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Buccaneers of the Week: at Chicago

This won’t be easy, but which five players were Tampa Bay’s best in Sunday’s blowout loss to Chicago?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Chicago Bears Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After every game, we’ll break down the Buccaneers’ top five players of the week. Point values will be distributed to each, which will then be added up for our weekly Buccaneers of the Week Standings.

Sunday’s 48-10 loss to the Bears was an absolute mess for the Buccaneers. They got outplayed and flat-out dominated in every aspect of the game. From the opening kickoff, Tampa Bay never had a chance. There weren’t many shining performances from the Bucs, but let’s do our best to find the top five players from week four.

5. Bryan Anger (One point)

No, really. #PuntersArePeopleToo and on Sunday, Bryan Anger was #GoodForTheBrand. The Bucs needed Anger to punt five times in the loss to the Bears. He averaged 42.8 yards per kick, landed one inside Chicago’s 20 and finished with a long of 51. There usually aren’t many games that feature the punter as one of the top five players and if there is that type of game, it almost certainly wasn’t a fun one. Tampa Bay’s all-around performance on Sunday was ugly, but when the team called on Anger, he did his job and did it well— which can’t be said for too many others this week. Why shouldn’t he deserve a point for that?

4. Chandler Catanzaro (Two points)

Yes, we have TWO specialists on this week’s list. It was just that kind of game. Chandler Catanzaro didn’t make a huge difference, but he did connect on his only two kicks. The first was a 30-yard field goal to bring the game to 14-3 and the second was an extra point that brought the score to 45-10.

Again, there was nothing overly special about what Catanzaro did against the Bears. He did his job. Like Anger, he gets these points for executing when his number was called. Not a lot of guys did that, but he was one of them. Plus, he is now five-for-six on field goals and 13-for-14 on extra points. Especially after what the Bucs have gone through with kickers in the last several years, he is doing a nice job through four games.

3. Cameron Brate (Three points)

Truthfully, it’s a surprise that it took this long for Cameron Brate to make his way onto this list. But he’s here for the first time in week four after catching three of his four targets for 29 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. With O.J. Howard out with an injury, he did what he could to represent the tight ends in the passing game. He found the end zone for the second time in two weeks and averaged 9.7 yards per catch. Tampa Bay will need more of that from him with Howard set to miss time with a sprained MCL.

Brate got a contract extension this offseason and was picked as one of four players to be featured outside of Raymond James Stadium this year. In the first two games, he was nowhere to be seen. But now, he appears to be reemerging as a force on this offense. With Jameis Winston back under center, Brate might be seeing an increase in targets. Knowing him and his past success, that increase in targets will lead to an increase in production. Getting in the end zone this past weekend was enough to get him into this week’s standings. All things considered, the Harvard grad was one of the only bright spots.

2. DeSean Jackson (Four points)

The offense was largely ineffective in Sunday’s blowout loss, but DeSean Jackson did manage to put up his third 100-yard receiving game in the first four weeks. He and Ryan Fitzpatrick connected for 48 yards on a nice crossing route in the first quarter before a 42-yard pickup in the second. That 42-yard catch came on a nice throw, sure, but the concentration from D-Jax to pull it in and keep two feet in was something else.

The true test for Jackson comes now, as Jameis Winston returns to action. The two never quite got on the same page last year. Fitzpatrick then came in and developed a nice rapport with the veteran in the first four games. That begs the question: will the production continue with Winston back? The two talked at length during August about an increased trust and connection. They backed it up in the preseason. But now it’s time to prove it for real. Regardless of what happens after the bye week, Jackson gets four points this week and moves into a second-place tie in the standings.

1. Jason Pierre-Paul (Five points)

There wasn’t going to be anybody else at the top this week. Jason Pierre-Paul was the biggest positive on what was otherwise an awful day for the Bucs. The veteran defensive end was getting after Mitchell Trubisky all day. Even down to the final few minutes of the afternoon, he was going all-out. That’s what leaders do and it’s clear that he has established himself as a defensive leader in the first four weeks of the season. Gerald McCoy was fine on Sunday, but Pierre-Paul was THE guy on the defensive line.

His effort and leadership probably could’ve been enough to land him on this list, but the production was there too. JPP led the team in tackles with seven (six solo) and picked up his fourth sack of the season. By now, everyone is well aware that Tampa Bay hasn’t had a player get to double-digits sacks in a season since Simeon Rice did it in 2005. Pierre-Paul is on his way to breaking the drought. Barring injury, he is on pace to do much more. The Buccaneer defense needs him to continue to play at a high level if it is going to recover from Sunday’s debacle. There’s no doubt that he’ll be up to the challenge.

Updated Buccaneers of the Week Standings through week four:

  1. Ryan Fitzpatrick— 12 points
  2. (TIE) DeSean Jackson/Jason Pierre-Paul— 11 points
  3. Mike Evans— 10 points
  4. Kwon Alexander— 4 points
  5. (TIE) Lavonte David/Cameron Brate— 3 points
  6. (TIE) Offensive Line/Chandler Catanzaro— 2 points
  7. (TIE) Vernon Hargreaves/Bryan Anger— 1 point