May 18, 2021

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Riddle’s Rundown: Report Card Day

4 min read

Photo Credit: SSG Sean K. Harp | Joint Staff

With the Buccaneers season coming to an end last week it’s time for me to hand out grades.

Offense

Quarterback: (C+)

  •  Yes, Jameis Winston threw for over 5,000 yards and over 30 TDs. The problem is that came with 30 INTs and 12 fumbles to go with a 7-9 record, so I’d say this is a fair grade.

Runningbacks: (C)

  • The only reason the RBs get a C is the fact that I really didn’t see enough of Ronald Jones to truly grade him. He did kind of break out after a miserable first season with over 1,000 yards of total offense 724 on the ground with 6 TDs with 4.2 YPC and 31 receptions for 309 yards. Peyton Barber is good in short-yardage situations, but didn’t have a single run for over 20 yards.

Wide Receivers: (A)

  • Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were the best duos of WRs this season. They were absolutely dominant. Godwin was well on his way to 100 catches before he and Evans both went down with hamstring injuries. Breshad Perriman also broke out and showed what he can do when pressed to start a game after the Godwin and Evans injuries with 36 receptions for 645 yards and 6 TDs on the year.

Offensive Line: (B-)

  • The offensive line had their good and bad moments as a unit this season. Winston was sacked 47 times. You must protect your QB better than that. While Donovan Smith still battles with mediocracy, Ali Marpet and Ryan Jensen were both some of the best at their respective positions. Demar Dotson is coming to the end of his career and might not be back this season. As for Alex Cappa, he still looks like he’s going to be a bit of a project. He looked like he was playing on Rollerblades at times.

Tight Ends: (C)

  • Bruce Arians has never been a fan of utilizing his TEs very much other than to block. OJ Howard seemed to have taken a step backward with several drops and not as good of a blocker as advertised when he came out of college. He did end the season with 34 rec for 459 TDs and just 1 TD. Cameron Brate has never been a great blocker, and that’s no secret, but he was underutilized, in my opinion. He ended the season with 36 rec for 311 yards and 4 TDs.

Defense:

Defensive Line: (B)

  • The defensive line was the main reason the Bucs had the top run defense in the NFL. Vita Vea is an absolute freak of nature and is a future All-Pro for sure. He was the main reason for the D Lines record against the run, drawing two or 3 blockers at a time freeing up other players to make splash plays. Ndamukong Suh was good against the run, but didn’t generate the pass rush that most 3-4 RDEs do. As a 3-4 end with Miami, Suh would put up 4.5 to 5 sacks per season. This year he managed just 2.5 and had one of his lowest number of tackles since 2012. As far as William Gholston, he was solid against the run with a PFF score of 70, but managed just 1 sack.

Linebackers: (A)

  • The Bucs switched to Todd Bowles 3-4 blitz heavy defense this season, and nobody benefitted more than the LBs. Lavonte David and Devin White look like they are going to be a force to be reckoned with for the next several years. Shaq Barrett surprised everyone and tore the league up with 19.5 sacks breaking Warren Sapp‘s franchise record. After Jason Pierre-Paul returned from a neck injury, he played like a man with something to prove, putting up 8.5 sacks in his 8 starts. Carl Nassib was a pleasant surprise after his move to OLB with 6 sacks in 8 starts and 14 games played.

Defensive Backs: (C+)

  • This unit started out with a horrible pass defense at the bottom of the league, but after CB Vernon Hargreaves was shown the door, the rookies got their shot; it was a total game-changer. CBs Carlton Davis and rookie Jamel Dean are both at the top of the league in passes defended. Dean managed to grab 2 INTs as well, while Davis grabbed 1. Sean Murphy-Bunting had one of the best rookie seasons a Buccaneers CB has ever had with 3 picks with 1 of those a pick 6 and 8 PD. He put up 44 tackles as well with a sack and 1 FF. The play at safety was inconsistent at best with Jordan Whitehead and Mike Edwards the starting tandem most of the year, along with Andrew Adams rotating in as well. Whitehead looked good at times with 1 INT and is excellent when used in the box, but he must work on his coverage if he’s ever gonna be a true FS.

Special Teams: ( C+ ) 

  • Rookie kicker Matt Gay stabilized the kicking game somewhat but still had his troubles, especially when the game was on the line going 27 for 35 with a 77.1 FG percentage. FA punter Bradley Pinion had a tough year with just a 43.2 punt gross average, which is 31st in the league.

And there you have it Bucs Life Fam, my official report card.

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