When your team has a bye week, it gives you time to reflect on the season up to that point. It allows things to sink in a bit, especially when it’s so early on in the season. Here are my thoughts and grades on the Bucs team performances so far, and broken down by position.
Let’s start with the most important position, shall we?
Quarterback. Grade: C+
It’s been a bumpy ride here so far after 5 games with a few good games and a couple bad ones. I still feel like there will be a lot of improving to come in the next coming weeks. Winston is not a finished product and still has the potential to be a franchise QB. Be patient. It may take another season.
Running Backs. Grade: B-
Injuries have really hurt the Bucs RB production, this season, but hopes are high, after a strong game against one of the top run defenses in football. The backups have done a great job filling in. With Doug Martin coming back soon, we should be back to a more balanced offense, which in turn, will help take the pressure off of Winston.
Offensive line/ Grade: B-
I feel that the overall the line has done a decent job, in protecting Winston and run blocking. Most of the sacks that were given up have come from Winston holding the ball a bit too long.
Wide Receivers. Grade: C
There is very little depth at this position and other than good production from Evans and Humphries, the rest of the WRs have been invisible. For the Bucs to make a playoff push, a 3rd WR needs to step up. Murphy maybe? Has V-Jax lost a step? It sure is showing so on the field.
Tight Ends. Grade D+
The debacle that was Austin Jenkins, another second round bust and the lack of production from this position as a whole, is the reason for a D grade. Cameron Brate is the lone bright spot here but is used too infrequently.
Special Teams. Grade C-
With this grade, I have lumped in Kickoff and Punt returns. Punting and field goal kicking. Hard to grade the kickoff returns, since we hardly ever see one anymore. (THANKS, NFL) Humphries has done a good job with punt returns but is not a game breaker. The lone bright spot has been the booking leg of Anger, who has been possibly the best signing of the season. Roberto Aguayo has so far been a bust hitting only 50% of his kicks, but we can only hope that his pressured game winning kick last week, gives him a boost going forward.
Defensive Line. Grade: C+
Decent play overall, but injuries and lack of pressure on the QB make it hard to grade higher. A good job overall stopping the run. Hopefully, the injured players return and play up to their potential. Playing time for the backups has helped created a little more depth. Let’s hope Noah Spence isn’t another 2nd round bust. We need him to step up.
Linebackers. Grade B-
There have been games where Lavonte David and Smith have disappeared, but the strong play of Kwon Alexander alone is enough to give this group a B. This is a position with very little depth and you hope it does not wear on them, as the season goes on.
Corners. Grade C-
Steady play by the rookie Hargreaves and Grimes but outside from that, not much to speak of. Has anyone seen Verner or Banks lately?
Safety. Grades D-
The Bucs, in my opinion, lack NFL quality starters at this position. Both Conte and McDougall are serviceable backups in this league but not starter quality. Their 4th round pick Ryan Smith seems not to be progressing, as they hoped he would be, and has not seen the field, while other 3-6th round pick safeties are contributing to their teams and many are starters
Head Coach. C+
I think Koetter has done a good job with the team overall. A few, time management and preparation blunders stop me from giving him a higher grade. The offense has taken a step back from last season, but the defense has taken strides forward. It will take Koetter, at least 3 years to prove his worth. He is a rookie head coach, as well.
GM. Grade: D
A revolving door with players picked up and let go only to be brought back. Lack of depth, at most positions, and a draft that has so far only brought one player who’s contributed in any way. The drafting of Aguayo in the second round, bypassing defensive line, and safety help, could prove to be the eventual demise of Litch.
Let’s hope it all works out in the end.
Who excited for this Sunday? Sunday’s game will tell you what team we really have here in Tampa this season! GO BUCS!