The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs.
This week’s topic: Which Bucs Deserve To Make The Pro Bowl?
Table of Contents
Scott Reynolds: I Can Make The Case For 7 Bucs Pro Bowlers
Pro Bowl voting began last week, and although the actual game won’t be played due to COVID-19, getting voted to the Pro Bowl is still an honor for the players. So which Bucs are the most deserving of making the Pro Bowl? Let’s begin with the best and most consistent player in Tampa Bay this year – kicker Ryan Succop, who has more points (90) than anyone else in the NFL this year. Succop has only missed one kick this year – a field goal – and has had one field goal and two extra points blocked. Connecting on 20-of-22 field goals and 30-of-32 extra points should get him the Pro Bowl nod over New York’s Graham Gano and Atlanta’s Younghoe Koo.
Bucs RB Ronald Jones II and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
Believe it or not, Bucs running back Ronald Jones II is having a Pro Bowl season. He’s the third-leading rusher in the NFL with 730 yards and five touchdowns, while averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per carry, and the second-leading rusher in the NFC behind Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook, who leads the league with 954 yards and five TDs. The next closest running back in the NFC is Arizona’s Kenyan Drake, who has 612 yards rushing. I’m not necessarily advocating that Jones, who has four games with over 100 yards rushing this year, should be in the Pro Bowl over more complete backs like New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara, but RoJo’s numbers suggest he is worthy.
Quarterback Tom Brady with his 23 passing touchdowns and three rushing scores for the 7-3 Buccaneers deserve to make the Pro Bowl alongside Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, and I’d also put right tackle Tristan Wirfs into the Pro Bowl conversation. Ali Marpet was having a Pro Bowl season before his concussion, which has cost him two games – and maybe more. Tampa Bay’s defense has played well collectively, but two defenders deserve Pro Bowl consideration. Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul has 7.5 sacks, which is second in the NFC, along with three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception. JPP hasn’t been as consistent as I’d lie for him to be, but he has made some big plays at opportune times for the Bucs. Cornerback Carlton Davis is tied for the NFL lead with 14 pass breakups and is tied for the lead in the NFC with a career-high four interceptions. Davis hasn’t allowed a 100-yard receiver this year and has developed into a shutdown cornerback. While Lavonte David is a Pro Bowl-caliber player, he’s not having a Pro Bowl-caliber year from a statistical standpoint, and that matters for Pro Bowl selections. He doesn’t lead the Bucs in tackles (Devin White does), and has just 1.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries so far. Tough to get in with so few splash plays.
Mark Cook: A Lot But As Usual, Some Will Be Snubbed
When you are a winning football team, the individual honors tend to follow. It is no coincidence that the players in Tampa Bay history who have went to the Pro Bowl the most, came from dominant-era Bucs teams. Derrick Brooks(11 times), Warren Sapp (seven times), Mike Alstott and Lee Roy Selmon (6 times) and John Lynch, Hardy Nickerson, Ronde Barber (fiver times). Team success breeds individual success and recognition. That is a good thing. And this year with the Buccaneers sitting at 7-3 on the season and the likelihood of their first postseason in 12 years coming in 2020, we should see a number of Bucs players receiving Pro Bowl honors.
Bucs QB Tom Brady, C Ryan Jensen and LG Ali Marpet – Photo by: Cliff Welch/P
Offensively, quarterback Tom Brady appears to be a lock. First he has name recognition, but at age 43 he is playing as well as any quarterback in the NFL. Prior to his concussion, guard Ali Marpet was likely destined for his first Pro Bowl selection, but missing what looks to be a minimum of three games could derail his chances. Others along the offensive line that deserve consideration are rookie Tristan Wirfs and center Ryan Jensen. It may be difficult for Wirfs, as rookie offensive linemen are hard-pressed to make a Pro Bowl in their first year, but quick, off the top of your head, name a better right tackle in the NFL? Interestingly enough, despite having one of the best offenses in the NFL, the Bucs skill players will likely be left out this year. Brady spreads the ball around and with so many weapons to choose from, none are having exceptional years statistically. Running back Ronald Jones might be the Bucs best bet from a skill position standpoint as he is currently third in the NFL with 730 yards on the ground.
Defensively, linebacker Lavonte David can’t get overlooked again, can he? David has shown no signs of slowing down despite being ancient in terms of football years, but all he does is show up week after week and perform his job at a high level. Fellow inside backer Devin White has some impressive stats, and sometimes that is enough to get a player in, however between the two, David has played better overall, even if White has more splash plays. Cornerback Carlton Davis is Pro Bowl worthy and his four interceptions are among the league leaders. His biggest obstacle could be the sub-par play of his cornerback teammates Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting. Meaning how many more interception opportunities will Davis get as teams are smart and know they will have more success throwing at Dean and Murphy-Bunting? As previously mentioned, name recognition is a big factor and Jason Pierre-Paul has that to go along with being sixth in the league with 7.5 quarterback takedowns.
So my prediction for Pro Bowlers fairly or not – Tom Brady, Ryan Jensen, Ronald Jones, Lavonte David, and Jason Pierre-Paul and a strong chance or Ronald Jones earning Pro Bowl honors in 2020.
Jon Ledyard: Lot Of Bucs To Consider, Lot Of Football Still To Be Played
There’s two ways to look at this question, so I’ll tackle both of them. First, the six Bucs that, in a vacuum, are playing at a Pro Bowl level this season: QB Tom Brady, LG Ali Marpet, LB Lavonte David, CB Carlton Davis, OT Tristan Wirfs and K Ryan Succop. David should be a lock, although this honor will hardly make up for the other times he was ridiculously snubbed. Brady’s popularity should win him the fan vote and probably the player vote at least, and he’s certainly played at a level deserving of Pro Bowl recognition this season. But in a tight quarterback race, how Brady finishes the season will matter a lot.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
Marpet should also be a lock, depending on how swiftly he can return from a concussion. Missing three games shouldn’t be a death knell, but if he doesn’t come back by Week 12, I could see the former second round pick getting snubbed. Wirfs has pedigree and elite tape on his side, but he’s still a rookie at a loaded position in the NFL this season. Davis’ interception numbers plus his tape would seem to make him a safe bet to be one of the Bucs two defensive locks for the Pro Bowl. Succop has been brilliant and leading the league in points helps, but the NFL is loaded with quality kickers this season, and the Pro Bowl only takes two.
In a vacuum, Ronald Jones and Rob Gronkowski have not played at a “Pro Bowl level” this season, as even the most ardent Bucs fan would probably agree. If I had told you Jones was a Pro Bowler before last Sunday’s 192-yard performance, you’d have laughed me off this site. One game, especially considering how poor Jones was in the passing game again, shouldn’t change that. However, both the running back and tight end position groups have been so incredibly weak around the league through Week 10, that both players probably get in if final decisions were today. They aren’t today, however, so I’d expect better players to overtake them statistically and in voting, especially in Jones’ case.
So six Bucs I’d pound the table for, two that could get in by default, but haven’t played at a Pro Bowl level this season. The other Bucs that could be considered are Ryan Jensen (again, weak position group in the NFL right now) and Jason Pierre-Paul (7.5 sacks), but I would be surprised if either are honored in that way. Devin White’s name will generate a lot of buzz, but pass coverage and tackling/run defense consistency matter, and White is still too weak in both areas for me to consider him anywhere near a top six linebacker in the league.
Matt Matera: It’ll Be More Bucs Than We’re Used To Seeing
We used to get angry that certain Bucs got snubbed, but there won’t be as many gripes this year. You could make the case that anywhere from four to eight Bucs will make the Pro Bowl this year, but we’ll start with the most deserving. Those would be the likes of Tom Brady, Tristan Wirfs and Ronald Jones II on offense, along with linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White and cornerback Carlton Davis III for the defense.
Beginning with offense, the legend that is Tom Brady came to a new team and hasn’t lost a step. In a year where it’d be easy to make excuses, Brady has been a leader. His 2,739 passing yards and 23 touchdowns put him fourth among quarterbacks, and when you factor in the Bucs’ 7-3 record, he should be in. Jones is third in the league in rushing (730 yards) while having the best year of his career. The question for him is if he’ll get the nod over someone like Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake, Alvin Kamara and Aaron Jones, or if his struggles in the passing game hurt him. Wirfs has been a stud at tackle, and looks to be a lock with his hype growing.
Bucs LB Lavonte David and CB Jamel Dean – Photo by: USA Today
If Lavonte David doesn’t make the Pro Bowl this year, they might as well never have another Pro Bowl again. He’s a man that does it all in every facet of the game, and now he’s doing it on a national stage. White is a good self promoter, who should get fan votes, and his 88 tackles put him at sixth in the league, while his five sacks is best among middle linebackers. Davis has transformed into a lockdown corner this year, shutting down some of the league’s best receivers. His four interceptions help back it up. The two other players that have a shot to get in are Rob Gronkowksi and Jason Pierre-Paul. Gronkowski is a household name and continues to get better each week at a tight end position that doesn’t have much production outside of Travis Kelce. Pierre-Paul is another well known player, who’s 7.5 sacks puts him two behind Myles Garret’s league lead. If he can get closer to the top, the league will have no choice to put him in.
Taylor Jenkins: Plenty Of Options, But Who Will Make The Cut?
With the way the Bucs have been playing this year, I think there area few Bucs that should absolutely be Pro Bowl selections and a few that are right on the bubble, depending on how their season wraps up down the stretch. Off the bat, I think tackle Tristan Wirfs, guard Ali Marpet, quarterback Tom Brady, cornerback Carlton Davis and kicker Ryan Succop should immediately be considered Pro Bowlers by their play this season, with linebacker Lavonte David, tight end Rob Gronkowski, edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, running back Ronald Jones and center Ryan Jensen all in contention for their own consideration.
Along the offensive line, Marpet and Wirfs have both been more then good, they’ve been among the best individual players at their positions. Wirfs, through 682 snaps this season, has allowed just one sack, seven quarterback hits, 10 hurries and 18 pressures despite going through an absolute gauntlet of pass rushers to start his career in Cam Jordan, Brian Burns, Myles Garrett, Joey Bosa and Za’Darius Smith. Marpet on the other hand, despite missing the past two games with a concussion, has yet to allow a sack while allowing just four hits, three hurries and seven pressures. Brady has been fantastic this season, amassing 2739 yards and 23 touchdowns to seven interceptions, sitting right outside of what I consider top-tier quarterback play in Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes. Davis has been the Bucs’ island corner, following his opposition’s top receiver and doing the job with fantastic results. Davis has played great in run defense as well, but in coverage he’s totaled four interceptions and 10 pass breakups while allowing a passer rating of just 58.1 when targeted. And finally Succop, who has been nearly perfect. Succop leads the league with 90 points scored while converting 20 of 22 field goals and 30 of 32 extra points, although two of his extra point attempts and one of his field goal attempts were blocked, so he’s only truly missed one kick to date.
Bucs K Ryan Succop – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
For the guys on the bubble, it starts with Lavonte David. David should make the Pro Bowl, if for no other reason because he’s been snubbed so many times, but will his numbers get him there? To this point David has one interception, one forced fumble, seven tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks despite playing fantastic football in all aspects along the Bucs’ defense. Gronkowski and Pierre-Paul sit in similar situations, where their play mixed with name recognition will probably get them to the Pro Bowl despite their stats being on the border. Pierre-Paul’s production with 7.5 sacks has probably outweighed his play, but he’s also got a bit of an advantage being listed as an outside linebacker. Gronkowski started slow but his stats since have put him right in the race with 374 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Also, injuries to George Kittle and Zach Ertz, with a down year from Mark Andrews, will help his cause. Jensen has played at a Pro Bowl level, although not at the level of some of his counterparts along the offensive line, but is he popular enough to get the fan vote? And the last guy is Jones. Jones currently sits third in the league with 730 rushing yards, but that’s also a bit decieving. I hate to use this point but 98 of those 730 yards, or 13.4 percent of his yearly total, came on one run against Carolina and with five total touchdowns and so many talented backs across the league and only six to choose from, I find it hard to see him making the cut after 16 games.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org