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FAB 1. Bucs’ 2020 Midseason Awards
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an impressive 6-2 record at the midway point of the 2020 season and the team could see it’s lead in the NFC South grow to two games with a win over the visiting New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football. The remarkable thing is that the Bucs, who haven’t had a winning record since 2016 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2007.
With one more win the Bucs match their win total of a year ago, and with three more victories Tampa Bay will have a winning record for the first time in several years. With eight games concluded and eight games to go, here are PewterReport.com’s 2020 Midseason Awards
BUCS MIDSEASON OFFENSIVE MVP – QB Tom Brady
Brady has been an absolute stud at quarterback for Tampa Bay with 20 passing touchdowns, two rushing scores and just four interceptions through the first eight games of 2020. Is he really 43 years old, or is he 34? He looks like he’s 34 the way he’s slinging the ball down the field and leading the Bucs to over 30 points per game – all without an offseason or a preseason. Brady has become the NFL’s all-time leading TD leader with 51 passing touchdowns. He’s been the leader Tampa Bay needed to win close games, and he’s the play-making quarterback that the Bucs envisioned he would be as the Bucs make a playoff push in 2020.
BUCS MIDSEASON DEFENSIVE MVP – LB Lavonte David
Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: USA Today
David has been his usual brilliant self to start the 2020 campaign. He’s second on the team with 60 tackles along with four pass breakups, 1.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Tampa Bay’s long-time team captain doesn’t have as many splash plays as fellow linebacker Devin White, but he’s been better in coverage and super consistent, earning an 82.8 grade from Pro Football Focus, which is third-best on the Bucs defense. Hopefully David finishes 2020 strong and earns a well-deserved Pro Bowl berth – and a contract extension.
BUCS MIDSEASON SPECIAL TEAMS MVP – K Ryan Succop
Succop is coming off a 4-of-4 outing at New York that earned him the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Succop has connected on 88.2 percent (15-of-17) of his field goals and 96.3 percent of his extra points in his first season in Tampa Bay, and that includes a field goal and extra point being block – neither of which was his fault. The kicker position has been the most problematic position in Tampa Bay since general manager Jason Licht’s arrival in 2014, but he’s found a veteran ace in Succop.
MOST IMPROVED OFFENSIVE PLAYER – WR Scotty Miller
Miller gets the slight edge over running back Ronald Jones II and right guard Alex Cappa only because Jones has cooled off a bit, losing carries and snaps to running back Leonard Fournette. Jones is still tied for the fifth in the NFL with 529 yards and four touchdowns, but with a career-high 400 yards and two touchdowns on 25 catches (16 avg.), Miller is ahead of Pro Bowlers Mike Evans (373) and Chris Godwin (279) as the team’s receiving leader at the halfway point of the season.
MOST IMPROVED DEFENSIVE PLAYER – CB Carlton Davis III
Bucs CB Carlton Davis III – Photo by: USA Today
There have been several improved players on Tampa Bay’s defense this year, including defensive end Will Gholston and inside linebacker Devin White, who has a career-high five sacks. But Davis has been the most improved defender and is leading the team with four interceptions and 13 pass breakups. Not only is Davis the Bucs’ best defensive back, he’s also one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, routinely drawing the opposing team’s best receiver and typically shutting him down. Davis called himself a Pro Bowler on this week’s conference call with reporters – and he’s right.
MOST DISAPPOINTING OFFENSIVE PLAYER – WR Chris Godwin
On an offense that is absolutely one at the best at putting points on the board, averaging 30.9 points per game, which is fourth in the league, it’s hard to find many players that have been disappointing. And let’s be clear, the only disappointing thing about Godwin has been his frustrating injuries, which haven’t been his fault. He suffered a concussion in Week 1, pulled a hamstring in Week 3 and broke a finger in Week 7. Those injuries have unfortunately caused him to miss four games this season. In the four games Godwin has suited up in, he’s played well with 25 catches for 279 yards (11.2 avg.) and two touchdowns. The problem is that he’s in a contract year and he won’t come close to hitting 1,000 yards or making a second straight Pro Bowl – and that’s the disappointing thing.
MOST DISAPPOINTING DEFENSIVE PLAYER – OLB Shaquil Barrett
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: USA Today
Barrett was given the franchise tag during the offseason after recording a franchise-record 19.5 sacks, which was the most in the league last year. Those sacks and his six forced fumbles earned Barrett his first Pro Bowl berth and a hefty raise. The problem is that Barrett is way off last year’s pace and has just three sacks this year, which ranks fourth on the team. He won’t come close to last year’s sack total and may not even hit double digits, which is disappointing. Barrett has had a fair amount of pressures this year, including two that resulted in key interceptions on Monday night, but teams pay for sacks – not pressures. And edge rushers make the Pro Bowl on sacks not pressures, too.
BEST ROOKIE – RT Tristan Wirfs
Wirfs narrowly edges out safety Antoine Winfield, Jr., the team’s second-round pick, for this honor. Winfield has been a force on defense, starting every game at safety for Tampa Bay and recording 44 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one interception during his first season with the Bucs. But Wirfs gets the nod because he has taken every snap at right tackle this year and handled the likes of Cameron Jordan, Joey Bosa and Brian Burns among others. Wirfs has a 72.9 overall grade at Pro Football Focus and is the top-rated rookie offensive lineman in the NFL so far. Wirfs is an absolute stud.
BEST FREE AGENT ACQUISITION – QB Tom Brady
The Bucs went after Brady hard in March and were fortunate to land him in free agency. Not only has he been the culture-changer the team expected him to be, he’s been playing quarterback at an NFL MVP level at age 43. Not only is Brady this year’s top free agent acquisition, he’s actually the best free agent in Tampa Bay history – right up there with the likes of defensive end Simeon Rice and quarterback Brad Johnson, given their Super Bowl credentials with the Buccaneers.
WORST FREE AGENT ACQUISITION – RB LeSean McCoy
Bucs RB LeSean McCoy – Photo by: USA Today
The 32-year old McCoy is a shell of his former self, with minus-1 yard rushing on six carries this season, and 10 catches for 61 yards (6.1 avg.). McCoy’s production has been so bad that Leonard Fournette has taken over the nickel back role on offense on third down situations and obvious passing downs. McCoy is a good locker room guy, and a bargain at the veteran league minimum $750,000, but hasn’t made much of an impact this year since signing with Tampa Bay this summer.
BUCS’ RECORD DOWN THE STRETCH – 5-3
Tampa Bay is off to a hot start with a 6-2 record, which is the best record the team has ever had and matches the Bucs’ 6-2 mark at the halfway point during the Super Bowl year in 2002. The Bucs won’t be able to match that record over the last half the season, but they’ll come close with a 5-3 mark. Tampa Bay is about to embark on a tough four-game stretch with games against New Orleans, Carolina, Kansas City and Los Angeles Rams. In December the Bucs’ schedule gets perhaps a bit easier with games against Minnesota and Detroit, and two games against Atlanta. There should be five wins in there for the Bucs, who should finish no worse than 10-6, but stand a great chance of finishing 11-5 – perhaps with an NFC South title.
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: email@example.com
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