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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

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

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

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

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.

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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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eaustinyoung
7 months ago

So you think the Bucs will lose 3 out of the next 4? Saints, Panthers, and Rams are CLEARLY beatable. The Bucs have every ability to win out the season – although difficult – just depends on how the team shows up.

stlbucsfan
7 months ago

Godwin has been hurt for big parts of 2 of his 3 seasons here and Shaq has 1 really good season in the midst of many other average ones. Both will come back on deals that’ll be deemed team friendly. Suh has to come back bc Vea is another thats been injured for 2 of his 3 seasons and we have drafted no quality depth to replace Suh. Succop returns and my guess is we extend LVD for another 2-3 seasons with some money created from Brady/D.Smith restructuring their contracts. 6-2 or 5-3 in the second half is fine but… Read more »

Eddie
Reply to  stlbucsfan
7 months ago

Brady had been restructuring his contract for years while at New England to help out the team. And in the end was not resigned. I don;t think he would be willing to do that again. Even if the owner said they love him like a son.

martinii
7 months ago

Good read Scott. just a few comments. Barrett is playing in a more balanced defense. Sacks are spread more evenly. He is a top player but 19 1/2 sacks was a one year deal. The only thing disappointing about Godwin is his durability. When he is healthy he is Pro Bowl material. I never try to estimate future W/L. Like Brady you play them one game at a time. The Giants game is a perfect example. I don’t like the idea of trading Brate. Gronk might leave next year and Howard (though talented) is injury prone. Brate has delivered consistently.… Read more »

The Wall
7 months ago

Totally agree with choices. Barrett seems to have one move- speed around the outside. His offside penalties are also a concern. So glad we franchised him. Looks like a good player, just not a great player.

revfish
7 months ago

Scott, I really appreciated the mention of Alex kappa and his improvement. A few years ago Many people are clamoring for him to be cut as he never played and the Bucs said he wasn’t ready. I know players stories are tougher now, but I would love a story on his development over the years, what he has worked on physically and mentally to change him self from being on the verge of being cut or at the bottom of the roster to a quality starter. I bring this up simply because that goes through my mind whenever I see… Read more »

Horse
7 months ago

Scott, spot on with the awards.
I see us 12-4 for season. 2nd half 6-2; those losses coming from Saints & Rams. Of course if we beat the Saints, we might run it out.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Horse
7 months ago

I think the Bucs have a way better chance of beating the Saints than the Chiefs but that doesn’t mean the Saints don’t match up really well and give a huge competition. I still don’t think the Bucs have hit their ceiling. If you consider the first 4 weeks preseason, Bucs are only on game 5 as the “on-field” product.

As I said there isn’t a team that outright crushes the Bucs. They have all the tools to contend with anyone – even the Steelers. Just depends on injuries and what Bucs team shows up.

Last edited 7 months ago by eaustinyoung
eaustinyoung
Reply to  Horse
7 months ago

If we did a week 9-12 power ranking, I’d say:

  1. Saints because it’s a grudge match and the fate of the NFC South depends on it.
  2. Chiefs. They’re the top dog as SB champs until the playoffs are over.
  3. Rams. The Bucs 7-9 team dropped 55 on them on the road and shocked the entire NFL. I picked the Bucs to win that game last year. Dolphins defeated them all on the defense and the Bucs have a much better defense than the Dolphins.
  4. Panthers.
eaustinyoung
Reply to  eaustinyoung
7 months ago

This is only a power ranking with respect to how they matchup with the Bucs. Not team quality.

Naplesfan
7 months ago

teams pay for sacks – not pressures

Actually, no, teams pay for effective play. Shaq Barrett is delivering consistent effective play, and that is not just sacks, but the whole game – pressures, hits, sacks, TFLs. assists, etc.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Naplesfan
7 months ago

Agreed. Aaron Donald has had sack issues this season. You think the Rams regret paying him? Disruption is a very powerful tool.

Spitfire
7 months ago

It still stands that we can beat any team we play. It all depends on if we show up and don’t beat ourselves (and the officials stop missing calls like calling us Offsides when our opponents should have been called for a False Start. It’s happened twice this season already and I can’t remember it happening to us in the past but maybe once in a while). With the talent we have, our success is completely up to us. We have to beat the Saints Sunday Night, let’s start with that.