receiving yards and tied for eighth in the league with eight touchdown receptions over 13 games while Godwin finished third in the league with 1,333 receiving yards and tied for fourth in the league with nine touchdown receptions over 14 games.

Behind the Bucs’ dynamic duo, while Breshad Perriman surpassed 20 receiving yards just once over Tampa Bay’s first 11 weeks, he finished the year on a tear and hit career highs with six touchdown receptions and 645 receiving yards. After Perriman, it was a plethora of fill-in players who were forced to step up in the midst of an injury-riddles unit, with rookie Scotty Miller hitting 200 receiving yards with a touchdown and second-year receiver Justin Watson adding 159 receiving yards and two touchdowns of his own.
Grade: A+

TIGHT ENDS

O.J. Howard was healthy for much of the 2019 season, but despite playing in 14 games he produced career lows in yards per reception and receiving touchdowns, hauling in just one touchdown on the year. His lack of production and primary usage as a blocker goes hand-in-hand with some of his unfortunate mistakes this past season, including two interceptions that went off the hands of the third-year tight end and a costly red zone fumble against San Francisco 49ers.

Bucs TE Cam Brate – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs TE Cam Brate – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

As for Cam Brate, while his yardage and reception numbers in 2019 increased marginally from his 2018 campaign, he generated the lowest yards per reception average(8.6) of his career and produced just four touchdowns after catching no less than six in the three seasons prior. The 36 catches and 311 receiving yards were far below the expectation that comes with his $7 million price tag.

The third tight end spot was a rotation of Antony Auclair, whose season ended prematurely due to a toe injury, preseason standout Tanner Hudson and baseball player turned tight end Codey McElroy. The trio combined for just 67 receiving yards on four receptions.
Grade: C

OFFENSIVE LINE

The biggest success for Tampa Bay’s offensive line in 2019 was their ability to remain healthy, for the most part, and the improvement of right guard Alex Cappa.

While Cappa was forced to miss three games and the tackle tandem of Demar Dotson and Donovan Smith missed a game each, the unit was largely held intact and showed improvement, even if it didn’t show up in the stat sheet.

Bucs C Ryan Jensen

Bucs C Ryan Jensen – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Tampa Bay’s offensive line allowed 47 sacks, good for 11th-most in the league, and 107 quarterback hits, but also had a passer who tied for the league-lead in pass attempts. According to Football Outsiders, Tampa Bay’s adjusted sack rate – which takes sacks per pass attempt but adjusts for the down, distance and opponent – was 7.6 percent, which would put them at 22nd in the league and just north of the league average of seven percent.

As mentioned previously, the issue that remained glaring from the offensive line was their ability to consistently run block. Outside runs and sweeps were rare for good reason and the line allowed the backs to be hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on a regular basis, 23 percent of the time. The Bucs ran behind their interior unit of Jensen, Cappa and left guard Ali Marpet on 70 percent of their runs, the highest mark in the league. The problems frequently left Tampa Bay in passing situations and proved to be an issue late in games when trying to hold a lead, looking at the Bucs’ games against Detroit and Jacksonville as glaring examples.
Grade: C+

COACHING

In his first year as a full-time playcaller in his own offense, the marked improvement made by Byron Leftwich – with the leadership and assistance of former offensive coordinators Bruce Arians, Harold Goodwin, Clyde Christensen and Tom Moore – can’t be overstated.

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich and HC Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Leftwich had his struggles early with seemingly predictable playcalling, a focus on plays that were lengthy to develop and the inability to find a third wide receiver to produce at a high level, but as the season developed so did Leftwich. In year one Leftwich led an offense that finished the season ranked third league-wide in both points and yards, produced two 1,000-yard receivers, made something out of a nearly non-existent run game and continued to produce at a high level when Evans, Godwin and Miller were forced to miss time, leaving Tampa Bay with multiple pass-catchers who were getting their first crack at the NFL level.

It was a promising first season for Leftwich and while head coaching rumors swirl, his performance has to be a pleasant surprise.
Grade: B

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About the Author: Taylor Jenkins

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Hockey Duckie
1 year ago

At OL, it’s a bit odd to share Football Outsiders’ (FBO) adjusted sack rate at 7.6% with a 22nd rank in pass blocking, but say it’s north of the average of 7.0. The team allowed more sack rate. The individual play at OL did improve across the board, according to PFF ratings. FBO also cited improvement in their adjusted line yard ratings, but that just means the run game was more reliant upon the OLine than it’s running backs. Yet, for a consecutive season, the Bucs’ run blocking stuff ranked at 30th overall. The Oline got worse at Power (1-3… Read more »

Spitfire
Reply to  Hockey Duckie
1 year ago

The Offense has been tearing things up for quite a while. The difference Between this year and last is red Zone Offense was far far better this year, scoring more TDs is a huge improvement, yards and attempts can be similar or even a little less but if you are able to score more TDs then something improved and that is a huge area to improve on. You can’t just throw it away and say that’s it? Leftwich improved on his own game throughout the season which was good to see but there is definitely more room for improvement moving… Read more »

Hockey Duckie
Reply to  Spitfire
1 year ago

The offense only scored one more TD than in 2018. ONE. If you read my post, I identified this with clarity. Tampa’s overall scoring was aided by the leg of K Gay and the defensive scoring. == ST (Kicking game) == In 2018, our kickers were bad and totaled 100 points. Kickers, plural. Catanzaro deteriorated that we released him during the season and picked up Santos as his replacement. Combined long range FG stats (Cat and Santos): * 40 – 49 yards: 3 out of 8 (37.5%) * 50+ yards: 1 out of 2 (50%) In 2019, GM Licht drafted… Read more »

geno711
Reply to  Hockey Duckie
1 year ago

@Hockey Duckie

You quote FBO a lot on this site. Do you take any of their grading method with a grain of salt or do you feel like they are one of the best one or two sites grading people out there?

geno711
Reply to  geno711
1 year ago

They have Winston as 25th DVOA for quarterbacks overall.

They have an ok rating on Rojo as 23rd DVOA for running backs.

Our highest TE was 18th.

Our wide receivers were 1, 13 and 15 in their system.

So I guess you would rate:
WR’s as A+
OL as D
QB as D
RB as C-
TE as C-
Coaching?

Pete Wood
1 year ago

The future’s so bright, Bucs gotta wear shades.
Bucs will beef up o line. Then they’ll draft a monster rb. So far so good. Winston’s ints will fall.
Two questions.
One, will Winston get his head straight?
Two, will BL call plays that don’t waste our tight ends? Look at old film of the Patriots. And will BL stop calling plays that Winston can’t seem to handle? Maybe with an improved running game winston won’t have to throw short passes up the middle so often.

scubog
1 year ago

So an offense that is comprised of individual positions getting a ‘C’ grade produces overall ‘A’ statistical results? Now that’s weird. It seemed to me that opponent’s defensive coordinators had relatively simple game plans. They were focusing on stopping the run, forcing Winston to pass way too frequently, sitting on some favorite routes and hoping for a gift.

Wadeless
1 year ago

This is about right…RB’s never had a chance with this line which can’t run block.

Dman
1 year ago

Grades look right. Hope year 2 of the BA regime gels and these grades improve with additional talent and maturation of the current roster, DB’s, Jamies, etc.

surferdudes
1 year ago

In a contract year Winston gets a C. Is that good enough for at least one more year at 27 million? Does protecting the ball mean more then throwing for 5000 yards? Well four of the best passing attacks didn’t make the playoffs, but four of the best rushing attacks did. I’d have to give Winston an N, for not good enough. Kicking woes aside, Winston had a dreadful second half against the Giants, and we know how he began, and ended the season.

twspin
1 year ago

Pretty good assessment. I might give our tight ends a B though. And Jameis a C-. He directly was the sole cause of 2 losses which were very easily winnable games I actually viewed on TV. Some say even more. I’d akso give our kicking game a C…at best. At 7-9, its hard to give this team an even 500 rating overall.

Pete Wood
1 year ago

The comment I posted four hours ago is still awaiting moderation. Hmmm. Here it is again. The future’s so bright, Bucs gotta wear shades. Bucs will beef up o line. Then they’ll draft a monster rb. So far so good. Winston’s ints will fall. Two questions. One, will Winston get his head straight? Two, will BL call plays that don’t waste our tight ends? Look at old film of the Patriots. And will BL stop calling plays that Winston can’t seem to handle? Maybe with an improved running game winston won’t have to throw short passes up the middle so… Read more »

The Wall
1 year ago

The offensive line was a C at best. Besides the lousy run blocking, Winston had to run for his life too many times. The tight ends should grade out at D+. What was surprising was how soft Howard was after the catch.
While Leftwich did improve in the later games, his overall play calling was way too predictable.

bucianco
1 year ago

Interceptions on tipped balls, missed catches behind the back, bad routes or hail marys shouldn’t count against the passer. Just like YAC shouldn’t count toward the passing yards once the receiver breaks a tackle. Just my opinion. Saying that, I’d like to know just how many of Winston’s INTs were really his fault. He’s blamed for 30. If he was responsible for only 20 would that change our general perception of his abilities and decision making skills? Would we then fight for him to get signed long term? I really hope Arians and his staff give us honest results after… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  bucianco
1 year ago

I’ve always thought the YAC should not be include as passing yardage.

Selmon-63
1 year ago

A “Grade: C” quarterback should not be our future.

awwdembucs
1 year ago

Play calling at times very Predictable.

tnew
1 year ago

How the RBs get a C with a YPC ranking at 28th. Ronald Jones was actually not bad out of the backfield at 20th, best on the team, but this group, especially running behind a zone blocking line is just deficient. Leftwich’s offense relies on the running game. He commits to it, but on 3rd and 2 I’d rather run a QB sneak than a hand off to any back.

tnew
1 year ago

moderated… really..

bucianco
Reply to  tnew
1 year ago

Yeah, mine too. I must be a trouble maker.

tnew
1 year ago

B for the coaching is VERY strong. C at best. Go back and look at what a truly pivotal play in the last game versus the Falcons. Want to know why we lost it?? First and goal at the 6. Bucs are winning by 6 with 6:26. Ronald Jones has been running very effectively, just having a 15 yard run. A FG nearly puts it away, a TD with a 2 point conversion all but seals it. So, the Bucs lean on the O-line who is blocking well with ROJO who is finally feeling it right??? Nope, Run a play… Read more »

Horse
1 year ago

High rating this different for QB than yours.

A+ passing yards.
C+ running yards
C+ avoiding sacks
F- interceptions
F- pick sixes
D fumbles

19 – 14 = 5
My math tells me that’s a D

stlbucsfan
1 year ago

So a running game without a 1000 yard rusher and a TE unit the underachieved miserably all year get the same grade as the 5000 yard QB? Then you give coaching a B+ Bc they inherited an offense that put up similar output, didn’t fix the run game, marginalized the TEs in the offense and didn’t seem to fix much with Jameis. Seems crazy around the board. Not to mention the timeouts Bruce lost on ridiculous challenges and the several clock management blunders early in the season. It’s truly a Buc life lol.

sunshineben
1 year ago

WHY would a fan want Winston back?? Their are excellent receivers on the team and yet Winston has been rated BELOW EVEN AVERAGE by the nfl .. his amount of interceptions is never going to bring a championship.

EastEndBoy
1 year ago

An offense that ranked 3rd in total yards, and 4th in total points has everyone aside from our WRs ranked as “meh”. Something is definitely wrong – without 41 (!!!) Giveaways, does every position on offense start to look like an A? Why so many giveaways? QB – yes; the OLine – yes….what has Licht done to fix either of those in 5 offseasons…not a lot.

Alaskabuc
1 year ago

We knew from preseason that Leftwich’s and Arian’s passing offense was not going to feature Tight Ends, thus the low career numbers for Brate and Howard. That’s unfortunate, considering we have probably the best TE tandem in the NFL. It’s a waste of talent, but that seems to have been made up by the gaudy numbers at Wide Receiver. This off season they should develop more passing schemes for the TE’s and short dink and dunks with RB’s. I think a draft pick on a quality RB, who also catches out of the back field, would be great (Harris from… Read more »

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