5 Studs in Buccaneers’ Victory Over Panthers

Shaq Barrett Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers registered the first win of the Bruce Arians era Thursday night in a nail biter over the Carolina Panthers. Here are five studs from the key divisional matchup.


Shaquil Barrett

Shaquil Barrett was an unblockable terror. He led the Buccaneers with eight total pressures while getting home for three sacks and three additional hurries. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was uncomfortable and visibly frustrated the entire night and Barrett was a big part of why.

The former Denver Bronco has all four of Tampa Bay’s sacks this season. Thus far, he has been the biggest offseason addition to the team (aside from the coaching staff, of course) and has made the absence of Jason Pierre-Paul far easier to absorb.

Chris Godwin


I highlighted Chris Godwin as a player to watch on Thursday night and boy did he deliver the goods. On a team-high nine targets, he hauled in eight passes for 121 yards and the team’s lone receiving touchdown. The third-year breakout candidate also earned himself a game ball but not for the reason you might think:


“Obviously, you saw his stats, but he blocked as good as any wide receiver I’ve ever seen in a game, blocking linebackers, defensive ends, safeties,” said Arians. “He was a huge part of our running game.”

With back-to-back tough matchups for Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans and the on-going struggles of O.J. Howard, Godwin has emerged as the offensive MVP through these first two weeks of the season. He’s a star in the making.

Ryan Jensen / Alex Cappa

The most intriguing subplot of the game was undoubtedly the team facing off against Gerald McCoy after an unceremonious split this past offseason. It was the day many circled on the calendar when he was released this past May.


It turned out to be a rather quiet night for the former Buccaneer largely thanks to the work of center Ryan Jensen and right guard Alex Cappa. They combined to hold McCoy to a mere two pressures on the night while also keying a modest but effective running game that kept the offense on schedule and the Panthers defense off-balance.

Kevin Minter

Another player I had dubbed as a guy to watch was rookie Devin White. Sadly, he left the game after just six snaps with a knee sprain. Thankfully, it does not appear to be terribly serious, but in the mean time, the team appears in good hands with veteran Kevin Minter.

Not only did Minter lead the team with five-run stops (eight total tackles), he still anchored the special team’s unit. He is the captain after all. The former second-rounder out of LSU appears in 69 snaps on defense plus another 28 across all six special teams units for a whopping 97 total snaps. A feat that earned him not one but two game balls. One for each unit.

Todd Bowles

The Buccaneers defense has been tough to watch in recent memory and especially over the last two seasons. The beleaguered unit finished dead last in Football Outsider’s DVOA metric both years.

Panthers star running back Christian McCaffery played a sizable role in that defensive futility. Over two games last season, he combined for 27 carries, 185 yards rushing, 14 receptions, 133 yards receiving, and three total touchdowns.

Enter defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers new pressure defense. McCaffery managed just 37 yards on 16 carries with a paltry two receptions for 16 yards on six targets. The defense also stuffed Carolina three times on fourth-and-1 including the game-saving force out by Vernon Hargreaves III.

The impact of coach Bowles cannot be overstated. What he has done to get the players to buy-in and believe in themselves has been nothing short of miraculous. The Buccaneers’ identity has always been their defense and fans should be thrilled with the way they have played so far. Finally, Buc Ball is back.


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