Each week, PewterReport.com will rate the top 10 Buccaneers based upon recent play rather than overall talent or importance to the team. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started off the 2015 season with a deflating home to Tennessee before scoring an upset road win at New Orleans followed by a disappointing loss at Houston. There aren’t too many Buccaneers heading into Week 4 with a solid game under their belt.

These are the Buccaneers with the most momentum heading into the Week 4 home game against the 3-0 Carolina Panthers:

1. DE Jacquies Smith
Through three games Smith still leads the NFL by half a sack with four sacks. Smith was unable to add to his lead in Houston as he was held without a sack for the first time this season, but he did have five tackles and a tackle for loss. Smith’s three tackles for a loss lead Tampa Bay.

2. WR Vincent Jackson
After three games, Jackson is still the Bucs’ leading receiver with nine catches for 145 yards (16.1 avg.) and one touchdown. Jackson was slighted in Houston with only four targets (two catches for 40 yards), while Mike Evans had 17 passes (seven catches for 101 yards) and he is deserving of more passes thrown his way.

3. LB Lavonte David
After a sun-par performance in Tampa Bay’s Week 1 loss, David has turned it on. He followed up an eight-tackle performance in the week in New Orleans with a season-high 14 stops at Houston. David is the Bucs’ leading tackler with 27 stops and a forced fumble but needs to produce more splash plays.

4. MLB Kwon Alexander
Alexander is showing rapid improvement three games into his rookie season and had his best performance in Houston. Despite missing a few tackles and being out of his gap a few times, Alexander had 10 tackles, two pass breakups and his first NFL interception. Alexander is second on the team in tackles with 23 stops and two tackles for loss.

5. DT Gerald McCoy
McCoy is battling through shoulder pain and had two sacks in the first two weeks. He should have had a sack-fumble last week in Houston last week, but saw that play come back due to a penalty on D.J. Swearinger. McCoy has seven tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and a pass breakup on the season.

Bucs RB Doug Martin - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

6. RB Doug Martin
Martin was stymied in Houston in Week 3 last week as the Texans’ physical front seven and gained just 46 yards on 14 carries (3.3 avg.). He leads Tampa Bay in rushing with 176 yards on 46 carries (3.8 avg.) and is running hard. Martin needs better run blocking in front of him for improved productivity.

7. QB Jameis Winston
Winston had way too many dropped passes last week in Houston, but was also errant on some of his throws, especially on third down. Winston finished below 50 percent completion percentage last week, which was disappointing, but he had his fourth touchdown pass of the year – a 32-yard screen pass to Charles Sims, as well as his third interception.

8. WR Louis Murphy
Murphy had three catches for 61 (20.3 avg.) yards in Houston and has established himself as Winston’s deep threat over the past two games. He has six catches for 143 yards, with a team-long 54-yarder versus New Orleans, and his 23.8-yard average leads all receivers in Tampa Bay.

9. RB Charles Sims
Sims scored his first NFL receiving touchdown on a 32-yard screen pass in Houston that he capped off with a summersault into the end zone. Sims is averaging 3.2 yards per carry (19 carries for 61 yards), but is making strides as a receiver with an 11.1-yard average (seven catches for 78 yards and a touchdown).

Bucs P Jacob Schum - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs P Jacob Schum – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

10. P Jacob Schum
Schum has done a good job as Tampa Bay’s punter this season, averaging 44 yards per punt with a 41.8-yard net. Schum has only had one bad punt – a shank last week in Houston. The good news is that he has yet to have a touchback and he’s placed four of his 14 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

DROPPED OUT: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (2) Chris Conte (9)

1. K Kyle Brindza
Brindza has a huge leg and drilled a career-high 58-yard field goal in Houston, but then missed an extra point and his next three field goals, which proved costly in a 10-point loss to the Texans. Brindza is just 5-of-9 (55.5 percent) on the season.

2. DE George Johnson
Johnson has been invisible as a pass rusher and needs to earn his paycheck by getting to the quarterback. With just five tackles and a fumble recovery through two games, he clearly needs to step up his game and justify the investment the Bucs made in him when they traded a draft pick to Detroit for Johnson in the offseason.

3. WR Mike Evans
The good news is that Evans recorded his first catch of the season last week and finished with seven receptions for 101 yards. The bad news is that he had as many drops as he did catches, as well as an offensive pass interference penalty. Evans was targeted 17 times on Sunday and needs to be more consistent.

Bucs CB Alterraun Verner - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs CB Alterraun Verner – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

4. SS D.J. Swearinger
Swearinger has 11 tackles and a fumble recovery on the season, but missed a chance at stopping Mark Ingram on his touchdown in New Orleans. In Houston against his former team, he had a penalty that negated a strip-sack by Gerald McCoy that really hurt the Bucs. Swearinger is capable of better play.

5. CB Alterraun Verner
Verner has been demoted to a backup cornerback behind Johnthan Banks and Tim Jennings. In fact, Verner was even behind Mike Jenkins in the rotation last week at Houston, and only played a lot due to injuries to Banks, Jenkins and Jennings in that game.

DROPPED OUT: C Evan Smith (3)

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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5 years ago

Thought Winston had fairly solid game considering on the road and we were not able to run. If he just could done something on third downs! Likely could have won. He needs to get control of himself. He says he’s calm and confident, but his actions don’t show it. He came out too amped up against Titans and just never recovered. Bounced back against Saints. He did well in Houston early downs, but he gets too nervous and anxious on third down obviously. His throws were horrible on third down. Rest of time he was pretty good. One horrible decision… Read more »

5 years ago

Watch the replay of the strip sack on the coaches film in NFL Gameday and there was no way Swearinger held on the play.
My previous assertion that Evans didn’t commit an offensive pass interference and was actually the victim of one in the endzone remain.
We were jobbed by the refs and got some real homecookin.
My suspicions about our BCs not jamming any of the receivers at the line were also confirmed.
If we refuse to jam receivers at the line, we will see other teams mimic the Texans and the Titans.

Reply to  drdneast
5 years ago

I agree with ur statement. I know when ur a losing franchise u tend to look for excuses, but there’s no way anyone can tell me we don’t constantly get hosed on bad penalty calls. Yes, there most certainty is times where we commit stupid penalties, but every week there is seemingly 2 or 3 calls that go against us that make me question what side the refs are on. Just my opinion but I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

5 years ago

Listen, if we commit a penalty and its a good call, I’m the first to admit it.
But the game calls in Houston were a complete travesty.
I don’t scream about poor refereeing after every game, but I sure did after the Texans game.

5 years ago

The homefield advantage was pretty prevalent in several of those calls. The announcers even commented on how tight the refs would be calling it on the outside. Yet, later when we were the victims of PI, stated the refs were gonna “let them play”