The Tampa Bay Bucs have played half of their schedule so far this season and find themselves on a four-game losing streak and a 2-6 record. The Bucs have had a tumultuous travel schedule, where they haven’t played at home in Raymond James stadium since September.
PewterReport.com offers its midseason grades for each Bucs unit and the coaching staff. On Saturday we offer up grades for the offense and on Sunday we will dish out the grades for the defense.
Take a look and see if you agree, and share your thoughts in there comments section below.
It’s been the same case over the last four games for Jameis Winston as it’s been for his entire career with the Bucs – inconsistency.
The Bucs trip to London was an absolute nightmare for Winston and Tampa Bay. Winston threw five interceptions against the Panthers while fumbling twice on consecutive plays. It was by far his worst game of the season but was much better when the Bucs went to Tennessee, throwing for 304 yards and two touchdowns. The following week in Seattle, Winston was on point. He had 335 passing yards with two touchdowns and 65.91 completion percentage. Winston helped the Bucs score 34 points, and most importantly, was smart with the ball.
It was another up and down quarter for the Bucs quarterback as we saw everything from fantastic to awful. Winston has thrown for 2,407 yards on the season with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. These next four games for Winston take another wait and see approach.
Bruce Arians said that the Bucs were going to be a run first team, and they’ve done so with a two-man combo of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones. That was until Jones became the starter against Seattle, which should carry into the rest of the season. Jones has 104 more yards rushing than Barber on just nine more attempts.
The Bucs have stayed committed to running the ball, with the exception of the London game when they were down by multiple scores. Jones has provided a spark when coming into games, using his shiftiness to beat defenders and add more yards. Barber didn’t lose his job for doing anything wrong as the coaches have said, and he remains consistent as a physical runner.
Overall, the Bucs are averaging 99 yards a game and getting positive yards on the ground for most of their carries. Jones has 341 rushing yards this season, averaging 4.1 yards per attempt and scoring three touchdowns. Barber has rushed for 277 yards with 3.3 yards per attempt and also three scores. Dare Ogunbowale also has two touchdowns in primarily a third down back. Look for some more explosive plays in the run game with Jones getting an increased work load.
The Bucs have had a two-headed monster in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin this entire season. One of them has gone for at least 125 receiving yards over the last four games. Both are well on their way to Pro Bowl consideration, if not All-Pro honors.
Evans in particular has come along great over the last two games with 378 yards and three touchdowns. This is on the heels of a Week 5 game in New Orleans where he had no receiving yards. Godwin picked up the slack in Week 5 and Week 6, when he went off for 276 yards and two touchdowns. When one of them has a down game, the other picks it up.
Outside of Evans and Godwin, the Bucs have gotten little to no production from their receivers. Third-string receiver Breshad Perriman missed two games with a hamstring injury and has not been effective when playing. Scotty Miller has had some targets, but has made little impact. Bobo Wilson was cut after two muffed punts in London and Justin Watson hasn’t been used at all. The production has been scarce outside of their top two guys.
On the season Evans has 50 receptions for 842 yards and seven touchdowns while Godwin has gone for 766 yards on 54 receptions and six touchdowns. The rest of the Bucs receiving core has made 14 catches for 145 yards and one touchdown.
The injury bug has been the main story for the tight ends during the second quarter of the season. O.J. Howard has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, Cam Brate has been dealing with a rib injury, and third string tight end Antony Auclair is now done for the year with a turf toe.
Even when healthy, Howard’s presence has not been felt at all in the pass game. Howard’s been effective run blocking, but with his talent, Howard can bring so much more to the table. He has 13 catches for 176 yards on the season. Brate has put up similar numbers with 15 receptions for 151 yards and two touchdowns, but hasn’t been much of a factor in the offense either. Tanner Hudson has gotten some more playing time with all the injuries, but he has also dropped two touchdown passes.
The loss of Alex Cappa for two games and Demar Dotson for one really hurt the offensive line in pass protection. The Bucs allowed six sacks against the Saints followed by another seven against Carolina. Once Cappa returned to the lineup, the Bucs only allowed five over their next two games. Cappa has shown good strides developing his game during his second year in the NFL.
Left tackle Donovan Smith has had all eyes on him this season after signing a new contract, and he has performed well this year. On the interior line, left guard Ali Marpet is having another good season while center Ryan Jensen has had a resurgence as well. The offensive line has had their protection problems, ranking 29th in sacks allowed with 30, but they are trending in a better direction as they get healthier.
Byron Leftwich should receive praise for averaging 28 points per game, which is fourth best in the NFL. The run game has improved under his watch, and the offense has looked like it’s hit a groove over the last two weeks. What Leftwich hasn’t been able to do, though, is get some more of his players involved. Leftwich has yet to establish a third receiving option, whether that be a receiver or one of the tight ends, and at times he hasn’t gotten his best players involved.
The play calling has been predictable at times. The predictability was evident on a fourth-and-one with the game on the line in Tennessee. With the Bucs being one of the top scoring teams in the NFL, boasting two of the top wide receivers in the league, there isn’t a lot to criticize as both the coaches and players are beginning to learn and trust one another.