Week 4 is now in the history books along with 55 points, setting a new franchise record. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rolled through Los Angeles like an offensive juggernaut, rolling through anything in its path. Several times in the game building a commanding lead to see it being pegged back had many fans feeling a sense of Déjà Vu all over again.
Eventually, the Buccaneers received the reward for great team performance and never lost the lead after racing out to a 21-0 lead in the 2nd quarter. What would have been encouraging for many fans is that the playcalling remained aggressive and the coaches kept doing the things that had put the team in a winning position.
Without further ado, I now turn to my heroes and villains. Rewarding those who brought boon and flogging those that didn’t perform. With such a great overall performance by the team, it was hard to pick out some players.
I present to you the players who can expect extra pieces of eight.
Chris Godwin – 12 catches and 172 yards for 2 scores should see Godwin claim offensive player of the week honours. Godwin was everywhere in the LA Coliseum, and the Rams defense had no answer. Making huge play after huge play the wideout had a career game and showed why he is so valuable in Tampa Bay.
Ronald Jones II – Jones left the field where he was a collegiate star making his strongest case ever to be the feature back. 19 carries for 70 yards didn’t tell the whole story as twice Jones gouged the Rams, only to have two huge runs brought back by fortuitous penalties. Rojo is progressing every week, and it won’t be long before he is the 3 down back, giving Winston a reliable running game was why he was drafted, and he is finally fulfilling that role.
Shaq Barrett – It has become almost clockwork that Barrett appears on this list. Another sack, a forced fumble leading to Ndamukong Suh scoring against his former team and an interception in another game where Shaq was unplayable. The only thing missing from his resume this year is a defensive score; although people shouldn’t bet against that happening. Barrett was a constant problem and was always creating pressure on Rams QB, Jared Goff. One thing that will frustrate fans is that oftentimes he was blatantly held by offensive linemen without a flag being thrown; leading to an LA touchdown in one of the more obvious cases. We are 4 games in, and already Barrett has 9 sacks! Many players struggled to hit that number in 16 weeks in Tampa, and that needs to be rewarded as Number 58 is on track to hit 36 sacks this season.
Ndamukong Suh – I bet that felt good! Scooping up a loose football and steaming into the end zone of his former team, Suh finally had a stat to highlight his worth to the team. Many fans gripe about the contract and often accuse him of being anonymous or a waste of money. Ndamukong is well worth the contract he signed, and his contribution is undeniable to the defensive line. Despite rarely having numbers in the stat column, Suh locks down one side of the offensive line.
Lavonte David – The Buccaneers tackling leader was at it again with 4 tackles against the LA Rams, adding a vital interception as it looked like Goff was getting into a rhythm. David is adjusting well to his new role and as the season progresses should be recognized as one of the leagues premier Linebackers.
Jameis Winston – Finally Winston appears as more than just an honourable mention. Throwing 41 times the 5th year QB had a busy day. That’s also something that Bucs fans dread seeing as normally throwing that many passes mean that the Buccaneers are down and multiple picks were thrown. In reality, Winston completed 28 of those attempts for a completion percentage of 68% and finished with 385 yards, 4 TD passes against a single pick (I’m coming to that) for a passer rating of 120.5 on the day. That pick was turned into a pick 6, and I’m pretty sure a LOT of people saw it coming. Jameis was placed in a perfect storm of bad decision making leaving the offense with bad field position and two overly conservative play calls when the Bucs absolutely had to move the ball to stall the Rams momentum. Despite the pick 6, Jameis Winston has a great game and was in command of his short and deep ball; evidenced by Mike Evans 67 yard bomb. The fans and coaches want to see continued development and to see Jameis learn from the coaches. He is doing that, and it cannot be denied that Winston is growing each week.
These are this week’s honourable mentions.
Mike Evans – Held below 100 yards, but often was double covered. His presence on the field allowed Chris Godwin’s career day so I’ll take that as a win and was rewarded with a huge TD catch, even if he put a little too much sauce on the end of his run.
OJ Howard – Made big plays when asked too and did the dirty work at times with blocking on the line. Targeted only 3 times, Howard caught all 3 to keep the Bucs offense moving.
Jordan Whitehead – First career interception gave the Bucs offense great field position which was turned into 7 points. Developing well as the team’s starter.
Matt Gay – A good week to make all of his kicks and bounce back from week 3. Hopefully, this restores the confidence as he came through as needed, nailing a 58-yard kick in the clutch.
This is where the list got harder. Who to single out when the whole team played well?
But let us begin with handing out the floggings.
TJ Logan – When Bruce Arians told fans to learn Logan’s name I doubt it was this way he wanted it to be remembered. Whilst this is my own opinion, I consider this guy a wasted roster spot. Never really doing anything special is fine as a kick returner in today’s game. After all, rules have been changed to limit the number of kicks returned. Mostly you just have to avoid making dumb decisions. This is exactly what TJ Logan didn’t do as he returned a kick out of his own end zone and was nailed by the Rams Special Teams unit. Had he not had this rush of blood, then the Bucs offense would have started at the 25 instead of the 11 yards and being backed up against their own zone. If Logan never takes the kick out, it’s unlikely that the pick 6 is thrown 3 plays later. Embarrassing enough that he was rushed by a Bucs player who barred his exit from the end zone on the following kick.
That’s actually it. I’m sure people can point fingers at certain players and no doubt will be justified in being upset at leaking 40 points. Personally, I see these shootout games as anomalies. They don’t happen too often and don’t really reflect a true tale of each team. The Rams defense is one of the best in football, so should we expect to score 60/70 points per game now? Absolutely not! The same could be said for the LA Rams, their fans won’t be expecting to hang up 50/60 points per game after playing a brilliant Bucs defense. Last year the Rams were involved in a shootout with the Kansas City Chiefs. Neither team worried about giving up over 50 points.
This is a great win and sets the Bucs up going forward.