With the NFL season having come to a conclusion with the Chiefs win last Sunday over the 49ers in Super Bowl 54, everyone is taking a look back at whom did well at what position for the season. And, the analytics guys at Pro Football Focus have a lot of love for the Bucs.
In the unveiling of their annual 101 top players for the season, the 20199 Buccaneers obviously stood out to PFF.
That’s because the receiving tandem of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, along with star linebacker Lavonte David and Center Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay placed four players on the prestigious graded list.
— PFF (@PFF) February 8, 2020
The qualifiers on the PFF rankings is they sought out the top graded players/their production in order, regardless of position. And, very interesting for the resting of this item, PFF also took into account post season play.
So, that means numerous players on their list improved their standing, while the 7-9 Bucs were home watching like everyone else.
Leading the way was the thrid year phenom, Godwin, who had a breakout year that had the entire NFL buzzing. After being in the top 5 in the NFL virtually all year in receptions and yards, Godwin ended up making the Pro Bowl and here’s what PFF had to say on their analysis/metrics:
“This season, Chris Godwin emerged as one of the best receivers in all of football, and he was a human highlight reel in Tampa Bay where Jameis Winston was intent on airing the ball out and only vaguely concerned with whether the ball went close to its intended receiver. Godwin caught 75.4% of his targets (while Jameis completed just 60.7% of all his passes) and had just one drop all season despite making several circus catches. Overall, when targeting Godwin, Winston had a passer rating of 121.7. “
As for David, he was selected as having the 36th best overall year, despite being snubbed for the 2020 Pro Bowl. Without question, David is the best linebacker that gets the least amount of national recognition and respect in pro football. And here’s a quick portion of why Pro Football Focus has them in their top 40:
“David posted one of the best overall PFF grades of his career (89.2), and he recorded 54 defensive stops over the season, the third-best mark among all linebackers. David was also deployed more on the blitz this season and registered 18 pressures from 98 pass-rushing snaps while finishing the season as the highest-graded linebacker in coverage.”
Next, for the Buccaneers at the 49th position is there number one receiver Mike Evans. The 1-2 combo of he and Godwin with Jameis Winston firing to them were killing defenses much of the year. Evans has been Winston’s top target since, Winston came into the league in 2015. And, PFF said this, in part, to justify their ranking,
“Due to injury, Mike Evans played as many as 200 fewer snaps than some of the other wideouts on this list, and yet, he still finished the year with 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns. Evans gained 2.3 yards per route run this season…. Evans made some of the biggest catches of the year for the Bucs and makes the PFF Top 101 for the fourth time in his career.”
And, that led to the final Buccaneer to be selected in the PFF 101 player list with center Ryan Jensen. One of the most expensive interior offensive lineman in the NFL lived up to it this past year, according to PFF,
“But for an iffy stretch in the middle of the season, Ryan Jensen could have ended the season as the best-graded center in football, because either side of that, he was excellent manning the middle of the Bucs’ offensive line. Jensen ended the year having been beaten for just one sack and 15 total pressures, despite being asked to pass protect on 751 snaps of high-octane Bruce Arians passing offense. Jensen was also solid in the run game and posted by far the best season of his career overall.”
Clearly, PFF could have also included DE, Shaq Barrett, who ended up breaking the Buccaneers single season sack record and led the NFL with 19.5 of them on the year. However, it demonstrates just how stringent their grading system is that he didn’t make the list.
But, again, it’s quite the compliment that four others on a 7-9 team did.