This isn’t going to be pretty, but here we go.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS ROOKIES
Active: S, Mike Edwards / K, Matt Gay / WR, Scotty Miller / CB, Sean Murphy-Bunting / OLB, Anthony Nelson
Inactive: G, Zack Bailey / CB, Jamel Dean (inj) / ILB, Devin White (inj)
ROOKIE OF THE GAME: S, MIKE EDWARDS
Overall, Mike Edwards has been a very nice surprise coming out of the third round for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
His leadership is one reason he was coveted by the team but his play is what’s put him on the field. On Sunday, Edwards played all but two defensive snaps and contributed nine on special teams.
For his efforts, he came away with six tackles (third on the team), one of them coming for a loss and he was credited with a pass broken up.
Of course, the fact his pass breakup should have been an interception and might have gone back for what would have proven to be a game clinching score, is probably going to sour things a bit. But as rookies go, Edwards was the best in this class for Week 3.
Many thought Anthony Nelson might get a little more playing time after his big play against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2, and he did get more snaps (36 in Week 3 compared to 31 in Week 2) but the majority of them came on special teams while he actually played on thirteen fewer defensive plays.
Nelson did have one tackle on defense in the game, but it wasn’t quite the increase in opportunity some thought they’d see from the coaching staff.
Rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting came through with one tackle as well appearing on six snaps for Todd Bowles’ defense. The fewest of any player who got at least one defensive rep, and the fewest among all cornerbacks.
Like most of his action this year, Murphy-Bunting played largely on special teams appearing on 26 of those plays (76%).
Wide receiver Scotty Miller was active for the first time in his career and got on the field for two offensive snaps without being targeted.
The only other active rookie was kicker Matt Gay who missed three kicks on the day including two extra points (one blocked) and would could have been the game winning attempt from 34-yards out.
To his credit, he made four other field goals and one extra point. Still, it wasn’t enough to win the game, and he’ll be looking for other opportunities moving forward to redeem himself.
NEW YORK GIANTS ROOKIES
Active: CB, DeAndre Baker / CB, Corey Ballentine / LB, Ryan Connelly / QB, Daniel Jones / DL, Dexter Lawrence / LB, Tuzar Skipper / WR, Darius Slayton / OLB, Oshane Ximines
Inactive: CB, Julian Love / TE, Kaden Smith
ROOKIE OF THE GAME: QB, DANIEL JONES
New York Giants general manager David Gettleman has taken some lumps over the years, but this week is one he’s going to want to frame and put on his wall as his rookies came through in a big way in Week 3.
On the road, and against a defense on an upward trajectory, Daniel Jones made his starter debut replacing Giants legend Eli Manning.
Not an easy task, but one he proved to be capable of handling regardless as he completed 23 of his 36 pass attempts gaining 336-yards and throwing for two touchdowns with no interceptions.
But it was his legs which twice hit the Buccaneers for scoring runs as he collected 28-yards on the ground, leading the Giants in rushing yards.
Throughout the game, Jones look calm and poised even after giving the ball back to the Tampa Bay offense following the lone turnover of the game coming via interception of Jameis Winston by teammate Tyan Connelly.
Speaking of Connelly, the rookie linebacker out of Wisconsin was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft and finished the game fourth in tackles for the New York defense while playing on 71 defensive snaps (92%).
Fellow defensive rookie DeAndre Baker played more snaps than any other Giants player on the roster, appearing on all 77 defensive snaps for his team and another three on special teams.
Baker also turned in seven tackles for his team while being overshadowed (in a good way) by the struggles being suffered by veteran Janoris Jenkins.
The Giants defense got to Jameis Winston four times on the game, with two sacks credited to veteran Markus Golden. The other two however, came from rookies as Dexter Lawrence and Oshane Ximines each got to Winston during the game.
Ximines’ sack came in the second quarter on a 3rd and 9 passing play forcing fourth down and a 47-yard field goal from Bucs kicker, Matt Gay.
Lawrence’s sack came later in the game with the Giants trailing 28-25. His seven-yard sack was followed up by a Demar Dotson false start penalty forcing the Bucs into 2nd and 22. Eventually, Tampa Bay would be forced to punt despite having a first down near midfield at one point in the drive.
The defensive lineman came up with an earlier play as well which proved to be arguably even more impactful as he was responsible for getting a hand on Gay’s second extra point try of the game. Pretty big when you consider the one-point margin of victory for New York.
Rookie linebacker Tuzar Skipper turned in one tackle as well playing on eleven total snaps against the Buccaneers. Corey Ballentine played 25 snaps on special teams, but did not register statistical data.
The other impact rookie on offense for the New York Giants in Week 3 was wide receiver Darius Slayton. Coming out of Auburn, selected in the fifth-round (with a compensatory pick), Slayton had no receptions coming into the game in Tampa Bay.
Leaving Week 3, Slayton now has three receptions after being targeted by his rookie quarterback five times. His three catches went for 82-yards including one for 46-yards setting the Giants up at the Buccaneers 4-yard line. Three downs later, the Giants scored their second touchdown of the third quarter when Jones connected with Sterling Shepard.
Its pretty clear the Giants rookies had a better day than the Bucs’ own rookies. Unfortunately, the franchise fortunes followed the trend as the Buccaneers came out of their second home game with their second home loss of the 2019 NFL season.