The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had last week’s highest rated defender on their roster in rookie Jamel Dean. So hopes were high the former Auburn defensive back who got torched against the Seattle Seahawks, might have been a diamond in the rough who was being unearthed.
Some even went as far as to predict a strong outing against the New Orleans Saints for the rookie. When the clock hit zeros on Week 11, and the Bucs walked off their home field with one of their worst outings of 2019, Dean had played a total of eleven snaps. All on special teams.
While Dean was sitting on the sidelines, the Buccaneers defense was on the field, absolutely exhausted after spending more than 87% of the first quarter on the field. And some of his rookie teammates were as well. Let’s check in on how they did.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS ROOKIES
Active: LB, Kahzin Daniels / LB, Noah Dawkins / CB, Jamel Dean / S, Mike Edwards / K, Matt Gay / WR, Scotty Miller / CB, Sean Murphy-Bunting / LB, Devin White
Inactive: CB, Mazzi Wilkins / LB, Anthony Nelson
ROOKIE OF THE GAME: LB, DEVIN WHITE
It was tough to pick between Devin White and kicker Matt Gay. On one hand, Gay was perfect. Did exactly what he was asked to do, and did it well. Including nailing a 55-yard field goal attempt.
Of course, he was on the field for three snaps, because he’s a kicker. Meanwhile, White was on the field for 77 of them, including four more special teams snaps than Gay had. With those snaps, White turned in his highest tackle total of his rookie year, leading the Buccaneers with thirteen total.
In a losing effort, nobody is going to be celebrating any one effort completely, as it wasn’t enough to get the team on the right track. But White’s efforts helped the Buccaneers defense hold the New Orleans Saints offense to seven points in the second half after surrendering twenty in the first.
Of course, there was also Scotty Miller. Who came into the conversation about who might have been the most impressive rookie in this game because of where he came from. Entering the week, Miller had five catches for 72-yards. In Week 11, the rookie from Bowling Green came away with four catches and 71-yards, including one catch of 48-yards which led to a Tampa Bay touchdown in the second quarter.
Mike Edwards also made a case for himself coming up with the team’s only sack of the game, one of three tackles for losses and one of three hits on Saints quarterbacks. Moving down into the nickel position, Edwards contributed on 49 defensive snaps while chipping in with eight on special teams.
While Dean was held out of the defensive game plan this weekend, Sean Murphy-Bunting was on the field for 64 snaps and seven on special teams. On the day, SMB came up with five tackles and one pass defensed.
Noah Dawkins and Kahzin Daniels chipped in seventeen total special teams snaps but failed to record any statistical data.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS ROOKIES
ACTIVE: S, C.J. Gardner-Johnson / S, Saquan Hampton / OL, Erik McCoy / DL, Shy Tuttle
INACTIVE: DE, Carl Granderson / OL, Ethan Greenidge / WR, Deonte Harris
ROOKIE OF THE GAME: OL, ERIK MCCOY
Saints quarterbacks Drew Brees and Taysom Hill were hit a combined four times. Once for a sack, which was Hill who was dropped by Buccaneers safety, Mike Edwards.
An impressive feat by the New Orleans offensive line, especially considering how aggressive Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is known to be.
The only rookie on the offensive line is Erik McCoy who was anchoring a line missing veteran stud Andrus Peat, and the unit looked like they didn’t miss a beat.
As a result, Brees completed all but seven of his passes while throwing three touchdowns and finishing with a quarterback rating of 122.4. In addition to this, the Saints front five contributed greatly impacting the league’s top rush defense, opening up holes and sealing lanes leading to Alvin Kamara’s 5.8 yards per carry average on the day.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson will be just as happy with the win, but didn’t quite have as smooth a day individually. Gardner-Johnson came up with three tackles against the Buccaneers, one hit on Jameis Winston and a pass defended.
He was also beaten deep on a 48-yard bomb from Winston to rookie wide receiver Scotty Miller which came one yard away from being a touchdown strike.
Saquan Hampton and Shy Tuttle were also active rookies for the Saints, but neither turned in any statistical data while appearing on sixteen combined snaps.
It was a game for the future looking at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Four rookies (Edwards, Gay, Miller and White) came away as some of the top contributors to the game in what little positives there were. If they can continue finding ways to contribute, and continue building the skills needed for future team success, then perhaps this team’s fan base can witness more wins than losses at some point in the near future.
For now, the youth is the future, and before we turn fully to the 2020 NFL Draft, we’ll keep an eye on how this latest draft class is producing in year one.