Entering Week 12 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons were on much different trajectories. The Bucs were crashing and burning under the guidance of head coach Bruce Arians, while the Falcons were re-emerging after beating both the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers in back-to-back weeks.
Leaving Week 12. Many Falcons fans are calling for the jobs of Dan Quinn and Dirk Koetter, while Buccaneers fans are clinging once again to the potential the young Bucs flashed while winning just their second divisional game in five tries.
Here’s how the rookies did for the Buccaneers and Falcons in Week 12 of the 2019 NFL season.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS ROOKIES
Active: LB, Noah Dawkins / CB, Jamel Dean / S, Mike Edwards / K, Matt Gay / WR, Scotty Miller / CB, Sean Murphy-Bunting / ILB, Devin White
Inactive: DE, Kahzin Daniels / OLB, Anthony Nelson / CB, Mazzi Wilkins
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: CB, JAMEL DEAN
The Buccaneers dressed seven rookies on Sunday and every one of them played at least 25 snaps except for kicker, Matt Gay. Of course, kickers only play the snaps their kicking on, so those numbers are usually pretty low.
Gay stepped on the field six times and walked off of it half of those times having missed the kick he was sent out to try, including one extra point which was blocked by the Falcons special teams.
Good news for him is, the Bucs won the game. Had Tampa Bay lost by 1-3 points, this coming week would have a much different feel to it.
Alas, we get to celebrate a victory, and write mostly positive things. Starting with Jamel Dean. Our Week 12 Rookie of the Week.
This marks the second time Dean has been our Rookie of the Week for the Buccaneers. But it’s the first time his performances has supported it. The last time, I called an audible I knew would draw the ire of some, and made him the selection despite the fact he was roasted consistently against the Seattle Seahawks back in Week 9.
I picked him because, despite the utter failure his actual performance was, the rookie didn’t quit. On any snap or at all during the game. And it meant something. Because effort and talent will always lead to success.
He has the physical talent, this much is known. And as long as he had the effort, we felt he could put it together. I wasn’t alone in this. A lot of us - media and fans alike - said it together.
And he did better, one week later as the Buccaneers defeated the Arizona Cardinals. And then he didn’t play at all - except for on special teams - against the New Orleans Saints.
It was then, Bruce Arians stated we’d all see Dean on the field more moving forward. And see him we did.
Dean played 69 defensive snaps against the Falcons. Second only to Carlton Davis III who played all 87. Sean Murphy-Bunting wasn’t too far behind, playing on 65.
With his nearly 70 reps, Dean finished with two tackles and tied with Davis for a game high five passes defended. The entire Falcons defense combined for five total passes defended. Davis and Dean matched them each, individually.
As for Murphy-Bunting, while he isn’t getting the attention Dean is, he quietly led the team with nine tackles (seven solo). Mike Edwards didn’t come up with five passes defended, but he did have two, and chipped in with three tackles as well on his 52 snaps for the defense.
Devin White finished with eight total tackles and also came up with two big sacks, two tackles for losses, and laid hits on the Falcons’ quarterback twice more. The first round draft pick has looked more and more comfortable every week this year, and the LSU star’s future looks bright in Tampa Bay.
Linebacker, Noah Dawkins, got on the field for 25 snaps with three of those coming on defense but was unable to record any statistical data.
As the only rookie on the offense, Scotty Miller brought in a modest eight yard pass. What’s significant about it though is, it’s the second game in a row where Miller came ever so close to scoring his first NFL touchdown.
It’s coming soon I believe, and may happen as early as Week 13 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Before moving on to that opponent, lets check out this latest one.
ATLANTA FALCONS ROOKIES
Active: OT, Kaleb McGary / DB, Jordan Miller / RB, Qadree Ollison / DB, Kendall Sheffield / WR, Olamide Zaccheaus
Inactive: DE, John Cominsky
ROOKIE OF THE GAME: RB, QADREE OLLISON
Qadree Ollison led the Falcons in rushing with eight carries for 20-yards and one touchdown. His leap over the goal line capped off a 19-yard drive given a big head start coming off of Jameis Winston’s second interception of the game.
At the time, it led to a 10-7 Falcons lead, but Atlanta would muster just twelve more points on the afternoon while the Buccaneers put up an additional 28 points themselves.
Offensive tackle Kaleb McGary and his line-mates are going to want to learn and move on from this performance as fast as possible. The unit allowed six sacks on their quarterbacks while letting Falcons passers to get hit another thirteen times on Sunday afternoon.
This fact, may have possibly led to the coach Quinn’s decision to pull Matt Ryan despite his team technically still having an outside chance of getting back in the game with more than five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Defensive back Kendall Sheffield came up with four tackles on defense, but it was his blocked extra point on one of his six special teams snaps which will earn him the most praise from his coaches this week.
Fellow cornerback Jordan Miller got on the field seven times with special teams himself, while wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus appeared on 21 special teams snaps along with seven offensive. Neither rookie recorded statistical data.
Buccaneers rookies certainly got the better output in this week’s contest. Coming up, they’ll hit the road again to face Josh Allen and the Jacksonville Jaguars.