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Pro Football Focus u-turn after Buccaneers vs. Falcons

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Pro Football Focus has been a bit of an easy target for many Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans. They thought Donovan Smith and Kwon Alexander had mediocre rookie seasons, which is obviously not a thing objective analysts think, even though if you watch the film, that’s pretty obvious.

Well, one game into the 2016 NFL season and PFF are suddenly Buccaneers Believers, praising nearly every player they could think of — including those they previously maligned. The player they thought had the best game: quarterback Jameis Winston.

The Bucs’ second-year signal caller lit up the box score on Sunday, as QB Jameis Winston was firing on all cylinders at every level of the field. Winston was solid under pressure, as he completed six-of-11 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown in such circumstances. He also made Atlanta pay when the Falcons failed to create pressure, completing 17-of-22 attempts for 193 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception when left clean. Winston showed spectacular touch on two of his touchdown throws and avoided any costly mistakes—an issue that plagued him in his rookie campaign

But PFF also saw Donovan Smith and Kwon Alexander play outstanding the games. The former allowed just two hurries by their count, which puts him on track for 32, compared to last year’s 38....wait, that’s not a huge improvement at all. I guess Smith must simply have played better on a snap-to-snap basis, regardless of resulting pressures — at least in their evaluation.

As for Kwon Alexander, he racked up 15 official solo tackles, and two shared tackles. PFF gave him nine “defensive stops”, and one missed tackle for this game. He had the fourth-highest grade among Bucs defenders, behind Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, and Brent Grimes.

Speaking of McCoy, he returned to his pre-2015 form, and quite literally if we can believe PFF: they say this was his highest-graded game since 2014. Offically, he had a sack, two passes defensed and two tackles for loss.

Overall, this was a very good start to the season, from what we saw on television, from what the statistics tell us, and what Pro Football Focus’ player evaluation tells us. If that keeps up throughout the season, this should be a fun year.