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 Player Has Underperformed In 2019?
Scott Reynolds: OLB Carl Nassib
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 1-1 and the good news for the team is that several star players on offense and defense aren’t playing up to their potential just yet. While some have stepped up, like wide receiver Chris Godwin, who leads the Bucs with 11 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns, and outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who has all four of Tampa Bay’s sacks, the team is waiting for others to make their initial impact in 2019 when the New York Giants come to town this Sunday.
One of the Bucs players that have underachieved has been outside linebacker Carl Nassib, who has just four tackles through two games. Nassib, who was voted as a team captain for the first time in Tampa Bay this year, ranks tied for seventh on the team in tackles, and has yet to record a sack, a pass breakup or a forced fumble or fumble recovery. Nassib had a career-high 6.5 sacks last season in his first year in Tampa Bay after being claimed off waivers from Cleveland.
Now playing in a pivotal contract year, Nassib is hoping to top that sack number and cash in on a big extension in Tampa Bay or a big contract elsewhere in free agency in 2020. With Barrett likely to draw a lot of attention from the Giants after his three-sack performance in Carolina last Thursday night, Nassib might be able to take advantage of one-on-one blocks on Sunday and get to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. The sooner the better for Nassib.
Mark Cook: WR Mike Evans
The easy pick would be tight end O.J. Howard, and yes, he has underwhelmed to say the least. But Mike Evans’ slow start is even more worrisome.
Coming off a 1,524-yard Pro Bowl season in 2018, most expected Evans to pick up where he left off last year. But through two games, Evans has just six receptions for 89 yards. And nearly half of his yardage total came on one reception last Thursday night on a 41-yard deep pass from Jameis Winston. Take that pass away, and disappointing becomes downright concerning.
To be fair to Evans, he did play Week 1 dealing with flu-like symptoms, and last Thursday night he was matched up with Carolina’s James Bradberry, a cornerback that has been a thorn in his side. Still, Evans had an opportunity to come down with a touchdown pass in the first half of the Panthers game that he catches nine out of 10 times.
And also to be fair, the Bucs offense is still far from firing on all cylinders. New offensive coordinator Bryon Leftwich is still finding his footing as a play-caller, and the Bucs are still trying to establish their identity offensively.
It is still early, and history suggests that Evans won’t keep up this slow pace. With five straight 1,000-yard season in his first five seasons in the league, Evans didn’t forget how to play football. Now it is up to Leftwich, Winston and head coach Bruce Arians to not forget they have one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Trevor Sikkema: TE O.J. Howard
“The easy pick would be tight end O.J. Howard.”
Yeah Mark, and it’s also the right pick.
Through two games, Howard is on pace to have career lows in everything; catches, yards, touchdowns, yards per reception. Not to mention the fact that Howard was the cause of two costly turnovers in the red zone in Week 1 that ended up biting the Buccaneers in the worst way, resulting in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Howard has been on the field plenty. He played in 80 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in Week 1 and 92 percent of the snaps in Week 2. The only two skill players who have a higher percentage of snaps through two games are Chris Godwin and Mike Evans – and Howard is playing right around the same amount of snaps as Evans.
Through two games Howard has the worst Pro Football Focus grade of his career at 29.7 overall. This includes both receiving and blocking.
I’m certainly nowhere near ready to give up on Howard, as he is still one of the most talented tight ends in the game. But talent and production are two different things, and right now Howard is not producing.
Taylor Jenkins: ILB Devin White
After being selected with the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft, inside linebacker Devin White was expected to step in and immediately become Tampa Bay’s signal-caller on defense, in addition to being a leader on and off of the field while replacing Kwon Alexander, who was lost to free agency this past offseason.
These are some hefty expectations to throw on a rookie’s shoulders, but they’re the expectations that come with drafting a middle linebacker at such a premier draft spot. White has also — through no fault of his own — been hampered by a series of unfortunate circumstances to start his NFL career.
White dealt with a case of tonsillitis that impacted his ability to eat and stay hydrated heading into Week 1 and suffered a knee injury that forced the first-year linebacker to leave the Bucs’ Week 2 matchup in just the first quarter.
While accumulating six total tackles against the 49ers in Week 1, White was far from the game-changing talent that Tampa Bay believes he can be. In Week 2 he assisted on just two tackles before exiting the contest.
Veteran Kevin Minter was serviceable in White’s absence, but the Bucs’ didn’t spend a top-5 pick on the position for serviceable play. White’s status for Week 3 is still up in the air, but Bucs’ fans will be looking for the rookie to return with a vengeance once he’s back to 100 percent.
Matt Matera: WR Breshad Perriman
Wide receiver Breshad Perriman came to the Bucs with a reputation of having a ton of speed but not the best hands, and so far he’s lived up to that. The Bucs have tried to get Perriman the ball, as he has nine targets on the season, but the results have not been what anyone has wanted.
The veteran wide receiver was signed by Tampa Bay to bring speed and the ability to separate, but so far he hasn’t been able to get much separation despite how fast he is. Perriman has trouble making catches even when he’s open, as he was in the end zone last week at Carolina, and he hasn’t been able to make any type of contested catch either when a defender is on him.
Perriman had just two catches for 10 yards in the Bucs’ opener and followed that up with a goose egg in their Thursday night game. He also had a touchdown pass go right through his hands in the end zone against the Panthers that would have put the Bucs up two scores with one quarter to go. Perriman absolutely should have caught that pass, and the following missed field goal on the next play made his drop sting even more.
If Perriman continues to struggle catching the ball, the Bucs will be put in a bind as the opposing defense can start planning to doubling Mike Evans or designing other ways to limit Chris Godwin. The Bucs may also start considering giving some more playing time to Justin Watson or Bobo Wilson instead. Perriman still has a great amount of speed, but it’s the rest of his game that needs to be picked up.