Bucs 2022 Midseason Awards

The Bucs are just past the midway mark of their 2022 schedule, but the bye week actually seems like the perfect time to publish Pewter Report’s Bucs 2022 Midseason Awards. Who are Tampa Bay’s MVPs so far? Which Bucs players have been the most impressive, most improved and most disappointing? Find out right here.

Bucs Offensive MVP – RT Tristian Wirfs

Wirfs has undoubtedly been the Bucs’ best player at midseason. He’s been the most dominant offensive lineman in the league in terms of pass protection. Wirfs has yet to give up a sack this season and has an incredible pressure rate. The All-Pro has allowed just three pressures on 473 passing downs. Wirfs has also only committed three penalties so far in 2022. He’s in line for his second straight Pro Bowl appearance and All-Pro honors. Wirfs is the highest-rated Bucs player according to Pro Football Focus, with an 85.7 grade and an 89.9 pass pro grade.

Bucs Defensive MVP – S. Antoine Winfield Jr.

Bucs S Antoine Winfield Jr.

Bucs S Antoine Winfield Jr. – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Winfield was on track for another Pro Bowl season before a concussion sidelined him for 2.5 games. When he’s healthy and on the field, Winfield is the best player on the Bucs defense. He’s been excellent in his first season as a nickel cornerback while playing safety in base defense. In eight games, he has 44 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks, two passes defensed and a forced fumble. Winfield is the second-highest graded Bucs defender with an 81 overall PFF grade. He has an unreal 90.4 run grade, a 90.1 tackling grade and a 93 pass rush grade so far in 2022.

Bucs Special Teams MVP – K Ryan Succop

Succop gets the slight nod here over rookie punter Jake Camarda, who has been outstanding in his first season in the NFL. The reason? Because touchdowns have been few and far between, Succop’s field goals have been even more crucial this season. Succop is connecting on 88% (22-of-25) of his field goals from him. Two of his misses have come from beyond 50 yards and are forgivable for the 36-year old veteran. Succop is also a perfect 13-of-13 on his extra points.

Best Rookie – P Jake Camarda

Apologies to running back Rachaad White and tight end Cade Otton, but Camarda has been the Bucs’ best rookie by a long shot. Speaking of long shot, the rookie tied a franchise record with a 74-yard punt against the Rams. He also launched a 60-yard punt and a 63-yarder against Seattle. In fact, Camarda already has eight punts of 60 yards or more during his rookie season. That’s why he’s averaging 49 yards with an impressive 46-yard net average. Another great stat for Camarda? He’s recorded four special teams tackles. This Georgia athlete isn’t afraid to mix it up on kick returns or punts.

Best Free Agent Acquisition – S Logan Ryan

Bucs S Logan Ryan

Bucs S Logan Ryan – Photo by: USA Today

Ryan has been the Bucs’ best free agent. But the fact that he hasn’t played since the first series of the Kansas City game in Week 4 and still won this honor says a lot about how sub-par Tampa Bay’s free agent class has been this year. In the first three games of the season, Ryan logged an interception, a critical forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The veteran won a starting safety role in nickel defense in the preseason and was sorely missed. Ryan is a great communicator and an instinctive defender. When he returns in December, it should give the Bucs defense a big boost.

Most Disappointing Offensive Player – LG Luke Goedeke

It may not seem fair to call a rookie the most disappointing player on offense. But according to the coaches, Goedeke earned the starting left guard job after the preseason. And the fact that he started the first seven games of the season allowed more than enough evaluation time. Before Goedeke suffered a foot injury, he was one of the worst-ranked guards in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. That makes him an obvious choice for this distinction. But it doesn’t necessarily mean Goedeke is a bust.

Most Disappointing Defensive Player – DE Will Gholston

We at Pewter Report love Gholston, who has been with the Bucs for a decade. But at age 31, he’s not having a good year. Gholston has been productive against the run, notching 23 tackles in the first 10 games of the year. But after recording three sacks in 2020 and a career-high 4.5 sacks last year, Gholston has yet to record one so far in 2022. In fact, Gholston has regressed as a pass rusher, notching just three QB hits after recording 11 last year and 20 in 2020. Gholston still has time to rebound, but he’ll need a strong finish to warrant re-signing him in 2023.

Newcomer of the Year – TE Cade Otton

Bucs Te Cade Otton

Bucs TE Cade Otton – Photo by: USA Today

The retirement of Rob Gronkowski and the fact that Cam Brate turned 31 definitely prompted the Bucs to draft Otton at the top of the fourth round. The fact that Brate had a concussion and a neck injury in the first 10 games of the season gave Otton even more playing time than both he and the team expected. The rookie has started six of the nine games he’s played in so far and has become a bit of an impact player in the passing game. Otton has 26 catches for 281 yards (10.8 avg.) and caught the game-winning TD against the Rams with nine seconds left in Week 9.

Unsung Player of the Year – DT Vita Vea

It might seem odd to have Vea, who made his first Pro Bowl last year, as the team’s unsung player. But what is out of the ordinary is the fact that Vea is the team’s leading sacker with a team-high 6.5 so far. The Bucs needed Vea to step up as a pass rusher with Shaq Barrett’s unusually slow start to the season. Now that Barrett is out for the rest of the year with a torn Achilles, Vea must lead Tampa Bay’s pass rush charge down the stretch. With 3.5 more sacks, Vea will be the first Bucs defensive tackle with double-digit sacks since Warren Sapp had 16.5 in 2000.

Most Improved Offensive Player – C Robert Hainsey

Hainsey, a third-round pick in 2021, essentially had a redshirt season as a rookie. He got stronger last year and in the offseason, and he picked up the Bucs offense behind the scenes while serving as a backup to Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen. Hainsey was immediately pressed into service as the starting center this year due to Jensen’s knee injury on the second day of training camp. The second-year center has performed admirably and has a bright future. He’ll need to continue to get stronger in the future to have more success, but he’s holding down the fort until Jensen returns.

Most Improved Defensive Player – CB Jamel Dean

While Carlton Davis III got paid like a lockdown cornerback in free agency, it’s been Dean who has actually been the team’s shutdown corner this year. Dean is the third-highest graded Bucs defender, according to Pro Football Focus. He has a 79.9 overall grade, an 82.9 run defense grade and a 78 pass coverage grade. Dean had a two-interception game in a Week 2 win at New Orleans and has six passes defensed on the year so far. He’s made huge strides from a year ago and is online for a big pay day in 2023.

Best Individual Performance – LB Devin White vs. Seattle

Bucs Ilb Devin White And Seahawks Qb Geno Smith

Bucs ILB Devin White and Seahawks QB Geno Smith – Photo by: USA Today

White has actually had three really good individual performances this year – in Week 1 at Dallas, Week 2 at New Orleans and Week 10 vs. Seattle. But his most recent performance by him was his best by him as he was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after a nine-tackle effort along with two sacks and a key forced fumble. White was playing with a heavy heart after losing his father days earlier and really played inspired football. The fourth-year linebacker shook off criticism from Warren Sapp, Pewter Report and others to have a bounce-back game against the Rams and then a commanding performance the next week against the Seahawks.

Best Win of the Year – vs. Seattle

Tampa Bay’s opening day win at Dallas is even more impressive now given the fact that the Cowboys are 7-3. But the Bucs’ 21-16 win over the Seahawks it was just as good. It’s the first time Tampa Bay won back-to-back games since Week 2, and it got the Bucs back to .500 with a 5-5 record. The win over Seattle was the team’s first international victory, and it was the best performance by the offense, which scored three touchdowns. The defense also got a long-awaited takeaway and recorded three sacks.

Worst Loss of the Year – at Carolina

Losing to a one-win Steelers team, 20-18, that was starting a rookie quarterback is one thing. But losing to a one-win Panthers team, 21-3, that was starting its fourth-string quarterback in PJ Walker is quite another. The offense played its worst game of the year, putting just a field goal on the scoreboard after Mike Evans dropped an easy touchdown bomb from Tom Brady in the first quarter. Tampa Bay’s defense got shredded in the second half, especially on the ground. It was truly a forgettable and dreadful performance by the Bucs.

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