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Buccaneers of the Week: vs. Washington

Which five players were Tampa Bay’s best in Sunday’s 16-3 loss to the Redskins?

NFL: Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers dropped their third straight game on Sunday, losing 16-3 at home to the Redskins. Most of the time, it looked like neither team wanted to win. Tampa Bay’s defense finally showed up, but the offense turned the ball over four times and went 0-for-5 in the red zone. Two missed field goals by Chandler Catanzaro certainly didn’t help either as Dirk Koetter and his coaching staff inched closer to the end of their road in Tampa.

There weren’t many standout performances on the Bucs’ side of things, but let’s do what we can to break down the top five players from Sunday’s frustrating loss.

5. Carlton Davis (One point)

There weren’t many options for the No. 5 spot this week, as it was an all-around bad day for the Buccaneers. But rookie Carlton Davis racked up five tackles (three solo), with 1 12 going for a loss. The rookie cornerback has had his ups and downs for Tampa Bay this season, but has provided more consistency as of late. What he has done has been fairly impressive, especially considering the role he had to assume when Vernon Hargreaves III went down with a season-ending injury in week one. The 2018 rookie class as a whole has been more than disappointing for the Bucs, but Davis is a bright spot.

With Hargreaves out and Brent Grimes’ age starting to show a little more, Davis is often tasked with defending the opposition’s No. 1 receiver. When Grimes takes the top guy, Davis still usually has a tough matchup. He was still playing college ball at this time last year, but he continues to rise to the occasion week in and week out for Tampa Bay, playing at a pretty high level regardless of who he has to line up against. He was part of a strong effort from the Buccaneer defense this week, as the group held Alex Smith to just 178 passing yards and a 6.6 yards per completion average. Davis looks to be improving as the season progresses. This week, he earns his first point in the standings.

4. Jacquizz Rodgers (Two points)

Another first-timer cracks the list at No. 4 this week, with Jacquizz Rodgers quietly having a pretty big day. He may have even been higher on the list if it weren’t for a costly fumble, but his overall effort still warrants a spot in the top five. With rookie Ronald Jones II still sidelined, Rodgers saw an increased workload. The veteran only had one carry, but he was targeted eight times in the passing game. He hauled in all eight targets and went for 102 yards, averaging 12.8 yards per catch. He was instrumental in helping the Buccaneer offense move the ball, though the unit failed to do much of anything with its 501 total yards.

Given his low usage for much of the season, Rodgers’ performance on Sunday was even more impressive. Whether it was because of Jones’ absence or the fact that Dirk Koetter took back play-calling duties, the eighth-year pro got a larger role and took advantage of it. There’s no chance that anyone would have guessed that Rodgers would be the team’s second-leading receiver against Washington, ahead of DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. He got targets out of the backfield and showed off reliability, which earns him two points to crack the standings.

3. Carl Nassib (Three points)

If you’re like me, you might be wondering when Carl Nassib will stop being the second-most productive player on Tampa Bay’s defensive line. The 25-year-old was a late addition to the Bucs’ roster, signing with the team after being cut by the Browns in early September. He stepped up in a big way against his former team back in October, coming up with two sacks and a pass defended. But since then, he has remained solid off the edge. In Sunday’s loss to the Redskins, he picked up his fourth sack of the season and added another quarterback hit. For a defensive line that has failed to stay consistent, Nassib is continuously finding ways to get pressure on the quarterback.

The Bucs as a whole have had a strange, unpredictable season. No one thought Ryan Fitzpatrick would light it up the way he did early in the season. There didn’t seem to be any indication that Jameis Winston would fall apart the way he did against Cincinnati. Not many could have predicted just how unproductive this year’s rookie class has been through nine games. Nassib is another random part of this team’s season, coming in late and getting up to his career-high in sacks in just the ninth game of the season. His production has been a sight for sore eyes, especially with the frequent absence of Vinny Curry. Nassib’s consistency is reflected in the standings, as he sits in the top 10 heading into mid-November.

2. Peyton Barber (Four points)

Sunday was a unique day for the Bucs on offense. They put up 501 yards, but only three points. To go along with that, Tampa Bay continued to rely heavily on the passing game even though the ground game was working as well as it has all year. Peyton Barber had a strong day against a tough Washington run defense, totaling 61 yards on just 13 carries. Why the Bucs moved away from the run is a question worth asking, as Barber averaged 4.7 yards per carry against a team that had been holding opposing backs to a mark of 4.2.

What makes all of this even stranger is that Dirk Koetter said he took play-calling back from Todd Monken because he felt like the team needed to control the clock better against the Redskins. It might just be me, but giving a hot running back only 13 carries seems like an odd way to control the clock. Despite the low number of touches, Barber did what he could to produce. The offensive line hasn’t always been very good with run-blocking this season, especially on lateral plays, but Barber was able to work with the space he was given on Sunday. His strong effort earns him the No. 2 spot in what was a light week for big-time performances.

1. Chris Godwin (Five points)

The fact that this is Chris Godwin’s first appearance in these standings is a testament to how deep the Bucs are at receiver. The second-year pro has had plenty of success throughout the 2018 season, but he is just now making his debut on Buccaneers of the Week. He claims these five points after leading Tampa Bay in receiving on Sunday, catching all seven of his targets for 103 yards. That averages out to 14.7 yards per catch, which is obviously an excellent number. There’s little doubt that Godwin has a bright future in Tampa Bay, no matter who is playing quarterback.

The Bucs only put up three points in their loss to the Redskins, but Godwin was a consistent positive for the offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick certainly didn’t have his best day. He struggled to connect with Mike Evans once again, targeted Adam Humphries just three times and threw to O.J. Howard just twice (though Howard played limited snaps for whatever reason). But it was Godwin who picked up the slack, showing yet again why he was such a steal for the Bucs in the third round of the 2017 draft. It’s about time he makes an appearance in the Buccaneers of the Week Standings, and he does so in a big way after the second 100-yard receiving game of his young career.

Updated Buccaneers of the Week Standings through week 10:

  1. Ryan Fitzpatrick— 17 points
  2. (TIE) Jason Pierre-Paul/Mike Evans— 16 points
  3. (TIE) DeSean Jackson/Peyton Barber— 11 points
  4. Carl Nassib— 10 points
  5. Lavonte David— 9 points
  6. O.J. Howard— 7 points
  7. (TIE) Kwon Alexander/Chandler Catanzaro/Adam Humphries— 6 points
  8. (TIE) Jameis Winston/Chris Godwin— 5 points
  9. Cameron Brate— 3 points
  10. (TIE) Offensive Line/Jacquizz Rodgers— 2 points
  11. (TIE) Vernon Hargreaves/Bryan Anger/Carlton Davis— 1 point