Receiving a brutal loss from an inferior team — on paper at least — should not be a surprise at this point for the Buccaneers as hopes for a turnaround look increasingly bleak.
Falling to 5-6 at the hands of the previously 3-7 Cleveland Browns looks even worse when considering all the levels of said defeat. Going against the worst run defense in the league, the Bucs couldn’t even muster 100 total yards on the ground. The coaching staff committed borderline malpractice at several critical junctures, and dumb penalties affected more than one drive. Oh, and Tampa gave up their lead on 4th down with just over 30 seconds remaining, then took it on the chin in overtime.
Well, I’m paid to name top performers so that’s what I’m going to do, but ultimately the efforts of the few do not buoy follies of the many.
Offensive Top Performer: WR Chris Godwin
On the plus side, Godwin continues to improve each week removed from his previous injuries. He dominated Cleveland on Sunday to the tune of 12 catches for 110 yards and one score, so having his unimpeded services is always a plus.
Tom Brady also looked extremely sharp when the offense allowed him to operate freely, which is still shockingly and infuriatingly little. At one point, he was completing nearly 86% of passes well into the third quarter before finishing 29 of 43 (69%) for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Why Byron Leftwich refuses to consistently open up this offense, I have no idea.
Rachaad White was useful, but he got most of his 64 rushing yards on one carry for 35 yards. He also caught 9 passes for 45 yards, showing off his versatility. He was really more a victim of poor playcalling and approach than anything he did wrong in particular.
Also...KO KIEFT TUDDY. A hero of blocking tight ends everywhere.
Defensive Top Performer: LB Lavonte David
David looked excellent from whistle to whistle, as per usual. He made 8 combined tackles, two for loss, and played his ass off to keep the defense motivated when the offense once again failed to pick up the slack. Can’t really ask for much more from him.
Antoine Winfield Jr. fought through multiple injuries to make 7 combined tackles and remain steady in slot coverage. Keanu Neal also put up his best game as a Buccaneer, logging 8 combined tackles and a half-sack.
Special Teams Top Performer: P Jake Camarda
The rookie has totally found his groove and delivered another sterling performance, but his coverage unit let him down several times to mire his final stats.
The offense kept him busy Sunday, as he launched 9 punts for a 47.2 average, including a long of 63 and one downed inside the 5. He could’ve had at least two more kicks downed inside the 20 but the gunners failed to make even basic plays to ensure that happened.