The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered the back half of the 2019 season with not much excitement and a not a whole lot of positive signs for the future. After Week 13, the future is brighter and the young talent looks better.
Defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars helped, and took Tampa Bay to their third win in the last four games, and gave them their first back-to-back wins of the year.
Rookies have been playing big snaps, and stepping up in big moments as of late. And this game was just more of what has many looking forward to what’s left to come this year, and what this young group could turn into beyond 2019.
Let’s focus in on this game though, and check out the rookie performances from Week 13.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Active: LB, Noah Dawkins / CB, Jamel Dean / S, Mike Edwards / K, Matt Gay / CB, Sean Murphy-Bunting / OLB, Anthony Nelson / ILB, Devin White / CB, Mazzi Wilkins
Inactive: WR, Scotty Miller / DE, Kahzin Daniels
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: ILB, DEVIN WHITE
Three players were on the field for every defensive snap against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. One was a rookie. Devin White turned his 73 defensive snaps into seven tackles, one tackle for a loss, one quarterback hit, one interception, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery. If that wasn’t enough, he scooped the fumble recovery and took it into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
He wasn’t the only rookie to step up, but man did he run away with this game, and make my decision incredibly easy this week.
Another rookie who came up with a big takeaway was cornerback, Sean Murphy-Bunting. His interception came at a crucial point in the game when the Jaguars were trying to get back to within one score and get back in the game in the process.
Murphy-Bunting also added two passes defensed and appeared on 69 defensive snaps. Jamel Dean played just seven snaps before leaving the game with a shoulder injury. Someone and something we’ll all be keeping an eye on as the Bucs get closer to Week 14 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Matt Gay got back to making kicks this weekend, and made two field goals and two extra points, contributing eight points to the win.
Rookie safety Mike Edwards turned in three tackles and one for a loss while cornerback Mazzi Wilkins contributed two in his first game active in the NFL.
With Scotty Miller being inactive due to his injury there were no active rookies for the offense.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS ROOKIES
Active: DE, Josh Allen / RB, Ryquell Armstead / TE, Charles Jones / QB, Gardner Minshew / LS, Matthew Orzech / RB, Devine Ozigbo / DL, Dontavius Russell / OL, Jawaan Taylor / WR, Michael Walker / CB, Brandon Watson / LB, Quincy Williams / S, Andrew Wingard
Inactive: CB, Tae Hayes
ROOKIE OF THE GAME: DE, JOSH ALLEN
The decision on who to pick for the opponent’s Rookie of the Game was a bit more difficult. Eventually, I settled on DE/LB Josh Allen who tallied his ninth sack of the year in the third quarter of this past weekend’s match-up.
Setting a rookie franchise record is a seasonal accomplishment, sure, but he did it in this game and for that I tip my hat to him.
He also finished third on the team with six tackles and had two more hits on Jameis Winston before the day was finished.
Giving him a real push - and I wouldn’t be offended if some claimed he should have been the Rookie of the Game - was safety, Andrew Wingard.
Wingard appeared on 57 snaps and ended his day with seven tackles (second on the team), one sack, one quarterback hit and a forced fumble. Of course, his forced fumble took the ball away from the Buccaneers as they were nearing scoring position, and instead gave the Jaguars back the ball for what would become their first points of the game.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew II might have been the most exciting rookie, as his appearance in the second half certainly woke the crowd up for a bit. However, his 16-for-27, 147-yards, one interception and one touchdown line didn’t do quite enough to get his team back into the fight.
Jawaan Taylor and his offensive line mates had a rough day overall giving up five sacks and ten more hits on their quarterbacks. And the plethora of fellow rookies who were active for this game did little to nothing stat-wise to garner much attention.
Perhaps one reason for all the struggles in Jacksonville lately have something to do with having twelve active rookies, but only four who make any real contributions.
The youth movement was in full swing this past Sunday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visited the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Devin White and his teammates came away with the win while Josh Allen and his are left to go back to the drawing board as they try and halt what has now become a five game losing streak.
Next up for White and his teammates, is a visit to Tampa from the Indianapolis Colts and some notable rookies like Parris Campbell (who is injured but may return for this game) and cornerback, Rock Ya-Sin.