At least someone outside the Buccaneers is noticing.
It’s basically a running joke for us Bucs’ fans that Lavonte David is basically unnoticed despite consistently being the best LB in the league basically every year. I wanted to punch Troy Aikman every time he said Fred Warner was the best LB during the Monday night game. But this might be a new worst. Antoine Winfield Jr has been one of the best safeties in the NFL in 2023. Being great at both pass coverage and inside the box. And yet everyone is like, “look at Jessie Bates”. He’s in the same fucking division, and people still can’t be bothered to look at us.
Antoine Winfield Jr Stats Through Week 16
110 tackles (T-24th)
5 sacks (T-73rd)
5 forced fumbles (T-2nd)
4 fumbles recovered (1st)
3 interceptions (T-20th)
12 passes defended (T-13th)
Right now, the player that has the best odds to win DPOY is Micah Parsons with Myles Garrett a close second behind him. It is no secret that the NFL almost always favors sacks as the stat to look at for determining who will win this award. The safety position has won the award only 5 times in the history of the award, as opposed to linebackers winning 17 times. The last time that a safety won the award was Troy Polamalu in 2010. While he had far more interceptions than Winfield Jr at 7, he had less forced fumbles (1), fumble recoveries (1), sacks (1), and tackles (63). There are other players that have larger numbers, but I do not think you can argue there has been a more versatile player than Winfield Jr and arguably one of the most valuable to the Buccaneers’ defense.
But that’s not all. Yaya Diaby has been making a name for himself as a strong DROY candidate. He’s been the only player to finally dethrone Vita Vea as the sack leader on the team. But not only does he lead the team in sacks at 6.5, he is tied for the lead in rookie sack leaders. This is despite only playing more than 50% of snaps five times. And more than half of his sacks came before the coaching staff realized he should be on the field more.
The guy Yaya Diaby is tied with has played far more snaps on defense in Kobie Turner for the Rams.
Not only that, but he has a forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries. Not only that, but he has 9 tackles for loss (second among rookies) and 5 Qb hits. Those 5 hits are the same amount of games he has started. He has done so much with so little. If sacks are truly what matters for determining a good defensive player (although Sauce Gardner did win it last year as a CB), then Diaby should be firmly in the running. The guy who has had some of the best odds for winning this is Jalen Carter, who has 1.5 less sacks, despite also playing more.
Though this defense hasn’t been as great as it has in recent times, there are individual players playing out of their minds. Winfield Jr and Diaby are proving that the defense has two leaders that should stay for a very long time.
Worth noting, Bucs’ rookie defensive lineman Calijah Kancey is listed as a DROY candidate, but there’s very little buzz attached to his name.
Make sure you check out Devin’s blog at cannoncrunch.wordpress.com.
Cannon Crunch with Devin Sanguinett