We’ve waited 12 weeks, but we finally got to witness this Tampa Bay team put together a full 60 minutes of football. It was against arguably the worst team in the NFL, but it was still nice to see.
It was a game in which players on both sides of the ball stepped up, so lets get right to it. Here are the Buccaneers who shined on Sunday.
Jameis Winston: You can make the argument that this was the cleanest game Winston has played in his career. It was only the second time he has thrown multiple touchdowns and hasn’t fumbled or threw at least an interception. Winston finished the game completing 29 of 38 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns. He also added seven carries for 24 yards. He was calm, cool and collected throughout the afternoon and it showed in his decision making. Outside of one throw, which he had to rush because of the pass rush, I thought he was fantastic. He checked it down when it needed to be and took the shots downfield when they were available. The 49ers might have a bad offense and a bad record, but their defense is top 15 in the league and Winston carved them up. It was nice to see the #1 overall pick bounce back.
Mike Evans: The Jameis Winston, Mike Evans connection is going to be around for a long time, bucs fans. Evans finished the game with six receptions on eight targets for 116 yards. He didn’t find the endzone, but he made big plays on the scoring drives and was solid all afternoon. Evans is now only the third receiver in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards in his first five seasons, joining only A.J. Green and Randy Moss. As long as he stays healthy, there is no reason to believe he won’t top 1,000 yards every season he plays.
Adam Humphries: Extend this man. You can make the argument that Humphries has been the Buccaneers second best receiver this season. Quietly, he has cemented himself as a top five slot receiver in the NFL. He finished the day with six receptions on six targets for 54 yards, including a 28 yard touchdown that sealed the game in the fourth quarter. We have seen him and Jameis have great chemistry over the last couple years as he is Winston’s security blanket. If i’m the Buccaneers, I start contract extension talks with Humphries tomorrow.
Vita Vea: FINALLY. Thanks Jason Licht? Koetter said after the game that Licht gave Vea a talking too this weak and it must have worked. We’ve been waiting since week four for this type of performance, but Vea played like the #12 overall pick on Sunday. The rookie finished with four tackles, three of them being for loss, a sack and a QB hit. He penetrated all afternoon long and got off blocks which has been his biggest problem. It would do wonders for this defensive line if he can continue to play like this.
Jordan Whitehead: Quietly, Whitehead is really coming on in the second half of the season for the Buccaneers. He finished with a team high 11 tackles, 10 of them being solo. He also racked up 2 pass defenses, which is a bit of an anomaly for this Buccaneers team. He had the tall task of matching up with Greg Kittle and he passed with flying colors. It seems as if Jason Licht has found yet another late round draft pick that will be an important player with the Buccaneers in the future.
Jason Pierre Paul: Yup, it happened. The curse is gone. Pierre Paul got a sack, bringing his total to 10.5 on the season which breaks the 13 year streak of a Buccaneers defensive lineman not reaching double digit sacks. He has been everything they hoped for and more. JPP also added a tackle for loss and another QB hit on Sunday. As of right now, it’s hard not to see him in the Pro Bowl.
Carl Nassib: Every week, Nassib is on the most impressive list. What a pickup he was for this Buccaneers team. He recorded another sack, bringing his total to 5.5 on the season. He was also all over the field, disrupting several passes and penetrating the backfield. If he keeps it up, he has a real chance to get to 10 sacks before the seasons end. At only 25 years old, he will continue to get better and is a nice tandem with JPP for the future.